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The Almighty Buck

'No Such Thing As a Free Gift' Casts a Critical Eye At Gates Foundation (theintercept.com) 156

theodp writes: The Intercept's Michael Massing takes a look at "How the Gates Foundation Reflects the Good and the Bad of 'Hacker Philanthropy." He writes, "Despite its impact, few book-length assessments of the foundation's work have appeared. Now Linsey McGoey, a sociologist at the University of Essex, is seeking to fill the gap. 'Just how efficient is Gates's philanthropic spending?' she asks in No Such Thing as a Free Gift. 'Are the billions he has spent on U.S. primary and secondary schools improving education outcomes? Are global health grants directed at the largest health killers? Is the Gates Foundation improving access to affordable medicines, or are patent rights taking priority over human rights?' As the title of her book suggests, McGoey answers all of these questions in the negative. The good the foundation has done, she believes, is far outweighed by the harm." Massing adds, "Bill and Melinda Gates answer to no electorate, board, or shareholders; they are accountable mainly to themselves. What's more, the many millions of dollars the foundation has bestowed on nonprofits and news organizations has led to a natural reluctance on their part to criticize it. There's even a name for it: the 'Bill Chill' effect."
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'No Such Thing As a Free Gift' Casts a Critical Eye At Gates Foundation

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bill should have just kept all the lucre. Then there would be nothing to criticize.

    • Re:She's Wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by edibobb ( 113989 ) on Friday November 27, 2015 @05:45PM (#51015017) Homepage
      Maybe they can do much more good without jumping through the bureaucratic hoops. It's their money. Why do they need to account to Linsey McGoey for the way they spend it?
      • Re:She's Wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by doconnor ( 134648 ) on Friday November 27, 2015 @05:58PM (#51015043) Homepage

        The government run school systems and aid agencies have to account for how the money is effecting them.

        Also, Linsey McGoey is fully in her rights to critique how they spend it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The government run school systems and aid agencies have to account for how the money is effecting them.

          It seems the Gates Foundation didn't fund your school enough.

        • Also, Linsey McGoey is fully in her rights to critique how they spend it.

          Sure, but keep in mind that she has a much bigger incentive to be negative, than to be positive. Far more people will buy her book if she says philanthropy is harmful, since then the readers can feel smug and superior about doing nothing.

      • Exactly. "Bill and Melinda Gates answer to no electorate, board, or shareholders; they are accountable mainly to themselves." first she has to establish that this is a problem and why. Possibly she did and the reviewer missed that, but it doesn't seem that way.

        Hey Linsey McGoey: Sad day for you!

      • It's their money.

        Yup, and they totally earned it fairly and squarely.

  • Like all these so called 'philanthropic' organisations they are designed primarily as a tax-free haven for their cash pile. Secondly, they are there to promote drugs and get people dependant on aid that makes many companies a significant amount of money. It's amazing what you can get away with under the guise of 'charity', which is why every sportsman and woman, and their dogs seem to have one.
    • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Friday November 27, 2015 @06:27PM (#51015149)
      LOL dude you don't have a fucking clue how tax works do you? this article is really really bad, reads like a whine fest of "they aren't focusing on the areas we want them to therefore anything good they do is outweighed by not doing what we want". She is more than free to create and fund her our foundation and focus on the ills she believes haunts the world instead of bitching about others that are actually trying to help
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Giving away "free" licenses for Microsoft products isn't what I'd call charity either.
  • by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Friday November 27, 2015 @05:52PM (#51015029)

    "Bill and Melinda Gates answer to no electorate, board, or shareholders; they are accountable mainly to themselves."

    What makes anyone think they have a right to an accounting?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2015 @06:05PM (#51015077)

      If the foundation is actually doing harm, rather than good, then people should know this and raise a fuss about it so that the directors hear it, if nothing else.

      Charity can be complex, as it turns out. Authentic efforts at providing aid can have unintended consequences. One poignant example is giving free food to communities that are on the edge of starvation. The side effect is that, people eat the free food and spend their pennies on something other than food, which instantly bankrupts the local farmers. It takes quite a long time before the farmers can set up shop again, so now where there was a barely-sufficient food supply, there is no food supply at all, and the dependence on charity is even greater.

