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Bill Gates's Plan To Improve Our World 445

Posted by Soulskill
from the quest-to-bluescreen-malaria dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Bill Gates has written an article in Wired outlining his strategy to improve people's lives through philanthropy and investment in technology and the sciences. He says, 'We want to give our wealth back to society in a way that has the most impact, and so we look for opportunities to invest for the largest returns. That means tackling the world's biggest problems and funding the most likely solutions. That's an even greater challenge than it sounds. I don't have a magic formula for prioritizing the world's problems. You could make a good case for poverty, disease, hunger, war, poor education, bad governance, political instability, weak trade, or mistreatment of women. ...I am a devout fan of capitalism. It is the best system ever devised for making self-interest serve the wider interest. This system is responsible for many of the great advances that have improved the lives of billions—from airplanes to air-conditioning to computers. But capitalism alone can't address the needs of the very poor. This means market-driven innovation can actually widen the gap between rich and poor. ... We take a double-pronged approach: (1) Narrow the gap so that advances for the rich world reach the poor world faster, and (2) turn more of the world's IQ toward devising solutions to problems that only people in the poor world face.'"
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Bill Gates's Plan To Improve Our World

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  • by wrackspurt (3028771) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @06:27PM (#45406291)

    I am a devout fan of capitalism. It is the best system ever devised for making self-interest serve the wider interest.

    The argument can be made that capitalism widens the divide between rich and poor. The old question remains whether unbridled capitalism and philanthropy can better address the world's woes, or, would a more socialist political structure like those seen in Scandinavian countries better address and more quickly narrow the divide.

  • by Anubis350 (772791) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @06:30PM (#45406333)
    Nothing is ever that simple and any attempt to boil something so vast down to a single word, no matter how far reaching, is naive. Religions exists because of various human needs, and people believe because of various needs. It can enrich lives or impoverish them. It can motivate, or demotivate. It can create and destroy. Help and Harm. Like anything manmade it can be used for peace, and for war.

    Terrible acts done in the name of religion are symptoms of deeper, more intertwined problems in how we relate to one another, terrible teachings symptomatic of human needs for order, control, and normalcy. Absence of religion would not simply make the world a better place on it's own, something else would take the place, both good and bad, that religion serves . "If god did not exist it would be necessary to invent him"
  • by ttsai (135075) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @06:42PM (#45406439)

    Magnitude of evil perpetrated by "bad" people with religion == Magnitude of evil perpetrated by "bad" people without religion.

    Religion is almost never the driving factor. In the absence of religion, such people would have found other means and justifications to perpetrate their evil. There are many such examples in history.

    Unfortunately, the castigation of religion often reveals a hatred of religion more than a hatred of the evil acts.

  • by s.petry (762400) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @06:45PM (#45406463)

    Wrong, the problem today is corruption and people accepting corruption as the normal. Our current shitty state of the union is not due to any Religion, it's due to corrupt people in power. The only thing mentioning Religion does is to show that religion is not above or beyond being corrupted.

    Fact: The Catholic Church never taught people that pedophilia was correct, or good, or just. In fact they taught (and teach) their followers that it was bad, illegal, and that they would spend the rest of their lives in hell if they were to commit these acts. Meanwhile a bunch of corrupt leaders sat in a back room committing the crimes or covering up for those that did. That's not "Religion", that is "Corruption".

    As long as you have biases and bigotry it's hard to see where the real problems are. While you bitch about "Religion A" being bad, the same corrupt fuckers are sitting behind a corrupted government, doing the same corrupt things. They laugh at how ignorant the masses are, and how easily they are fooled by bullshit propaganda.

    "The Noble Lie" is not something that only "Good" can use, it's also something that corrupt evil people use.

    Oh, and Bill Gates is corrupt lying fuck that I would not trust with my used toilet paper, let alone tell us what changes we need to make in the world or what sciences we should be studying.

  • by operagost (62405) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @06:45PM (#45406471) Homepage Journal

    We'll ignore your claim that the ultra-rich pay fewer taxes than the poor.* But imagine that every rich person filled the gap with charitable contributions. Why do you care that they're paying fewer taxes, when they're getting the wealth to the people who need it more directly?

    * Indeed, in the USA, the poor not only avoid all federal and state income tax but they receive credits; this usually helps negate what little other taxes they pay.

  • Re:Whups (Score:4, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @06:58PM (#45406595)

    Seems to me it's probably because poor people can better empathize with what it's like to not have enough, and they likely remember how much they appreciated it the last time somebody helped them out.

    That does not explain how people who were previously poor, and then became wealthy, also follow the same pattern. Not everyone who becomes wealthy changes their social class, but most do. Put another way, once you're rich, you don't hang around with poor people much. And thanks to socialization, it's not very long at all before those old behaviors and worldview fractures and dissolves. Does it happen to everyone? No. But it seems the only people resiliant to this are those that suffered a significant trauma prior and usually early on in life that became a core belief.

    It's not a coincidence that when you read about people who ran into burning buildings to save a bunch of children, or saw a car run off the road, lept from their car to go assist... everyday heroes tend to have one thing in their background: They grew up in a small town. Go look it up. And surprise, most people who join the military also come from small towns. Their personalities are no different than those in the city, but their social environment imparted certain values -- specifically, that they're not just a face in a crowd. In the city, we choose our own subculture, our own groups to be a part of. In a small town, you have to learn how to be part of a community you may not strongly identify with. Avoiding certain types of people isn't an option. So as a consequence of that, we get people who later move to the big city or whatever, and retain that sense of community... so when they see someone in trouble, they don't have a tribalistic view.

