New Forbes List – Billy is donating money

It is already some days ago, but I was too busy to blog about it: The new list of The World’s Billionaires (created by the Forbes magazine) is out. Our good friend Bill Gates, the well-known Microsoft-founder, reached the second place, he is not active in “operational business” any longer, but he is still very rich, and he is donating a lot of money for social projects with his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And he and Warren Buffet started an initiative called The Giving Pledge inviting billionaires to spend most of their money. Well, that should be a good thing, and I think we should believe him that he wants to do some good things for the world. So what is my problem?

1. It is a problem that billionaires exist. Some inequality is good for our economy, people will try to work harder, because they want to be able to afford a life as “good” as that one of their neighbour. But there are also down-sides: The more money you have, the less effective additional money will be, it will have less impact on your quality of life. That is why equality would maximize the average quality of life – a fixed GNP given. You have to choose a compromise, but a single person whose income could be used to feed millions of people, while it does not have significant impact on the happiness and the quality of life of the person, is definitely not adequate, and of course it is not an objective for most people to become that rich. Such enormous fortune should be prevented by enormous taxes, which could be used for social settlement, but primarily enormous foreign aid and enormous investions in ecological technologies, education and Free Software – that would make the world much better in the long-term (of course states should also rethink the armour budget). Social settlement is also good, because more money would not only be invested, but circulate in “normal business” and more effectively support “normal people”. The normal people would not support social projects? Well, some more taxes for them, too, and it would work.

2. Donating 50% of dozens of billion/milliard dollars is actually not a sacrifice. Well, it will hurt a little bit, because Bill Gates, Warren Buffet etc. are used to think in a capitalistic way: “Let us maximize our income” But I am sure, they realized that giving away that money does not really affect their quality of life, it is like donating two dollars for typical inhabitants of western countries, or like a crumb of bread in really poor countries, the effect is really insignificant. And donating the money after your death (like Warren Buffet) is even easier, you do not think the money would be useful for your children? Well, you can donate it, but you can keep it, as long as the world exists for you.

3. It appears like buying products by Microsoft will make the world a better place. Most fractions of the money will go to investors, some will be used to pay the employees, and there are some other efforts Microsoft has to pay for. Some money will go to Gates’ foundation, there it will be invested, and most of the interests will be used to support social projects. In the meantime the other components of this aggregate will do a lot of harm: The foundation itself will invest in dubious companies, they will donate the interests arbitrarily – without any democratic legitimation and in favour of arbitrary projects – the investors will use the money for whatever they want to, the general public will probably not benefit, Microsoft will fight for copyright- and patent-enforcement, preventing concurrence, preventing the “third world” (and the rest of the world) from using Free Software, preventing the development of cheap medicaments needed to fight against diseases the foundation tries to fight against. Better donate the money directly, or try to support fair business.

I hope I could point out, why my point of view about those big donations is very critical. Feel free to allude to grammatical or orthographic mistakes. ;)

17 Responses to “New Forbes List – Billy is donating money”

  1. Bender Says:

    Bill also pledged to kill people to lower CO2 usage through vaccines, health care. He also invests in Monsanto. All what he is doing is white washing the turd he himself is. People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet didn’t come to this fortune by being good and they do not change.

  2. Bender Says:

    Ah crapiola, CO2 production…

  3. Thomas Says:

    The first point will likely have a lot of people that like you now; but its a worldview that has a basic problem.
    People working to create value is what our basic society is build on. People creating value means being able to eat in basic and being able to drive a car or go on holiday.
    If someone is extremely good at creating value he or she gets extremely rich, which is good. It is good because he or she literally earned it. It was not given or taken away from others, it was value created by someone better at creating something than others.
    Saying that millionaires should not exist means work you do that creates value should not be something you can be proud of but instead something you have to apologize for.
    Who is John Galt?

  4. Diederik van der Boor Says:

    While this all sounds logical, please allow me to give another view. Just to say, another side of these events.

    > It is a problem that billionaires exist.
    No.

    You don’t become a billionaire by just being lucky. It’s not an accident.
    You have to do an awesome lot of things correct and right to get there.
    Next, you need to have a very high consciousness (mindset) to sustain it.

    Those guys figured out the path themselves. Now other people analyze it, learn how that works, and educate more people. This happens today. More likely then ever before, this can create a tipping point. More people get in the position with momentum, and abilities to improve the planet.

    > Donating 50% of dozens of billion/milliard dollars is actually not a sacrifice.
    I think you underestimate the donations.

    Bill doesn’t just give away the money.

