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Medicine The Almighty Buck

Gates Foundation Plans To Invest $10B Into Vaccines 477

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the finally-gates-gets-good-anti-virus dept.
Endloser writes "Bill Gates is going to invest $10 billion to provide vaccines to people worldwide. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation believes that vaccines are the way to a better future for the world. So they have decided to make 'the largest pledge ever made by a charitable foundation to a single cause.' This 10-year, 10 billion dollar project is expected to save 8.7 million lives."
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Gates Foundation Plans To Invest $10B Into Vaccines

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  • Birth Control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:11PM (#30955934)

    The "way to a better future for the world" is birth control and education. Don't want to sound cold, but the places with the most human suffering are also the areas with the worst overpopulation vs. the least natural resources. I would hope this component would be very high on the list of any type of aid when addressing suffering and helping to stop the perpetuation of suffering.

    • Re:Birth Control (Score:5, Insightful)

      by qbzzt (11136) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:14PM (#30955984)

      A population of old people supported by a few young workers isn't going to be particularly viable either. It's a balancing act.

      • Re:Birth Control (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rene S. Hollan (1943) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:24PM (#30956146)

        The idea is not to stop producing young workers. The idea is to limit how many you produce so they can be productive young workers. If you currently face a resource shortage, you need to either find a way to increase resources, or reduce the population, or a combination of both.

        Active population reduction is generally politically unacceptable, and rationing the mechanism of saving lives to those who are most productive (for some definition of "productive" -- the old may not contribute labor, but they might contribute knowledge and wisdom), only a bit less so.

        Still, providing the tools so that such a population can have more options in combating their misery is a good idea.
        P
        Nevertheless, it is not clear that providing tools that can exacerbate one aspect of their misery (keeping people alive so they can breed more), without also providing tools to counter this problem (abstinence education (like that ever worked), and contraceptive technology (which. surprisingly, encounters cultural resistance)), is all that great.

        • Re:Birth Control (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:37PM (#30956320) Homepage Journal
          Id like to comment on your bit about abstinence education. I don't think it is totally without merit... it just isn't effective as is. If you could give them the experience of working 50+ hours a week to come home to a screaming brat, and have your money earned already spent before you even get it, just to take care of the child, the population growth would fall real fast.

          Sure, you can't really do this for so many obvious reasons, but it is the way people are being educated, not the education idea itself.
          • Re:Birth Control (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Jherico (39763) <`bdavis' `at' `saintandreas.org'> on Friday January 29, 2010 @06:08PM (#30956766) Homepage
            I think you underestimate the compulsion to accept hardship as a consequence of reproduction.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by couchslug (175151)

              "I think you underestimate the compulsion to accept hardship as a consequence of reproduction."

              Fixed it for you:

              "I think you underestimate the willingness to impose hardship as a consequence of reproduction."

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Idiomatick (976696)
            I think you underestimate the effectiveness of raping someone who has been given abstinence classes.

            Also I'm amused that you think the ideas and problems of north americans transfer so easily to africa. Unless you are being sarcastic ... Africans often work 60hours+ weeks at ~6cents an hour. Their children are often dying or at work with them. With this money they can survive week to week without saving any money for the future.

            Your view shows how ignorant you are of a 3rd world situation. To the point of
          • Re:Birth Control (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Cruciform (42896) on Friday January 29, 2010 @09:35PM (#30958632) Homepage

            Id like to comment on your bit about abstinence education. I don't think it is totally without merit... it just isn't effective as is.

            Isn't effective as is? Abstinence education isn't even education. It's indoctrination. The sex drive is one of the strongest biological drives people have.

            You might as well try and teach Breathing Abstinence.

            Before the Slashdot virgin jokes kick in, let's consider how many people here would forego sex if it was offered to them by a person they found attractive.

            And how many will resort to masturbation and porn in the event that a suitable partner isn't available. Factor in those who will resort to masturbation even if they do have a regular sex partner but the sex isn't keeping up to their sex drive.

            Now tell them "It's better to wait. Because Jesus will love you more." Good luck with that. The abstinence movement is just another attempt by religion to dictate your life. And it's laughable.