      The most effective charity efforts are ones that increase the community's ability to self-sustain. This means increasing their general level of economic activity. Microcredit has a very good track-record at doing this, but is commonly (and incorrectly) criticized as a means of making money off poor people, and of burdening them with financial debt in addition to their other woes. When done right, micro credit has neither of these effects, and much better long-term benefits than just giving away free food.

      Surprisingly, giving away free money has actually been shown to promote healthier, more self-sustaining economies. People think "those poor people will just spend it on booze" which might make sense in a first world country where "the poor" are the mentally-diseased bums that can never and will never hold a job. In reality, when free money is given to members of poor communities, they treat it like gold and use it very wisely.

      My two cents.

      • If the foundation is actually doing harm, rather than good,

        They're doing both. The question is which they're doing more.

        then people should know this and raise a fuss about it so that the directors hear it, if nothing else.

        They already know.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 )
      According to the quote in the article, this is the problem:

      "despite their flair for disruption, these philanthropists are no more interested in radical change than their more conservative predecessors. They don’t lobby for the redistribution of wealth; instead, they see poverty and inequality as an engineering problem, and the solution is their own brain power, not a tithe.”

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So the problem is that they're not communists?
        Are we supposed to be shocked that the reason a rich guy is giving away money is not because he thinks someone should have taken it away?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by phantomfive ( 622387 )
          I think it's more a problem of people saying, "Since they are not solving the problems that I see, they are not solving problems and therefore bad."

          Kind of like the blind men holding on to different parts of the elephant, and each describing it drastically differently. We all see different problems in the world because we have different viewpoints.

          For myself, I think the problem of inequality is impossible to solve, and I would not even attempt it. I am willing to fight against poverty, and I do put re
          • The sensible goal is not to eliminate inequity but to narrow the gap to something that 'reasonable' people can live with, for example in most scandinavian countries the tax system makes it difficult/impossible for the highest paid to earn more than ~10X the lowest paid. You can still have your corporate empire but you can't suck it dry and spend it all on solid gold plumbing.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by bws111 ( 1216812 )

              A favorite target of the 'inequity' crowd seems to be Walmart. And why not, after all their average employee makes about $15K/year, while the CEO makes $26M. Until you do math, that is. There are 2.2M employees. Paying the CEO the same as everyone else, assuming you could find someone to do the job, would result in an extra $10 PER YEAR for each employee. Man, that is sure going to make their lives better.

              • The reasoning behind the inequality movement isn't to help the poor people, rather it's to prevent the rich from having too much power. If you limited the salary of the Walmart CEO to $3million a year, he would still be rich, but wouldn't have as much money to manipulate the government.

                That is the theory, anyway.
              • A favorite target of the 'inequity' crowd seems to be Walmart.

                Yes, that makes sense; they don't pay a living wage, and their existence destroys [small] businesses which do, at least to a larger percentage of their workforce.

                And why not, after all their average employee makes about $15K/year, while the CEO makes $26M. Until you do math, that is. There are 2.2M employees. Paying the CEO the same as everyone else, assuming you could find someone to do the job, would result in an extra $10 PER YEAR for each employee.

                There's lots of other places that you could squeeze money out of Wal-Mart besides just the CEO's salary. You've actually overestimated [salary.com] his pay for 2015, at least according to the official filings.

                C. Douglas McMillon, President and CEO: $19,070,249.00
                Charles M. Holley Jr., Executive Vice President and CFO: $7,294,712.00
                Neil M. Ashe, Executive Vice P

              • I think there must be some kind of grouping fallacy here. Just because you can divide a big number by a big number and get a small number, doesn't mean that it isn't a big number. You can make anything small that way. I could steal 6 billion dollars from somewhere. But no, I'm hardly stealing since it's less than $1 per person. Through your ridiculous classification scheme, you have created a class of one person (the CEO) and another class of 2.2M people and treated them as coherent entities.

              • Cool, so if I do the Superman... III and Office Space thing and steal one cent from everyone in America each day, no one cares right? I mean, it'd make me really really happy, and if no one else cares, it's a utiliarianly justified action.

