Further, the manner in which the foundation functions in India is what makes me cringe when I hear their name. They have unrestricted access to members of parliament in India, they promote Indian government programs e.g. Ayushman Bharat (Health insurance for 500 mn Indians), Aadhaar (digital unique number for all Indians) and they ensure policy changes to suit their funding programs. Their close linkage with the Indian government to further their propoganda is what makes me cringe. Sure enough, do implement some programs its commonplace to liase with Governments, but where's the ethics in that? Where do you draw the line to limit promotions for government projects that fake numbers and are not really having any impact on the ground?
This Annual Letter is just another propaganda piece, as stated by others here.
The mission was part of the Millenium Village Project, and the various entities adhering to MVP were managing our money. The Gates foundation never checked how it was used.
And 37% of this budget stayed in new york, as a management fee.
14% of this budget stayed at the local MVP antenna, again as a management fee.
What were they managing you ask ? Well, one thing was our budget: if we ever had to order something, we needed to go through them, "to avoid inappropriate spendings". Once, I ordered a printer, knowing exactly the price of the device. It arrived alright, but the bill stated twice the price it should have cost.
The NGO in the street next to us had a worse story. We managed to perform our mission. They didn't. Yet they consummed $ 2 millions doing so.
For the 3 years I have been active in Africa, every time I went on a mission, no matter the degree of success, a marvelous report with shiny graphs was sent to our backers stating how great we did on the field. According to them, I saved so many children overpopulation is probably kinda my fault now.
We never heard once from the Gates foundation. Like you said, they sprayed and prayed.
One time, we had a gig from MS themself. We were supposed to do a conference over a few days in Senegal with their money. One MS guy came the first hour, distributed a few t-shirts, then leaved forever. We decided "fuck that", and proceded to give a training on Linux based products for the rest of the conf.
That's how ridiculous all that is.
This seems like the core problem: every organisation's incentives are to look good to those paying, and if you're in the aid business, these people are not the poor. Spending 37% on new york people who can make just the perfect glossy report & get it into the hands of the people who matter... this may well be the right move for your organisation.
There are other incentives too. Lots of academics need fieldwork time on their CVs. Lots of rich people's kids need management experience for their CVs, and something to talk about at parties.
I'm happy to believe that Mr Gates's motivations are sincere, but the whole industry seems rotten to me.
We may probably be better off without philanthropy of this kind!
What are you basing the following on? -> "Their process has been to spray and pray. No active involvement, no process optimisation, no impact metric monitoring etc."
I think there are a couple that are significantly better, e.g. Doctors Without Borders, who run an extremely targeted operation with low overhead (you can find spending breakdown in their annual reports). They also explicitly limit the amount of funding they accept from governments/etc. such that they remain politically neutral. I'm sure there are others in the same category.
- It's true they have the capital that spreads far and wide compared to most others. No doubt.
"What are you basing the following on? -> "Their process has been to spray and pray. No active involvement, no process optimisation, no impact metric monitoring etc.""
- Conversations with individuals that work at the foundation.
Near the end you can see a younger Bill jump over a chair.
His high profile interviews are shockingly shallow and his new car review show "Auto Focus" (ok, that's an amazingly clever name) is also about as in-depth as you'd expect a smartphone guy's car reviews to be.
But again, he's got a great personality and screen presence, I just wish he spends a bit more time on more meaningful thoughts and more in-depth research when it comes to other subjects.
I'll go and read Anandtech now. I don't fully blame MKBHD. I blame the entire genre of youtube reviews. I need data. I need A-B tests. I need technical specification verification using proper metrology. That's how my brain evaluates things I want to spend money on.
- still a high birth rate in sub-saharan Africa. Lowering birth rates are correlated with more education and income.
- how little we know about the causes of premature births
- the lack of detailed economic data about women in poverty
- 5 top sectors of greenhouse gas emissions. How are we going to reduce emissions from steel and concrete production without cratering the economy?
Definitely important causes for the Gates' to put money and effort towards.
Yet that view is mostly wrong. Many, possibly most, Africans now live in busy metropolises. Yes, they are polluted and have a garbage problem and corruption may be rampant. But it’s a lot closer to similar cities in SE Asia than to the 50 year old stereotype that people have of Africa.
Saying „Africa is young“, and obviously the details that follow, tries to shift this to a narrative of possibilities.
You can call that propaganda, or marketing, or just clever copywriting. I think it depends on the agenda, but I can’t find fault with their intentions.
the effect is much less for Africans.
also how can people consider high birth rate to be bad while not being an anti-natalist. Why the cognitive dissonance?
It’s possible that there exists a birth rate at which population increases too much or too quickly for the environment to handle (peacefully at least).
It’s possible to want your own tribe to expand, but not others’.
Attempting to lower a populations's birth rate is a crime according to the Geneva conventions.
