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Bill Gates, Time Magazine "Person of the Year" 751

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the charity-gets-you-far dept.
klubar writes "Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, were named Time Magazine "Persons of the Year". He was joined in this honor with Irish rocker Bono-all being named for being "Good Samaritans" who made a difference."
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Bill Gates, Time Magazine "Person of the Year"

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  • Re:Kudos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by IAAP (937607) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:06AM (#14284849)
    All too often we will critiscise Bill Gates for the actions of his company and practises they employ; but whether we're right or wrong to do so, both him and his wife must be congratulated for their donations and the work they have done through their charity.

    I'm trying to find the quote. Someone once made a comment during the Guilded Age regarding Carnegie's, Rockefeller's, etc... charities. The critique was that they were doing it for PR or to clense their souls (which might have been true for Carnegie. He really believed that it was a sin to die rich.) The person argued something to the affect of "So what? If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have all of these public libraries (Carnegie), the first Black Universities (Rockefeller), and so on (the Mellons, Morgans, other Robber Barons)". At that time, the Government wasn't doing it and I'm not sure that the Government should.
    BTW, Rockefeller set up his charities so that they had to fund themselves. If they couldn't, they didn't get his money - very efficient.

  • by Frankie70 (803801) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:12AM (#14284883)
    Not trolling, but asking out of genuine curiousity.

    Isn't Linus Torvalds also a millionaire? Does anyone have any figures
    about his charitable donations?
  • Melinda Gates (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Laser Lou (230648) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:13AM (#14284890)
    I really have to give Melinda Gates credit for influencing Bill to start that foundation because, from what I read, Bill didn't donate anything until after he married her.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:15AM (#14284898)
    Why are the rich and powerful obsessed with fighting disease? I wonder why they don't feed these people rather than stick a syringe in their arms. I think all these foundations are probably just fronts for medical research groups with suspicious motives (race specific biological weapons, the choice of the new war generation). I know the IMF force female sterilisation programs in South America so countries can borrow from them and the IMF can "fix"(up :-) their economies. Ever wondered why the police in Brazil are quick to murder orphans? The IMF promotes and funds abortions in third world countries to again not cause major economic withdrawals.

    If Bill is sincere then good luck to him, but feeding the third world should be of greater importance.

    Check out Greg Palast's articles, he's been exposing the work of the IMF for years. Must be difficult being a legitimate journalist (who investigates and doesn't just read "news" off of a printer!!) at the BBC these days.
    http://www.gregpalast.com/ [gregpalast.com]
  • Re:Well. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aszlej (886876) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:20AM (#14284936)
    Well, obviously you are wrong, because Bill Gates donated almost 60% of his wealth up to this day, and he said, that before he die, he'll donate 90%. So STFU with your stupid anti-ms comments and go do some research on the subject before you post.

    BTW: All you guys hate Bill so much, but do you know how much Wal-Mart gave to charity? Just see the movie 'Wal-Mart - The high cost of Low Prices' where they actually compare Bill and Melinda's donations and donations from Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, truth is quite shocking :).
  • by testadicazzo (567430) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:21AM (#14284942) Homepage
    I'm not a typical Gates basher, but I do have a problem with praising the guy for all his charitable work, and I'm going to try to explain why.

    Gates is convicted abuser of monopilist power. This means he obtained a large amount of his tremendous wealth through illegal means. The only reason he/his corporation hasn't been chastized for this is his enourmous contributions to the rebuplican party during the Bush vs. Gore elections. So not only is he guilty of abusing monopolistic power, but in my mind he is also guilty of subverting democracy. Granted this type of subversion is pretty common in modern America, but I still find it reprehensible behavior.

    Now, for whatever motivations he has, he is taking some small portion of his ill gotten gains and using it for charity. But he gained that wealth by putting lots of smaller and often better companies and products out of business. God only knows what the final cost of the Microsoft monopoly is on the world.

    I hope that it's clear to almost everyone that such monopolies are always bad for the consumer (there may be an argument to be made for publicly controlled monopolies like rail systems and postal systems, but this is a complex debate, and I don't think it's germane here). The lack of competition means less incentive to do strong quality checking, less responsiveness to the consumer, and higher cost. Not to mention the god awful EULA's and customer service. And this hasn't even mentioned the nightmarish influence of Microsoft on the public domain and the patent service.

    Now I don't want to focus on the typical fodder of microsoft bashing. My point is this wealth was accumulated using illegal business practices, and those illegal business practices were protected by using the wealth so gained to influence the political engine. Great. What a man! A real role-model.

