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Microsoft Businesses The Almighty Buck

Bill Gates Calls for a 'Kinder Capitalism' 601

Strudelkugel writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft's Chairman Bill Gates is going to call for a revision of capitalism. He will argue that the economics that drive much of the world should use market forces to address the needs of poor countries, which he feels are currently being ignored. 'We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well,' Mr. Gates will say in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 'Key to Mr. Gates's plan will be for businesses to dedicate their top people to poor issues — an approach he feels is more powerful than traditional corporate donations and volunteer work. Governments should set policies and disburse funds to create financial incentives for businesses to improve the lives of the poor, he plans to say. Mr. Gates's argument for the potential profitability of serving the poor is certain to raise skepticism, and some people may point out that poverty became a priority for Mr. Gates only after he'd earned billions building up Microsoft. But Mr. Gates is emphatic that he's not calling for a fundamental change in how capitalism works.'"
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Bill Gates Calls for a 'Kinder Capitalism'

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  • Great News... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Morosoph ( 693565 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:22AM (#22166344) Homepage Journal
    Is Microsoft going to stop looking for new ways to be anticompetitive [], now?
    • by MrMr ( 219533 )
      I guess it is just one way of being anticompetitive (I don't remember Microsoft being the champion of free markets or competiton in the past so it's not really big step)
      Or perhaps Mr. Gates has just realized that he actually has enough money?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by e2d2 ( 115622 )
      Yeah, because Bill Gates and Microsoft are ONE, like the borg...

      People tend to group things illogically. Separate the two, because in reality they are separate.

      • Re:Great News... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Daengbo ( 523424 ) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 24, 2008 @11:19AM (#22167302) Homepage Journal
        Well, Bill Gates is on the record (1995) for deriding other CEOs as having only "finite greed []" and not being competitive enough by moving into new markets. Odd that he would call for "kinder capitalism."
        • Re:Great News... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Otter Escaping North ( 945051 ) <> on Thursday January 24, 2008 @11:43AM (#22167720) Journal

          Well, Bill Gates is on the record (1995) for deriding other CEOs as having only "finite greed" and not being competitive enough by moving into new markets. Odd that he would call for "kinder capitalism."

          Some point in the last few years, Bill Gates seems to have figured out he's roughly into the last third of his life, looked in the mirror, and didn't see anything there. It's clear he's decided to do something about that, and good on him for it.

          That being said, he's got a lot to explain as he touts his newfound (and very worthy) repudiation of hoarding. Kinder capitalism? Why don't you show us how it's done, Bill? If anyone's in a position to do it, you are. Show us.

          • Re:Great News... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @11:52AM (#22167878) Journal

            looked in the mirror, and didn't see anything there. It's clear he's decided to do something about that, and good on him for it.
            I read somewhere that Vampires can't see their reflection in the mirror either. So what your saying is that if Dracula were to suddenly change his ways and forgive all the people he had converted or bitten over the years, that he'd suddenly be a "good guy" you'd trust your kids with?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Rary ( 566291 )

          I can't believe I'm actually defending Bill Gates here, but that was 13 years ago, and if you read the article he does talk about how he started out being unaware of the realities of the world, and has been learning as the years have gone by, and is still learning. People do evolve, you know. I'd say, considering how low down on the "decent person" scale he started, he's actually come a really long way (but still has very far to go).

        • by QRDeNameland ( 873957 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @01:40PM (#22169654)

          I think there may be a bit of misunderstanding here. Gates is to give this speech in Davos, which is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

          "Kinder" means "children" in German.

          So it may just be that his "kinder capitalism" may be more along the lines of A Modest Proposal [].

      • Not Fully Seperate (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Morosoph ( 693565 )
        Microsoft's culture is primarily because of one man.

        True that now that Bill is separating himself out from MS, he has less influence, but you cannot suddenly isolate responsibility from him just like that. Besides, how much of his new-found generousity is "in kind", favouring one company's products?

        Although, in order to keep people's eye on the ball, my comment was somewhat simplistic, yours is even more so. Legal fictions are not reality, and Bill still has a lot of influence.

  • Bwaa? (Score:2, Insightful)

    The imposition of markets is at the very root of so many of the ills facing impoverished countries. I can't help but see the same tortured reasoning that I see in Homer Simpson's classic explanation that beer is "the cause of -- and solution to -- all of life's problems."
    • Re:Bwaa? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:36AM (#22166554) Homepage
      Well, one of the first things to do here is to stop aid or at least make sure that only structural aid comes through. Any non-structural aid like "free food, free clothing, etc" should be stopped.

      Classic examples are food aid which has all but killed the local farm industry in many African countries along with dumping unused clothing and shoes which has done the same to the local textile and shoe industries. We drive a local tradesman onto the street and make him forever dependant on foreign aid every time one of us gives a piece of clothing to one of those "collectors" which leave a leaflet and a bag every week.

      While at it, Billy the Robber is as guilty of killing indiginous industries as anyone. He has made everything in his power to kill local competition everywhere he stepped. We live in a world where there is one or two indiginous word processing products left as final hold-outs in the losing battle against MSOffice. Navision has been doing the same to indiginous accounting packages and so on.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xaxa ( 988988 )
        I don't know about the general case, but sometimes the donated clothes really do go to people who need them -- after a natural disaster, for example. Round here, and unusable clothes get reused in industry (polishing stuff?). It's still (IMO) a better option than the trash, though I agree with your point on killing local industry.
    • The imposition of markets is at the very root of so many of the ills facing impoverished countries
      Bugger all to do with markets.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        No - it has a lot to do with markets, just not in the way that the idealistic GP thinks.

