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Microsoft Science

Gates Pledges $750M to Vaccinate Children 1251

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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  • Er (Score:1, Insightful)

    by DrMrLordX ( 559371 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:01AM (#11466498)
    Does the Linux community have $750 million? Just curious.
  • by shreevatsa ( 845645 ) <shreevatsa.slash ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:03AM (#11466505)
    "Let's see if the Linux community can match his generosity." There cannot be some charity contest between Linux and Windows! Anyway, most of the Linux community's displeasure is with Micro$oft and its activities, not Bill Gates the individual himself
  • Flamebait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:04AM (#11466510)
    The Linux community will match it when they have as much money as Gates. Not many people or companies have $750Mil to give.

    Is it possible to mod a news article as flamebait?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:04AM (#11466514)
    Let's see if the Linux community can match his generosity.

    How can we? We don't sell anything.

    However, we can provide these children with a free open-source operating
    system that runs will on older machines, and comes with thousands of applications,
    tutorials and how-to's.
  • Bahh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rbarreira ( 836272 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:05AM (#11466517) Homepage
    Let's see if the Linux community can match his generosity

    Someone mod this -1 Troll...
  • by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:05AM (#11466518) Journal
    Well, about 1/7 of the worlds population would have to give a dollar. Only counting working people, that goes way up.

    Just think, to amass this much 'generosity' how much the world must have already paid to him (including developing countries).

    Money fades, Linux stays forever. Of course, if everyone who uses Linux were to donate the cost of a winXP home license to a needy cause, that would be sensational.

    Good pulicity for them though. In other news SCO donate free 'SCOnix' (?) licenses to hungry children.
  • by crazedmaniac ( 647278 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:05AM (#11466519)
    Linux community gives 100% up front. Microsoft takes 100% and gives a little - a very little - back. Which is more generous?
  • by Daengbo ( 523424 ) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:07AM (#11466529) Homepage Journal
    Carnegie, Rockefeller, Mellon, and now Gates... The robber baron syndrome. It helps them psychologically deal with the things they've done to become super-wealthy.
  • by The Fanta Menace ( 607612 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:07AM (#11466530) Homepage

    ...done by free software developers is charity, anyway. It might not be vaccinating kids, but at least they'll be able to afford a free OS when they don't die of whatever would have killed them before Mr Gates came along.

  • by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:08AM (#11466535) Homepage Journal
    Well, maybe the "Linux Community" can't match that kind of donation, but I'd like to point out the obvious:

    1. Mr Gates is the head of a company that sells software for a profit, while the 'Linux Community' often gives its software for free to all comers over the Internet. That's one big difference.
    2. I don't think Mr Gates will have any money problems if he ever gets sick. While Patrick Volkerding -- the maintainer of Slackware, the oldest surviving Linux distribution out there -- who has been sick for several months, is asking people to buy Slackware version 10.1 [] to help him pay his medical bills...

    The difference? One of them is someone who can afford to make such a generous donation, while the other is still making his software available for free over the Internet. That makes that last remark pretty insensitive and gratuitous, IMHO.

    I know which one I admire the most. But, heck, that's a personal view.
  • by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:09AM (#11466554)
    There's many Linux clusters hard at work calculating new drugs and new treatments against illnesses.

    Linux doesn't cost money, it costs effort. Linux also doesn't donate money, the community donates effort.
  • by ettlz ( 639203 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:09AM (#11466555) Journal

    Vaccinating children worldwide can only be a good thing. Indeed, Microsoft pumps a lot of money into various charitable causes --- again, only a good thing.

    But what does this have to do with the Linux community? Microsoft's raison d'etre is profit, and given the amount it makes, it has a social obligation. In this way, it fulfils it. The Linux community is driven by the product itself, not sales figures. "Let's see if the Linux community can match his generosity" is not only irrelevant, it verges on being not very nice.

  • Rubbish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FunWithHeadlines ( 644929 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:09AM (#11466557) Homepage
    Of course the ends don't justify the means in this case, yet nevertheless this is a good thing the Gates Foundation is doing. It's not an All or Nothing proposition. Gates can be a convicted monopolist who does awful things in the business world while simultaneously spending his money on humanitarian things. Doesn't justify his business crimes. Hey, look at Andrew Carnegie. Similar to Gates in the business world, but he spent his money on lots of good things such as libraries.

    If a gangster throws a block party for his neighbors, it doesn't justify all the people he killed in his work. It's still a nice party, and he's still a gangster.

  • by shreevatsa ( 845645 ) <shreevatsa.slash ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:12AM (#11466578)
    My point exactly.
    The Linux community is all about charity, every line of code written, every time someone gets an OS for free, is generosity itself.
    On the other hand, this continuous generosity means that they do not have zillions of dollars to publicly give away from time to time.
    But you must admit that what Bill Gates gives to charity is indeed a good thing, and he has made many donations. Maybe a small thing for the richest man, but it's still a significant thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:13AM (#11466592)
    until I realized that the worst thing you could do is decrease child mortality without changing the conditions that require having large families, e.g. poverty mostly. If you don't do that then you end up with a huge populations of mostly young, poor, unemployed people. A recipe for social unrest.
  • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:15AM (#11466614)
    Okay let's say Bill is worth 50 billion dollars on paper. 750 million is something like 1.5% of his total worth?

    Given that there are plenty of weathly people who give nothing to charity, anything Bill gives is better than that - whatever the percentage.

    Is this a huge amount for him? It would be like if I had a hundred bucks and I gave the homeless guy on the street a $1.50

    Unless you live in your parents basement and own nothing, I very much doubt you are worth only $100.

    Your post makes it sound like you don't think that his 750 million is particulary generious. Given that he didn't have to make the donation and could have easily kept the money for himself (benefiting no-one but him), I would say you're wrong.

  • by millwall ( 622730 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:16AM (#11466626)
    First of all, I'm quite sure that 750 million is more than 1.5% of his total assets.

    Second of all, even if it's only 1.5% of his assets, it's a good thing, how many of you have donated 1.5%?

    Why don't we all try to donate 1.5% of our assets instead of whining about the poster's flamebait.
  • by MC68000 ( 825546 ) <.brodskie. .at.> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:16AM (#11466628)
    I am not exactly a fan of Microsoft, but come on. The knee-jerk anti Microsoft tilt of /. is amazing. I can see it now. There will be some post rated funny talking about how little Gates has spent to vaccinate Windows PCs against viruses, and it will completely trivialize what is being done here. I can't understand how anyone could come up with any negative aspect of this $750 million gift. Does an orphan in Guatemala care about how terrible Windows is? At least give the guy credit where credit is due.
  • Re:Er (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:16AM (#11466634)
    It's probably money in a useful form, as it's coming from Bill the man, not Microsoft the company.