      • Proving once again that "no good deed goes unpunished".
      • Ahh yes (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday November 27, 2015 @07:42PM (#51015409)

        "They are acting liberal but not liberal ENOUGH! They don't subscribe to precisely my kind of politics, so I need to hate on what they do."

        People like the author piss me off. They aren't interested in any actual good, they are just interested in their agenda being pushed.

        • "They are acting liberal but not liberal ENOUGH! They don't subscribe to precisely my kind of politics, so I need to hate on what they do."

          No, the argument is that they are acting conservatively. Conservatives will tell you all day that there's nothing liberal about charity, and arguably there's reason to agree; you can participate in charity due to enlightened self-interest. Gates has decided that he wants to live in a world with less infectious diseases, and sure I'm on his side in that. But the way he spends the money to "fix" the problem is a band-aid. The problems are caused by poverty, and if you don't fix that problem then there will ju

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Threni ( 635302 )

      Always people sitting around doing fuck all, criticising others. "Personally, if I'd earned billions of dollars and was going to spend it on other people, I'd do it this way".

      FUCK OFF! Nobody cares!

    • I think this may have something to do with the amount spent? I am sure we all dream of winning the lottery and what we might do with the money? Perhaps you choose to give a local school a helping hand, maybe giving money to a fund usually patronised by parents? If you give a large sum what is the point of parents also giving money? Your donation has effectively disengaged people.
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      What makes anyone think they have a right to an accounting?

      I'd say anyone who pays taxes in a jurisdiction which grants the foundation tax-exempt status would have a reasonable claim to a right to an accounting.

    • by pepty ( 1976012 ) on Friday November 27, 2015 @07:20PM (#51015335)

      What makes anyone think they have a right to an accounting?

      Tax laws. As a tax exempt organization, they have to release their 990 at a minimum. Here you go: http://www.gatesfoundation.org... [gatesfoundation.org] People who donate should expect more information, but the Gates foundation does not solicit donations. Since no one has addressed McGooey's concerns on Gates' spending on public health:

      As McGoey briefly acknowledges, the foundation’s investment of more than $15 billion in this field “has done considerable good.” That seems an understatement. Thanks in part to the Gateses’ strong investment in vaccines for infectious diseases, deaths from measles in Africa have dropped by 90 percent since 2000. Over the last quarter century, tuberculosis mortality worldwide has fallen by 45 percent, while over the last dozen years the number of new malaria cases has dropped by 30 percent. And polio, which in 1988 was endemic in 125 countries, is today endemic in only two. The foundation has also played an important part in fighting the spread of HIV and helping those infected with the virus to lead productive lives. For this, Bill and Melinda Gates deserve much credit.

      The question is, has this been the best use of their money? As McGoey notes, chronic diseases, as opposed to communicable ones, exact a staggering toll worldwide, yet the foundation has invested less than 4 percent of its funding in research on them, and the global health community has largely followed suit. “The failure to combat obesity, cancer and heart disease epidemics in poor nations,” she observes, “has been one of the most glaring mistakes of global development efforts in recent years.”

      So she agrees they have spent their money very effectively, but criticize them for not trying to fix problems in third world countries that have proven to be intractable in first world countries.

      Hokeydokey.

      The Gates Foundation hasn't cured cancer, heart disease, or the obesity epidemic, therefore it is ineffective. Then she criticizes them for not creating primary care infrastructure in third world countries. Until recently, that is, when they started spending money on creating primary care infrastructure.

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        So they should call it a Windows Religion. Religions have all of the benefits, and none of the accounting. Religions do blatantly illegal things (like buy spare land, then rent it out for a profit, and roll the profit from that business venture into the church losses, while getting the extra land tax-free). But since nobody wants to go to hell for arresting God, nobody cares about the abuses by religious charities.

        And if B&M Gates is poor, try the United Way and the piles of other charitable organiz
      • To be fair, if their stated aim is to cure cancer, heart disease, or the obesity epidemic, they have obviously been ineffective. It is alright to criticize how someone is trying to achieve something, as long as they propose an alternative way.

    • by jdavidb ( 449077 )
      It's nice to know some people still believe this.
    • What makes anyone think they have a right to an accounting?