        It has lots to do with, for instance, perversion of the markets by the protectionists of the developed world who subsidise their agrobusiness interests and thus artificially depress the market price for the very cash crops that would allow third world economies to sustain themselves.

        It has a lot to do with the ultimate market Big Lie that is GATT - structured to allow parasitical 'service' companies from the developed na

  • by sircastor ( 1051070 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:27AM (#22166426)
    "Kinder" as "nicer" or "kinder" as in "garten"?
  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:28AM (#22166440)
    Ron Jeremy calls for porn with less spooge.
  • a kinder version of Microsoft Office!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I'd settle for...a kinder version of Microsoft Office!

      Tried it, name was Clippy, now residing in the Dumb Idea Retirement Home with Jar Jar Binks.

  • by 192939495969798999 ( 58312 ) <info&devinmoore,com> on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:29AM (#22166452) Homepage Journal
    To Mr. Gates:
    Helping poor people sounds like a great idea. There are lots of "poor" (compared to you) people that need help... me for example. Could you shoot me five or six, maybe seven million bucks? Thanks bro!
  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:30AM (#22166456) Journal

    "We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people let us continue to rip off poorer people,' Mr. Gates will say in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 'Key to Mr. Gates's plan will be for businesses to dedicate their top people to locking in the poor an approach he feels is more powerful when tied into traditional corporate donations and volunteer work. Governments should set policies and disburse funds to create financial incentives so that businesses can profit when they "improve" the lives of the poor, rather than giving money to the poor, he plans to say "The poor would just waste it on non-essentials like food and medicine.". Mr. Gates's argument for the potential profitability of serving the poor via government pork-barrelling and corporate tie-ins is certain to raise skepticism, and some people may point out that tapping the poverty-ridden became a priority for Mr. Gates only after he'd earned billions building up Microsoft. But Mr. Gates is emphatic that he's not calling for a fundamental change in how capitalism works - as long as he continues to get his.'"

    • Fundamentally, there is no difference between what Grameen bank does in Bangladesh and what the sup prime mortgage industry in US does, sell to poor. The key difference is that of intent, Grameen is genuinely interested in helping the poor, but the moneylenders in US are trying to make money. Note that Grameen is not in for charity, but not in for money either. I guess this is what Bill Gates was referring to, when he said "Kinder Capitalism".
      I don't think we should discriminate based on who said it, but w
  • Really Bill? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by folstaff ( 853243 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:31AM (#22166458) Journal
    This is guilt and arrogance. "I have so much, I am so smart, let me device a plan to improve capitalism."

    Note to Bill, its been tried at least twice in the past 100 years and they were called communism and socialism. The only change for the poor in those systems is there is more of them.

    To paraphrase Churchill: "It has been said that capitalism is the worst form of economy except all the others that have been tried."

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Remember that socialism works quite well in Sweden (that pirate country everybody is talking about).
      And communism has never been implemented (soviet union had socialism). I have heard of a tribe or something in Israel that works that way, but I don't have my facts with me.
      • actually (Score:3, Interesting)

        The Soviet Union had communism, not socialism. There was the word "socialist" in the name of the USSR, but to call it socialist on that basis is like saying the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was a democracy. Saying that communism has never been implemented is a lame attempt to disown the excesses of the Soviet Union.

        The ideal Marxist state, however, has never been implemented. Though the Soviet Union was founded in the spirit of Marx's work, it was by no means the kind of state that Marx thou
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by alexgieg ( 948359 )

          Though the Soviet Union was founded in the spirit of Marx's work, it was by no means the kind of state that Marx thought would necessarily appear.

          The interesting thing is that Marx never wrote about what the communist state would be, only about what you'd need to have before it that would lead to it (and yes, that included a generically understood "dictatorship of the proletariat" -- the URSS was Lenin's understanding of what such a dictatorship meant in the fine details).

          And why didn't he talk about the fu

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cromar ( 1103585 )
            Anyone who is a cynical and isn't a leftist can see that the Marxist "scientific" understanding of History is hardly more than a secular version of the belief in the monotheistic Heaven

            Actually, you are thinking of Hegel []. Marx's idea of history was a constant struggle between the poor and the rich elite. There's no reason to bring in Christianity. Is this personally how you feel comparing yourself to "lefty Marxists?" Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but it has nothing more in common with Christianity
    • Then clearly there's no reason to ever, ever, ever attempt to try again.

      Was communism a successful economic model, at least in terms of it's implementation in the Soviet Union or China? Certainly not. Was it an attempt at addressing some very serious problems with economic disparity and problems in the previous economic systems? To some degree, yes. Do serious flaws exist in the way the world economy distributes wealth and resources around the world? Unless you're utterly blinded by doctrinaire views o
    • Re:Really Bill? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ozborn ( 161426 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @11:05AM (#22167018)
      The comments of Bill Gates may be derived from guilt and arrogance but to say that capitalism can't be "improved" (whatever that means) is just political posturing. That you believe the current economic system is the best of all possible economic systems (for all time?!) is equally arrogant.