    Had he not accumulated such a vast amount of wealth through these illegal manoeverings, who knows how that wealth would have been spent otherwise? In essence, I see this as robbing money from the masses, and using it to purchase prestige and influence via charitable organizations. Granted his tactics aren't as bad as the Mafia's, but one can see a bit of an anology to the local mafia boss being a 'pillar of the community' because he does so much to maintain the local schools, libraries, and parks...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:21AM (#14284946)
    Professor Finds Fulfillment In Emptying His Pockets [washingtonpost.com] (might need to be registered) about a DC area community college mathematics professor who has a goal of donating $1million to charity before he retires, and he's already up to $770,000. Many years he's donated more than half of his annual income to charity.
  • I don't think so. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by woolio (927141) * on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:29AM (#14284989) Journal
    How much would Hitler need to have given to charity to bring honor to his name? (and imagine how we would have gotten the money, GASP!)

    I don't believe one can make Billions through *honest* means, even in America...

    It generally seems to require some form of deception, dishonest billing, and/or a monopolized market...

    Or you believe that the Airlines operate an honest business? Cell-phone companies? Fast-food? Multi-level marketing? "Get Rich" schemes? QuickStar/Amway schemes? What about companies that exist to only hold patents???

    How many Billions does MSFT have laying around in CASH right now??? Not revenue, not capital, but pure CASH... The number is truly staggering.

    Hopefully the money MSFT donates does some good, but it is ill-gotten gains. Robin Hood is a nice child's story, but it is still not right to go around performing armed robbery in order to get some money to donate... MSFT's guns are not the projectile type, but the legal & financial type.

    So please, don't delude yourself and other readers...
  • Re:Well. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:30AM (#14284993) Homepage Journal
    Though I can't help but feel he's giving our money to charity...
  • Yaaaay Melinda! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blueZhift (652272) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:31AM (#14285006) Homepage Journal
    There's nothing like a good woman to get the best out of a man, heh, heh! It's good to see the Gateses getting some recognition, but I think it's especially cool that Melinda is getting some cover time too. I don't think it's any coincidence that Bill Gates' philantropy really took off after he married Melinda. Now if Melinda can also do something to make Windows better then I will be clearing out some space in my home for a special shrine!
  • Re:Respect.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by generic-man (33649) * on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:36AM (#14285028) Homepage Journal
    In my opinion, Gates wants to be seen as the 21st century equivalent to a Carnegie. Carnegie and Rockefeller had a ton of money because taxes were so low back then (0-1% of income) that the money just piled up. I read the book Titan about Rockefeller in which the author claimed that Rockefeller would be worth $900 BILLION in modern dollars when you adjust his wealth for inflation. He gave nearly all his fortune to charity, starting hospitals, universities, and foundations left and right.

    If you're going to compare Mr. Gates to the robber barons in terms of generosity, at least take into consideration the fact that Gates is considerably poorer than Rockefeller was at Rockefeller's peak.
  • by Knuckles (8964) <knuckles.dantian@org> on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:38AM (#14285037)
    In 1991, Bono's band U2 sued seminal [furious.com] independent label SST [sstsuperstore.com] (home to, among others, Black Flag, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Hüsker Dü, Soundgarden, ...) over a satirical record by a band on the label, Negativland [negativland.com]. They claimed that Negativland was infringing on U2's IP by using samples and other stuff (e.g., the letter U and the numeral 2).

    This nearly ruined SST over the costs of the suit alone, but by forcing SST to fight an expensive suit, while the music they had greatly contributed to for more than 10 years exploded into the mainstream, it greatly contributed to the eventual demise of the label, robbing the artists of an important channel.

    Later U2 claimed [l2g.to] to have not been greatly involved. "It wasn't us, just the label", paraphrased.
    I'm sorry, but if you let your lawyer sue, I'll hold you responsible. And if you wanna preach to people about responsible behavior, I'll expect that you know what your agents do in your name.

    I have one thing to say about Bono: hypocrite. I think this is a fitting "people of the year" panel: They all give to charity in the limelight, then turn around and fuck people over.
  • ceases to amaze me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @11:42AM (#14285056)
    How people in privileged places always seem to have other people in privileged places giving them props when a great deal of the majority suspects their all full of shit.

    And then the media airs it.

  • by BewireNomali (618969) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @12:01PM (#14285168)
    guiliani was an interesting choice because he showed the modern day merits of an autocratic approach to governmental policy. Since, the country has shifted to follow that example. New Yorkers bristled under his increase in police force size, his abject and purposeful alienation of minorities, his notions of pervasive policing and his embrace of technology and subversive measures to undermine crime. It was these very policies that New Yorkers hated that helped the city rebound so quickly from 9/11. The guy ruled with an iron fist.