    We are social creatures; And our desire to help others is based directly on how much they are like us. They have to be part of our tribe. It's how we're wired. And social class is a big division -- when you surround yourself with rich people, you start to think like rich people do. It seems like a really obvious thing to say, but then I see people like you say things like this and I realize... you're not understanding this tribalistic element of human behavior.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @07:18PM (#45406785)

    The reason Capitalism is breaking is that a core underpinning is being broken by technology. For the longest time the reason that labor had value is that the skills necessary were held behind a paywall - lack of ready communication, then guilds just after the printing press, then unions in the industrial era, now ... labor has nothing. Education via communication is becoming cheaper and work is being done by automation or easily moved somewhere with no rules / cheaper labor. We are nearing singularity and as we get closer all labor drops in value. At some point labor is worth very little and capital is all that matters, unfortunately the vast majority of people only have their labor to offer. When capital becomes fully "king" we are all serfs again.

    Capitalism tries to balance relative value of inputs (capital, labor, raw material, land) but if the sole input most people can offer, labor, isn't worth enough to keep them alive then the system becomes unstable and untenable. Why? your markets will disappear if the serfs can't buy anything. It staggers the mind how our current crop of economists can't see this coming.

    You have poverty when your labor isn't worth anything and your ecology and/or economic structure and/or population's expectations cannot support a hunter-gatherer or subsistence farming lifestyle.

  • by TheSync (5291) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @07:28PM (#45406889) Journal

    why is poverty still possible

    The problem is that there still remains too much socialism and regulation of free market activities in much of the developing world. A graph [myopera.com] of economic freedom versus per capita GDP tells the story. Countries with lower economic freedom [heritage.org] tend to have lower GDP per capita, correlation=0.67.

    The good news is that the adoption of less socialism and more capitalism (especially in India and China) has lead to less global income inequality: [isn.ethz.ch]

    "The period between 1988 and 2008 witnessed the first decline in global income inequality since the Industrial Revolution"

    I'll admit that the best thing Gates could do is to research why it is so hard to eliminate entrenched power structures that continue to keep low levels of economic freedom present in many developing countries, and what could be done to change things there.

  • by TheSync (5291) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @07:46PM (#45407121) Journal

    I personally know someone who worked for a mid-sized IT firm out of Texas. They were small but growing and successful. Then Bain Capital stepped in, waived some money around and purchased the company. The day after the deal was finalized, everyone was fired and the company was liquidized - sold of bit by bit. The poor lady is now in the Mid-West working in a call center.

    Seen vs. unseen...

    First, if Bain Capital was called in, it is likely the company was in trouble, so she would have been laid off anyway.

    Secondly, the owners of the company felt it was worth it to sell out to Bain, so they benefitted versus possibly having their investment worth nothing.

    Thirdly, the company had assets, and these assets have been redeployed to more profitable use, likely employing new people who you don't know.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @07:48PM (#45407137)

    Religion gives one an excuse, Atheism give one responsibility, try again.

    Responsibility for what? For instance, tell us how responsible Josef Stalin felt during his purges.

  • by al0ha (1262684) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @07:52PM (#45407175) Journal
    Jeezus Bill, if both you and Warren Buffet really want to make the greatest impact on humanity, use every cent of your wealth to establish a global free press foundation beholden to no person or government. Only via this method can humankind be as sure as is humanly possible that we're getting an unbiased view. Fund a Free Press Foundation now!
  • Billy Gates (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Suffering Bastard (194752) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:53PM (#45408163)

    It's hard for me to see Bill Gates beyond being a spoiled, insecure boy. He talks about all these grand visions (The Road Ahead, et al) yet clearly is out of touch with the real world and the realities of human nature to the point that he dreams up these fanciful dreams of utopia that only get taken seriously because he happens to be insanely rich. It's hard for me to see Bill Gates as machiavellian or otherwise diabolical (not that he doesn't throw a good capitalist tantrum now and again), because he's so clearly scared of being caught for what he isn't -- a man in charge of his own fate. He can't possibly be able to imagine living a life not saddled to his silver, free to be bold like many of the "not haves". If he were to no longer "have", then he'd lose the very thing that defines him -- massive wealth. His ego must be terrified at the idea that he is nothing more than paper and ink.

    So he props up these grand visions and philanthropic ventures as a way to give validation to his existence, never manning up to working out his own inner deficiencies. And since he lacks the real world understanding to do so himself, he allies with Warren Buffet types to guide him on what he should do, swallowing completely their belief in the supremacy of the capitalist ethos. But his "plans to improve our world" always come off as childish and unworkable. Indeed, can anyone here enumerate the number of grand plans Bill Gates has put forth that have fulfilled their objectives in improving our world? (that's an honest question, by the way)

  • Re:Fan of capitalism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ArsonSmith (13997) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:52AM (#45409805) Journal

    He didn't rob from anybody, He exchanged value for value.

    The only transactions that are not a net win are when one is at the point of a gun. Bill Gates never pointed a gun at anyone.

    He didn't hold back anything. Industry flourished during the biggest part of the Microsoft heyday 90s and 00s.

    If there was no value in Microsoft products then people wouldn't buy them. Period. That was the choice I made in Dec of 1998. My Windows 98 box died (was probably a hard drive crash as I replaced it anyway) At that point I had played some with Linux and decided that it was what I wanted moving forward. That year, 1999, was my "Year of the Linux desktop"

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