    IMO it's not Bill that's evil but his company.

  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:16AM (#11466638)
    "Mommy I'm starving... and thirsty. Also the malaria is really starting to kick in bad, where is all the kindness when we need it.?"

    "Well honey, we don't have any medicine, food or safe drinking water. But good news, you can now browse the internet without any risk of your personal information being stolen thanks to a great man named linus and his band of merry men!"

    "But mommy, we don't have a computer, or electricity."

    "Don't worry sweety. I'm sure as soon as we can safely browse the world wide web, all your troubles will go away."
  • Re:Er (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dncsky1530 ( 711564 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:18AM (#11466654) Homepage
    well it is bill gates that donated the money, not the microsoft windows community. While i dont use MS products Bill Gates is a very generous person compared to many other billionaires, and an article ofhis generosity should not be turned into a flame war. It is probably the wording of the story that will cause this.
  • Re:Er (Score:3, Insightful)

    by essreenim ( 647659 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:19AM (#11466657)
    is this proof that sometimes the ends justify the means?

    No, this goes some of the way to making up for the means - still positive. But it does not justify the means.

  • by mjh ( 57755 ) <mark.hornclan@com> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:20AM (#11466665) Homepage Journal
    Linux doesn't cost money, it costs effort. Linux also doesn't donate money, the community donates effort.
    True, but you can quantify that effort by comparing it to the cost of the next most expensive substitute. Generally the cost of a windows license is around $100. So by using a free OS, someone has saved $100, which is equivalent of Bill selling them XP and giving them $100. So for every 1 million users of a free OS, the community has donated the equivalent of $100 million.
  • by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:21AM (#11466667) Homepage Journal
    You make me ill.

    If you need a Free Software example to follow, turn to that of the author of Vim who has used his work to entreat users to donate to the needy in Uganda. But don't piss on a $750 million donation to some of the worst off on this planet; that's really low class and unless you've solved the problem already don't disparage the people who are taking a crack at it.

  • by ( 782137 ) <joe&joe-baldwin,net> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:23AM (#11466683) Homepage Journal
    However, we can provide these children with a free open-source operating

    system that runs will on older machines, and comes with thousands of applications,
    tutorials and how-to's.


    They need food water and vaccines, how fucking Stallman-compliant your operating system is way down the list of priorities.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:24AM (#11466686)
    "Mommy I'm starving... and thirsty. Also the malaria is really starting to kick in bad, where is all the kindness when we need it.?"

    "Well honey, we don't have any medicine, food or safe drinking water, because the filthy rich countries and their shitty capitalistic drug and biotech companies, who only care about shareholders wont gives us access to cheap generic medicines, or let us keep our seeds for replanting.

    "But mommy, how can they do this?"

    "Because they put pressure on the WTO, World Bank, IMF and the UN, using monetary, military and political muscle to get their own way."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:24AM (#11466687)
    Here sweety, have some of this malaria drug which was developed on a Linux cluster [].
  • This strikes me... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zenmojodaddy ( 754377 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:27AM (#11466714)
    ... as being somewhat similar to so-called 'celebrities' announcing million-dollar donations to charity. The fact that they seem to expect everyone to fall on their knees and worship this display of magnanimity doesn't alter the fact that it is a worthwhile gesture, but any charitable donation should be a matter of private conscience rather than a public show.

    Also, as other posts have pointed out, Gates can comfortably afford the amount that has been pledged. Does that make it somehow more worthwhile than a private individual lending a hand to a stranger, be it through a few quid in a charity box or a few hours of work on a free software project?

  • by JudeanPeople'sFront ( 729601 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:32AM (#11466754)
    The big pharmaceutical companies have to profit, that's the whole purpose behind those "save the African children" campaigns. Providing their villages with clean water will cost less than vaccinating them and it will help the fight against epidemic diseases more. Sanitation eradicated such diseases in Europe BEFORE large scale vaccinations were made.
  • by daikokatana ( 845609 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:34AM (#11466769)
    So for every 1 million users of a free OS, the community has donated the equivalent of $100 million.

    By stating this, you automatically assume that each and every one of those users WILL donate that $100 to whatever charity cause. I guess the numbers that donate will be "a bit" lower.

    While I'm not Bill Gates' biggest fan, I still applaude his example. It's easy to say that, because he is so rich, it's easy for him to donate a lot of money. But you still have to do it.

    Most people I know would never donate that (or any) amount of money, no matter how rich they were. And to be honest, nor would I.

  • "[...] I'm after a man whom I want to destroy. He died many centuries ago, but until the last trace of him is wiped out of men's minds, we will not have a decent world to live in."

    "What man?"

    "Robin Hood."

    Rearden looked at him blankly, not understanding.

    "He was the man who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. Well, I'm the man who robs the poor and gives to the rich-or, to be exact, the man who robs the thieving poor and gives back to the productive rich."

    "What in blazes do you mean?"

    "If you remember the stories you've read about me in the newspapers, before they stopped printing them, you know that I have never robbed a private ship and never taken any private property. Nor have I ever robbed a military vessel - because the purpose of a military fleet is to protect from violence the citizens who paid for it, which is the proper function of a government. But I have seized every loot carrier that came within range of my guns, every government relief ship, subsidy ship, loan ship, gift ship, every vessel with a cargo of goods taken by force from some men for the unpaid, unearned benefit of others. I seized the boats that sailed under the flag of the idea which I am fighting: the idea that need is a sacred idol requiring human sacrifices - that the need of some men is the knife of a guillotine hanging over others - that all of us must live with our work, our hopes, our plans, our efforts at the mercy of the moment when that knife will descend upon us - and that the extent of our ability is the extent of our danger, so that success will bring our heads down on the block, while failure will give us the right to pull the cord. This is the horror which Robin Hood immortalized as an ideal of righteousness. It is said that he fought against the looting rulers and returned the loot to those who had been robbed, but that is not the meaning of the legend which has survived. He is remembered, not as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don't have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. He became a justification for every mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, has demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters, by proclaiming his willingness to devote his life to his inferiors at the price of robbing his superiors. It is this foulest of creatures - the double-parasite who lives on the sores of the poor and the blood of the rich - whom men have come to regard as a moral ideal. And this has brought us to a world where the more a man produces, the closer he comes to the loss of all his rights, until, if his ability is great enough, he becomes a rightless creature delivered as prey to any claimant - while in order to be placed above rights, above principles, above morality, placed where anything is permitted to him, even plunder and murder, all a man has to do is to be in need. Do you wonder why the world is collapsing around us? That is what I am fighting, Mr. Rearden. Until men learn that of all human symbols, Robin Hood is the most immoral and the most contemptible, there will be no justice on earth and no way for mankind to survive."