            Teach people safe sex and birth control methods. Additionally, undo the damage done by adults teaching people that sex is dirty and something that you must feel guilty about and engage in furtively.

            And that's just in the US.

            In the third world countries you also have to deal with the mortality rate in children. People don't just have a lot of kids out of sheer ignorance of how children are made. If you have four kids and three of them die before they are five years old because of disease, then it's a matter of having enough children to ensure that some survive to adulthood. This common in species throughout the animal kingdom.

            Make life better for people by educating them and they'll start to have less children on their own.

            But teaching abstinence is about as constructive as bringing 'intelligent design' into the classroom.

          • If you could give them the experience of working 50+ hours a week to come home to a screaming brat, and have your money earned already spent before you even get it, just to take care of the child, the population growth would fall real fast.

            For the problem of population growth in general, that's obviously nonsense. For the population to grow, people must be having on average more than 2 children, and guess what that means? Barring twins the first time out, they already have a kid and thus know exactly what

        • Re:Birth Control (Score:5, Insightful)

          by causality (777677) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:40PM (#30956374)

          The idea is not to stop producing young workers. The idea is to limit how many you produce so they can be productive young workers. If you currently face a resource shortage, you need to either find a way to increase resources, or reduce the population, or a combination of both.

          Active population reduction is generally politically unacceptable, and rationing the mechanism of saving lives to those who are most productive (for some definition of "productive" -- the old may not contribute labor, but they might contribute knowledge and wisdom), only a bit less so.

          Still, providing the tools so that such a population can have more options in combating their misery is a good idea. P Nevertheless, it is not clear that providing tools that can exacerbate one aspect of their misery (keeping people alive so they can breed more), without also providing tools to counter this problem (abstinence education (like that ever worked), and contraceptive technology (which. surprisingly, encounters cultural resistance)), is all that great.

          If overpopulation is an issue and you want to truly, effectively do something about it, that's simple. Come up with a version of "the pill" for men. End of population problem.

          Of course, you will encounter resistance from what may seem like unlikely sources. Namely, an economic system based on debt and fiat currency cannot continue to expand and remain viable unless the population is increasing.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ColdWetDog (752185)

            If overpopulation is an issue and you want to truly, effectively do something about it, that's simple. Come up with a version of "the pill" for men. End of population problem.

            They have. It's called a vasectomy [vasectomy-...mation.com]. Totally OT - the history [vasectomy-...mation.com] of vasectomy section is truly hilarious. The oldest condom ... but I won't ruin the surprise.

          • Re:Birth Control (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Nimey (114278) on Friday January 29, 2010 @07:28PM (#30957622) Homepage Journal

            You can expect the Pope to forbid his followers from using any Pill-for-men, too.

            Pity, because the most over-populated 3rd-world countries (outside of China & India) tend to be Catholic.

          • by BitZtream (692029)

            ...

            Keep your dick in your pants, or if you don't have pants, at least don't spooge in a vagina.

            Its not hard, they have faces you know, aim for that.

            The problem is that the common thread here requires them to give a shit about not getting someone pregnant. Since they don't care, nothing short of sterilization will fix the problem.

            The know how it works, they know what another mouth to feed means, they know how to prevent it, they do it anyway.

          • Re:Birth Control (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Dan541 (1032000) on Friday January 29, 2010 @10:26PM (#30959010) Homepage

            Or we could start another world war.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jhol13 (1087781)

            The children are "had" because they support you when you are old. Your pill would help absolutely nothing, unless it is forcefully given to the men.

      • Re:Birth Control (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jeng (926980) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:26PM (#30956162)

        Birth control doesn't mean no kids, it means planned kids.

        Then there is also the issue that Yemen is having, 50% of their population is under the age of 18.

      • Another non-viable approach: an ever growing population of any sort, in an environment of limited resources.
        You know what else wouldn't be viable? A population of old people supported by NINJA-PANDAS!!!

        What does your comment have to do with markdavis's comment? He never said, 'we need to reduce the population through birth control' which is what you seem to be implying. As long as people have a little over a kid apiece on average, there's no problem. People die at every age, and so with replacement rate bre

        • by qbzzt (11136)

          As long as the average woman has about 2.1 children, there is no problem. However, if you look in the CIA world factbook [cia.gov], you'll see that 93 countries are not breeding at replacement levels. This includes most of the world's rich countries.

