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Comment Re:Uber It! (Score 1) 349

Peter's got the money to pull an Uber on the energy industry

Nuclear power plants and electrical distribution are slightly more expensive than writing an app. "breaking the law" to set up your own nuclear power generation and distribution network would also be less than successful, especially when, unlike roads that Uber depends on, your competition owns the grid.

But OK, I'll bite: Buy an oil drilling rig and tow it to international waters near a city that controls its own grid. Build a nuclear power plant on the rig, run cables to connect the city's grid.

Then what happens?

Comment Re:It's their money... (Score 4, Informative) 154

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: 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.


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.

Comment Re:Greed rules in Corporate America (Score 1) 119

I'd say that this century corporate greed in Pharma has improved efficiency in giving back revenue to the stockholders and bankers (stock buybacks, M&A) but hasn't done much at all for R&D. I don't see how the picture would improve if the incentive (market exclusivity) to throw money into a hole for a decade or more before finding out if there will be be a payout (typical for pharmaceutical R&D) is removed.

Comment Re:How old are you? (Score 2) 119

Didn't you read the follow-up story?. The free market fixed that problem, and the medicine is selling for a buck now.

Not quite that simple: many folks won't have access to a compounding pharmacy, the drug isn't for sale yet that I can tell, and for many or most drugs a compounding pharmacy won't be able to help. I think the real answer is pretty similar to your answer about money: not all monopolies are evil and we shouldn't abandon all monopolies. When rent seekers like Actelion and Turing learn to game the system it's time to reform the rules on restricted distribution and returning generic drugs to exclusive status; it's not time to blow up the FDA.

Comment Re:A WHOLE lot easier said than done. (Score 2) 119

I think a good answer would be a combination of transparency, delays, and being fully subject to insider trading and other financial laws (no more "speech and debate" defenses). I don't think it would be too much to ask that elected officials give up much more of their financial privacy during their term of office, especially if a delay in the release of the information is incorporated. I also think it would make sense for public officials (and in some cases their staff) to be forced to wait to buy or sell securities for at least two full trading days after publicly announcing the order. Once they announce the intent they have to follow through: they can protect themselves from swings in the market during the delay by placing limit orders. For quid pro quos that execute a year or more after they leave office, PACs, etc.: heck if I know.

Those who claim the dead never return to life haven't ever been around here at quitting time.