    Rearden listened, feeling numb. But under the numbness, like the first thrust of a seed breaking through, he felt an emotion he could not identify except that it seemed familiar and very distant, like something experienced and renounced long ago.

    ( excerpt from Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" )
  • by tdemark ( 512406 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:47AM (#11466864) Homepage
    It's easy to say that, because he is so rich, it's easy for him to donate a lot of money.

    Let's put this in perspective...

    If Bill Gates had a net worth of $40k, he just pledged to give $60 per year to this charity.

    Let's see if the Linux community can match his generosity.

    Based on above, I'd be willing to wager that, proportionally and on average, Slashdot users beat his generosity.

    - Tony
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:47AM (#11466868)
    ... Loudly donate the millions.

    It's the practice of cut throats, executives and vagabonds the world over to legitimise their ill gotten gains by 'generously' returning a small part of their swag to the needy while quietly keeping the rest for themselves.
  • Re:Er (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rikkards ( 98006 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:55AM (#11466930) Journal
    When someone's child dies of a disease that could easily been avoided the last thing he would be concerned with is what OS he should be running.

    Priorities in generosity are wrong. I think health is probably more important than computers.
    Once these countries have dealt with disease, food, debt, etc then what OS they have becomes a bit more of an issue.

    Plus most third world countries couldn't give two shits about stealing software from another country.
  • by data1 ( 23016 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @08:57AM (#11466952) Homepage
    The very airs the submitter adopts is obviously geared towards riling up a negative response against Gates. I think most slashdotters will realize this and see the donation for what it is - providing help to the less fortunate and not an avenue to decry Gates for not giving 99% of his net worth.
  • Re:Er (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:04AM (#11466996)
    Wrong, for all the same reasons throwing $50 billion at the tsunami disaster in a lump sum wouldn't be productive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:07AM (#11467031)
    What you seem to forget is that this money is not coming out of Bill's pockets. It's the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (notice the capital F in Foundation).
    That's a big difference. Money comes into the Foundation from primarily Bill, but there are also several public and private donors as well. Foundations such as these are big tax write-offs. What Bill did is create the Foundation and in essence transfered a portion of his extreme wealth tax-free to a charity. From there, when the Foundation gives a huge chunk of money to other charities/organizations, all it did was make it look like he was a charitable dude, when it was only set up as a tax shelter in the first place. Despite his "humanitarianism" he's still scum.
  • by BlackHawk-666 ( 560896 ) <> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:07AM (#11467036) Homepage
    Neat, so we all win :-) He gets a cleaner conscience and we get children who aren't dying from polio, rickets, ebola, and all the other dieseases that plague the unfortunate. How could that ever possibly be a bad thing?
  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:10AM (#11467058) Homepage

    Mr Gates is the head of a company that sells software for a profit, while the 'Linux Community' often gives its software for free to all comers over the Internet. That's one big difference.

    I'm not sure I really understand what you're even saying. Is there something wrong with selling software, and something inherently good about giving it away for free? Get a little perspective. It's just bits, not food, medicine, clothing, or shelter. The linux community doesn't help the poor, cure disease or feed the hungry, it only produces software. That's fine, but don't overstate the righteousness of free software.

    I don't think Mr Gates will have any money problems if he ever gets sick. While Patrick Volkerding -- the maintainer of Slackware, the oldest surviving Linux distribution out there -- who has been sick for several months, is asking people to buy Slackware version 10.1 to help him pay his medical bills...

    What does Volkerding have to do with Gates giving money for vaccinations? (that is other than being a completely manipulative "look at the poor sick guy, now look at big evil rich Bill Gates").

    That makes that last remark pretty insensitive and gratuitous, IMHO.

    Oh quit your over-sensitive blubbering. No one asked Volkerding specifically to contribute. The comment in the article was simply a call to compete with Gates in giving. While it's silly that the "linux community" has to compete with Gates at _everything_ (what next, Gates is good at darts and someone in the "linux community" has to challenge him?). But it's not an insentive remark at all (that is until you start manipulating the situation by throwing in totally irrelevant sympathetic sick people).
  • by idlake ( 850372 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:11AM (#11467066)
    But don't piss on a $750 million donation to some of the worst off on this planet;

    The donation is nice. It should make no difference, though, in one's assessment of Gates's character or business practices. Gates remains a modern robber baron, whose business practices have caused economic harm far in excess of what he is donating.

    And you're pretty naive if you think that this move wasn't carefully planned both financially (tax breaks) and with Microsoft's PR department (Gates's popularity/reputation needs a boost).
  • Re:Er (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:11AM (#11467067) Journal
    It is probably the wording of the story that will cause this.

    If I had mod points, I'd mod you up.

    If we could moderate stories, I would have voted this one down. The act itself is worthy of praise, especially contrasted with Gates' business tactics. The submitter had no reason to insert those last two statements except to provoke negative comments. The "Linux Community" will have a helluva time being able to donate $750 million to people who desperately need some form of necessity, because many (most? almost all?) members of that community don't have anything close to the available cash or equivalents that Gates has at his fingertips.

    "Do the ends justify the means?" Fuck no, and shame on the submitter for even turning this into a dicksize contest and inserting controversy where none should be needed. Gates' generosity does not justify his company's monopolistic tactics aimed at wiping out healthy competition (as a believer in the free market might say). I can donate $25 towards the purchase of necessary vaccines, and that in itself is a good act. Does the amount of money involved make the means any more or less justifiable? What is the metric for justifying the means?
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:14AM (#11467088)
    Does the Linux community have $750 million?

    The Linux community does donate to charities around the world. How many not-for-profit organizations use Open Source software? As a rough guess, I'd say that the Open Source community has donated, with their time and the software, an amount far greater than the $750 million that Gate has donated.

  • by LtOcelot ( 154499 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:15AM (#11467098)
    The truest measure of generosity is not what a person is willing to give, but what he retains for himself. Though Bill Gates donates millions of dollars, he retains the standard of living of a billionaire. His generosity is less than that of a middle-class man dropping a dollar in a Salvation army kettle, which in turn is less than that of a homeless man doing the same with his last dollar. It is certainly worthy of respect, but no more than these.

  • Re:Er (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <[ku.oc.dohshtrae] [ta] [2pser_ds]> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:15AM (#11467102)
    Some of us think that health is more important than "intellectual property". If it wasn't for the big patent-wielding pharmaceutical companies charging whatever they like for life-saving drugs and vaccines, do you suppose the cost that the WHO has to bear would be any less?