    Interestingly enough, There's a guy in New York named Eliot Spitzer who uses similar tactics. He's the attorney general and he's the scourge of wall street.

    But that's besides the point. What I think is interesting is that much of the banter is about whether or not Gates deserves this "honor" as opposed to whether or not the Time's Man of the Year is actually relevant in 2005. I've had friends who got into publishing and journalism after school... and they weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer. Assuming more of the same in the industry, I'm not prone to taking much seriously when journalists stray from objectivity and decide to weigh in with opinion. Which is to say, I'm not much of a fan of journalism. I'd rather they turn the cameras on, shoot some footage, and let me decide for myself.

    Forget that Bill might or might not be worthy of the award... more pertinent is that the award no longer has merit. Who the fuck cares what Time editors think?
  • Re:Well. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kevlar (13509) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @12:08PM (#14285215)
    Of course the other argument is that, percentage wise he doesn't actually give that much...

    Thats because when you're the riches person in the world, the vast majority of your money exists as ownership of companies. If Gates were to try to sell off his 1 billion shares of MSFT, it would severely criple the company's finances because he likely wouldn't be able to find a buyer @market.

    While I'm sure that his success is fundamentally driven by ego, you cannot say that he doesn't give an enormous amount back to society.
  • Re:Well. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by putko (753330) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @12:09PM (#14285226) Homepage Journal
    Bill's choices in charities don't make sense. He's basically taken money from the first world (with monopolistic practices) and is busily pouring it down the blackhole of 3rd world charities.

    The money that he pours into Africa gets stolen by the corrupt heads of the countries. As long as African truckers can buy whores for a few dollars at truck stops, they'll be having "dry sex" [villagevoice.com] and spreading AIDs.

    He could copy Soros and get more bang for the buck if he invested in somewhat less hopeless causes. I'm not saying I agree with Soros's goals; I'm just saying that he will likely have a greater effect on the world by spending money in places like Ukraine, Russia and Hungary.

    Unless Bill can come up with a cure for AIDS that costs a few dollars to deliver to someone in the bush, all his AIDS-in-Africa charities won't do much. I figure Bill must know this, and figures that if he gives enough money to non-whites, liberal white people will think he's a good person.

    On the other hand, I found out today that Google pays for pizza in the CS labs at various university's throughout the country. I think that's really impressive. They certainly have their eye on the prize!
  • by shreevatsa (845645) <shreevatsa.slashdot@g m a i l.com> on Sunday December 18, 2005 @12:39PM (#14285380)
    I got this in my mail a few days ago. Surprised no one else has posted it yet:
    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: Augusta Molnar < amolnar@<snip>.org>
    Date: Dec 8, 2005 6:26 AM
    Subject: [GKD] Microsoft Donations: Roses with Thorns?
    To: gkd@<snip>.edc.org

    Dear GKD Members,

    I am writing from Oaxaca, Mexico where I am visiting communities in the
    highlands. They have been beneficiaries of a very cool project financed in
    part by the Gates foundation to install a wireless connection and a set of
    computers for the schools. We are working on a network in the Latin America
    region for communities for which we use by preference
    FireFox as our browser. We suggested they try this browser as Explorer was
    causing problems, and discovered to our surprise that the Gates foundation
    "gift" comes with tags.

    The computer network does not allow any of the users of the donated
    computers to install any software not owned by Microsoft, even any open
    source software. The network within which the computers reside will not
    allow any individual computers to download software to install, ostensibly
    to prevent viruses and incompatible software from jeopardizing the Microsoft
    system.

    These are computers installed for educational purposes in a number of
    telecenters in the public libraries in Mexico for all the young students
    preparing for a global world. These computers are therefore their only
    affordable access to the Internet and to learning about computers and
    programs. A significant number of them will leave this town to work at least
    part of their life elsewhere in Mexico or in the U.S. Their work and career
    opportunities will depend upon their skills and preparedness.

    I am reminded of my youth, working in the vicinity of USAID programs which
    only purchased American-made cars shipped to remote corners of Asia for
    irrigation projects, etc., because the tied money only allowed US bids.
    (Ever try to blow up a pneumatic truck tire with a bicycle pump in a small
    town in Asia? )

    Is this standard Gates foundation policies?????? Is this type of tag
    allowed??

    Interested to hear from those of you who are more knowledgeable on this
    point.