          People consume resources. But people also work and produce resources. My point is that having less people doesn't necessarily translate to a richer society. The pie is not fixed in size.

          • The pie is not fixed in size

            Good point. However, it is also not an infinite pie. Mmmm, infinite pie...

            While it's true that many richer nations are not breeding at replacement rate, they all have net population growth due to immigration. We aren't in any danger of your doomsday 'a half dozen four year olds supporting a billion ninety year olds,' scenario any time soon.

            So, thanks for the warning, but I still think we need to do a better job of providing more birth control to developing nations, which is what markdavis was saying. Despit

            • Have the stars finally aligned? There's two 4 UID'rs and two 5 digit UID'rs who've posted within one good scroll wheel spin on this thread. Never thought I'd see the day when THAT happened... who knew discussing reproduction control would bring you tentacled, frothy horrors out of the ravening deeps!

              think I'm going to go run for the hills. If a 3 digit UID surfaces, Nyarlathotep can't be too far behind...

      • A population of old people supported by a few young workers isn't going to be particularly viable either. It's a balancing act.

        Hence why you're supposed to save and take care of yourself. If you didn't have a society built on taking from the young and giving to the old, it wouldn't be an issue at all.

        • by qbzzt (11136)

          Saving money isn't the answer. You still need young workers to produce whatever it is you'll need to buy. Otherwise, it doesn't matter how much you have in the bank.

      • Renew at 30! (Logan's Run) ... problem solved!

      • Re:Birth Control (Score:4, Insightful)

        by praksys (246544) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:53PM (#30956578) Homepage

        It's also a lot easier to sell people on birth control if the long term survival prospects of their children are better.

        Suppose each pair of parents wants at least a 95% chance that one of their children will survive to adulthood. If the mortality rate for children is 5% then many parents will settle for one child. On average there may be as few as 0.95 children surviving to adulthood per family, in which case the total population will decline rapidly. If the mortality rate is 50% then most parents will plan to have around 5 children (the probability of all five dying being 0.5^5 = 3%). On average half of all children will still survive to adulthood, so around 2.5 children will survive for each family and the population will grow steadily.

        Obviously I've simplified a bit, but it is quite clear that the reduction of infant and child mortality rates is crucial to long term population control.

    • Re:Birth Control (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lord Ender (156273) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:15PM (#30956004) Homepage

      Melinda Gates spoke to Charlie Rose about this. She says that the foundation analyzed this question carefully, and came to the conclusion that it is just far far easier for a population to lift itself up out of a cycle of poverty if it doesn't have to deal with disease (both personal and of family members) all the time. It's hard to get an education when you're taking care of a household of polio victims.

      • Re:Birth Control (Score:4, Insightful)

        by markdavis (642305) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:34PM (#30956266)

        Personally, I disagree. If you artificially increase the life span of the overpopulation, the problem becomes even more critical, and fast. When each person is having 2, 3, or 4 children, that is doubling, tripling, or quadrupling the population with just ONE generation, and it is exponential. If there were no resources for 1 person, no jobs for 1 person, no healthcare for 1 person, not enough food or land for 1 person, there certainly won't be for numerous soon after.

        If you really think someone taking care of a household of polio victims is deprived of opportunity, how much opportunity will they have if that household suddenly became three times as large.

        Of course, education and birth control are synergistic- both are needed (and birth control is partially education already, and partially having access to pills, condoms, etc).

        • Exactly. The human population didn't really start exploding until we started being able to control disease through basic sanitation and refridgeration. Disease is what kept the population down.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by MichaelSmith (789609)

            The human population is only exploding in places where a lot of children die before they can reproduce.