    If only it was as easy to steal chemical formulas as it is to steal software .....
  • by klaasb ( 523629 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:16AM (#11467111)
    Instead of spending millions [] on stupid elections, they could have better spend it on Bill's children vacination programm.

    It's good to see that there are people out there who don't sit on their fortune, but do something good with it. Way to go Bill. (now please, stop making operating systems and port the other products to OS/X)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:18AM (#11467121)
    It's easy to donate when it does not affect your quality of life, it's a lot harder to donate when you take food out of your mouth to feed the needy.

    The actions of Mr. Gates have ensured his wellbeing. His sharing does not inconveniance him one bit.

    With that being said, Mr. gates would not have this much excess cash without over charging for his product. While most can afford his product, little effort has been made to help those who cannot. Sometimes people were sent to the unemployment lines to ensure he gets his cash.

    Fine he gives some away. How does that help those whose lives he has destroyed? At least the Linux community allows all to benefit from there own actions.

  • Re:Er (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nhorman ( 697930 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:19AM (#11467129)
    How much is Linux worth? Whats the aggregate value of the problems that have been solved in this world using Linux? How many economies has Linux stimulated? $750 is a fantastic donation, and a great thing to do, but giving money is not the only form of charity. I think you'll find the most generous donations (and the one people often find hardest to make) are those of time, and effort, not money.
  • I'll take your wager.

    Read up on the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. [] You will see that Bill has given $27 Billion of his $50 Billion fortune for the charity to manage. IIRC they are having a really tough time giving it away because it earns more interest than it can donate in a co-ordinated fashion.

    What ever you think of the guys software and business practices, it is hard to argue that he is an evil man in the face of his generosity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:37AM (#11467279)
    Its sad really. Some of you have such a rediculious hatred that you can't see the simple good in people. You may not like everything the man has done, but he has donated billions to help kids all over the world. Why cheapen that? He coudl horde it all, but instead he takes what he has and does good with it. What in the world could possibly be bad about that. The biggest problems in the world are not the rich guys that give a portion of what they have, its the people that insist they have to little to give any and then cut down those that do help.
  • Re:Er (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lifereaper0 ( 850920 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:40AM (#11467299)
    Wow, just because $750M seems like nothing, how many people that have that much money would donate it. Despite popular opinion, Bill gates is not the only person with a lot of money in the world.
  • by LarsWestergren ( 9033 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:42AM (#11467316) Homepage Journal
    Well, I love Linux, but let's put things in perspective. A lot of people contributing to open source are students, or people who love programming. They are giving something (free time, programming talent) they have a lot of. So this quote from Jesus could be applied to us too.

    This topic ("Well, as a percentage of his total wealth this is nothing") always comes up when Gates charity is discussed. First of all, he can't give away everything he owns at once, much of it (I presume) is tied up in stocks, selling all at once would cause companies and whole markets plummeting.

    Besides, if you look at the total over time, as these people have done [], you will see that it does in fact add up to quite a lot over the years. (Assuming, like I have, that the source is reliable).

    * $1 billion over 20 years to establish the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program, which will support promising minority students through college and some kinds of graduate school.
    * $750 million over five years to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, which includes the World Health Organization, the Rockefeller Foundation, Unicef, pharmaceutical companies and the World Bank.
    * $350 million over three years to teachers, administrators, school districts and schools to improve America's K-12 education, starting in Washington State.
    * $200 million to the Gates Library Program, which is wiring public libraries in America's poorest communities in an effort to close the "digital divide."
    * $100 million to the Gates Children's Vaccine Program, which will accelerate delivery of lifesaving vaccines to children in the poorest countries of the world.
    * $50 million to the Maternal Mortality Reduction Program, run by the Columbia University School of Public Health.
    * $50 million to the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, to conduct research on promising candidates for a malaria vaccine.
    * $50 million to an international group called the Alliance for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer.
    * $50 million to a fund for global polio eradication, led by the World Health Organization, Unicef, Rotary International and the U.N. Foundation.
    * $40 million to the International Vaccine Institute, a research program based in Seoul, South Korea.
    * $28 million to Unicef for the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus.
    * $25 million to the Sequella Global Tuberculosis Foundation.
    * $25 million to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, which is creating coalitions of research scientists, pharmaceutical companies and governments in developing countries to look for a safe, effective, widely accessible vaccine against AIDS.

    Oops, that article was from year 2000. According to the BBC [], he has now given away $7.1 billion since 1994.
  • by Disc2 ( 720412 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:42AM (#11467317)
    some guy has donated a HUGE amount of money to charity, and all he get's is

    "it's only loose change to him, I'm not impressed" oh come on, how many of you have honestly donated %1.5 of your assets?
    "the linux community is providing free software for the people in deprived countries, I know which I prefer" yeah, and I'm sure they'll be greatful for the free sopftware when they have terminal illnesses.

    some people really need to grow up. Whatever your feelings on Bill Gates as head of the evil empire, I do not see how you can possibly castigate him for his acts of charity.
  • Re:Er (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Amiga Trombone ( 592952 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:48AM (#11467355)
    What are you talking about? Gates has always been a huge charity donor.

    I always find it humorous when rich people are lauded for giving away their money, and damned for earning it in the first place.

    In the process of earning his money, Gates' licensing DOS and it's descendants to all comers created a standard hardware platform for personal computers, thereby forcing hardware vendors to compete on price and innovation. This in turn spurred rapid technical innovation and price reductions, making computers affordable enough that nearly everyone could own one. This in turn facilitated the growth of ancillary hardware, software, and tech support industries, providing thousands, if not millions, of people a living. The propagation of personal computers in turn allowed for the explosive growth of the internet, which in turn created a demand for broadband service, thereby triggering a revolution in the communications industry as well.

    And you could go on all day listing the scientific advancements and economic opportunities made possible by the availability of cheap computing power.

    Bill Gates may have given $10 million for AIDS awareness in Africa, but for all that, how much of an impact has that made on AIDS? Damn little, as far as I can see.

    Ironically, while the wealthy are damned for earning their money and lauded for giving it away, Gates, like most of the filthy rich capitalists, did more for the "Good of Society" and the advancement of humanity in the process of earning his money than he will ever conceivably be able to do by giving it away.
  • by ClippyHater ( 638515 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:48AM (#11467362) Journal
    Sorry, but that's not an apples-to-apples comparison. When the kernel and Free software in general starts preventing infectious disease, miserable lives, and early death, THEN you'd have an argument.

    $750M saving lives > $750M Free software (by a couple of orders of magnitude, I'd imagine).
  • by OwlWhacker ( 758974 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:51AM (#11467386) Homepage Journal
    The fact is, Bill Gates is associated with Microsoft, and vice-versa. Everybody does it without thinking.