    Augusta Molnar
    Director, Community and Markets Program
    Forest Trends
    1050 Potomac Street NW
    Washington, D.C. 20007
    Phone: <snip>
    Fax: <snip>
    www.forest-trends.org

    ------------
    (Sorry for all the "snip"s; but you never know what sort of people frequent Slashdot!)
  • Re:Well. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by ThaReetLad (538112) <sneaky@blueRABBI ... minus herbivore> on Sunday December 18, 2005 @12:40PM (#14285388) Journal
    Careful, that's probably libelous. Microsoft is a convicted monopolist. Bill Gates is an employee and shareholder of Microsoft, and probably doesn't have that much to do with the financial side of the business.
  • by MikeURL (890801) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @01:13PM (#14285631) Journal
    "We'll feed you and take care of you out of the goodness of our heart" is one economic system. It is just not a very reliable one. A soon as the giver's heart chills a bit the recipients of the largesse find that, indeed, they are still as screwed as when they started.

    A far better economic system is one based on trade where each party gets things they want. In that situation each party has a strong and nearly immutable incentive to keep the trade going, namely self-interest. Any economic system not based on the self-interest of individuals as well as groups is doomed to inefficiency, failure, or both.

    However, once people ARE dependent upon largesse based trade it is VERY hard to transition to mutual self-interested trade. A person with a hard heart could say "stop feeding them and when enough have starved to death or been hacked up by gangs they'll change". The intelligent designer made this video game pretty harsh.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 18, 2005 @01:30PM (#14285730)
    I don't know whether Bono rightly should receive that same recognition for his work -- sure he's championed for the poor, but with what real solutions besides raising money? Thank you for donating your money Mr. Gates, but as pointed out by this commentary (from NYT a few days ago), it's not just about how much money you spend. It has to be done effectively -- being a good samaritan by just giving money blindly is not the best way to go:

    December 15, 2005
    Op-Ed Contributor
    The Rock Star's Burden
    By PAUL THEROUX


    THERE are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of one at the moment. If Christmas, season of sob stories, has turned me into Scrooge, I recognize the Dickensian counterpart of Paul Hewson - who calls himself "Bono" - as Mrs. Jellyby in "Bleak House." Harping incessantly on her adopted village of Borrioboola-Gha "on the left bank of the River Niger," Mrs. Jellyby tries to save the Africans by financing them in coffee growing and encouraging schemes "to turn pianoforte legs and establish an export trade," all the while badgering people for money.

    It seems to have been Africa's fate to become a theater of empty talk and public gestures. But the impression that Africa is fatally troubled and can be saved only by outside help - not to mention celebrities and charity concerts - is a destructive and misleading conceit. Those of us who committed ourselves to being Peace Corps teachers in rural Malawi more than 40 years ago are dismayed by what we see on our return visits and by all the news that has been reported recently from that unlucky, drought-stricken country. But we are more appalled by most of the proposed solutions.

    I am not speaking of humanitarian aid, disaster relief, AIDS education or affordable drugs. Nor am I speaking of small-scale, closely watched efforts like the Malawi Children's Village. I am speaking of the "more money" platform: the notion that what Africa needs is more prestige projects, volunteer labor and debt relief. We should know better by now. I would not send private money to a charity, or foreign aid to a government, unless every dollar was accounted for - and this never happens. Dumping more money in the same old way is not only wasteful, but stupid and harmful; it is also ignoring some obvious points.

    If Malawi is worse educated, more plagued by illness and bad services, poorer than it was when I lived and worked there in the early 60's, it is not for lack of outside help or donor money. Malawi has been the beneficiary of many thousands of foreign teachers, doctors and nurses, and large amounts of financial aid, and yet it has declined from a country with promise to a failed state.

    In the early and mid-1960's, we believed that Malawi would soon be self-sufficient in schoolteachers. And it would have been, except that rather than sending a limited wave of volunteers to train local instructors, for decades we kept on sending Peace Corps teachers. Malawians, who avoided teaching because the pay and status were low, came to depend on the American volunteers to teach in bush schools, while educated Malawians emigrated. When Malawi's university was established, more foreign teachers were welcomed, few of them replaced by Malawians, for political reasons. Medical educators also arrived from elsewhere. Malawi began graduating nurses, but the nurses were lured away to Britain and Australia and the United States, which meant more foreign nurses were needed in Malawi.

    When Malawi's minister of education was accused of stealing millions of dollars from the education budget in 2000, and the Zambian president was charged with stealing from the treasury, and Nigeria squandered its oil wealth, what happened? The simplifiers of Africa's problems kept calling for debt relief and more aid. I got a dusty reception lecturing at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation when I pointed out the successes of responsible policies
  • Lex Luthor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Theovon (109752) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @01:57PM (#14285878)
    Didn't Lex Luthor get all sorts of humanitarian awards too?