        • by TBone (5692)
          That would be a valid argument if you were talking about increasing lifespan from, say, 50 to 60. Vaccination affects things like, expanding life span from 3 or 4 into the point where they can become productive workers. When you're killing off a significant portion of your population before they ever reach a productive-to-society age, then they become nothing but resource sinks in resources to care for them and time to administer the care. A society that loses so many of its young will never reach the po
        • Re:Birth Control (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Lord Ender (156273) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:49PM (#30956524) Homepage

          Your personal disagreement doesn't count for squat. This foundation is not just shooting the shit on the internet to decide what to do. They have Mr. Gates' and Mr. Buffett's personal fortunes going into analyzing how to do the most good in the world.

          Furthermore, your comprehension of economics seems to be rather inadequate. It's not like there are X jobs in the world, and if you have more than X people the rest are unemployed. It's not like the number of jobs is directly bound by the amount of farmland. In the developed world, an insignificant fraction of the population works in farming these days.

          The European economy did not boom during the plague. It's just daft that you are suggesting as much.

          A healthy population can build an economy and become a wealthy population. A sick population can't. It's that simple.

          • Another factor (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday January 29, 2010 @06:33PM (#30957014)

            It seems, contrary to what many thought, that as people get better off they have less kids. For a long time population catastrophe was predicted to happen worst and first in industrial nations. They more or less extrapolated from bacteria saying "The better the conditions for the individual, the more they reproduce, and thus the faster you use up resources and hit a wall."

            Well turns out humans are more complex. The birth rate in wealthy nations gets very low, sometimes negative. Seems the more healthy and well off we are, the less kids we have. There are all kinds of reasons as to why that might be the case, doesn't really matter. What matters is that it is the case.

            So, that means that part of solving over population is working to improve quality of life. Being disease free sure as hell goes a long way in that.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              Seems the more healthy and well off we are, the less kids we have.

              That's true. As soon as I could afford broadband my chances of having kids went waaay down.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Tom (822)

            This foundation is not just shooting the shit on the internet to decide what to do. They have Mr. Gates' and Mr. Buffett's personal fortunes going into analyzing how to do the most good in the world.

            Having lots of money and spending it on the right things is not the same. The Gates Foundation is very focussed on health and especially diseases, it has made very few investments in other areas.

            I doubt that they have done the analysis that you allude to. I really do. They wouldn't be the first. Especially the west is often a victim of hubris. Look how much money we've poured into Afghanistan and Iraq and what the result is so far. Burning it would probably have had a better net effect, at least it would've

    • Re:Birth Control (Score:5, Informative)

      by cptdondo (59460) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:20PM (#30956068) Journal

      The problem is actually worse.... The British found this out in India. Fix the disease and infant death through better medicine and clean water, without birth control and massive outreach and education, and people will continue to have 12 babies.

      Before modern medicine only 2 or 3 might survive to adult hood. With good medicine, all 12 survive, and the result is mass starvation and poverty.

      So I certainly hope that B & M are well aware of history and know that they will have to educate as well as heal.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dalambertian (963810)
        It's not quite that simple either. People have 12 babies because they assume that the majority of them are going to die before the age of 5. However, if you lower the infant mortality rate and the expectation of infant mortality, you actually reduce the number of children born because you can reasonably assume you'll be able to raise each child to adulthood. At least, that's what they argue in this recent TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jane_chen_a_warm_embrace_that_saves_lives.html [ted.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Idiomatick (976696)
        I'd be happy to see Africa turn out like India.
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      >The "way to a better future for the world" is birth control and education. Don't want to sound cold, but the places with the most human suffering are also the areas with the worst overpopulation

      Many, many parts of the US are overpopulated and poor. Should we not allow vaccines, food stamps, welfare, etc in Detroit, Chicago, or LA inner-city areas for the sake of "a better future?" Its incredible the double standard we have for foreigners.

      • by rvw (755107)

        Many, many parts of the US are overpopulated and poor. Should we not allow vaccines, food stamps, welfare, etc in Detroit, Chicago, or LA inner-city areas for the sake of "a better future?" Its incredible the double standard we have for foreigners.

        It's not incredible. It's the reality, and it has been the reality for a long time. The US has double standards on everything that doesn't support their interest. I believe that's official foreign policy. (And I know that many people in the US don't agree with this policy, although I wonder what they're willing to give up if they really could change it.)

      • by markdavis (642305)

        I never said we shouldn't allow other types of aid, I just said that birth control SHOULD be high on the list of types of aid provided to such areas.