    If Microsoft does something bad, Bill gets flack. If Bill does something good, Microsoft looks good.

    Although the donation was from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it's still bonus points to Microsoft.

    Back in 2002, Bill Gates, via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, donated $100 million towards fighting AIDS in India. He did this at a time when Microsoft's conduct was being questioned in the Anti-Trust case, and at a time where he had said "India is of strategic importance".

    Some said that Bill was doing it to 'persuade' India to go with Microsoft (kind of like a guilt trip), and others said that Bill is really just a nice guy. How can we tell?

    I have one question for Bill:

    Next time you donate large amounts of cash, would you do it anonymously? Or would there be no 'benefit' in this?
  • Guess what? Bill Gates didn't make this contribution to pacify angry Slashbots like yourself.

    You see, the kids who benefit from these vaccines aren't going to give a shit about your pissy little gripes about Gates' business practices. They are going to be grateful; a sentiment I think a lot of Slashbots are incapable of.

    So why not, for once, set aside your consipracy theories about ulterior motives, and acknowledge that Gates did a Good Thing(tm) here?
  • Re:Er (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frenetic_Alphabet ( 852010 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:52AM (#11467394)
    Well Said!

    There are two issues here.

    The first being that Bill Gates is donating a sizeable amount of money to charity and that is wonderful and very kind. Regardless of all the people that hate Bill Gates, donating money to a charity is still a very noble thing to do, you have to at least admit that.

    Secondly there's the asinine comment about whether or not the Linux community can match his generosity...I don't think you can even compare the two considering the differences between them. One is a major multi-national company and the other is a large group of people working on a more or less free product that doesn't generate mass amounts of revenue. Now why did the OP have to go and fuck up a story with a positive spin by making it into a bitter competition and finger pointing fiasco?
  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:53AM (#11467407) Homepage
    Let's see, expressed as a total of my reserve capital... minus outstanding debts... carry the one... I've donated twice as much as Bill, with my 20 dollar donation to the Tsunami relief fund.

    In general I find the kind of people likely to give their money away, are not the kind of people likely to have any money to give.

    (No offence meant to Mr. Gates, as he has given a lot more of his money to charitable causes than a lot of people, and even more importantly he seems to really care about them. No matter what you think about his business practices, the Bill and Melinda gates foundation has the largest endowment of any chairitible organization created in recent memory and will be doing positive things for the world long after the man has taken his blue screen of death to the black screen of death. Plus the B&M tend to be focused on practical things [], and are pretty good about how they deal out grants.)

  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:58AM (#11467456) Homepage

    I think this is fine, and we don't need to belittle them for not having grossly wrenched as much money as possible from people's hands which they can now "generously" give back to causes supporting the poor in the third world.

    Belittle? Who's belittling anyone? Stating that free software isn't some grand altruistic venture isn't belittling. "grossly wrenched as much money as possible?" This is software, not food or medicine. While Microsoft has a lot of highly questionable anti-competitive products, they're hardly pharmaceutical companies trying to enforce patents in 3rd world countries for AIDS drugs. (An example of an industry with little morals and high greed).

    As far as Gate's generosity, he could easily have horded all his money like most billionaires do. No one is forcing him to give it all away. Heard any stories about Richard Bramson of Virgin giving away billions of dollars? How about Larry Ellison of Oracle? I sure haven't.
  • $750 million = ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by intmanmys ( 853109 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @09:59AM (#11467464)
    How many more Windows users can $750 million buy? Not a bad investment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:03AM (#11467491)
    Charitable trusts are extremely useful tax shelters, especially for those who don't plan on leaving the bulk of their wealth to children.

    They also buy the goodwill of saps like you, who think that this evil miser must not be such a bad guy after all, regardless of the number of lives he's ruined over the years.
  • Bullshit Article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:05AM (#11467509) Homepage Journal
    This entire article just blew up my bullshit detector.

    First, the Borg icon - this is the Gates Foundation, not Microsoft. As much as I despise Gates, his Foundation is doing a lot of good things.

    Second, the business practice hit. Again, this is not Microsoft donating anything to anyone, it's the Gates Foundation. While Bill's money is largely M$ stuff, the shot is just cheap and unwarranted.

    Three, the dig at the Open Source community. I'm sure if the community had as much money as Gates, we'd be matching his donation before the day is up, just to show it. But we don't. You can't compare the rich man's $1000 donation to the poor man's $100 donation. No matter how you compare it, in one way or the other it won't be fair.

    Finally, the article as a whole - what the f*ck has this to do with "news for nerds" ??? And if it's "stuff that matters", how come we don't read about any similar donations made by other people or foundations?

    Both the article author and the editor who let this through should be ashamed of themselves. I'm sure at least 20 more worthy articles were left out today.
  • by Handbrewer ( 817519 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:06AM (#11467515) Homepage
    Why are you proud as a citizen of a country when one citizen does something good? Why does it make you feel superior?

    Come back when YOU do something good instead of just throwing flamebait around. I honestly dont care which country gave most, but if we look at money divided in number of citizens of each contry, "old" europe is still in the lead. But i think its good we all chipped in to help the victims of the Tsunami. So stop using it as a dickwaving contest.
  • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:10AM (#11467558) Journal
    Indeed, Microsoft pumps a lot of money into various charitable causes --- again, only a good thing.

    Strictly speaking--in this case at least--the money is being donated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, not by Microsoft. To be fair, Microsoft does make charitable contributions to buy goodwill and strategic advertising placement (oops, slipped into bitter cynicism there) but this isn't one of those occasions.

    The Gates Foundation exists to assuage any guilt Bill has about pillaging the marketplace, as well as to attempt to adjust his legacy. Like Rockefeller, he'd rather be immortalized as a philanthropist than as a robber baron.

    That said, I'm glad that somebody is stepping up on this one. Immunization is one of the single most effective steps that can be taken in public health, both in terms of effect on lives and in terms of cost-effectiveness. I find it very disturbing that basic immunizations aren't available to everyone, if for no other reason than because it will make life better for the rest of us.

    The United States government missed out on a great public relations opportunity. If it spent on public health--immunizations and clean water--what it spent to invade Iraq, it could have bought the goodwill of literally billions of people.

  • After stripping all of the hyperbole from your post, your only real complaint seems to be that Gates has money because he built a successful business.
  • Drug companies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Paradevil ( 201438 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:18AM (#11467631)
    If it wasn't for the big patent-wielding pharmaceutical companies charging whatever they like for life-saving drugs, then there wouldn't be any money to research the next life-saving druge.