      What capitalism can't be improved? Capitalism like in the US, in Russia, in Saudi Arabia, in Congo? What sort of improvements work or don't work and why? I think it is more important to ask and answer those sorts of questions than offer up a sweeping defense of capitalism.

      I also suspect that most people would agree that public ownership of the means of production in some industries (fire department, basic scientific research, health care, etc..) may not be such a bad idea after all.
    • Re:Really Bill? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by plasticsquirrel ( 637166 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @12:14PM (#22168232)
      Wikipedia: Human Development Index []

      #2: Norway
      #6: Sweden
      #12: United States

      Democratic socialist Scandinavian countries -- where people live in abject squalor and poverty due to the evil scurge of socialism...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I have friends that live in Scandinavia, and they have to pay an assload of taxes. 180% on a new car, up to 63% income tax - that starts at about $70,000, and 25% VAT tax.

        In Denmark young people are moving to escape the tax system: []

        Oh if you do go and look you'll see all those people riding backs...not because they want to stay in shape, because they can't afford a car. Would you really want to live in a country where you had to pay 300,000 dollars for
  • by ThoreauHD ( 213527 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:31AM (#22166460)
    The World Bank and IMF loan these countries money, which is then paid out to contractors specified by the WTO. These contractors then give a piece to local officials and do nothing. Where you now have a 3rd world country with a 4 Billion dollar loan at 30% with nothing to show for it. Which means that they borrow another 4 Billion to actually do the work they paid for the first time, and the cycle continues. Unless Bill Gates controls the world bank, he's going to have to find another hobby. You can't save the poor on this planet. The rich own them.
  • OK Bill (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:31AM (#22166468)
    Thats funny. I remember how Gates screwed over everyone he could when he was in charge of Microsoft. Can anyone imagine Steve Ballmer giving a shit about helping poor people? Microsoft don't even care about individual customers if they're not a corporate entity.
    • MS doesn't "care about the individual customer..", and that is because an individual user customer is NOT MS's customer.

      It is Dell, HP, Fujitsu & Sony who are MS's primary customers.
  • Jack Thompson calls for a 'Less Confrontational Litigation'.
  • by kalidasa ( 577403 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:35AM (#22166530) Journal

    Mohammed Yukos has been evangelizing a number of ideas about entrepreneurial businesses whose primary motive is helping their communities, and who only make enough "profit" to build their businesses and help more people. If this means that Gates is buying into those ideas, with Gates's resources, and the commitment to philanthropy he's always shown (outside his day job as the Satanic Overlord of the information economy, obviously), this might lead to good things.

    Doesn't mean I'll be buying a copy of Windows any time soon, of course; and I'd still like to see the DOJ actually investigate some of Microsoft's shenanigans, but give the man credit where it's due.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      First, it's Muhammand Yunus, not Yukos. He was never AFAICT connected with a defunct Russian oil producer. ;)

      The concept of "sustainable enterprise" is starting to gain traction in the marketplace of ideas, if only because the alternatives [] are rather unappealing. The sound-bite version of this idea is that, if the poorer 5/6-ths of the world's population became entrepreneurial, and found better, cheaper ways to use our limited supply of natural resources, those of us at the top of the pyramid would also be

    • Yunus (Score:3, Informative)

      by wsanders ( 114993 )
      Minor spelling flame, just so people can get their Googles headed in the right direction. "Yukos" is the defunct Russian oil company stolen by Putin.

      And yes Gates and Yunus have been doing the rounds of the surf'n'turf hi tech conferences lately.
  • Bill may be saying something useful here. I'll leave that commentary to others.

    But Bill clearly feels breath on his neck. He's trying to change history -- his. I bristle when I read about this petty, win at all costs no matter what it does to others fellow being described as a philanthropist.

    I'm sure he doesn't have an agenda to make the world more profitable for Microsoft, anymore. Just 20 years ago, when he was already absurdly rich, absolutely any large sum he gave to any charity would have been ALL
  • Mr. Gates said that he has grown impatient with the shortcomings of capitalism. He said he has seen those failings first-hand on trips for Microsoft to places like the South African slum of Soweto, and discussed them with dozens of experts on disease and poverty.

    The reason that capitalism hasn't worked as well in places like this is because they were F'd over for so long by imperial states. And their own warring states. So what's really needed is a dramatic cut in militarism/statism.

    In particular, he said,

  • by stormguard2099 ( 1177733 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:36AM (#22166550)
    as TFS states, people are critical of Gates because he has waited until he has all this money to speak up. I'm going to take an optimistic approach and say that perhaps he has waited until he has money to push this because nobody listens to poor people. If your neighbor came out and said the same thing that Gates is I doubt it would be on /. Gates is in a position where he can actually effect changes. I say if he wants to help the poor, more power to him as long as he doesn't turn a blind eye to Microsoft.
    • by Monsuco ( 998964 )

      nobody listens to poor people.

      Dear god you sound like Michael Moore. The poor vote so politicians listen to them, otherwise Medicade, TANF, S-CHIP, Scholarships, and all of the other programs that we have would not exist. Gates seems to forget that "kinder capitalism" and all of the other plans that try to use the economy for the common good usually hurt the poor more than anything else. The Chinese regulate their economy into a "kinder capitalism" where bureaucrats decide what merchandise is beneficial to

  • some people may point out that poverty became a priority for Mr. Gates only after he'd earned billions building up Microsoft.