Also the Gatesnotes blog has mentioned before that lowering the child mortality rate goes hand in hand with needing to produce less children, as more reach adulthood.
Lets just start with 1# Africa is the youngest continent. Sounds great right?
Well its not a surprise at all. we knew this. the gates knew this. Africans (as in currently living on the continent called Africa) die young. War, food supply issues, lack of medicine, you name it. then why is it the first surprise? Exactly.
Each one of them has similar weird issues...
(time to get down voted to oblivion?)
Maybe it should have been a surprise to you, because dying young is not the reason Africa is the youngest continent. They have young people because Africans are still having children, unlike much of the rest of the world.
Young people dying tilts the population balance older, not younger.
Dying raises the average age if you die below the average age, and lowers the average age if you die above the average age. Thus, a 16-year-old dying can only lower the average age if the average age was already less than 16. A four-month-old dying can only lower the average age if the average age was already less than 4 months. (Which, obviously, it can't be.)
Dying lowers life expectancy regardless of when you do it, and it has a stronger lowering effect the earlier you do it. The dying four-month-old has a really strong negative effect on life expectancy, but a strong "positive" effect on the average age. They're orthogonal concerns.
 OK, not technically orthogonal. One will help predict the other, especially if you know the average age. But the point remains that a negative effect on life expectancy can be associated with any effect at all on the average age, because all effects of death on life expectancy are negative.
Seems like the main greenhouse gas emissions problem can already be tackled. For instance:
Agriculture: switch to cultured (lab-grown) meat.
Transportation: switch towards public transportation.
Electricity Generation: go solar.
But maybe I'm just naive.
It’s really funny when they send your kid home selling candy to raise money for school or publicly humiliate the kids who don’t donate by giving stickers or allowing the others to wear something different.
Oddly enough, Africa needs markets, and the U.S. needs charity.
Entrepreneurs don't create value, labor does. Entrepreneurs seed and lead organisations that direct labor towards profitable activities.
Bill Gates took a certain level of risk, yes. He also had a strong financial safety net and head start by sheer circumstance of his upbringing.
Unless every employee throughout the lifetime of Microsoft was compensated in actual proportion to their contribution to the overall profit of the company, Bill Gates didn't derive his wealth from his contributions but simply from those of his employees.
We have a cultural norm of hero worship but Bill Gates wouldn't be where he is if he had paid everyone their fair share. The reason we don't consider this is that we consider this to simply be how businesses operate.
As but one problem: Microsoft employees, especially the early ones, don’t strike me as particularly good examples of abject victims of capitalism.
Kinda makes sense, but the last bit regarding fair share is probably more complicated. Weren't the early employees at MS given stock options and many became millionaires?
How should new employees who joined 10 years after MS's founding for example be fairly compensated (as they didn't contribute to reaching escape velocity)?
What you're proposing is just socialism that takes away power from the individual. That never works. You have no way to judge what the fair share is or what contribution someone actually made and thinking that you know how to value someone's life better than they do is just attempting to place a moral to be morally better than they are.
Also you might want to talk to the early employees of Microsoft who are millionaires, or any employees today who are highly paid with stock grants that give them a piece of the company, and most importantly talk to the billions of people who are living a little easier after the eradication of Polio thanks to the Gates Foundation.
Why $10 million? What about in countries outside of the United States? What if a wealthy person has a single asset that is worth more than $10 million and has one kid? ex: a $50 million commercial building. Would you force a sale of the asset and then strip away $40 million away?
What about lottery winners who win over $10 million? Should lotteries be capped at $10 million?
Actually I think so. I would prefer if more people won a modest amount vs. one person winning tens of millions with a large jackpot.
If buying a lottery ticket is a waste of money then all forms of entertainment are.
EDIT: Okay, fine, here are citations:
Plenty of householders or businesses have to sell an asset to settle some debt or tax bill, why not estate taxes?
Of course we might have to bring back capital controls for it to be functional.
Those who invest or conspicuously splurge are a boon to the economy and to workers.
If a wealthy person and all her descendants save their money forever, then there's no harm to the economy. The money is just numbers in a computer, nothing concrete. (Politically, it could be dangerous, since there is always the threat that they could spend it.)
If she spends it digging holes, on the other hand, then that's wasting real resources. It employs people, yes, but in a pointless task. Their labor could have been better deployed.
There's obviously a continuum, but $100 million yachts are probably closer to the digging-holes side of the continuum.
(But maybe not. For example, spending $10 million on a painting for that yacht has very little real effect, since aside from the purchase transfer overhead, it is mostly moving numbers from one bank account to another.)
all forms of economic transaction involves transferring money from one account to another. conspicuous splurging is a waste not in itself, but because of the opportunity cost of instead spending that money on capital investment, which will lead to higher production and consumption in the future for more people. if a rich person has extra money, he can use it to pleasure himself, or he can spend it on investment, hoping to make even more money. if he were to buy machinery for example, that would mean higher production and lower price, and many people will benefit from that. the aggregate benefit is higher in the long term.
but the goal of an economy is to allow as much conspicuously splurging as possible over the longest time possible. it is clearly utopic to have a society with such surpluses that everybody can own 10 space yachts, endless supply of the best food etc.