    If only it was as easy to steal chemical formulas as it is to steal software a lot more people would be dead due to bad drugs on the market.
  • by Wordsmith ( 183749 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:21AM (#11467673) Homepage
    Who says they don't need both? They need many, many things.

    They need medicine, food and shelter to keep them healthy.
    They need education to empower them, and help them lead productive lives.
    They need community and family support systems to keep them emotionally stable in the face of tragedy and poverty.
    They need economic aid to give them the boost needed to apply their skills and education.

    And, if all these things work the way we'd idealistically hope, they'll eventually be living lives of higher quality, protected from disease and the elements in reasonable ways. And at some point, they might have enough money and use for a computer (or some other less PCish technology that also depends on code somewhere down the line) ... and freely available, freely redisrtibutable, freely examiniable, freely modifiable software is better than the alternative. Especially since it goes hand-in-hand with the uber-democratic principals of free speech and the marketplace of ideas.
  • by Paradevil ( 201438 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:22AM (#11467697)
    Great philosophy. He should just keep it all so that he can laugh and swim in his piles of money.

    What incredible hippie bullshit.

    He made that money, that money was paid to him. It is his money. He can do whatever the hell he wants to with it. If you could make 50 Billion dollars would you pass up that opportunity?

    Did you make this same eye-rolling assertion when Ted Turner took out full-page ads extolling the virutes of him dontating a billion dollars to the UN? Feel free to disagree with the man's company, but for the love of God at least give some credit when some good is done in the world.
  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:25AM (#11467725) Homepage
    Apples, oranges. The linux community doesn't have to compete with Bill Gates in giving. This isn't a war against Bill Gates.

    The Linux community is ALREADY contributing to the good of society and doesn't have the means to do it twice over.

    It doesn't have anything to do with this discussion, but I'm really tired of this attitude. How does your average Joe benefit from linux? Maybe some lower costs to web hosting? A bit more secure servers? Less vendor lock in? Big deal.. Walmart saves consumers money, but no one argues this somehow benefits society. Don't get me wrong, I think free software benefits me greatly. But I'm a computer professional and software developer. Free tools allow me much greater control over the services I can offer, the software I can develop, etc. Wonderfull, but that's not really a benefit to the society as a whole.
  • Economy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lbrt ( 625194 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:26AM (#11467737)
    Had Bill Gates not caused so much havoc in the IT industry, there would propably be a lot more money to share from other people. The ends don't justify the means.
  • by jbeamon ( 208826 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:39AM (#11467864)
    The Gates Foundation contributes millions of dollars to charities worldwide already. This is nothing new for Bill, who really does have a humanitarian heart. That his business has been opportunistic to the edge of abusive is irrelevant. That he's a billionaire contributing "only" $750M is irrelevant. "Linux" will not match his dollar amount, period; we'll be lucky if any organized segment of the Linux community even matches his income percentage given to contributions, let alone his dollar amount. Last I heard, he was worth something like $60B. $750M is about 1.25% of his net worth, given to one cause. Kudos to Bill.
  • by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:43AM (#11467907) Journal
    DAmn straight. By demoninzing Gates in all situations, even donating money to save children, slashdotters/anti microsofters just prove that they're just as stubborn and stupid as many companies, like the member companies of the RIAA and MPAA or SCO, who get under *OUR* skin.
  • by RockClimb ( 235954 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:47AM (#11467959)
    Actually your numbers are just a little off. He is donating $750M over the next 10 years which comes out to $75M per year. That would be 0.18% of his net worth. Now, I'm betting he makes better than that in interest and dividends per year. So this is a tax shelter for him, nothing more, nothing less. It just happens to be a tax shelter that a some good will come out of.

    People are missing that because of the large amount of money. For someone making say $50K a year this would amount to $90 per year. Don't get me wrong, I am glad to see some good coming out of the money.

    Having said that, I donated more than yesterday, and I don't even make $50K a year.
  • by Fepple ( 744591 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:49AM (#11467973)
    Well how about the publicity his donation raised for the charity and the good work they do?

    Do you think because of this high profile donation that the charity will only receive $750 million more this year? If you had that much money to give, and you found a very good under supported charity would you not want to use the opportunity to raise their profile in the public eye?
  • by rednip ( 186217 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @10:56AM (#11468057) Journal
    As the AC right above me points out, it is a charitable trust. That Charitable Trust was funded with Microsoft stock, in a similar manner as the Milton Hershey School Trust [], which now is worth around $5 billion dollars.

    The 'nice' thing about a Charitable Trust, is that you can give your vast sums money to charity, but maintain control over the stock of the company you founded. People said many mean things about Carnegie [] in his day (most of it was fair), but he's remembered today mostly for his charitable giving (Carnegie Hall, et al).

    The man who dies rich dies disgraced. - Andrew Carnegie
  • by Peldor ( 639336 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:00AM (#11468101)
    As the mega-rich go, Bill is easily the most charitable. Compare the Walton family (collectively worth more than Bill) and you'll find some real tight-fisted bastards (who've probably crushed 100 times the number of small businesses as Microsoft).
  • Citizen Microsoft (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blazerw11 ( 68928 ) <[blazerw] [at] []> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:05AM (#11468171) Homepage
    It's good that MS gives a lot of money to Washington, because they've screwed the state out of millions, maybe even billions, more. Please read this article for more details. []

  • Re:Er (Score:3, Insightful)

    by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:06AM (#11468193) Homepage
    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is not Microsoft.
  • Re:Er (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tarius8105 ( 683929 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:07AM (#11468197)
    That's true, but on the other hand we're talking $750 million USD over the next ten years working out to $75 million USD per year. Something tells me that's less than he makes in interest/dividends per year. It's a nice gesture. But, when one scales this seemingly large amount against the funds available, it's more like me donating $100.00 as someone else already said. Nice, but not a big deal really. On a vaguely related note, when I was in the Navy I gave around 10% of my income to various causes through the CFC. Can I get a front page story on slashdot now? Hmmmm?

    First off, you have a warped view on this perspective. One man donating 100 dollars does not even remotely compare to one man donating 750 million dollars. Yes it is a big deal since kids are dying in 3rd world countries where their parents cant even afford to pay for them to see a doctor, let alone get vacinations. That 750 million can help a lot of kids, where as your puny 100 dollars wouldnt be able to vacinate one kid.

    One person did something really great and donated a large sum of money,that doesnt involve selling his product down the people he donating to, and everyone finds something wrong with it.
  • by tarius8105 ( 683929 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:14AM (#11468278)
    Linux community gives 100% up front. Microsoft takes 100% and gives a little - a very little - back. Which is more generous?