    My take is more like: poverty became an issue for BillG only after he got married to Melinda. I'm sure that is the primary reason for calling their charity group the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

    • I would also add: Why is prioritising helping poor people a bad thing AFTER you have much cash? If he was poor too, would it be better? If he is rich, it is now easier for him to help poor and he has better posiibilities for helping them.
    • by nagora ( 177841 )
      My take is more like: poverty became an issue for BillG only after he got married to Melinda.

      Fair enough; marrying Bill became a priority for Melinda once he became stinking rich.


  • by dasbush ( 1143709 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:38AM (#22166586)
    Capitalism suffers from the same problem as Communism and Anarchy. In order for it to work, people need to not be jerks.

    The problem with solving poverty is that it costs money; investing money in things that will give no return is bad business. Unless we are willing to sacrifice things will never change. Even then it will be hard because there will not be an overnight change. It will take time and energy.

    We CAN make poverty history. We just have to be willing to pay the price and suffer for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.
    • by jofny ( 540291 )
      investing money in things that will give no return is bad business.

      Investing in increasing the ecnonomic health of poor peoples and nations often gives a large financal return. It's good business for you to make people smarter, give them jobs, give them ways to earn an income. That does two things: First, the people have enough invested in negotiating disputes financially, instead of with arms. Second, they have more money to spend in general and the market can support more goods/services exchanged,
    • by mh1997 ( 1065630 )

      Capitalism suffers from the same problem as Communism and Anarchy. In order for it to work, people need to not be jerks. The problem with solving poverty is that it costs money; investing money in things that will give no return is bad business. Unless we are willing to sacrifice things will never change. Even then it will be hard because there will not be an overnight change. It will take time and energy. We CAN make poverty history. We just have to be willing to pay the price and suffer for no other rea

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cmpalmer ( 234347 ) *
        Well said. I wish I had moderation points.

        I think the government's role should be to protect people from being screwed, but NOT to make sure that everyone is "equal".

        Personally, I think socialism and communism are wonderful ideals that have never been proven to be compatible with human nature and human society and are likely never to be. For example, no one would disagree with the statement "The world would be a better place if there were no violence", but there is no way the world would achieve that withou
    • by darjen ( 879890 )

      Capitalism suffers from the same problem as Communism and Anarchy. In order for it to work, people need to not be jerks.

      Democracy also suffers from this problem.
    • Not At All (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MarkPNeyer ( 729607 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @01:30PM (#22169504)
      Communism and Anarchy would only work if people were not jerks - you're right about that. Capitalism works because it's based upon the assumption that people will be jerks. The point of a market economy is to try to make it so that even selfish jerks are forced into helping other people. Without government intervention, the best way to make a ton of money is to do your damndest to help your fellow man by building a company that produces desired goods at dirt cheap prices.

      The key problem with capitalism is that the government does interfere with the markets - you get big corporations (aka microsoft) pressuring the government to give them special breaks and abilities. Government subsidies are NOT a part of capitalism - they run counter to the nature of free markets.

      The idea that capitalism encourages greed is akin to saying that having fire departments encourages people to start fires. People will be greedy no matter what social system they live in - captialism is simply designed to alleviate that condition as much as possible.
  • by sam_handelman ( 519767 ) <> on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:38AM (#22166590) Homepage Journal
    Firstly, for governments to "encourage" private corporations to help the poor basically means: the government should give the rich some money, and the rich will, in turn, give a fraction of that to the poor.

    It's a scam to insert themselves into the revenue stream and suck at the public teat.

    This is a bit off-topic, but I'm going to reproduce something my mother (who is a teacher) wrote in respect to the similarly-phrased venture philanthropy plans in education. Sorry that it is long, but since educationally venture philanthropy is very much part of the Gates' foundations agenda, it's relevant in entirety. I did the html formatting, but the content is my Mom's []:

    Background. []

    "Educational Entrepreneurship" is an enormously powerful nation-wide effort to sub-contract educational administration, curriculum, and professional development services in low-income public school districts to private for-profit partners, after districts are taken over under NCLB []. Mass Insight [] is a leader in this drive, and you can view its proposal to coordinate the takeover process for its partners in a report on its website. They are explicit, in their report, that their eventual target is to take over the entire public education system and run it, free of "bureaucratic interference." []

    Another powerful player is New Schools Venture Fund [], which has just added former Mass. Education Board chairman Jim Peyser [] to its partners; The Gates Foundation is a backer [], and the Harvard Business School now offers MBA classes in []
    Educational Entrepreneurship.

    The eventual for-profit providers of services are located under several layers of interlocking "advocacy" organizations, with a conscious strategy of leveraging investment of public and private money to promote the takeover. Texas, Massachusetts, and California are epicenters of the project, where Republican governors have built Education Boards dominated by adherents. An example of a "partner" might be K-12 Inc, which went public last week with a stock offering that raised $108 million, according to the current issue of Education Week. []

    The rationale for forcing public schools to consume these private services is that the services are "research-based" and have proven their effectiveness. A problem is that the research is often biased or distorted by researchers with hidden agendas. In many cases, especially in Texas, it was fabricated outright [she means Reading First []]. Most activity has been in math and reading, since those are the high-stakes targets of NCLB. But as concern has risen over the condition of science instruction, vast amounts of money have been appropriated to improve it, and entrepreneurial attention has now focused on science education.