      Because people get removed from their jobs and don't get funding if there is any criticism?

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Friday November 27, 2015 @06:02PM (#51015055) Homepage
    One of the big apparent complaints is Gates focus on infectious rather than chronic diseases. From the article:

    The same is true when it comes to the foundation’s work in public health. As McGoey briefly acknowledges, the foundation’s investment of more than $15 billion in this field “has done considerable good.” That seems an understatement. Thanks in part to the Gateses’ strong investment in vaccines for infectious diseases, deaths from measles in Africa have dropped by 90 percent since 2000. Over the last quarter century, tuberculosis mortality worldwide has fallen by 45 percent, while over the last dozen years the number of new malaria cases has dropped by 30 percent. And polio, which in 1988 was endemic in 125 countries, is today endemic in only two. The foundation has also played an important part in fighting the spread of HIV and helping those infected with the virus to lead productive lives. For this, Bill and Melinda Gates deserve much credit.

    So far so good.

    The question is, has this been the best use of their money? As McGoey notes, chronic diseases, as opposed to communicable ones, exact a staggering toll worldwide, yet the foundation has invested less than 4 percent of its funding in research on them, and the global health community has largely followed suit. “The failure to combat obesity, cancer and heart disease epidemics in poor nations,” she observes, “has been one of the most glaring mistakes of global development efforts in recent years.” An equally serious shortcoming has been the neglect of primary-care facilities in the developing world. The initial problems that the nations of West Africa faced in combating the Ebola outbreak stemmed in part from the weaknesses in their overall health systems. Interestingly, in late September, the Gates Foundation, together with WHO and the World Bank, announced a joint partnership aimed at improving access to primary care in poor and middle-income countries — a dramatic (if tacit) acknowledgement that the emphasis on fighting individual diseases has been too narrow.

    The primary reason it makes sense to focus on infectious diseases is that once they are gone, they are completely gone. Obesity and other problems don't go away permanently. In contrast if we wipe out malaria or polio, we won't have to deal with it again.

    Note also that every single one of the other major criticisms acknowledges that it is something that the Gates have changed already. For example, the article discusses how a number of the Foundation's early attempts at education reform didn't work well. But they changed what they were doing. So they are already using effective evaluations and metrics to decide things.

    I find it deeply unfortunate that someone spent an entire book criticizing the Gates Foundation when there are far more clear cut wastes of money out there. The Make a Wish Foundation is an example. They spent 58 million dollars last year http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.programs&orgid=4038#.VljSXnsyH3U [charitynavigator.org] and millions more came from businesses in parts of wishes to help a tiny number of dying children, whereas if that money was spent effectively on cancer research, there would be fewer children dying. Instead we have an entire book focusing on one of the most effective and efficient charities in on the planet which complains that they aren't efficient enough.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Thanks for posting this. It reaffirms my initial thought that this was risible criticism. If anything, the quoted text makes me realize I was too kind and it's not just silly it's actually maliciously stupid.

      So because the Gates spent billions saving actual lives that can be counted and measured they are wrong because instead they should invest money in things that already receive a lot of funding and have been studied for _decades_ like obesity, cancer, etc...

      ...because... that way at the end of the day th

      • Microsoft have done their bit against obesity.

        When we switched to Win 95 (from mainframes & dumb terminals) the constant BSODs used to get me so annoyed I had to go for a walk round the car park to calm down.

        I lost 6 kilos in the first month.

    • by khasim ( 1285 )

      I don't think she sufficiently covered the HOW which is the problem.

      They don't fund a charter school and see how the students there do.

      They fund political campaigns to move money FROM the existing system TO their system.

      When their system does not support their projections, they leave it. BUT THEY DO NOT PAY TO HAVE THE LAW REVERSED.

      So the end result is a worse public school system.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The question is, has this been the best use of their money?

      McGoey's complaint is that the Gates Foundation (1) isn't optimizing it's donations and (2) isn't taking a boil-the-ocean approach. Let's take a look at the alternatives: (1) The foundation spends lots of time and money deciding on the optimal solution before it gives any money away, and (2) tries to solve all the problems everywhere at the same time. No matter what approach Gates takes he gets criticized by McGooey. Sounds to me like it's easy to be a critic and that no good deed goes unpunished.