        And yes, I think that absolutely includes areas in the US, too. It doesn't matter what the country or place.

    • Re:Birth Control (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mindbrane (1548037) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:32PM (#30956248) Journal
      Global Problems of Population Growth with Professor Robert Wyman [yale.edu] a Yale uni online course speaks extensively to overpopulation. In the context of this thread the overriding message would be that women need most of all to be given control of their own bodies, especially in terms of birth control. In countries where poor education and overpopulation are prevalent problems most women will say they want as many children as possible, or, that children are a gift from God and therefore every child a gift; but, the same women when questioned in a different context wanted fewer children. The much joked about 2.1 children per couple is close to the replacement level for most populations. Giving women control over their own reproduction cycle will bring down population and likely along with it poverty, under nourishment, disease and lack of education. The lectures are very entertaining.
    • by Eukariote (881204)
      You touch on the core of the matter: as explained in this [google.com] presentation, their support of vaccination programs is indeed aimed at population reduction.
    • Improve the economic well being of a population and it will shrink.
    • The "way to a better future for the world" is birth control and education.

      But spending billions of dollars on birth control won't get you there, unless you plan to use it to put the catholic church out of business. The problems are political. By all means promote education but without political change the education won't be promoting birth control.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eihab (823648) *

      The "way to a better future for the world" is birth control and education. Don't want to sound cold, but the places with the most human suffering are also the areas with the worst overpopulation vs. the least natural resources.

      Dr. Hans Rosling debunked that theory [gapminder.org] a while ago. I'd highly recommend watching this (10 minutes) video. He uses his gapminder.org [gapminder.org] tool and backs the points he makes with real data.

      The tl;dr version of the video:

      "My students, they tell me population growth destroys the environment, so poor children may as well die ... Now, the problem with that thinking, with this thought, is not that it's not moral, it's that it's wrong. And I will show you why..."

      If you have more free time on your hand after watching this, I'd highly recommend looking up his TED talks, specially the one titled "Let my dataset change your mindset [ted.com]".

  • I saw this in the news today
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/01/28/antivaxxer-movement-leader-found-to-have-acted-unethically/ [discovermagazine.com]

    Will this deter Wakefield [the founder of the modern antivaccination movement] and the antivax movement? Ha! Of course not. Note that supporters of Wakefield heckled the GMC members as they read their announcements.

    I wonder if developing countries are as paranoid about vaccinations as the 1st world ones are.

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      >I wonder if developing countries are as paranoid about vaccinations as the 1st world ones are.

      Absolutely, partly because of lack of education and partly because religious groups and other Western groups with horrible agendas propagandize things like "Dont use condoms/birth control, its a western plot to control you." Im sure the anti-gay religious people, many of whom go to Africa to help fuel the hate of homosexuals, will dismiss the HIV vaccine as a plot also.

      Not sure who will dismiss the malaria vac

    • I wonder if developing countries are as paranoid about vaccinations as the 1st world ones are.

      Many African Americans believe that AIDS was created in a CIA lab and is spread thru the use of vaccinations.

      http://www.avert.org/origin-aids-hiv.htm [avert.org]

      Africans think this is BS.

      "Dr Chris Ouma, head of health programmes for the charity ActionAid Kenya, said that the claims “fly in the face of experience on the ground”."

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article884626.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

    • by Hatta (162192)

      They're worse. Why let the white man inject something into your blood when you can just cure AIDS by raping an infant [scienceinafrica.co.za]?

  • Incredible (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gad_zuki! (70830)

    This is really incredible. We're going to see a malaria and/or HIV vaccine in our lifetimes partly thanks to people like Gates.

    I guess the larger issue is whether these poorer countries can handle having a much lower mortality rate. Probably. I imagine this initiative ties in with others and that these societies probably need more young people than old.

    • by Ifni (545998)

      Just looking at the number of expected lives saved, it kind of answers the question "what is left once you are the richest man in the world?". First, you are a billionaire in dollars, then you strive to become a billionaire in lives saved. If that isn't buying your way into Heaven, I don't know what is.