    As you may know [remember this was originally sent to other teachers], the federal "What Works" clearinghouse has

    • Firstly, for governments to "encourage" private corporations to help the poor basically means: the government should give the rich some money, and the rich will, in turn, give a fraction of that to the poor.

      Indeed. But they don't even have to that -- it'll just trickle down.

  • Is that for pre-school?
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:45AM (#22166674) Journal

    We had a story about it just a little while ago "MS ties charity to the use of Windows". I have absolutly no doubt that Bill Gates would LOVE to help the poor, with "free" MS software.

    No not because he is an evil self-serving asshole. Lets be brutally honest here, MS software is the best in the world, and Bill Gates is the living proof of it. If MS software isn't the best in the world, why does everyone use it making Bill Gates one of the richest man on earth?

    Because lets undestand this very clearly, compared to all the other very rich men on earth, Bill Gates got that way by basically selling a SINGLE product, later expanding that to a massive TWO. (Okay not exactly, but compare this to other giant companies like IBM, HP or the japanese giants and MS product catalog seems awfully thin).

    I think their is something very subtle corrupt about PRIVATE donations, when even a Morning Musume sketch knows it, you have to wonder why any sane society allows it.

    In a sketch some childeren have an argument, one is rich, the others aren't. Rich kid complains to parents, parents talk to the schoolteacher and threathen to cut their donations.

    A more classic example is religious charity, you can have our cash, but you got to listen to our sermon and if your religion ain't right, well we might not even give you anything at all.

    I think charity should firmly be in the hands of a goverment, they are not the best but at least they can be voted out. If I want to donate a million dollars I shouldn't really be able to attach any restrictions to it. If you allow that you essentially allow the rich to dictate the live of the poor. Schools only get Bill Gates money if the schools only windows, can this even be called charity anymore? What next, schools that don't expell kids who pirate MS windows will get no funding?

    No, I think Bill Gates is the last person I want in control of society, not just because he is ammoral business man, but because he also had that amorallity work for him all his life. Do you want a human being telling the poor how to life who has never ever been poor? Who with his monthly income condems countless others to poverty.

    This has to do with the concept of average income. If the average income is 1000 dollars and one person make 10.000 then 9 people earn nothing at all

    If he is truly that worried about society, the answer is simple, PAY MORE TAXES. MS has made it an art to find way to dodge paying taxes over its gigantic earnings. But that offcourse won't happen, wether tax money is wasted or not is not the issue, Bill Gates has little to say on how taxes are spend, why it might even go to the NSA on projects to improve Linux. Schools could decide themselves what software to use. The end of the world!

    There are some fans of Bill Gates who point out his charity work, but frankly for a man that is that rich, it is pathetic and a lot of it can be traced back to ways of forcing the use of windows.

    Also there is this to consider, if I make 1000 dollars and donate 100, that is a huge amount. If I make a million dollars and donate 100.000. The amount is far greater but the impact on me is far smaller. If I have billions, then I could donate 95% of my wealth and still life the life of the filthy rich. Gates don't donate 95% of his wealth, not even 10 percent. Important thing to consider.

    More controll by business over our society, yeah thanks DO NOT WANT!

  • World's Billionares (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:45AM (#22166676)
    When I skim down the list of the world's billionaires [], the ones that stand out when it comes to philanthropy tend to be the ones that made their money in software. Phillip Knight (of Nike) has given a lot to the University of Oregon, where he started out, but that's all I see from a first glance. I wonder if software folks have a different take on poverty than the rest of the super-wealthy?
  • The end of poverty (Score:5, Informative)

    by Antity-H ( 535635 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:45AM (#22166680) Homepage
    Jeffrey sachs a famous american economist who was for a time special advisor to UN secretary general Kofi Annan wrote a book published in 2005 titled "The end of poverty" where he details just such a revision. see []

    this is not as ironic or impossible as it sounds at first sight, Sachs is not a dreamer, what he wants to achieve is not suppressing all of poverty, but to suppress life threatening poverty. To do this he proposes to help the poor countries get back on the development ladder by using slight modifications to the market forces. once they get on the development ladder he argues, extreme poverty should disappear pretty fast (his proposed time frame is 20 years )
  • Even capitalism fails when unfair monopolistic practices such as those used by convicted monopolist Microsoft artificially keeps prices high.

    Kinder capitalism would require getting rid of lunatics like Ballmer who even bullies his kids into not using an competitors product.