    • Thanks in part to the Gateses’ strong investment in vaccines for infectious diseases, deaths from measles in Africa have dropped by 90 percent since 2000.

      1. That's a *really* impressive achievement.
      2. Wait -- thanks to whose investment?
      3. Never mind, I misread that.
    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      I agree with most of what you said, but think you unfairly slammed Make A Wish. $58M is about 1% of what the NIH alone spends on cancer research every year. Is an extra 1% really going to make that big of a difference? People and businesses who donate to Make A Wish know they are not funding research, they think they are making some poor dying kid happy for a little while. What is wrong with that? And if you are going to criticize how people choose to spend their money, there are FAR bigger targets. Fo

      • I agree that the total cost from MAW is relatively small. I'm not sure your metric is necessarily the bestf one looks not at all cancer funding but cancer research in children, one gets a much larger fraction. About 5% of all funding is for children's cancer (http://www.stbaldricks.org/filling-the-funding-gap/ [stbaldricks.org] says 4%) so this would be about 20% of funding for children's cancer. That may not be the best metric, because much cancer research applies to cancers at a broad age range, so I think I'd agree that

      • To say nothing of the spillover effects of granting wishes. The most common wish is apparently for a clubhouse of some kind, which of course ebenefits other children. Then you have great productions (like BatKid day) that make all of a city or the whole country feel good. And then there are teh "meeting celebrity" type wishes, which seem good for the celebrities as well as the child.

    • by clovis ( 4684 )

      Agreed.
      And I want to pile on with my rant.

      Regarding infectious disease vs chronic diseases.
      This is largely a case of truly innocent vs people who are causing their own problems.

      As for chronic diseases, "obesity, cancer and heart disease epidemics in poor nations", umm, poor nations rates of those are less than affluent nations.
      Is Gates supposed to drop helping the truly innocent and poor people and instead focus on diseases of the affluent?

      Obesity isn't a disease. It is a life-style choice and the causes an

    • . Obesity and other problems don't go away permanently.

      It depends on how you get rid of obesity. Through diet and exercise at an individual level, sure. But if it's through some form of microbiological change, then maybe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2015 @06:02PM (#51015057)

    It always has strings attached.

    Money provided for:
    education - only Microsoft software used.
    medical - buy only from specific companies or research is still owned by the companies...

    As far as is visible, they are just an extension of Microsoft, but without taxes.

  • Well written and insightful article. Well worth the read.
  • Shorter version (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Friday November 27, 2015 @06:09PM (#51015091)

    If you save thousands of people from being killed or maimed by measles, polio, malaria, and other diseases in Africa, but you don't bow your head to the left's concerns over patents, then those people you helped don't matter. You must advance the cause. And the cause is about money, not about whether children are crippled by polio or die of measles.

    And the experiments to improve education threaten to disrupt the cash flow from teachers' union dues. Stop those too.

  • Books thesis (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday November 27, 2015 @06:09PM (#51015095) Journal
    Here is the book's thesis:

    The good the foundation has done, she believes, is far outweighed by the harm

    The Gates foundation mainly spends money on education and healthcare. In healthcare, the Gates foundation has spent $15 billion on improving vaccines, etc. This (and money from other sources) has resulted in a reduction of deaths by measles in Africa by 90%. Polio, tuberculosis, and HIV have all been reduced, thanks in part to the Gates foundation.

    So what's the problem? According to the author, "The failure to combat obesity, cancer and heart disease epidemics in poor nations,” she observes, “has been one of the most glaring mistakes of global development efforts in recent years." So maybe they could have allocated their resources better.

    In education, the author is upset that the Gates foundation spent money on things that didn't work. For example, they spent billions to create small schools based on the idea that it would give students more personalized attention. Unfortunately, that didn't improve college acceptance rates, so Gates ended the program.

    If the author thinks that "dropping/modifying a program when data indicates it doesn't work" is a bad thing, then I'm forced to disagree heartily with her. In fact, if the only thing accomplished by the Gates foundation is to get people to do that more often, then it will be a huge success as far as I'm concerned. And I'm no fan of Gates.