    As one person said in one of the comments further above. If your kid is dying you're last priority is what operating system you are going to use. Your priority will be to save your child by getting them the medicine they need. You cant really compare the contributions from the linux community to the contributions other organizations make.
  • by Hrothgar The Great ( 36761 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:14AM (#11468286) Journal
    God, people like you make me want to puke. Your unabashed cynicism, backed up by NOT ONE single reference, but rather a horrid, confusing mess of paranoia and hatred, is like someone punching me in the throat repeatedly every time I read it.

    I have a hard time believing that even someone as mind fuckingly insane as YOU can honestly believe that, because you dislike Microsoft Windows, donating money to VACCINATING CHILDREN is somehow ALSO BAD. Good lord, you are a disgusting caricature.
  • Unbelievable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truesaer ( 135079 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:33AM (#11468507) Homepage
    The number of people who are acting like this is some kind of paltry donation just because Gates has a net worth of 50 billion is unbelievable. First, a lot of his assets are not liquid. You can just sell 30 billion of Microsoft stock by clicking a couple buttons in your eTrade account. But that isn't the real point...the real point is that

    1) You can only give so much to a single cause. Its not necessarily possible to even handle huge donations even if you spread them around to a bunch of groups because there just aren't enough people to use the funds.

    2) Gates has donated billions in the past and will donate many billions in the future. This is just one single donation. Whats the big fuss? Its like arguing that dropping a dollar in a Salvation Army kettle makes you cheap despite the fact that you donate to lots of other charities throughout the year.

  • by rincebrain ( 776480 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:39AM (#11468595) Homepage
    The poster above, regardless of his Tinfoil Hat Rating, is not arguing that he hates Windows and so everything Gates ever did is bad.

    He is arguing that there may be an ulterior motive behind what is done with the money.

    By all means, praise Gates for donating money...but in doing so, do not forget the golden maxim: "What could he have accomplished by doing this?"

    Admittedly, that strays into Tinfoil Hat territory as well. Look at it this way: you argue that the poster was claiming that what Gates did was bad because of one thing (Windows). I argue that you're claiming that what Gates does is good because of one thing (donating to charity).

    People enjoy saying "Actions speak louder than words," but that is a logical fallacy. If I were to commit tax fraud for forty years, and then donate half of the money I possessed as a result of it (which would be a considerable sum) to charity, that would be seen as good. If people knew that I had stolen money from the government (regardless of whether the taxes are right, fair, just, et al.) to do so, they would decry me in the streets.

    Just because one does something good does not mean that one is a good person. Keep that in mind.
  • Re:Flamebait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darco ( 514434 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @11:44AM (#11468651) Homepage Journal
    I think the part that he is referring to is the line that aid "Let's see if the Linux community can match his generosity". That line is most certainly flamebait.

    Bill Gates has been very successful, and he wants to spread it around to good causes. Nothing wrong with that. It's almost expected from someone in his position. It's really silly to somehow pit his generosity against the linux/open-source/free-software community. The two have nothing to do with each other.

    One could easily argue that the value to society of open-source and free-software exceed $750M by several times, perhaps more. Saying that Bill Gates is more generous than the open-source/free-software community is misguided and pointless. The two situations are incomparable.

    I think it is great that Bill Gates is doing this. But is this article flamebait? Most certainly, if only for the line mentioned above.
  • Unless he's Robin Hood. OK ok, I'm not seriously comparing Bill Gates to Robin Hood, but it's not too far off the mark. Like it or not, you, me and the US government are all rich, and the people Bill G is giving his money to are genuinely poor. As I understand it, when Bill dies virtually all his money will go to charity. OK his children will never have to worry about cash, but neither will be loaded.

    I'm not going to argue that he doesn't do bad stuff, but that's what capitalism is all about . Do whatever you can get away with(if you read Marx you see that's the kind of thing which he said would bring down capitalism eventually). If you don't like it, go move to Cuba.

    As it happens I don't agree with you about Microsoft destryoying software engineering. I should make clear that I have my MSDN subscription paid for by my employer, but Microsoft really look after their 3rd party developers, because they know that they can make windows stronger by helping and encouraging software development. Some of the Microsoft visual tools are leaps and bounds ahead of their competitors, and their new technology is cool too. OK Avalon is clearly an attempt to lock out firefox, but what do you expect?
  • Re:Er (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jfelix1010 ( 677162 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:10PM (#11469007)
    Umm, it is trivial to "steal" the formulas to patented drugs. The drug companies are required to submit these in the patent app, as well as to the FDA during the approval process. None of this is secret or classified data. Anyone with the proper production equipment could bootleg a patented drug. Of course, this would be just as illegal as bootlegging software.

    The problem with expensive pharmaceuticals is very complex. These companies must recoup their HUGE R&D investments in both successful and unsuccessful drugs. The real problem is price-fixing in the countries with socialized medicine. The drug companies have to gouge the free-market countries (primarily the US) to make up for the shortfall in profits from the Canadian and European markets. The drug companies go along with it because they are still making more than the marginal costs of production, and something is better than nothing. If they refused to do business with countries that have price controls, these countries would simply allow local companies to bootleg the drugs (remember that the formulae are publicly available) to sell locally. Honestly, I don't know why this isn't a WTO issue. The US consumer is having to subsidize those in Canada and the EU. The alternative is less R&D and fewer new drugs in the pipeline.

    Of course, in a free-market economy with a patent system, the drug companies are essentially free to charge anything they wish while the drugs are under patent. They will (and should) choose a price that maximizes profits, and this will be a higer price than what would be possible under free competition. The difference is referred to as "monopoly rents". As a society, this is the incentive we provide to investors so that they will spend money to research new drugs. Without the patents, there would be essentially no private for-profit investment in pharmaceutical research. So there really is no easy solution to this problem. Maybe the length of the patent can be reduced, but this will make the drugs even more expensive during the duration of the patent.

    One possible solution to the problem is to reduce the regulatory burden that the FDA places on these companies. This would place more of the burden of drug safety on the doctors and consumers. If the costs of getting a new drug to market are lower, then a shorter patent period would be acceptible since there will be less fixed cost that must be recouped. The obvious downside to this is that it is possible that drugs with serious side-effects will be more likely to make it to market. This is a trade-off, and we as a soceity must decide just how much "safety" we are willing to pay for. But simply villifying the drug companies solves nothing. I'm sure that they do some bad things in the pursuit of profits, but that doesn't change the reality of the situation. We would have these problems even if these companies were perfectly ethical.
  • by N_Hill ( 853154 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:14PM (#11469072)
    Help me to understand... Why is it that the vast majority of the /. Crowd possesses this fanatical hatred for anything Microsoft/Bill Gates? Completely irrational. I'm relatively unbiased about technology - Microsoft has its strengths and weaknesses and likewise *nix has its strengths and weaknesses. I accept both and utilize both. If I were to embrace Open Source completely would I have to become as fanatical...? Would it kill you to give Gates credit for working to save the lives of millions of less fortunate people?
  • Re:Flamebait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frobozz0 ( 247160 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:19PM (#11469145)
    You can't compare money in the bank to someone's worth. You should see what Gates has in the bank and then consider that for the basis of your calculations. It's vastly shy of $50B. In fact, goin on this premise you should consider your investments including life insurance, and equity in a home and/or major equipment.