    Freedom, equality and above all choice are required, Microsoft denies you much of that.
  • Moral credibility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BobandMax ( 95054 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:45AM (#22166684)
    His statements would have more credibility if he dedicated Microsoft to cease illegal, anti-competitive behavior. You know, a kinder, gentler capitalism.
  • Yes! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Daishiman ( 698845 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:46AM (#22166696)
    So does that mean Bill will embrace Free Software on public institutions of poor countries to save cost and dependence from corporations which don't necessarily have their best interests at hand?
  • Soweto (Score:5, Informative)

    by BeanThere ( 28381 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:47AM (#22166730)

    He said he has seen those failings first-hand on trips for Microsoft to places like the South African slum of Soweto

    Having been there myself several times last year (it's not too far from where I live), I wouldn't really call Soweto a failure of capitalism. It arose primarily under the old apartheid system as a collection of around 30 "black townships" (roughly = "black ghettos"), and the system for the blacks was basically an oppressive fascist police state, while for the whites, at best socialist (e.g. major industries like telecomms, electricity, television broadcasting, steel etc. were nationalised and quite tightly controlled). The Group Areas Act of old also forced certain races to live in certain areas, and other apartheid regulations specifically DID NOT ALLOW much freedom of trade or other commercial activity within black areas like Soweto - the blacks weren't really allowed to just, say, up and build a mall, noone was. That's not capitalism. That was just 14 or 15 years ago, basically.

    Now, the current government is still a 'socialist' government - when the old government fell in 1994, the new one implemented a variety of "reforms" such as minimum wage and various welfare grants and "free electricity and water for all" programs, all of which did not exist before, that are certainly far more, um, typically associated with socialism than capitalism. On the other hand they reduced the level of nationalisation of businesses, privating or semi-privatising a number of major industries for example (some of those are disasters but for complete other reasons not relevant to this topic - also not failures of capitalism though). Nonetheless the current government can best be described as "centrist", pushing things neither too far to the right nor left - it is, loosely speaking, a 'free market system for most markets but with some socialist characteristics and a bit of crony capitalism' (not unlike the US), but has only been so for 14 odd years. For Soweto, many of the zoning and movement regulations have been lifted, which means that people and companies are now more free to invest and build etc. in Soweto, and anyone, including blacks are free to start, own, run and trade in any businesses. In spite of the relative poverty, with an estimated population between 1,000,000 and 4,000,000 people (who as a result of the old zoning regs used to have to travel miles to Joburg to buy various stuff), Soweto has a combined estimated annual retail buying power of about 4 billion Rand (roughly US$500million), and this IS currently attracting a lot of investment and development, particularly by the major black 'business elite' that has risen since 1994 --- there is currently loads of development going on - new malls are springing up, office parks are going up, gyms, even hotels and basic broadband infrastructure etc. are being built in Soweto.

    So I wouldn't really call this a failure either - it's just the beginning, after all, just 14 years into a semi-capitalist system with mostly poor and poorly educated people, it's starting to turn into a veritable growing metropolis / city in its own right (albeit a dangerous crime-ridden one). Of course it could be going a lot better, but I don't think it can rightfully be called a "failure of capitalism". More like, new-born capitalism is starting to help fix the wreck of a socialist police state.

    It should be noted that Soweto is NOT considered one of the "poorer" township areas. It's definitely poor, but compared to most other 'black townships', comparatively wealthy (e.g. almost all houses are brick - small and rundown, but brick, many roads are tarred etc., many streets have lighting and painted lines and there are proper police stations and hospitals and electricity and phone infrastructure - unlike the real poor, 'hardcore' townships like Umlazi and Alexandra which are really thousands of little shacks.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BeanThere ( 28381 )

      A few other odds and ends that may or may not be interesting to some:

      A small part of Soweto [] in Google Maps. (Soweto's very big and sprawling; this section shows Chris-Hani Baragwanath Hospital in the bottom right - a huge state-run hospital, some sources claim it's the biggest hospital in the world, although that's a claim I'd say "[citation needed]" for myself). To the top left is a now decommissioned power plant, the two towers of which dominate a large area of the Soweto skyline (and now painted with mu

  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) * on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:49AM (#22166752)
    The only problem with capitalism is that monopolies (hi, Bill!) distort Adam Smith's free market.

    As for aiding the poor ... food aid clobbers the only useful sector of third world economies, and agricultural tariffs prevent them from getting any realistic prices for what's left. The third world is left with no way to better themselves. They end up dependent on handouts from rich countries.

    And my fav current topic, the patronizing smugdiots who want to send food (which destroys their only chance at self-sufficiency and export income) to the third world instead of OLPC laptops (which saves them money compared to physical distribution of outdated textbooks in foreign languages). Or want to shove Windows on more expensive less capable laptops at them to lock them into a foreign monopoly instead of free source from which they can learn.

    Hell of a way to keep 'em down on the non-farm. See what you can do about that, Bill.
  • Does no one else realize how much money he has given away? I'm not saying that his company's practices are right by any means, but don't act like he simply makes boatloads of cash and then hordes it all. He has many mutli-billion dollar donations under his belt, and while you may say "but he has so much to spare", it's his money. If he wanted, he could keep it. That's what's great about America, you can do what you want with your money.

    So no, I'm not saying that MS has the greatest practices in the world i
  • Gates, and humanity, would be better served if he acted like the real "Robber Baron" of American history.

    The great robber barons - Carnegie, Rockefeller, and really, a lot more, all invested rather heavily in some basic infrastructure that continues to improve the USA to this day. All of the great robber barons ploughed their vast fortunes into libraries, universities, hospitals and other enterprises and essentially created, ironically, all of today's "liberal" institutions. While its admirable that he pours a lot of money in fighting HIV in Africa, if he actually built universities, vocational schools, or even just invested in existing ones, ultimately, the world would be much better served. Do you want humanity to genuinely improve? Good. Go set your school of choice up with an endowment so that they can buy a new supercomputer every couple of years.