    • Re:Books thesis (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday November 27, 2015 @07:42PM (#51015407) Homepage Journal

      Well, having worked in both the non-profit sector and in public health, I think the criticisms of the Gates Foundation's public health efforts are malarkey. It's basically an opportunity cost argument and by that standard virtually every charitable foundation is wanting. Why are you spending money on the ballet when there are kids who can't read? Why are you spending money on literacy education when there are kids who don't have enough to eat etc. The problems of the world are endlessly varied and complex, and you can't ask much more of anyone than that they pick a spot and take a whack.

      That said, the idea that spending money on infectious diseases is wasteful is particularly inane. Sure, in some places obesity may result in more premature deaths than malaria, but the fact is nobody really knows how to effectively fight an "obesity epidemic", whereas malaria is clearly eradicable -- and once it's gone, it's gone forever, because P. falciparum has no natural host other than humans. The same goes for communicable diseases for which we have vaccines; we know how to fight those cost effectively, even eradicate them in many cases. The missing piece of the puzzle is money.

      Now criticism of the foundation's education efforts is a lot more warranted. Just like everybody thinks they're qualified to design a website because they have opinions about which sites they like and don't like, everyone thinks they're qualified to redesign the educational system because they went to school. The difference is that Gates has the money to make his bad ideas materialize. It may be hacker philanthropy, but most attempts at "hacks" result in kluges.

      So overall it's a mixed bag. While you do have to give props to Gates for being "the man in the arena", sometimes, unlike in Teddy Roosevelt's famous speech, the man in the arena's failings don't fall exclusively on himself. So while philanthropy is admirable in itself, where the philanthropist's activities impinge on areas of public policy like education his actions should be held up to scrutiny like anyone else's.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      To a critic who hasn't done even 0.0000001% as much good as the Gates Foundation.

      Teddy Roosevelt had something to say about people who stand around sniping at people who, you know, are doing something and making an effort.

  • Easily digestible. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Wow, this book is a Slashdotter's wet dream. I haven't read it, but if they include conspiracy theories about how Bill is actually somehow making more money off his donations, there will be a whole lot of splooge expelled while reading this book.

    First, it's his money, worst case he's putting it back in the economy to people who need it more. Second, no matter what course of philanthropic work you take there will be some way for someone to criticize it. It's similar to how conspiracy theories work. People i

  • Watch any episode of Nova on NPR, and note that David Koch is listed as being a major supporter.

    Nova never does anything on global warming. He got what he paid for.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nova [pbs.org]

      Looks like you lied. I'm the guy that fact checks liberals when they claim something that is black/white and can be without spin. Nearly 100% rate at proving them liars.

  • Hmm...NSTAAFG...nope, stil prefer TNSTAAFL, it's just easier to say...and I like food :)

  • The Gates' give a fortune to causes they believe will improve life. Person without a foundation thinks they could do better. Examples given are not better. Some people may not be inclined to criticize the bestower of grants. Person without a foundation, or a Gates' grant, is a bit miffed.
  • for a modest lump sum of $20,000,000 USD or Euro

    I will not say anything bad about Windows on the Internet for the rest of my life.

  • What if the KochBros started funding Quiverfull private schools?

    Should we be concerned, make popcorn, or wait until it ever happens?

  • I'm not a Micrisoft fan, but "Hooking the poor on malaria drugs"? Yeah, like Jonas Salk hooked us on polio vaccine.

  • by bayankaran ( 446245 ) on Saturday November 28, 2015 @12:37AM (#51016191) Homepage
    Last week I was at a post production studio in Mumbai. The editor was working on an Indian Hindi TV series - MAIN KUCH BHI KAR SAKTHI HOON (I Can Do Anything.) https://www.youtube.com/user/mkbksh [youtube.com]
    The show is set in rural India, follows the usual Hindi or Indian cinema/television melodramatic hyperventilating style. Here is the beef...rather than inane plots on good versus evil, bad mother in laws and familiar Indian TV soap tropes, this show had female protagonists who were bucking the system and bringing out change in the society.
    The familiar style they used made sure a majority of the audience will feel comfortable.
    Gates Foundation was one of the Producers. This is thinking out of the box...you need a bit of 'good old propaganda' to support you when you go to rural communities to change their perception on unhealthy practices.
  • by bingoUV ( 1066850 ) on Saturday November 28, 2015 @02:31AM (#51016407)

    For all his "geek" status, Bill Gates (with his foundation) failed elementary statistics. He succumbed to the law of small numbers and idiotically pushed for smaller schools for a long period spending a lot of time, money and energy convincing policy makers that the small schools will make students better.