    He runs the foundation. Not like a charity, but *like a business*. They have board meetings, schedules, targets and a strategy. They find out how to create the largest impact with the least amount of resources. Only few do that.

    The UN is fighting malaria for 20 years now. Bill just started, and is catching up already ..and likely fix malaria first. Where a government is slowly and inefficient, Bill proves he sets things in motion.

    For all what I didn’t like about Microsoft/Bill, I find this pretty impressive.
    Setting things in motion is a skill only a few people work on in practice.
    Still wonder who those people get rich and successful?

    > It appears like buying products by Microsoft will make the world a better place.
    To fix that, we have to stop playing the victim. Stop complaining, stop bitching about big companies. Instead, take the role of a leader, winner, and act on that.

    So far I’m impressed with the things FOSS and other individuals accomplish, yet when you compare that with the focus, actions and skillset between that and a large business owner, there is still a pretty large gap. Seriously. I’d almost be impressed stuff already worked without all that. How about filling the gaps, and create focus and momentum?

  5. David Says:

    Yes, your point is very critical. BUT if many rich people would act like Bill Gates, the world would be a better place. In other words: I like what he is doing…

  6. Diederik van der Boor Says:

    p.s. the ‘p’ tag in your comments need some bottom-margin :p

  7. The User Says:

    @Thomas

    If someone is extremely good at creating value he or she gets extremely rich, which is good.

    And a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs is ten-thousands times better than the median-employee, it is fair that he gets ten-thousands times the money?
    What is good about having a few billion dollars? You have some more opportunities to play around with investments, that means some fun, and you can be smug about being on the top of some lists. Yeah, nice, and that for – individual fun of somebody millions are starving, and that for the money is held within a select society of financiers and investors, probably less than 1% of the world’s population. You think it is “fair” that there are billionaires, but there is no advantage for society, economy and humanity. The possibility to become a billionaire is not a motivation for anybody, the feeling of sustaining discrimination is stronger than the cognition of possibilities within the economy. Few millionaires are okay, they let the people make more efforts, but billionaires etc. have nothing to do with “having nice holidays” etc., a billionaire is not able to spend his money for nice holidays.

    Who is John Galt?

    Could you explain the reference? I have not read the books…

    @David
    It is better than if he would do nothing. But we should not like him for this, and we should keep all his negative effects in mind, and that there are fundamental problems with our society, which will be kept with such efforts.

    @Diederik

    Now other people analyze it, learn how that works, and educate more people. This happens today.

    Seriously, you are taking pains to become a billionaire? Seriously, nobody does that except of very, very few persons which have already been very successful… The injuries are simply much bigger than the economic benefits.

    He runs the foundation. Not like a charity, but *like a business*. They have board meetings, schedules, targets and a strategy. They find out how to create the largest impact with the least amount of resources. Only few do that.

    Well, nice hobby, he cannot lose anything. Management gets boring over the years.

    The UN is fighting malaria for 20 years now. Bill just started, and is catching up already ..and likely fix malaria first. Where a government is slowly and inefficient, Bill proves he sets things in motion.

    Yeah, we need more benevolent dictators – like Abdullah al Saud or Bill Gates.

    Bottom-margin? Right-margin you mean? Okay now?

  8. kboite Says:

    Look at the etymology of “economy” : it basically means “optimal ressources allocation”.

    The ideal of capitalism being the best way to allocate ressources is a total myth.

    Capitalism needs advertising to make people buy things they dont need. And it doesnt make them happier in the process : it’s a lie. Buying as many goods as your neighbour doesnt make you happier, it only makes you feel less miserable in comparison. And buying an iShit doesnt make you think different, just superior.

    Ultra-liberalism fails at providing richness for everyone, see what happened in Iceland.

    Capitalism misses the point of non-commercial economy (Wikipedia’s value for humanity is by FAR more important than the 6 millions$ they reach each year to serve pages).

    Capitalism fails at long-term vision, reducing inequalities, social progress, protecting the environment, etc.

    Like The User, i think some inequalities are needed : economic darwinism is a necessary condition for progress (but capitalism isn’t optimal on this side either : monopolistic failing companies can sustain themselves a long time before sinking, just living on their gold mine). But too much inequalities are anti-democratic, unlegitimate and counter-productive.

    Bill Gates can eradicate malaria. But he also can help eradicating other diseases. He can give more to fight aids than western country give annually. He can choose. Bill Gates can choose who lives and who dies. The godlike mode of finance. How immoral is that ?