    While you are it, maybe these billionaires ought to do what Henry Ford did and pay their workers wages far above what everyone else was getting paid at the time. You know, maybe create a real middle class again!
  • "Kinder Capitalism" is "you can have my teddy bear for ten lollipops". The kind of dealing that takes place in a Kindergarten.
  • by quigonn ( 80360 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:52AM (#22166812) Homepage
    Am I the only that was instantly reminded of Kinder Surprise [] eggs when reading the headline?
  • Practically everything [] Microsoft does contains some aspect that is adversarial toward customers. That extremely adversarial corporate culture was designed by Bill Gates.

    Is Bill Gates a new man now? Has Bill Gates somehow become a person who cares about other people? If he has, why doesn't he stop Microsoft from releasing sloppy, unfinished software []? Is the "new" Bill Gates like the "new" Richard Nixon?

    Everything I've seen indicates that Bill Gates is a poor writer. Who wrote his speech then?

    It seem
  • All these pesky trade regulators, monopoly restricters, interoperability demanders, vendor-lock-in resistors, competition promoters ... What kind of nonsense are these things? We need a better capitalistic system than this morass. Kinder to monopolies, freedom from having to obey the laws, ability to hoodwink customers into locking them in for ever... you see what I mean?

    That is what BG means by a kinder gentler Capitalism, kinder and gentler to MSFT.

  • From []

    --- start quotation ---

    TimeLETSystems is a mutual credit and exchange systems which combines elements
    from both LETSystems and a time bank systems.

    To better understand how TimeLETSystems work we need to explain how LETSystems and time banks differ.

    === Time banks ===
    In a time bank system time is used as the unit of credit and is based
    on the principle that "one hour equals one hour".
    This means that everyone get one hour credit for one hour of service.

    While this p
  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @11:09AM (#22167082) Homepage
    To the extent that capitalism still exists (I have my doubts, it is mostly mercantilism now), I believe most of the ills could be solved if the capitalists (shareholders and their agents) would adopt a longer time-frame in their return calculations.

    Most of what is criticised is nothing more than actions which yield short-term gains at the expense of long term profitability. The long term is ignored because the level of change in modern society tempts people into believing their current actions have no predictable consequences. But they do. Helping the poor, or taking care of your workers (as Henry Ford did) has a long-term payoff.

  • More gibberish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by br00tus ( 528477 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @11:11AM (#22167130)
    In the US the media is dominated by corporations, whose majority-stake owners are capitalists, and their hegemony reaches to everything - schools, churches, the current major political parties, even the currently existing unions. Thus, almost all thought by people is steeped in this thinking by people, whether they are aware of it or not, especially amongst professionals and the like - but really almost everyone. We are not like Italy in the 1970s, where there were general strikes all of the time and communists were almost voted into power, leading to things like Operation Gladio [] and P2 [].

    The notion that the rich are not concerned enough for the poor is laughable. It is laughable because the rich are very concerned for the poor. Just not in the poor's interest. This is false political spectrum allowed in the US - conservatives or Republicans or whatever speak of a free market (whatever the phrase "free market" means - I don't see how a market selling potatos in the USSR for rubles is any difference than a market in the US selling potatos for dollars - the difference was always in production, not exchange). Speak of how opening restrictions on capitalism will help everyone, or some even say it doesn't matter, because people do not have an obligation to one another. Then there is liberalism and the Democrats - the problem is the rich do not care enough about the poor.

    Both are nonsense and are really two sides of the same coin. Just take a look at China today to see the purpose of the poor. With a 20% growth rate per year it is quite open what happens - the "market" heats up, profits go down as workers make and demand more (even in repressive labor conditions reminiscent of the early days of the western industrialization). So what happens? The state, controlled by Deng-Xiaoping-following "capitalist roaders" as they used to be called, begins laying off workers, and enclosure and the like happens in the farms out west, creating a flood of new workers, lower wages and higher profits. This has been happening in rural Mexico because of NAFTA (and other similar recent trade agreements), which is why the US's neighbor to the south for so many centuries suddenly has so many undocumented types from rural Mexico flooding over the border.

    The point is is that unlike in other economic systems - slave systems, the former eastern socialist systems, feudal systems - poverty is a necessity for capitalism. If it did not exist, workers would demand all of the surplus they create at their companies, and their would be no dividend checks going out. A practical truth, the framework (but not the details) of which were spelled out by Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Say, Malthus and all of the founders of economics. But this framework was tossed in the garbage can in the late 19th century, and Smith, Ricardo and all of the early economists realization of value being created by labor was tossed in the garbage and some new nonsense was brought in. Without unemployment, poverty, longer and longer hours and that sort of thing, Gates would have no fortune. His fortune is on the backs of his overworked, often H1B'd staff, but the poor and unemployed are an essential component and necessity to keep those profits. This view is one which is rarely expressed nowadays, yet, usually the less it is heard of, the more true it is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by khallow ( 566160 )

      The point is is that unlike in other economic systems - slave systems, the former eastern socialist systems, feudal systems - poverty is a necessity for capitalism.