    Let's see... rich guy, gives money to charities, does humanitarian things, does some evil on the side...
  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @01:59PM (#14285896)
    Sure, but life in NY before Giuliani was dangerous and unpleasant. So much so that people were leaving the city in droves. During his time and after, it was actually a nice place. You could go to 42nd street and not be mugged, propositioned, killed, vandalized or otherwise molested. While central park remains a place you shouldn't go at night, it is at least no longer a nightly source of news.

    Sure, the guy acted like a dictator, but he did good things. Most people never thought NYC could be saved, it was too big and too 0wn3d. I'd say that gives him more justification for Man of the Year than getting insanely rich off selling lemon software.
  • Re:Well. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wass (72082) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:21PM (#14286377)
    Wal-Mart saves low-income shoppers $50 billion a year by having an efficient supply chain.

    Take this quote by Steve Dobbins, the CEO of Carolina Mills, which provides textile supplies. "People ask, 'How can it be bad for things to come into the U.S. cheaply? How can it be bad to have a bargain at Wal-Mart?' Sure, it's held inflation down, and it's great to have bargains," says Dobbins. "But you can't buy anything if you're not employed. We are shopping ourselves out of jobs."

    Here's the link [fastcompany.com]. Why are less people employed? WMT drives many companies our of business by putting so low a profit margin that companies cannot afford to pay their workers satisfactorily. Hence, millions of American jobs are lost as the suppliers cut costs by moving off-shore. Or cut corners elsewhere by lowering wages and/or reducing health care.

    So, hence the generally accepted claim that Americans are putting themselves out of work by shopping at WMT. So you say it's good we're saving $50 billion, but on the other hand we're losing millions of jobs, and important benefits like health-care. Which is worse? And when off-shore products are no longer as cheap to produce (eg when China decides to stop buying American debt), where will we be because most of our manufacturing jobs and plants have moved elsewhere?

    Read that link for mor information about companies that got destroyed by WMT. Includes the story of the above company that prospered while he sold products to people producing for WMT, but then when companies moved overseas and underpriced him he couldn't compete even if he didn't pay any of the workers! Similar thing for Vlasic pickles. I saw another similar story on Rubbermaid on a PBS documentary on WMT. The list goes on and on.

    But hey, you love WMT because they save money. As long as you can buy a gallon of pickles for $3 who cares if people lose jobs?

  • by n54 (807502) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @04:06PM (#14286643) Homepage Journal
    I do agree but I want to embellish it with what I think it's about (no guarantee that this is the "correct" view, think and decide for yourselves).

    Does it mean that rich people shouldn't donate? No
    Does it mean we shouldn't encourage rich people to donate? No
    Does it mean that we shouldn't be happy when rich people donate? No

    What it means is that we shouldn't scoff at those who donate the little they have just because they're poor and can't give "much" dollar-for-dollar.

    What it means is that we should applaud those people who have little but still give as much as they can, some of them even give everything they have.

    I'm sure there are some rich persons who have given away everything too but even then it is how much they give the next day when they're poor which will really be comparable to the "widow".

    What it means is that we shouldn't be full of pride for what we do, that we gave so-and-so much, because how many people notice those "widows" giving everything they've got? They never make any fuss over it themselves.

    So it is a teaching about sacrifice and humility.

    But we should also applaud something which is more widespread among the rich in the US than anywhere else (it's slowly catching on in Europe -- at least in Norway -- and hopefully around the world (I'm hearing about good efforts from Jackie Chan)): philantrophy.

    I'd like to congratulate Bill, Melinda & Bono because they are trying. No, they will never reach the level of the poor widow in the temple (few of any of us do, at least I don't) but they are far far less hypocrites than many rich people (and average people) who do even less than them percentage-wise.

    As for Time and their opinions I couldn't care less, the common journalists are among the biggest (if not the biggest) hypocrites in any way you can find anywhere, and the whole idea of nominating a person(s) of the year is to increase profit (which is not bad in itself unless it becomes the sole aim of the journalism and I dare say that it is in this case).

    Last but not least let's not forget all the things lots of people do/give that doesn't involve money at all be it various volunteer work, open source or even donating spare CPU cycles: it all counts.
  • by MarkByers (770551) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @06:34PM (#14287357) Homepage Journal
    It's not how much you give away that shows how generous you are, neither the actual amount nor as a percentage. It's how much you decide to keep. Bill Gates has decided to keep enough money to remain the richest man in the world.

You can observe a lot just by watching. -- Yogi Berra

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