      That of course ignores the validity of the estimates, but still, I wish more people in this world measured wealth in terms of "lives saved" or "lives improved" rather than just dollars. Hate on Bill all yo

  • Great news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by santax (1541065) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:20PM (#30956070)
    I find it hard to believe that people criticize this. What have you done for those people there is what I would like to know? As 'the' human race we should be ashamed that people still die of malaria. If Gates can fix that then Gates is a hero in my book. I don't like his software company and I might not even like the person Gates, but come on people... this is just awesome.
    • by bmsleight (710084)
      Have no mod points, but well said.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you forgive me for not mincing words, Bill Gates is still a slimy little douche, no matter how much money he's spending, and here's why.

      The gist of it is that the money he's spending is stolen, basically. He made it through illegal means, took it from people like you and me, and I don't give a fuck how much of it he's gonna spend on charity now: it's still stolen.

      I mean, if somebody literally broke into your house, stole a thousand bucks, and then donated 500 to charity while keeping 500 for himself, wou

      • I can't help but feel that a lot of the Gates Foundation's efforts are misguided feel good fixes.

        "Save the children" rather than fixing some of the underlying problems. For example, Iodine deficiency is perhaps the most cost effective human capital fix there is. Yet the Gates foundation has only given a few million to that cause as far as I can tell. Vaccines are sexy, saving children is sexy, makes your altruism feel good. Iodine in salt - not so sexy, no discernible results for 20+ years, no great feel
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:20PM (#30956076) Journal
    Once you can shoot down mosquitos with lasers [wsj.com] you might not need a vaccine for malaria. Like this we should find technological solutions that make vaccines unnecessary. I am wondering why Bill Gates is funding both initiatives.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:23PM (#30956114)

    I think $1149 worth of primary care medicine or even plain old sanitation in underdeveloped places could save a hell of a lot more lives than that.

    • by TheSync (5291) on Friday January 29, 2010 @06:07PM (#30956750) Journal

      I think $1149 worth of primary care medicine or even plain old sanitation in underdeveloped places could save a hell of a lot more lives than that.

      Yes, but you can't actually provide medicine or sanitation to underdeveloped places. Corruption would mean the medicine would go back on the international market to richer people looking for a deal, and the sanitation building would have to pay off all kinds of government officials to get permits, etc. Then it would have to be maintained in that environment.

      Countries aren't poor because they are poor, they are poor because they have bad institutions and governments.

      On the other hand, a group of foreigners can fly into a country and vaccinate a bunch of people and fly out.

  • why use that 10b to give all Americans health care?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Waffle Iron (339739)

      why use that 10b to give all Americans health care?

      Because the current US healthcare system is a form of feudalism, where the serfs (workers with at least one family member not in perfect health) find it hard or impossible to leave the protection of their lords (large companies). This lack of mobility and reduced freedom of choice drives down prevailing wages in the job market, and it makes it much harder for potential competitors to start new small companies.

      Few have benefited from this situation more than Mr. Gates, so I doubt that he's going to make any

    • by TheSync (5291) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:58PM (#30956634) Journal

      why use that 10b to give all Americans health care?

      Health care expenditures in the United States on health care surpassed $2.2 trillion in 2007. $10B would only last 40 hours.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BitZtream (692029)

        Theres also the fact that while Americans whine and moan and bitch about 'how bad it is', we have no idea what its like to live in truely bad places.

        When you go somewhere and see the population living in lean-to's, drinking water from the same tiny little water hole that the animals (and some people) deficate in, pure black and often foamy because the rare times that water makes it down the river its filled with run off from farms a thousand miles away and all the pesticides and fertilizers that go with tha

  • Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CaptainJeff (731782) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:31PM (#30956234)
    Wow, these comments. suck.

    Bill Gates just gave a HUGE amount of money to tackeling diseases that kill thousands of people per year. Not potential people or some statistics on a population map, but alive, breathing, suffering people. This could potentially save thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of lives. And he just gave this ridiculous amount of money away to this end. And the people on /. are talking about patents, Microsoft money, etc.