    They thought so only because frequently among the best performing schools were small schools. Idiots didn't notice that among the worst performers were ALSO small schools - small samples just lend themselves to a higher variability.

    Read details here - http://marginalrevolution.com/... [marginalrevolution.com]

    If a lot of money is spent by non-accountable idiot organizations , it is not only not good for society but actively harmful.

    • For all his "geek" status, Bill Gates (with his foundation) failed elementary statistics. He succumbed to the law of small numbers and idiotically pushed for smaller schools for a long period spending a lot of time, money and energy convincing policy makers that the small schools will make students better.
      ...
      If a lot of money is spent by non-accountable idiot organizations , it is not only not good for society but actively harmful.

      While this did happen, what's your alternative? We could "do nothing," and simply live with the current system, where things don't get better.

      Or, I suppose we could depend on an "accountable" organization. Like what? Government is the most common answer.

      Yes, government is "accountable" to voters in a way that a private foundation is not. On the other hand, this "accountability" has very specific effects that can also be problematic, such as:

      - Government is often conservative from a policy perspect

      • You ask what's my alternative and then address 2 straw men? Bill gates has no business being in education. Being able to influence policy makers just because one has money is idiotic.

        1. Others could have made the same mistake but Bill Gates did.

        2. He was being listened to because he has money, not because he has any clue about education.

        3. If any other person were listened to, it would have been because he had brains or political power. They would have stake in education system if nothing else. If brains,

      • I don't see why you wouldn't want unified decision making on, e.g. the optimal size of a classroom. There's some right answer. More reach leads to more statistical power to a answer questions in a more correct/realistic way. More reach means the right answer can be distributed to all the interested parties once its complete.

    • For all his "geek" status, Bill Gates (with his foundation) failed elementary statistics. He succumbed to the law of small numbers and idiotically pushed for smaller schools for a long period spending a lot of time, money and energy convincing policy makers that the small schools will make students better.

      They thought so only because frequently among the best performing schools were small schools. Idiots didn't notice that among the worst performers were ALSO small schools - small samples just lend themselves to a higher variability.

      And you are assuming that all "small schools" are the same, and that you can't identify what makes a good small school different from a poor small school.

      It seems self evident to me that if you take one small school, give it lots of money to build facilities and purchase equipment, hire the best teachers, engage the parents strongly and so on, it will be totally different from the same sized school that is poorly funded, run by incompetents and taught by morons.

      • Why do you think I assume that all small schools are the same?

        The sentence "small samples just lend themselves to a higher variability" from my post means the opposite. It means small schools are more different from each other than large schools are different from each other.

  • One of the Gates' contributions is to Common Core. At first glance, CC just seems to be setting national minimums, which might be a good thing. If you look a little deeper, you'll see a flurry of subjects to be covered, almost all of which seem good. It's only when then analysis gets down to practice that real problems appear:
    • __Shallow coverage of major historical figures, heavy attention on politically correct lightweights.
    • __Emphasis on skills for drones rather than underlying concepts.
    • __Crippling mathema
    • The point about Common Core is to lay down a minimum standard. If you can't read and write properly, it won't make any difference what figures in history you learn about.

      If you don't know how to multiply two two digit numbers together, you're not going to be aware of the philosophy of maths involved.

  • I read the whole article. From what I read, I can summarize this as :

    Two people with insane amounts of money and accountable to no one decide to spend their money trying to solve problems by taking a new approach. Their approach spans from :
    - Trial and error with greater agility than a government or classic foundation can achieve
    - Brute force of attacking illnesses on a gigantic scale hoping to eradicate them and maybe then focus on helping people live healthier following being able to simpl

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

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