This is why communism _always_ fails. Every attempt at a top-down control of the entire economy will lead to failure. The economy is too complicated and chaotic for that to ever work.
If we had a marginal tax rate of 100% for all profits beyond $10 million, would that be communism? If we banned the sale of certain consumer goods, would that be communism? If we banned the private ownership of certain consumer goods, would that be communism? If we mandated shared ownership by all employees of businesses exceeding a certain size or revenue, would that be communism?
If so, how is the criticism of centrally planned economies relevant? If not, why are you talking about communism?
There are gazillions of ideas other than "let the government control the entire economy" (aka state capitalism) or "let the winners of the free market do what they want and f* everyone else".
You're not one of those that's still waiting for real communism to be implemented, because all the other attempts were done all wrong, are you?
>You're assuming the only alternative to laissez-faire capitalism
Where did I argue for laissez-faire capitalism? Pretty sure I only made the case for a market economy.
>why are you talking about communism
OP didn't make a case for regulating certain products or industries. OP made a case that individuals choosing how to spend their earnings is essentially misaligned societal resources ... as if they knew better.
>If we mandated shared ownership by all employees of businesses exceeding a certain size or revenue, would that be communism?
Yeah, you're on your way now. There are many Venezuelas on the road to Soviet Union.
You still haven't given an argument about why "conspicuously splurging is just a waste of resources" and "there's obviously a continuum" means "state capitalism now", though.
You also haven't bothered explaining how "every company beyond a certain size or revenue must be organised as a worker's cooperative" leads to state capitalism (or whatever you're trying to express by invoking the Soviet Union as the scary end), but I'd be fine if you at least bothered actually addressing the OP you replied to rather than just a strawman.
To reiterate, this is what you say you replied to:
> individuals choosing how to spend their earnings is essentially misaligned societal resources
(and also, more implicitly "OP thinks OP knows better how those earnings should be spent and therefore advocates a centrally planned economy, i.e. state capitalism")
This is what you actually replied to:
> Conspicuously splurging is just a waste of resources.
> If a wealthy person and all her descendants save their money forever, then there's no harm to the economy.
> If she spends it digging holes, on the other hand, then that's wasting real resources.
> There's obviously a continuum, but $100 million yachts are probably closer to the digging-holes side of the continuum.
Note that this is a refutation of the GP:
> Those who invest or conspicuously splurge are a boon to the economy and to workers.
I don't see how you can go from "rich people splurging are not actually great for the overall economy" to "state capitalism now", yet that is your interpretation.
OP didn't say "rich people shouldn't be allowed to waste resources", OP only said "rich people wasting resources is bad". There's an obvious solution that doesn't require controlling the entire economy: increase marginal tax rates to reduce wealth gain and make it harder for millionaires to become billionaires.
But I suppose that too inevitably leads to the Soviet Union?
I'll agree with this statement on capitalism. But we know communism is a disaster. That won't change.
I believe in this day and age we know a lot of things we didnt’t at the start of industrialization.
As soon as someone starts talking about keeping mindful about consumption they somehow end up being supportive of full blown communism.
Looking at the state of our earth you could easily say that capitalism doesn’t work, at all.
It’s more nuanced than that though.
A critical comment regarding the state we’re in does not make me wish for a full blown totalitarian regime.
Marx was a philospher and writer with some points however, and I doubt he personally would appreciate what went down with Lenin & co.
It’s all about balance, and right now the balance is off by quite a bit.
The problem is that capitalism has turned in to ”consumerism”.
Not sure how to crack it, but in a way it’s a bit like a new enlightenment phase needs to take place.
i look at north korea then i look at south korea. if capitalism doesn't work, at all, then communism must negatively work.
My comment was simply that you can question the state of capitalism in the world today without suggesting that communism should take it’s place.
Also, have a talk to the insects, polar bears, cheetahs (only 7000 of them beauties left), etc.
Out of whack and out of balance.
On the other hand communism typically suffered from stunted innovation, outside of targeted areas, so they probably would be worse off, if they didn’t import tech from non communist states.
Most good stuff arises from public funded research imo. How and why? Because it’s down to individuals that are allowed to do their thing.
This gets stiffled in a short term, for profit organization.
What we’re left with is often conservatism.
Too many big orgs with big money simply want to keep things as they are, and it’s clear (or should be to everyone) that this is not wanted or sustainable.
Regarding man earth balance it’s currently down to over consumtion by us in the west.
