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Google.org to Spend an Initial $1.1 Billion 477

conq writes "Google.org, the charitable branch of Google, has hired on Dr. Larry Brilliant to create a strategy for making a 'social impact.' According to the article: 'The network will focus its charitable endeavors on global poverty, energy, and the environment.' Brilliant outlines his goal: 'In 10 years, I'd like people to say Google changed the world less for its search engine than for the way in which it changed philanthropy to make the world a better place.'"
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Google.org to Spend an Initial $1.1 Billion

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...not caving into the repressive, authoritarian Chinese government.
    • Or (Score:5, Insightful)

      by temojen ( 678985 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:50PM (#14779878) Journal
      Set up a factory in a third world country to build:

      Wheelbarrows
      Handcarts
      Bicycles
      Water pumps (well and irrigation)
      Ploughs
      Seed drills
      Hand tools
      Evaporative refrigeration Jars

      And better yet, also help set up a marketing/distribution co-op of just-above-subsistence farmers, and seed banks that also submit to some journal as "prior art" to prevent patents on indigenous varieties.

      And set up education programs for urban gardening in the developing world and low-income areas of the developed world.
      • They ship the products in big containers and we buy them at LL Bean or Wal-Mart...
        • So run it on a quota basis...

          50% for market sale in developed countries, 50% for distribution (or market sale with micro-loans available from local credit unions) in developing countries.
        • by billybob2 ( 755512 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:53PM (#14780468)
          I'd love to see Google continue and expand its Summer of Code [google.com] program, which last summer funded 400 students [slashdot.org] worldwide to work on the Free and Open Source [gnu.org] projects [kde.org] of their choice. Each student was rewarded $4,500 and the project they were improving received $500 to cover the mentors' time and expenses.

          By enabling students to contribute to Free Software at an early age, Google would not only be doing society a favor, but it would also introduce those students to the concept of working with a large group of talented, motivated contributors coming from vastly different backgrounds.
          • I think your idea is the best yet. If Google wants to help they should use the summer of code, and contribute in areas they actually know something about. I think it would help MANY MANY people in MANY countries if Google actually decided to give $4500 for code. Also, $4500 means a lot to someone in the third world.

            I don't think 1 billion should be spent on code, but if $100 million were spent on code, with a specific focus on the third world, I think this would do more for society, creating jobs, and crea
            • Supporting the Summer of Code would enable Google to positively impact education in numerous ways. Educating the younger generation is an investment in the world's future, yet it so often seems to fall off the radar [slashdot.org] of those in charge.

              How can Google support education with Free and Open Source Software? By improving apps that make it fun for elementary, junior high and high school students to learn. And how do you make it fun? By intertwining technology and using computers to their full potential as teachi
          • Thanks! :-)
      • Hot composting latrines. The village well is no good if it gets contaminated by the neighbour's open sewer.
      • outsource your job to them ;)

      • Re:Or (Score:5, Informative)

        by MrNonchalant ( 767683 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @06:21PM (#14780696)
        It's obvious from many replies that very few are familiar with what Google.org has already done. Mainly they've worked with non-profits who do very much what you folks suggest. They've been posting about it in the Google Blog and it reads like a book of how to do philanthropy in a sustainable, sensible, and empowering manner.

        For instance, one of their partners is the Acumen Fund which invests in local start-ups making goods and services for the developing world (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/12/acumen-vis its-google.html [blogspot.com]). Another partner does produces subtitled television from local content as a means to increase literacy in India (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/12/same-langu age-subtitling.html [blogspot.com]). Others are detailed on Google.org [google.org] itself. One such example is TechnoServe which is promoting business developement in Ghana (http://www.technoserve.org/ [technoserve.org]). And they're not just throwing money at the problem, they're donating Google services (AdSense) and plan on supplying logistical and technical aid as well.

        In short, all the whiny comments about what the developing world needs (parent post isn't one of them, but nearing that way) are pretty well misplaced. Google has shown a good degree of competence in their technical endeavours, that seems to be translating wonderfully to their philanthropic wing.
    • Is not that google can change their government anyway

      I mean, it's wrong to help that government, but it's not that google can or should do. Chinese people need to awake.
    • All they have to do is start a venture capital company, then go to a poor continent like Africa, or even South America, and simply invest.

      I don't think charity will change anything because ultimately charity is a waste of money. If Google wants to change the world, they need to start a venture capital company, one for Africa, one for South America, and then simply invest. It is not difficult to solve these problems. There are countries in Africa and South America with stable governments. Giving food and wa
    • ...not caving into the repressive, authoritarian Chinese government.

      You know, the funny thing is that by "caving" as you say, Google will actually do more for the Chinese people than by not "caving".

      How so?

      Google has powerful search technology -Duh- but, when the Chinese search on google, and something is banned, instead of it not appearing, they will recieve a message that a page was blocked. This way, the Chinese people will know that the information is out there, but the government is blocking it.

      If, as
  • My world? (Score:2, Funny)

    by robpoe ( 578975 )
    If you want to make the world better,

    Make the check out to ....

    ME!!

    Oh wait..
    • I dont know but, what about just a 5%.

      Yes, just give a 5% of every Adword click to some cause, for some time, and then, rotate the causes.

      I will *try* to use (more than now) a sevice that does this. At least, I tend to buy those articles at the supermarket that give some cents of each of your purchases to some UNICEF cause.

      Ok, maybe not 5%, but even 1% would be great.
  • by duerra ( 684053 ) * on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:38PM (#14779763) Homepage
    Ok, so this can be the designated thread for you to file all your BRILLIANT jokes under.

    Yes, yes... I know - I made a pun! I'm just too much for myself sometimes. *insert seal yelps here*.
  • by Viv ( 54519 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:39PM (#14779766)
    Brilliant!
  • Yeah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by malus ( 6786 ) * on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:39PM (#14779769) Journal
    And this is why I'm going back to college so Google will consider me a viable employee. I *want* to work for this company.
    • They called me for an interview recently and I told them no because of their China policy.
      • Re:Yeah (Score:2, Funny)

        by Main Gauche ( 881147 )
        "They called me for an interview recently and I told them no because of their China policy."

        They asked me to be their janitor for minimum wage. I told them no because they keep misspelling googol [google.com].

      • Re:Yeah (Score:4, Funny)

        by JTorres176 ( 842422 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:26PM (#14780240) Homepage
        Ha, turn down google's job, laugh in their faces!
        You'd be better off going to Microsoft anyway! Wait, they modified their search engine and OS for China.
        Wait, go for Yahoo! That'd be a kick in the... nevermind, they did the same.
        Oooooh! Go work for IBM, that would... wait, nope, they assist China with hardware and OS's with the Guangdong Initiative....
        I know, Go to work for Dell because they... nevermind, they assisted with the Guangdong Initiative too.

        Go to work at a mom and pop convenience store and slowly starve to death living in your mom's basement making minimum wage while Google continues to rake in billions!

        That'll show google who's boss! Yeah!
    • Bill Gates also helps lots of people via charity - would you work for microsoft aswell?

      I'd rather try to fix the mechanisms that didn't avoid to get the world so wrong in first place
  • Brilliant (Score:5, Informative)

    by FST ( 766202 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:39PM (#14779774) Journal
    For those of you who don't know who Brilliant is, he has just the eclectic background that makes him a natural fit for Google's philanthropic thrust. He is a physican and epidemiologist who has also been heralded as a tech visionary. He spent a decade studying religion in at a Himalayan monastery in India, followed by a stint as a diplomat with the U.N. He helped lead a World Health Organization program to eradicate smallpox and later founded the Berkeley (Calif.)-based Seva Foundation, an international health nonprofit group credited with restoring sight to more than 2 million blind people.
  • by been42 ( 160065 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:40PM (#14779781) Homepage
    'In 10 years, I'd like people to say Google changed the world less for its search engine than for the way in which it changed philanthropy to make the world a better place.'

    So is google.org going to start by shutting down or opening up google.cn?

  • Its about time google started working on world peace, as a lot of people had already speculated.

    But seriously, the cynical part of me knows that this is partially a PR move, albeit beneficial to more than just themselves.
  • According to published sources (like Vise's The Google Story [amazon.com] ) the plan has already been worked out:
    1. Earn a heck of a lot of money.
    2. Set up a charitable foundation.
    3. ???????????
    4. World peace and mutual understanding! (And, um, some profit for the execs).

    . How could it be more simple?

    • 1. Earn a heck of a lot of money 2. Support censorship in China, piss everyone off 3. Spend $1.1bn on charity 4. ??? 5. Google is the good guy again
      • If you want to run a business in a foreign country, you have to obey the laws in that country.

        So the first question fo rgoogl is: do we want to have a china branch? Yes or no?

        If the answer is NO, then you cant have any influence on China.

        To change anything there you have to be there. To be there you have to obey their laws and even if that includes censorship.

        Finally when you have establsihed a business there, probably with some 10,000 emplyoees, you gain "might".

        When you finally have might, you can work on
      • Disclaimer: I am not supporting the censorship policies of china.

        That said, riddle me this - which is better: not having a presence in China and thereby doing nothing good or at least giving people better access to information than they had before even if they still can't get to all of the content censored by their government?

        Besides, by at least being there, they can start to bring about positive change, bit by bit. Most things do not change overnight. They happen by degrees.
  • Brilliant!!
  • $1 million to distribute laptops and Wikipedia-on-DVD to rural areas of Africa. If they go with the $100 laptops the guys at MIT are working on, they could distribute 10,000 of them. That would make a big difference in areas where people aren't starving, but textbooks aren't affordable either. (We can neglect the price of producing DVDs -- it would cost perhaps a dollar for the media and maybe another few cents to have them stamped in bulk; negligible compared to the laptops)
    • What exactly would wikipedia do for them? Even forgetting the language barrier, wikipedia is not really a learning resource. Its a good reference, but if you want to learn math, or farming techniques, it falls short. It does so by design- its an encyclopedia, not a comprehensive description. If you want to work on African education (which is a worthy goal), you need to send teachers, schooled in the native language(s). And you either need to tailor whats taught (farming techniques and the like) or pro
    • Or just slap together a Wikipedia application that has all the hyper-linked articles and super basic browser and toss it on the laptop. It wouldn't be editable, but it'd be updateable everytime you log on.
    • Re:Here's a start (Score:4, Informative)

      by rueger ( 210566 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:53PM (#14779918) Homepage
      Now if only those poor little brown people a) could read English, or whatever language Wikipedia is in b) had a handy source of electricity to recharge those laptops c) had another source of reliable information for the times when Wikipedia is totally wrong d) had someone writing information that was specific to their climate and culture, not Southern California.

      The problems faced the people in many developing nations are significantly more complex and profound than anything that a free laptop will solve.

      Sidebar: the 1.1 Billion referred to is the amount being placed in an endowment. The actual amount that will be available to be spent will be signifcantly smaller. For comparison, check out the Ford Foundation [fordfound.org], with assets of some 11.4 billion, and annual progam expenditures of about 500 million.
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:42PM (#14779803)
    Why is it that they're increasingly acting like Netscape these days? They're still a small company compared to Microsoft and they seem oblivious to the fact that Microsoft caught up to Netscape once Netscape started to lose focus. Become as big as Microsoft, then you can do things like this. $1.1B, even over ten years, is a lot of money that could be reinvested in the company to provide more jobs and grow the company. Again, Netscape seemed unbeatable but now is on the trash heap of history.

    If they want to make a difference, how about investing money into good civics lessons in the countries wracked by violence. Teach them peaceful resolution of differences, undermine their tribal identities to create a unified national identity and teach them the value of working together in a way respectful of basic civil rights. That's why they get in this mess. Almost every time an African country manages a decent election, the opposition goes onto the warpath to try and take power. If they want to really shake things up, teach them the values that made America be able to unify and work together to become an industrial power. Until then, it's all a bunch of shiny things.
    • ...good civics lessons...

      I think such lessons are things only learned by example. If you want to just walk in and try to hand them a new set of values... well, I believe there are a fair number of (Christian|Catholic) missionaries down there at this very moment. ...undermine their tribal identities...

      Yeah, they'll eat that right up.
    • $1.1B, even over ten years, is a lot of money that could be reinvested in the company to provide more jobs and grow the company

      I'm happy that google chooses to waste that money in other places instead. Is nto that it's money what it's going to make google beat microsoft either...
    • While I more-or-less agree with you, there's a subtlety you may be missing:

      If they want to really shake things up, teach them the values that made America be able to unify and work together to become an industrial power.

      The values that made America be able to unify came out of centuries of darkness in Europe, followed by something called the Enlightenment [wsu.edu]. Without that movement, the ideas of natural law, the rule of law, and limited government could not have taken root. That's not quite putting it ri

    • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:14PM (#14780129) Journal
      If they want to make a difference, how about investing money into good civics lessons in the countries wracked by violence. Teach them peaceful resolution of differences, undermine their tribal identities to create a unified national identity and teach them the value of working together in a way respectful of basic civil rights.

      Oddly enough, that was one of the original ideas behind the UN. Until it became wracked with sectarian conflict between different tribes, er, nations.

      As for helping poor countries establish stable democracies, the Cato Institute had a study several years ago positing that property rights, more than any other single variable, were the key to long term stability and prosperity. Interesting reading, if you can find it.
    • I think they are potentially doing something very good here. I hope you are wrong. However, you certainly have a very good point. I try hard to think about how much those $100 laptops could help education over there... I seem to remember seeing plenty of stories even in our nice western civilized nations of people getting murdered over a pair of shoes. There is no real shortage of shoes here...there is however a very large shortage of tech stuff over there. While I really think the tech could help them
    • End tribalism (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blueZ3 ( 744446 )
      eliminate corruption, push for the rule of law. If there was a way to invest in these things, it would go a long way toward helping the third world.

      I struggle between frustration (why do they take up arms instead of working politically) and pity (how can we expect political solutions, when the daily necessities are lacking). Africa is in a world of hurt, with AIDS, civil wars, famine, tyranny, and a seemingly endless list of ills, none of which is easily solvable. I have a friend who is involved in a projec
    • Become as big as Microsoft, then you can do things like this. $1.1B, even over ten years, is a lot of money that could be reinvested in the company to provide more jobs and grow the company.

      Yes, oh what an odd thing to do, to give some of your riches to a charity, when you could use these monies to amass yet more capital! Truly, these are fools!

      Almost every time an African country manages a decent election, the opposition goes onto the warpath to try and take power. If they want to really shake things up, t
  • by pajeromanco ( 575906 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:43PM (#14779813)
    I would rather hire Joe Modest.
  • Uh, no... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Otter ( 3800 )
    Google.org to Spend an Initial $1.1 Billion

    I'm not sure how you managed to get that from "Ultimately, Google.org will spend a sum that equals about 1% of the number of shares Google had when it went public. Based on the current stock price, that implies spending of more than $1.1 billion."

    The fund has a $90M endowment, and "ultimately" I wouldn't base anything on the current stock price.

    Personally, I'd rather have seen them run their business ethically than make money from providing censorship to China and

  • by delire ( 809063 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:47PM (#14779842)
    In 10 years, I'd like people to say Google changed the world less for its search engine than for the way in which it changed philanthropy to make the world a better place.
    What a strange quest, to make a contribution to Philanthropy itself.
    • They have obviously found a way to index it.
  • by katorga ( 623930 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:50PM (#14779869)
    Amazing how being a lackey of a totalitarian police state gets the philanthropic juices flowing.
  • Sounds like someone out of a comic book.

    Marvel Presents: Dr. Brilliant and the Giving Googler!
  • by ltwally ( 313043 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:52PM (#14779898) Homepage Journal
    Bill Gates is the single largest philanthropist in the world... and, yet, he's still thought of as the antiChrist by many. If it didn't work for Bill Gates, what makes Google think it will work for it?

    However, this is not to say that such endeavors are not worth doing. I'm all for big companies striving to make the world a better place.

    • That's like saying that a pimp or drug dealer who makes donations is a good person....Bill earned his money in evil manipulative ways, however Google has earned their money simply by offering excelent service...this is why people react differently.
      • Exactly. In fact Bill Gates did give a lecture where he compared Microsoft's allowing some piracy to a drug dealier getting people addicted before making them pay.

        The really important thing here is that he only gives more because he has more. I'm not a christian, but there is a story in the Bible comparing a pauper who gives nearly all their money to a rich person who gives a lot more; this is the same thing.

      • by blibbler ( 15793 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:27PM (#14780263)
        People keep on dismissing Gates' donations by saying all of the money microsoft makes is from breaking the law, or unethical practices. Correct me if I am wrong, but the only "illegal" activities that have even come close to sticking to microsoft are their actions in relation to IE and windows media player.. both of which are free, and compete against free alternatives.
        Microsoft makes a very substantial portion of their income from Office, and the fact is that Office is the best office suite available.

        I am no microsoft fanboy (I use macs exclusively) but the constant dismissal of Gates' philanthopy is really pathetic
        • Correct me if I am wrong, but the only "illegal" activities that have even come close to sticking to microsoft are their actions in relation to IE and windows media player.. both of which are free, and compete against free alternatives.

          You're wrong, so I'm correcting you.

          Netscape was a commercial product before IE was bundled with Windows. Once Microsoft put Netscape out of business, it became free.

          Media player competed against Real player. Real was charging for certain versions of their player (and their
        • by zoeblade ( 600058 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @05:09AM (#14783352) Homepage

          People keep on dismissing Gates' donations by saying all of the money microsoft makes is from breaking the law, or unethical practices. Correct me if I am wrong, but the only "illegal" activities that have even come close to sticking to microsoft are their actions in relation to IE and windows media player.. both of which are free, and compete against free alternatives.

          This sounds like trolling, but I'll reply just in case it isn't.

          Here are a few hilights from a random web page [michaelrobertson.com], which in turn has links to its sources (just search for something including DOS and sabotage to see similar pages):

          Gates gave orders to executives at Microsoft to purposely sabotage DR DOS. "Make sure it [DR DOS] has problems running our software in the future." And where it didn't have problems, programmers were instructed to create bogus error messages saying that it did. The tactic worked and DR DOS was forced out of business, leaving the Microsoft monopoly. Years later, MS paid more than $100 million to settle this case -- long after DR DOS was no longer a threat.

          With the MS DOS monopoly as a foundation, Microsoft continued a series of illegal actions designed to extend their monopoly to additional products, including Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. For example, they stifled competition by threatening and extorting computer manufacturers to enter into licenses agreeing to only carry Microsoft products. By the time the Justice Department caught up to them and filed two antitrust cases for a wide range of unfair and anti-competitive actions (1993, 1996), Microsoft had cemented a massive monopoly which gave them hoards of cash to fight any company -- or even the government. Microsoft settled the first case, agreeing to change its illegal marketing practices and was found guilty in the second case.

          The charitable giving that Microsoft advertises is usually a business tactic, where they give away software in an attempt to gain traction in a market, such as they do with schools. The software costs them just pennies to reproduce, but they advertise the full retail value for tax and PR reasons. Microsoft rarely gives actual cash.

  • This is phase two.

    We're already accustomed to Google tracking everything we do online through their servers.
    Now we're seeing what's really going on behind the scenes - they're staging a replacement for the UN, and will eventually be a forced to be reckoned with.
    Naturally, PeopleSearch (beta) will go online shortly after Google gets diplomatic immunity, and cameras will appear at every intersection, tracking people wherever they go.

    All this within the next 15 years, AND I STILL DON'T FUCKING HAVE MY FLYING C
  • by csoto ( 220540 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @04:59PM (#14779970)
    How does philanthropy improve shareholder value?

    No, I'm not a staunch capitalist. I don't really even invest much. But, if you play by the rules of capitalism, you die by those same rules. Unless this is being funded directly by the shareholder founders, then it's not clear this adds shareholder value, and therefore puts Google at risk.
    • Cheap advertising.

      It's cheaper to donate $100,000 to a group and get covered on multiple national media outlets than to buy advertising on all those said outlets.

      It's also better for PR value.

    • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:10PM (#14780086)
      Capitalism also implies that you're free to do what you wish with your capital. Google has already specified in their prospectus that philanthropy is one of those things it wishes to do with its capital. Constantly increasing shareholder value is usually assumed to be the only purpose of a corporation, but there can be others. Every shareholder of Google is aware of this and concedes to it by means of choosing to own their Google stock up to and including today.
    • This also depends on the company charter. If part of their charter is to do good works (or in this case, no evil - which could also be implied as doing good works), then they're fine.

  • So is this money from the company stockholders or the founders cash? How can a publicly traded company provision such a large amount of money as charity and not incur the wrath of the almighty dollar-watchers?

    I could start a lot of profitable initiatives with a billion dollars.
  • by duncan bayne ( 544299 ) <dhgbayne@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:04PM (#14780027) Homepage
    There's only one thing that's going to reduce poverty and suffering in third-world countries: classical liberalism.

    If Google (or any philanthropist) wants to really help a poor country, persuading them to depose their theocratic / despotic / fascist / socialist / puppet Governments and replace them with a constitutionally-bound Republic would be a good start.

    Of course, that'd involve many people, a deep understanding of the culture of said country, and a long, tiresome struggle to educate the people - not to mention the high likelihood of violent opposition from the existing powermongers.

    So most people don't bother, they don't choose to analyse the causes of poverty, and instead buy the people of those countries millions of dollars worth of rice and medicine, thereby adding welfare dependency to their list of problems, and propping up the aforementioned evil Governments.

    Sigh.
    • persuading them to depose their theocratic / despotic / fascist / socialist / puppet Governments

      Google's first goal should be to invade sweden and stop the spread of strangely named furniture. All Hail the GoogleArmy Beta! Invitation Only!

    • by oGMo ( 379 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:58PM (#14780495)
      If Google (or any philanthropist) wants to really help a poor country, persuading them to depose their theocratic / despotic / fascist / socialist / puppet Governments and replace them with a constitutionally-bound Republic would be a good start.

      Don't make me laugh. This country is hardly an example of stablism. We've been around for barely over 200 years, and it amuses me everytime someone thinks we should go "convert" another country to our preferred governmental system.

      Historically, both Greek democracies and Roman republics were short-lived. These are just about our only other only other historic examples of such ruling systems. The longest-lived systems are more along the lines of emperial monarchies, whose lines can stretch for millenia.

      If you believe that a "constitutionally-bound Republican government" will end suffering and poverty, I recommend you descend from your ivory tower and walk among the ghettos and homeless shelters of your local city sometime. That you visit some truly poor and struggling families. The belief that education and democracy will end the world's problems is stereotypically naive American thinking.

      A stable monarchy would be a better choice. You will still end up with different social strata (ruling class, middle class, poor class---you are fooling yourself if you believe these do not exist in a republic), but the poorest will be in general better off. (Note: a monarchy does not imply a dictatorship.)

      • by ThousandStars ( 556222 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:04PM (#14780960) Homepage
        If you believe that a "constitutionally-bound Republican government" will end suffering and poverty, I recommend you descend from your ivory tower and walk among the ghettos and homeless shelters of your local city sometime. That you visit some truly poor and struggling families. The belief that education and democracy will end the world's problems is stereotypically naive American thinking.

        A stable monarchy would be a better choice. You will still end up with different social strata (ruling class, middle class, poor class---you are fooling yourself if you believe these do not exist in a republic), but the poorest will be in general better off. (Note: a monarchy does not imply a dictatorship.)

        No offense, but you obviously don't know what you're talking about. You knock down a variety of strawmen to make a point that's wrong anyway.

        Monarchies are inherently dictatorships because everyone must follow the rule of a single person. A monarchy does not just imply a dictatorship -- it requires one. The problem with them is that, while their may be a benevelent dictator or monarch for a generation or two, inevitably someone seizes or inherits power and then wields it for his own benefit and to the detriment of his citizens. Historically, free government and free speech lead to material wealth and improved living standards. There is no way to "end suffering and poverty" but there are ways to alleviate it for the vast majority of the population.

        Your examples are terrible. Although homeless shelters do exist and not all people are equal in America (or other western countries), the poor of this country are considerably better off than even the rich of many third-world countries. Most American poor have TVs and cars; the poor of many other countries wonder where their next meal will come from.

        Education and democracy will not end all the world's problems, but they will improve the overall well-being of the people. Of course, you elitist view has been argued throughout history. Those who impose it only cause greater suffering to their people. No one argues that different social classes develop in republics, but that doesn't mean that a republic isn't a superior form of government.

        • Monarchies are inherently dictatorships because everyone must follow the rule of a single person. A monarchy does not just imply a dictatorship -- it requires one. The problem with them is that, while their may be a benevelent dictator or monarch for a generation or two, inevitably someone seizes or inherits power and then wields it for his own benefit and to the detriment of his citizens.

          What is the difference between a single person grabbing and abusing power and a group taking advantage of a democrat

      • by Darkman, Walkin Dude ( 707389 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @08:08PM (#14781283) Homepage

        Is the up modding it received, (currently at 5 insightful) and the lack of upmodding to the responses. Have you ever lived under a proper monarchy? Have you any idea besides what the legends of king arthur tell you what that entails? Speaking as someone from Ireland, not so long ago my country was the orginator of such terms as "scorched earth policy", "coffin ships", and "lynching". All because whatever inbred monkey that happened to be sitting on the metal chair took a fit and decided that was a good way to go this season.

        You want to wake up, son. Monarchies are never meritocracies, the best does not rise to the top. The wealthy have their status codified and secured by law, enforced by the willing peons that were beggared by the noble classes themselves, but are too ill educated to see it, again due to the noble classes.

        The longest-lived systems are more along the lines of emperial monarchies, whose lines can stretch for millenia

        Good lord. You say this like its a good thing. The advances in science and living conditions made in primarily western nations that gave us what we have today were made when..? Thats right, in the last 200 years. Seeing the connection yet? Just because some thugs can settle into hereditary positions and bully the rest of the population for a few millenia with hired heavies doesn't make it smart or right. Still with me? Good lad. The longest lived systems are only stable from the top. And even then not very stable.

        As I was saying, the scariest thing about this post is the agreement I see with it. Its like you americans have forgotten what it was like. Does anyone doubt that a lot of people in the US today would mind living under a monarchy? Yeesh.

  • Nice. I'll sleep better tonight for once

    Normally I'm the no.1 Google Skeptic (just check my record and You'll see that I'm on google like a tick on a dog)

    But for once I have to take my hat off for them.
    So many rich people, Michael Jackson, Bill Gates, Donald Thrump - No one got it right - no one understood that our planet is in grave danger of planetary loss of vegetation.

    Who better to understand this than the Global search engine?

    Interesting... I'll keep my eyes peeled on this, wont you?
  • by aschoff_nodule ( 890870 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:05PM (#14780043)
    I think big companies like Microsoft (Melinda Gates Foundation) and Google have started to think that charity may be a means of marketing and would in a long term help to make some bucks out of it. I guess that works by
    1) Constantly staying in headlines, by those charitable activities
    2) The countries which these companies will impact, are the places who potentially have a large consumer market which is still not tapped.
    3) They will work hand in hand with policy makers, etc. in those countries - and would be in a better position to influence them in their favor.
  • Redmond, WA - In response to Google's hiring of Dr. Brilliant to lead its charitable branch, Microsoft has hired Dr. Fucking-Kill to head up its own good will organization, Microsoft.Screw.The.Consumer.

    "I feel I'll be a real asset to the company." said Dr. Fucking-Kill as he ate several fetuses. "Since I discovered that Steve Ballmer and I are long-lost brothers from the union of a steel-wombed birthing machine and a half-dead Irish alcoholic, I've wanted to make a contribution."

    Dr. Fucking-Kill's first or
    • Sunnyvale, CA - In response to Google and Microsoft hiring Doctors to run their charitable tax-writeoff wings, Yahoo has announced it has hired brain damaged athlete Dr. Werner T. Gimpertard

      In a recent interview, Dr. Gimpertard was asked what his doctorate was in. When he had finished molesting the interviewer's shoes he replied "Sticking potato chips and small appliances up my nose."

      Pressed over what his plans to do with the money Yahoo is giving him, Dr. Gimpertard replied "Change my diapers and help ear
  • So I'm just curious...will Google try to lump in their summer of code efforts with this philanthropy or will they keep that as more of business expense since they benifit from these projects themselves moneterily?
  • How aboud spending a billion dollars on providing a hydrogen based vehicle and support infrastructure? Provide the vehicle designs to the auto makers and the cracking facility designs to the oil companies and have them build the things. They could get this rolling and in 10 to 15 years start phasing out gasoline based vehicles. Would need to start building nuclear plants to provide energy to the cracking facilities.

    Now that would have a tremendous impact on the world.

    Either that or spend the billio
  • Feel free to give some o' that to me!
  • After school programming classes

    In more poverished school districts, help to set up after-school classes for those interested in programming. Donate money for the computer hardware if needed. And don't talk about stuff like database queries or setting up submission forms (leave that for actual classes); talk about stuff like making a square move from one side of the screen to the other while rotating, or creating 2d games.

    These kinds of things will interest kids a hell of a lot more than getting a tax form,
  • Wouldn't the most obvious solution be to just hire people? Wouldn't that be a much more efficient means of getting money directly in the hands of the impoverished?

    I mean, the only way a company can legally reconcile charitable work with their responsibility to shareholders in the first place is to label it as marketing. If spun correctly, hiring (and training) people in poverty could be handled the same way, but with more lasting and substantial results.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not against charities by any
  • IMHO global poverty will not be addressed with one billion dollars from Google. Many companies and governments in the EU and US are doing the same thing for decades, without success. Google may be only interested in a tax shelter. The problem is that companies and governments in the rich countries are causing the problems in the poor countries. Of course, we, the people in rich countries are not completely innocent either. What can make a difference is fair trade. And that is where we have a chance to make
  • My recommendation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Saeger ( 456549 ) <farrelljNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @05:38PM (#14780354) Homepage
    If Google wants to "focus its charitable endeavors on global poverty, energy, and the environment" it should help accelerate the development of GNR (Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics) technologies that will have the greatest impact.

    • Genetics - efficient crops, genetic therapies, eventual cures for all diseases (including the #1 killer: aging), etc. Biology isn't destiny, but in the short-term it's important that we help as many people as possible live long enough to live forever.
    • Nanotechnology - most especially desktop/village molecular manufacturing such that the means of production can be truly democratized. Dump some "dirt" feedstock into your "nanofab" and bootstrap the production of cheap solar arrays to make more infrastruct & fabs that make more stuff, like water purification machines, CO2 scrubbers...
    • Robotics - the end of skilled & unskilled menial labor (so we'll need those nanofabs to "put food on the table").

    Scratch that - Google should just ship $1 billion in fish-aid to the 3rd world.

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