  9. Eugenio Says:

    Bill also has a polluting gold mine in my country, for example. Also, MS does not really produced much value, http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2010/07/07/producing-nothing.html

  10. The User Says:

    @Eugenio
    Where do you live? Any references? May be interesting. ;)

  11. The User Says:

    @Diederik
    Somebody else has explained me the margin-bottom issue, should look nicer now.

  12. Alex Says:

    No matter what I or anybody else think of Microsoft, the fact that Bill Gates donates a lot of his own money for social projects is good.
    No matter how much it influences his everyday live.
    He donates, although he doesn’t have to.
    Why should it be a problem that he is still rich although he donated ?
    He helps people with donating, I can see absolutely nothing bad in this.
    If he does it “only” to get a better image, so what ?
    Even then, the people he helped still benefit from it.

    Alex

  13. The User Says:

    The foundation may be a good thing and it is certainly better than no foundation, but the aggregate of billionaires, some companies etc. is a bad thing for humanity, even with the philanthropy.

  14. Thomas Says:

    Hey again. You wrote;
    > You think it is “fair” that there are billionaires, but there is no advantage for
    > society, economy and humanity.

    Fair is exactly what it is not a and thats the point.
    When you were young your mother told you to share your candy equally with your brother/sister or friends. Thats being fair.
    On the other hand when you worked your ass off to create something awesome you expect to get payed for it more than the person that is not as able to create value as you are. Thats the basis of capitalism.

    > The possibility to become a billionaire is not
    > a motivation for anybody, the feeling of sustaining discrimination is stronger
    > than the cognition of possibilities within the economy.

    The American bank crisis was for a big part due to too many loans being extended. People were spending more than they injected actual value back into the whole economical system. A lot of people want to be rich, as far as I can tell.
    What in my experience causes a feeling of discrimination is when people get money they don’t deserve. Someone that gets money without having to do real hard work for it. If you see people around you get rich while your hard work does not get payed in relation to the work you do, especially due to weird taxes or other such rules, then you will loose faith in capitalism.
    But in reality you’d actually be fighting capitalism, and all the riches that it has brought.

    The book reference is “Atlas Shrugged”.

  15. The User Says:

    …to create something awesome…

    Haha, Microsoft, yes, it has been successful because of the most awesome products.

    …you expect to get payed for it more than the person that is not as able to create value as you are.

    Okay, you could get one or two million dollars, be rich, have nice holidays and the other person does not have to starve, that would be good for economy and fair, not single persons or companies hoarding billions.

    Thats the basis of capitalism.

    Uh, hooray, that is a good thing, that term implies exploitation… Free markets are something different.

    A lot of people want to be rich, as far as I can tell.

    Most people would say, I million would be nice, but a billion? Too much stress etc. And it will not make you happier to earn more and more millions, it will not improve your quality of life etc.

    If you see people around you get rich while your hard work does not get payed in relation to the work you do, especially due to weird taxes or other such rules, then you will loose faith in capitalism.

    And now explain me how a relation of one million to one can reflect the differences of the hard work adequatly? And of course it is just because of the taxes, the evil tax authorities, you do not earn a million times less than somebody else because he is a million times better than you or because of taxes, but because he had luck, he was born in a certain country in a certain family and was probably unscrupulous. And taxes make it possible to provide education for everyone, knowledge for everyone, culture for everyone, and of course to support those people who could not benefit from capitalism.

  16. Eugenio Says:

    @The User – It’s in Argentina http://ur1.ca/3j9tm – What I mean is that when you have so much money you get to invest in all kind of business including those that are questionable, such as mining that hurts the environment a lot or patents in drugs that are closely related to your “philantropic” activities. He is known to pressure countries where the foundation donates money to impose US patents of the big pharma companies. So I can only see that foundation as an arm for all the companies where he has investments, obviously a PR campaign that also needs to be unquestioned by the media.
    http://humanosphere.kplu.org/2010/12/the-gates-foundation-conspiracy-to-take-over-the-media/

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Who is John Fag anyway? Let the honored industrials and wise “innovators” all go to a general strike. I won’t miss them (despite the thousands of workers out there, who nobody can replace) and am willing to help fit their place immediatly. Honestly do you really think that you are sooo 1337 that you fit in this category and will become a billionaire entrepreneur? You must be new to economy…
    Note: Bill Gates was rich from the start and became super rich esp. since he could invest that money in Microsoft and later buy shares from the other founders. After all he has been in Harvard in the first place and didn’t even have to do real studies there. Have you been to Harvard? Do you think you are privileged?
    You are the most precious defenders for the system out there…

    And sorry guys by exlaining how real economy is and that people have to earn money you simply build a strawman. Capitalism != economy. That is a categorial mistake, you world explainers.

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