      It's not. Here's a short list of things you need:

      • Needs. It doesn't matter if you can easily fill those needs or not.
      • Trade. Some sort of means to exchange economic goods and services.
      • Comparative advantage []. There are goods and services that it makes sense for someone else to provide even if you can do every task better and cheaper than anyone else.
      • Existence of capital. Some goods or services require infrastructure in order to be provided.
      • Private ownership of capital. It is possible for someone to own
    • Re:More gibberish (Score:4, Interesting)

      by GreyWolf3000 ( 468618 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @02:51PM (#22170906) Journal

      This view is one which is rarely expressed nowadays,

      I agree.

      yet, usually the less it is heard of, the more true it is.

      I disagree. Your post is mindless drivel based on a loose and ungrounded interpretation of world events. `Poverty' is a necessity for capitalism only in the sense that not everyone may posess the same amount of wealth. But if you compare the poverty level in a developed nation like the United States versus a developing nation like China, you'll see why you should be qualifying a lot of the statements you just made. I've been to China within the last ten years. I've seen what they call `poverty.' Think going outside, peeling bark off a tree, and boiling it for food. The beggars on the street here where I live in Texas make above minimum wage.

  • by Wicko ( 977078 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @11:12AM (#22167150)
    When everyone criticizes Bill Gates for whatever reason, while he's donating money. WHO CARES?! He's donating money, stop bitching about what he's done in the past. It's not drug money, its not illegally obtained cash, its profit. However he obtained it, screwing others over, whatever, is pointless to rant about. Sure, I feel for his victims, but sorry, you got screwed, perhaps you should have done something differently. Even so, I'm not going to argue for or against Bill Gates for whatever he's done, I don't care if you know about Company X that got screwed over for reason Y.

    The point is, stop bitching about things like "He's only donating because he's rich" or "He made the donee use MS software in exchange". Donations are gifts, they aren't mandatory if you're rich or poor. Either way, these organizations are receiving these gifts and thats all that really matters. You don't have to praise him for it, nobody is asking you to do that, but you shouldn't bitch about it either. Just be thankful these organizations have more money than they did before (assuming these organizations are worthwhile).

    And seriously, why is it such a big deal that in exchange for a donation, he is asking an organization to use their software (I'm assuming he is donating that as well, or donations > cost to switch to MS software)? It is, in a sense, paying someone to use your software. It speaks a little bit for your software but in the end, the have (arguably) useable software and more money than they had before. Do these organizations complain about things like this? Certainly not as much as slashdotters apparently. In the end, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth".
  • It angers me.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colourspace ( 563895 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @11:14AM (#22167202)
    To see that things have gotten so bad in the world that all I see here is cynicism and trolling. Yes, it is true a lot of us do not like Microsoft, for whatever reason (I find myself ambivalent but there you go). Yes Bill is worth billions. No, we won't change the world overnight, but for fucks sake, what has he got to gain from this? One of the most rich men in the world, he could quite easily say 'fuck it' put his feet up and do NOTHING - I don't think guilt is the real issue here. The fact that he is saying something, not to mention the amount of money his and his wifes' foundation has given away over the years (billions of dollars) surely accounts for something. If he has been clever enough to create the leviathan that is Microsoft, he might, just might, have some influence that could help us all change the shithole we are currently living in to something with some hope. But for fuck's sake lets not shoot the guy down in flames for it until we can prove he is in it to feather his own nest After almost 9 years on /. I'm getting pretty fucking sick of the attitudes round here - too many fucking smart arses and not enough people willing to think about anything more than how much free software they deserve or how they'll never pay for music because its not worth it* . but I feel pretty strongly about this. (* seriously - someone on here today valued it at 4 cents a track. If it is that bad, donate your ears to someone who could use them buddy). Bunch of moaning fucking ingrates. Set mod to troll.
  • by sherriw ( 794536 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @02:27PM (#22170466)
    In some ways I agree with what Bill is doing. His idea is good, but instead of adding more government funds to this type of incentive, the money that our governments CURRENTLY spend on sending cash and food and other things that are misappropriated, fall into the wrong hands etc needs to be re-allocated to make a better impact. How much do we spend sending tankers of water rather than building wells?

    What's the most effective way to really combat poverty? Building schools like the Central Asia Institute ( []) does for only around $12K per school, or helping developed world lenders (like me) support entrepreneurs who want to open or run their own businesses (help themselves) like Kiva ( []) does is the best way to combat real poverty. Education, jobs and drinking water is the best way. Educated young people are less likely to be recruited by extremists as well.

    Sending truckloads of rice is a temporary bandaid that's not even guaranteed to get to the hands of the needy.

    Hell, Kiva has more people in countries like USA and Canada who want to help, but Kiva is small and can't scale up fast enough to get to enough needy people to take advantage of all the interested donors/lenders. Government money that ends up in the hands of rebel groups could be better spent here. There is a business case to be made as well since Kiva for example is looking into passing interest back to the lenders.

    Next steps can be to help bring medical skills and sustainable agriculture to a region - something that building schools can help solve.

    Anyway, the current model of foreign aid is waaay broken. Fix the root of the problem like lack of education, rather than trying to fix a collapsing damn with your finger tip in the hole.

    (This post is kind of all over the place, but philanthropy issues have recently become something of a passion, and I can't write prettily just now.)

Maybe you can't buy happiness, but these days you can certainly charge it.