As your average Swede I consume approximately 4 earths worth of resources.
We either changes this behaviour volontarily or bad things will happen eventually.
There’s a lot of power in those piles of cash though so anyone that want’s to change anything is in for a tough fight.
Also, morality... you probably consume stuff originating from sweat shops and child labour.
We’ll it’s not our children!
Lot of high horses in the ”west” unfortunateley.
As much as they fucking want. The rationale for taxation is the idea that you owe your government money by using up public resources (such as national defense, public works, emergency response, etc.). That's why you get taxed for activity such as buying stuff and earning a living. Dying doesn't use up the government's resources. You don't need the government's protection and assistance to die without interference.
Just lay your motives naked and talk about expropriating property from the rich without compensation. That's what estate taxes are, just with extra steps.
If this were the case, then everyone would be taxed equally. People with more money have always been taxed more (at least in the U.S).
There is nothing in socialism that prohibits you from owning things.
I'm gonna need some help figuring out how "means of production, distribution, and exchange" can't be expanded to include almost all private property.
If you're the product of the US education system then I can't really blame you. The the meanings of well-established political terms are completely warped into something else over there.
EDIT: Since HN rate limits me again, I'll just reply here:
The difference between private and personal property isn't about the thing so much as the use and intent. If you own a toothbrush for personal use, that's different from owning a toothbrush factory for producing toothbrushes you sell for money.
Only land and natural resources can be treated as something different in a sensible way, but that's explored in georgism, geolibertarianism and similar philosophies, not socialism.
As much as they want/can.
> Trust fund babies only help yacht builders.
But it does convince the parents to build useful companies, provide useful services etc
As much as they want. Without estate or gift taxes, either.
OTOH, it should be taxed as normal income to the recipient (as should capital gains), though to avoid excessive taxes on non-repeatable windfalls, there should be mechanisms both for recognizing and paying taxes on advance of realization and spreading taxes one incoe over several years after realization, with some limits on the latter.
And several higher tax brackets should exist above where the current maximum kicks in.
> He was an ardent supporter of heavy estate taxes
Yeah, so what?
Heavy estate taxes are a not-horrible band-aid over not adequately taxing the income of rich people as income, but it's better and simpler just to tax income appropriately.
The fact that some rich people like heavy estate taxes doesn't really change that.
In your best case scenario, where you actually successfully enforced this ludicrous policy, it would create ugly incentives for the government (or corrupt agents in the government) to profit from an untimely death of the self-made billionare. In this scenario, the murder of Jeff Bezos would lead to the nationalization of Amazon.
More likely, however, it would incentivize massive tax evasion, with schemes being cooked up to move money offshore as quickly as possible.
Having said that, I don't think there's any question that this policy would lead to massive tax evasion. Not including all the fun societal unintended consequences we can only speculate about ... and all for what? To punish some trust fund kids OP is bitter against?
there's incentive for the government to assisinate billionaires and forge wills that donate the whole shebang to the government.
and yet, they don't do this? it can't be a great incentive
I doubt we'll ever see another effective organic revolution in any developed nation because people in general no longer have the chutzpah for the actions required to change a government that doesn't want to change, and because we've all become contented from that pale white glow in front of our faces for ever longer fractions of every single waking moment. There's also the effective division of society. Two sides increasingly hate each other which means if either side ever crossed that invisible line, the other side would suddenly become hugely pro-government.
There are also some economic changes that mean France's situation would never be replicated in a place such as the US. In particular money no longer has any real meaning. It's not backed by anything and governments can 'print it' (not how most money is made, but that's another topic) to no end. The only real constraining factor is perception. So long as your people and other nations agree to believe your money has value, then it does. This is how we can spend trillions of dollars we don't have on wars, be $22 trillion in debt that nobody expects will ever be paid off, inject huge sums of money in the market to artificially inflate it and call that 'growth', yet still have an ultra-premium rated currency.
This is also why 'helicopter money'  is thought to be a good idea * . You print money, load it up on a helicopter, and then drop it down to the people. The asterisk there is because it's a good idea only if people don't expect it to be repeated. It all goes back to perception. Keep dropping the helicopter money and people stop believing in the value of the dollar and so it indeed loses all value. This is, as an aside, a major issues with things such as a basic income. We could easily 'afford' it. But you very much are risking a perceptive change on the value of the dollar with such systems in which case all that money you're tossing around becomes worth about as much as the beads at Mardi Gras. And tossing even more only trends towards hyperinflation.
The point of that aside on money being that France lived in a time where there was a fixed amount of money and their government was wasting that money. Today our governments waste money like never before but it has less effect on the common people since governments don't need the amount spent to be less than the amount 'earned.'
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicopter_money
Are you so envious and bitter that the idea that some people get given large amount of money is so painful to you that you think it must be forbidden?
Interesting to note some valuable comments here: