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Microsoft Science

Gates Pledges $750M to Vaccinate Children 1251

Posted by samzenpus
from the ends-justify-the-means dept.
chriskzoo5 writes "The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is pledging $750M to vaccinate children worldwide over the next 10 years. Much maligned for his business practices, is this proof that sometimes the ends justify the means? Let's see if the Linux community can match his generosity."
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Gates Pledges $750M to Vaccinate Children

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  • This is great. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TooTechForYou (816044) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:04AM (#11466507)
    Regardless on weather you like Microsoft or not, you have to admit this is great. But about the Linux community matching, maybe the same percentage of thier profits would be possible. The truth is however, that these are two completely diffrent situations.
  • by kmmatthews (779425) * <krism@mailsnare.net> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:08AM (#11466534) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, too bad the money will be used to buy our (American) drugs at our ridiculous prices. That money could go so much further if the vaccinations were purchased in other countries.
  • by egyber (788117) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:09AM (#11466549)
    I am friends with the daughter of the head of the Gates Foundation... Bill has told her (my friend) that his goal is to give as much as possible of his money to charity. He actually really cares about the world and his foundation and its work is proof of his commitment.

    Many may disagree with Microsoft's practices but Bill Gates is extremely committed to the world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:13AM (#11466599)
    ...and the potential worth of that help is greater than $750 million.

    My guess is the reason for Bill's philanthropy is the same as for (nearly) all rich people -- he sees that he cannot take it with him, and he wants to do something to have the rest of mankind remember him fondly when he is gone. Carnegie and Rockefeller did the same thing.
  • by Von Helmet (727753) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:14AM (#11466605)
    Here's what Jesus thinks [gospelcom.net] about that.
  • chriskzoo5 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Paradise Pete (33184) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:15AM (#11466621) Journal
    This story looks like both a troll and flamebait, and it gets me to wondering about the submitter. What a shocker. He's a known troll [slashdot.org].
  • MOD PARENT UP (Score:1, Interesting)

    by rbarreira (836272) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:23AM (#11466680) Homepage
    And... slashdot editors really suck! Sometimes I don't even understand why this site is so famous... Do you?
  • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:52AM (#11466906) Homepage
    Bill Gates donated the money, not any community unless you consider his wealth as aggregated from a particular community. But actually to be more exact, Bill is calling on governments to match his investment in the purchase of expensive drugs produced by the pharmas he has heavily invested in.

    If Bill weren't pumping his own portfolio and occasionally using such "charity" for coercion [zdnet.com.au], I'd take a less cynical point of view towards his approaches to public health

  • by richardneish (464862) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:55AM (#11466932)

    I don't see how the MS - Linux competition has anything whatsoever to do with Bill and Melissa's charitable work. I'm no fan of Microsoft and I do avoid using MS products wherever possible, but the comparsion here should be with other of the worlds wealthy. How do Larry Ellison's charitable contributions stack up, for example?

    Not everything about Bill Gates is a Microsoft vs Linux issue.

    Personally, I think that my use of free-as-in-beer alternatives to commercial products does increase my charitable donations because I have more disposable income available to me. In theory it means that Bill et al have less available to them to donate to their favourite charity, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over that.

    In case you are wondering what to do with the money you saved from using free software, here are some of my preferred charities. Enjoy:

  • by 3terrabyte (693824) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:01AM (#11466975) Journal
    "Let's see if the Linux community can match his generosity."

    Yea, what a lame statement. As far as I'm concerned, the Linux community's generosity is unsurpassed in it's offering of a free, robust, and safe O/S.

  • by jim_v2000 (818799) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:13AM (#11467085)
    You know, a lot of people think it's so terrible that MS crushed it's competition, but I don't think it's so bad. Especially for the consumer. It's nice to have most of the computer software written for one OS. If I want to go buy a piece of software, I can be pretty much sure that if I'm running Windows that I will be able to run that software. Compare this to the videogame industry. If I wanted to play any video game I wanted, I would have to buy a PSX, PSX2, GameCube, XBox, Gameboy, SNES, Sega, etc etc etc. I'm not say that that should change, but I'm just pointing out that having an OS that an overwhelming majority of people use can be good.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:07AM (#11467536)
    He wasn't asking for donations or help other than for people to purchase Slackware 10.1 which made this story all the more sad. What a humble man to go through the tribulations he is and still care about the community if he were to pass away!
  • Re:This is great. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:12AM (#11467580) Homepage
    1. There is no point in vaccinating only sections of the population. A few years later the disease is back. There are precedents where it is worse then before. 1960-es Asia strains of smallpox were infecting people who have been vaccinated with some of the vaccine varieties so they had to be revaccinated with the new generation of vaccines.

    2. There is a precedent where the industrialised countries pooled all of their resources through the WHO and eradicated a disease. Smallpox. The money involved if converted to modern prices was more than the billigatus grand gesture and it was not a piecemeal one-off PR exercise. The eradication of smallpox involved several new vaccine strains, blanket vaccinations of entire countries, maintaining vaccination programmes and missions for 10+ years in a country. It was a coordinated effort that lasted nearly 20 years. And succeeded.

    3. There are a number of projects like the smallpox one that can be completed with under 500 million. Eradication of polio is a prime example. There are a few others. Burning 750 millions for PR purposes does not strike me like something particularly usefull compared to giving 75 million to any of these projects. This of course will mean that the Billigatus will have to assume that someone else will actually decide how the money is to be used which is something his foundation has so far disallowed.

    I can continue ad naseum but this is yet another billigatus PR exercise. In fact most of the efforts nowdays are like this. Noone wants to give money to something that will run for 20 years or more but may solve the problem once and for all.
  • by BorisSkratchunkov (642046) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:32AM (#11467799) Journal
    If Bill Gates was truly concerned about the welfare of giving, he'd give anonymously and discreetly and not make a huge deal (pardon the play on words) about his gifts every time he gave them. Anonymous charity is what makes a human a good person; Bill Gates just wants to make himself look better than he has been. Also, if he truly wanted to help the world's welfare, he'd stop sucking up money like a sponge and concern himself more with a balanced economy.

    As for Linux users, "chriskzoo5," you must realize that Bill Gates is a single entity and that Linux users are far and wide. Additionally, Linux users don't have money growing on their front lawn like Mr. Gates. I'm sure that some donate money to similar causes, but their donations are probably proportionate to their incomes. It's the thought, not the amount that counts.

    By no means am I on a crusade against Bill Gates, "chriskzoo5," I just became a little worked up because of your stupid flamebait. I hope that you receive as much hatemail as Parry Aftab. Bah-humbug to all flamebaiters, and happy holidays to the rest of us!
  • Not a very good idea (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:37AM (#11467845)
    Women in developing countries have been accustomed to bearing many, many children. If 8 children are born, with luck one will survive into adulthood.

    With such immunizations, these eight children will all survive past infancy. "Great!" you say, and yes, on the surface it is wonderful. However, women will continue having children at this rate unless REPRODUCTIVE EDUCATION is introduced alongside such a vaccination plan. There's already a little problem called starvation rampant in most areas of the world. Now consider the fact that children won't be dying as infants (when they don't eat all that much) due to these vaccinations. We'll now have substantially more mouths to feed, with the same amount of resources. Now, once these children hit puberty and need more nutrition to mature, they'll either starve to death or face serious growth problems. Such worsened food shortages will create more problems then if there were no vaccinations to begin with.

    All this plan will do is INCREASE suffering. $750 million would be better spent on alleviating hunger across the globe.
  • by mutterc (828335) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:51AM (#11468002)
    I've had this sort of thing used as an argument against my particular vision of capitalist dystopia.

    I believe that, in a world populated by increase-profits-by-any-means companies, and frictionless free trade, because of "tragedy of the commons", that the entire world's standard of living will drop to the lowest level they are today, and stay there forever. (I also believe, because of "prisoner's dilemma", that it's impossible to buck the trend, because if your company acts in a socially responsible manner, it will have its lunch eaten by some company that doesn't).

    However, once wealth gets concentrated to a small number of individuals, individual ethics come into play. The Gates Foundation is an indication that it's possible for an individual person to act in a socially-responsible way (as opposed to corporations, who must not.) It's a counterbalancing force to corporate evil - one that actually stands a chance of mitigating its effects.

  • by cjrichard (837078) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:57AM (#11468071)
    How are you going to know when he does donate anonymously? How do you know that he hasn't donated anonymously in the past?
  • by DrYak (748999) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:59AM (#11468092) Homepage
    Let's see if the Linux community can match his generosity

    Linux community gives 100% up front.


    Yes you're compltetly right.
    Just don't think "monney". Think "trying to build a better world".
    On this news, there's a lot of slashdotter replying "But it's unfair : linux does not have money, we cannot give anything..."
    It's not about the money it's also about all the help provided to community.
    What has Gates done ? Once in the life time of his enterprise, he gave a couple of % of his fortune to a health organisation (just to buy a new image after the lost lawsuits ?). That's it. That's all.

    Meanwhile around the world there are tons of Linux/OpenSource developpers trying to build healthcare information managment systems.

    There are a lot of projects. Like Care2x [care2x.org], like FreeMed [freemed.org], like many others.
    These systems are developped for free. These systems run in a lot of places already (even in developping countries !).
    There are studies that proved these systems helped reducing health-care costs (and this is even more important for developping counrties that have fewer ressources).
    There are studies that proved these systems helped increase the quality of health-care (allowing the doctors to better follow the patients that require long-term care, specially HIV patient in developping countries).

    Just have a look on linuxmednews [linuxmednews.org] (a slashcode-powered news site).

    So, like parent poster, we can answer the question asked in the news : Yes, the OpenSource / Linux community have proven to be very generous and usefull in the health domain. Much more than a compagny trying to buy itself a nice public image after a few lost lawsuits.

  • by Savage650 (654684) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:59AM (#11468094)
    The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is pledging $750M to vaccinate children worldwide over the next 10 years

    Guess why these children (or rather the countries they live in) cant afford vaccines? Could it be

    • Because vaccines and other drugs (e.g for AIDS treatment) have to be imported at high prices.
    • Because manufacuring these vaccines/drugs in-country (which could be quite cheap in comparison)
      is forbidden without licensing American "Intellectual Property".
    • Because the US is pressuring the rest of the world to "harmonize" IP regulations (read up on WIPO, TRIPS,etc)
    • Which just happens to benefit "IP" owners like Gates
      Remember his "Pinko Commie IP thieves" rant a few days ago?

    Whatever part of this money is actually used to buy vaccines, it cant (and won't) be enough for everyone. Thus, it just creates a new market for the pharmaceutical industry ("See, this vaccine is real good. ask those who have been inoculated. It's a real pity we ran out of free shots, so you will have to pay in US dollars" .. "Got no money? We might accept kidneys and organs").

    Plus, it could keep the developing countries from openly revolting against the IP tax. Offering a few breadcrumbs for the first to bend over is just a cheap way of keeping them divided.

    Gates donating vaccines is just a strategic move to protect his IP-based income, not to be confused with actual philanthropy.

  • Re:Er (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:26AM (#11468407)
    "I'm pointing out that the Linux community is more than $750,000,000 generous."

    Give me a break. If all the contributions to the main Linux build done by the Linux community was billed at $60/hr and the overall cost was $750,000,000, that would be 12,500,000 hours. Given that Linux is just a Unix clone, I can only conclude that Linux developers must be the slowest programmers on the planet. Or maybe you're an idiot instead.
  • Re:Flamebait (Score:2, Interesting)

    by brunson (91995) * on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:38AM (#11468568) Homepage
    Let's do some math...

    Bill is worth about 50 billion.
    Let's say he needs a billion dollars per year to live on (hey, a guy has to eat, right), that leaves 49, so 750 million represents 1.53% of his disposable wealth.

    I've got about $1500 in the bank, after living expenses I have about $8,500 a year to do with what I will. So the $250 I gave for Tsunami relief represents 2.5% of my discretionary income.

    So, I'm twice as generous as Bill Gates. Nice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:46AM (#11468678)
    However, free open-source operating systems with many free applications are helping the governments in developping countries to save a lot of money. This money that otherwise would be used to buy software is now being used in public health, education, and many other social programs. That makes a big difference!
  • by neckdeepinspecialsau (756133) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:08PM (#11468993) Homepage
    I don't doubt the sincerity of the gift or that Mr. Gates truly want to help these kids but if you look at it from a business standpoint.

    800 mill will not go far in this cause but will make a nice tax break for a man who makes that much cashing in stock in a weekend. It will take something like 12 billion to do this for 90% of kids in the poorest countries.

  • by cosinezero (833532) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:23PM (#11469206)
    Wow, this guy gives away half his hard-earned personal worth, and you're still mocking him.
  • Re:Er (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kismet666 (653742) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:32PM (#11469332)
    Some of you think $750M is all the foundation has done? Take a look at the facts before scoffing at the Gates Foundation. The current endowment is $27B. It has given away about $7.5B since its inception. Those are BILLIONS. How many of you have given away more than a third of your net worth?

    http://gatesfoundation.org/MediaCenter/FactSheet/d efault.htm [gatesfoundation.org]

    Gripe about his business tactics all you want, but how can any rational person with a brain bigger than a pea criticize the Gates for their generousity? They'll have a bigger impact on global health than the UN this century. Probably more than any national government.

  • by ThaReetLad (538112) <sneaky@blueRABBI ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:40PM (#11469463) Journal
    The question is motive. What is Bill Gates' motive for making all his money? Well, given he's giving a lot of his money away, it would seem money is not his motive now, although it may have been in the past. Perhaps he has a vision of having his product, his baby, on every PC in the world. What software geek wouldn't want that?
    Perhaps he just has a duty to the shareholders? In fact he did, in law have the responsibility to make as much money for his shareholders as he possibly could. Thats just the nature of capitalism so what are you going to do? If Microsoft is evil, it is because it has been the perfect embodyment of a successful corporation. It has crushed it's competitors, sailed close to the wind legally, but never been seriously harmed by it's mistakes, and it makes a fortune. If anyone is to blame for Microsofts evilness it is the US goverment and the constitution.
  • Get over yerself. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by UncleRage (515550) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:59PM (#11469724)
    It's not a small redeeming act. It's 750 million dollars worth of vaccine for children worldwide.

    It's not one act. The Bill and Melinda fund have quite a few of these on their table.

    In any other discussion, I would agree with many of your sentiments. Bill is a hardnosed business bulldog who will chew through anyone in his way. HOWEVER, millions upon millions of children will actually have a chance to make it past the age of 5 thanks to this donation.

    Believe it or not, it's not always about right and wrong or morraly correct. These are easy debates for those with food on the table. Regardless of motive the final act is judged in and of itself.

    C.S. Lewis examined this at length and I do agree. Do a harmful thing for a rightous reason - it's still a bad thing. Do a good thing for a bad reason... good has still been done.

    Scream and cry to the blind gods above for truth all you want. They're deaf (if not dead) and we still have a mess to clean up.

    I'll personally put all my Bill bashing to the side today and say this, "Good job, Mr. Gates. You may be an asshole, but you're an asshole that's done a few good turns."
  • Re:Rubbish (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @02:41PM (#11471110) Homepage
    "Is there some kind of "Slashbot: A Guide to Slashdot Alternate Reality" I can buy to understand your little world?"

    Sure, it's called the court system of the United States. That's where Judge Jackson found Microsoft to be an illegal monopoly. This got appealed, and in the appeal process Judge Jackson's remedies got thrown out, but the Findings of Facts that proved Microsoft was an illegal monopoly was upheld in the appeal. Thus two courts reviewed the matter, and they both found Microsoft guilty of illegal monopoly practices. That's why I say they are a "convicted monopolist," and only those living in alternate reality universes think otherwise.

  • You make me laugh (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @07:31PM (#11474655)
    You're not taking context into consideration. If Bill gave 98.5% of his total assets, he'd still be rich than most people could dream of. On the contrary, someone making 50k annually and has a family of 2 kids and his wife, 1.5% ($750) annually amounts to his kid's education fund or anything else his family needs.

    If a drug dealer gave 1.5% of his total assets to charity, would you think he's generous?

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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