    This is a good, noble, and amazing act. Show some goddamn respect. What have you done that could change the lives of that many people? Acknowledge a noble and selfless act...the world would be a much better place if more people not only committed them, but acknowledged them and derive inspiration from them.
    • Patents are relevant (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Weezul (52464) on Friday January 29, 2010 @08:01PM (#30957960)

      If his $10 billion buys way less thanks to TRIPS [wikipedia.org] and/or ACTA [wikipedia.org].

      A few other good causes : Invest money into the pharmaceutical industries in countries like Brazil that have shown their willingness to break intellectual property treaties when people's lives are at stake. A cheaper and more charitable approach might be endowing biotechnology professorships with this stated goal at the best medical schools in these countries. A more political approach might be lobbying the European Union to pass legislation saying that generic drug manufacturers may violate patents for exported drugs to third world countries when the number of lives saved would be significant. Just oppose ACTA and/or try to roll back TRIPS --- ACTA will kill people.

      I suggest that you read about the history of the fight against AIDS. If Brazil had not stood up against the U.S. and said "We will make anti-retrovirals ourselves if you don't sell them at a fraction of the cost", then incredible numbers of Brazilians would have died, and millions more would have died in other developing countries that currently benefit from Brazil's hard nose negotiation.

      p.s. I do think all the people criticizing how he earned his money are being disingenuous. Gate's only sins are : robbing other rich people of their smart employees, selling poor quality software, and lobbying for bad copyright laws. Do you even want to think about what Exxon does with your gas money? Federal government with your tax money? (Iraq) etc. You don't see Dick Channey out running charity organizations.

  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:42PM (#30956402) Homepage Journal

    It's good that a portion of his ill-gotten gains will save some lives, but it's tragic that so many more people are dying because access to medicine is blocked by the TRIPS [wikipedia.org] agreement that Gates and friends pushed through.

    This donation mustn't be let overshadow the harm. If it's let, then more such harm will be accepted in the future.

    (ACTA is the modern TRIPS. We can still stop it.)

    • by kuzb (724081)
      Thank goodness you've done something so profound that it has changed the world. I mean, it definitely allows you to be critical of someone's philanthropy. Wait, you haven't? Oh..
  • by jwhitener (198343) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:49PM (#30956520)

    Saving lives is always a good thing, don't get me wrong. But I often wonder if 10 billion spent on infrastructure like irrigation, factories, schools, etc.. would save more lives in the long run for impoverished countries.

    On one hand, if every 3rd person was dropping dead of an easily preventable disease in a country, it certainly wouldn't be a very stable society. Say you built schools, irrigation, factories, and then every other worker involved in them was sick. It just wouldn't work. The farms wouldn't produce, The factories would shut down, people would fear going to school and contracting something, etc..
    On the other hand, education and birth control, infrastructure, etc.. will eventually allow a people to pull themselves up. If ever day is a constant struggle for survival, thinking long term (like building a road) is low on their priority list, and it just won't ever get done.

    Perhaps there needs to be some regulation in place that dictates that aid must be spent equally between pure life saving and development of the interior? In the last decade, there have been several good books talking about why pure food aid in Africa, for instance, isn't very beneficial. It is only after seeing the results of multiple decades of food aid, that people are beginning to question pure life saving aid.

    Morally, it is hard to say "some must die so that less may die next year", but it certainly doesn't seem like situations in impoverished countries are getting any better with the current model of aid.

  • by aCC (10513) * on Saturday January 30, 2010 @03:10AM (#30960410) Homepage

    Guys/ Gals, GET THIS:

    Development of countries is fucking hard! NOBODY knows a solution so far!

    So, it is useless to go on and on about how he should spend his money on X, Y or Z "because that will solve all problems". No, it WON'T! It might improve something or it might not.

    There are hundreds of thousands of people working in the development sector trying to find a solution to help the poorer world develop. And many things have been tried and will be tried, but it is like democracy: there is no clear way how to develop it in a country, so that it works long term. Lots of ideas around, but no proven solution anywhere.

    Therefore people like Gates giving his money (however wrong you think he got it) to help in a certain way (small or big) is GOOD. Or would you prefer him to keep it in his bank account and accumulate stupidly high interest each year? He should spend it as much as he can to spread it around.

    </rant>

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