    I've never thought Gates was a saint-- but giving $750m to charity is good for everyone.

  • by jthayden ( 811997 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:19PM (#11469154)
    Assuming the 12 billion figure is correct, let 15 of the other richest people in the world pony up so dough too. It isn't Billy's job to solve all of the world's problems by himself. Sure he will get a tax break, but maybe that is why he gave 750 insteed of 500. You don't make money off a tax break, you just don't lose as much. To argue he did for a tax break doesn't make sense.

    How much did Larry give? At least Bill gave and he has given in the past. Hell he is even a democrat.

    There are lots of things to bust his balls over, but this is not one of them.

    Stand up and applaud the gift, encourage others to give too, then go back to attacking him for his business practices.

  • by ThousandStars ( 556222 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @12:51PM (#11469610) Homepage
    I can't believe tripe like this gets modded informative. Fact of the matter is, Gates has so much money that he can't live any better lifestyle than he does now. Still, he doesn't have to do anything with his money -- he could keep until he dies, let the government take some -- if the death tax is even around then -- and leave a huge pile of cash for his family. (Assuming, of course, that MS is still as big as it is today in, say, ~35 years -- and there's no guarantee of that.)

    So he doesn't have to give anything away. It isn't a matter of him being smart or dumb; it's a matter of him being compassionate. Much as I dislike MS's business practices, I have to laud Gates for his philanthropic effortts.

  • I hate to feed the troll, but I just have to.

    Um, ok. So let's assume for the sake of argument that Bill G decided to do just that - give the world an OS for free.

    That OS might just be XP. Are you *SURE* you want that? :)

    Imagine a world where users had a free operating system that actually worked with all of the hardware that the MAINSTREAM users go buy at CompUSA, and did so without needing a freakin' CS degree to configure. Imagine a world where users could actually play the other 99% of the popular games on the market.

    I could go on...but the net result would be that those precious few "Joe Sixpack" users that might consider switching over to your little pet project would take one look at Linux and run, not walk, to the nearest distribution point.

    "So, lemme get this straight...I can't play my games on it, I can't use Word and Outlook on it, and I can't use my hardware without serious headache, if at all. What's your compelling argument again?"

    Of course, most of the world uses the same argument when they look at Linux in a world where its free and Windows costs $149.

  • Re:viruses (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:27PM (#11470126)
    At the risk of sounding like a heartless prick, who is going to feed all these kids who would have otherwise died? Is this donation in 2005 setting up a famine for 2025?
  • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @01:43PM (#11470355) Journal
    >So if he is worth $50B at death, the government gets ~$25B.

    And that would leave ~25B for his family.

    > for example, that he ends up giving 80% of his net worth to charity. That's $40B given the assumption above, leaving $5B for the government and $5B for his family.

    So he does it one way his family gets ~25B, he does it the other way they get ~5B. How does this justify his foundation?

    > especially since he is dictating where his money goes, not the government.

    Thats called being smart, its called estate planning and you don't need to give the money away to charity to do this. If you had that much money, it would be irresponsible to just leave it to the government.
  • by TANSTAAFL_Guy ( 847854 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .za.selimsj.> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @02:52PM (#11471264)
    OK, so maybe this is a little redundant. But it seems that only a few slashdotters can tell the difference between Bill, Microsoft, and the Gates Foundation ...

    Bill is the wealthiest man in the world. But what many people forget is that Bill comes from money, OLD MONEY. His family are the kind of people who sit on boards of directors and have dinner with US Senators kind of money. The kind who drop out of Harvard and not some state school. And they are also the kind of people who don't just phone it in to Jerry Lewis every year or give to the office United Way campaign to get that warm-and-fuzzy feeling, but who create friggin' foundations. Bill provided some serious seed money to create the foundation's endowment, which was then invested and grown and is gradually being given away to worthy causes. Its not like Bill's personal signature is at the bottom of each check the Gates Foundation hands out (at least, I wouldn't think that he is that hands on).

    Yes, Microsoft is the evil empire blah blah blah ...

    And the Gates Foundation does good things in the world. Only a drooling idiot would argue that providing funding to fight AIDS or vaccinate children against common (and some not so common) diseases is somehow bad. Go take your dumb ass and your tinfoil hat and crawl back inside your parent's basement. If only more of the truly wealthy people in this country felt a similar responsibility to give something back to their communities, the nation, and the world instead of just buying another Ferrari or vacation home...maybe the world would be just a slightly better place...maybe.

  • by Aron S-T ( 3012 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @04:33PM (#11472646) Homepage
    There are several points that need to be made here:

    1. The money Bill Gates is giving away are ill-gotten gains derived from monopolistic practices. if we had a government with balls, they would have confiscated most of Microsoft (and Bill Gates) money. Why should he have the right to decide how to spend stolen money? Maybe society as a whole has different priorities.

    2. Bill Gates recently called people who oppose his view of "intellectual property" communists! Well if it makes me a communist to believe that drugs should not be developed for corporate profit then so be it. [N.B. Please: before you start flaming me about how all "innovation" happens because of greed and how without copyright and patent monopilies life would be nasty, brutish and short, pick up a book on the history of science or the history of art or the history of music or the hostoty of philosophy or the history of any human artistic and/or intellectual endeavor].

    If Bill Gates would support the restraint of insanely restrictive copyright and patent laws, we could eradicate many diseases around the world without him having to give a $750 million donation. In terms of benefit to the world, it would be far preferable if he used his money and clout to fight ridiculous IP laws, than give this money away on vaccinations. Far more lives could and would be saved. But precisely because he uses his money and clout to oppose such modifications, he is partially responsible for many people dying, and his $750 million gift cannot compensate for that.

    3. The article is pure flame bait. But since it was posted as "news" it is our right and duty to respond to its huge BS factor.
  • by GoCoGi ( 716063 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @05:39PM (#11473391)
    Donating money to VACCINATING CHILDREN is not bad. It is good, very good. I think that most of the "fuckingly insane" people, just want to warn about thinking that Bill Gates is good, because he did something good.
    You don't automatically become good when you give $10 of your stolen $1000 to charity.
  • by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @05:40PM (#11473404) Homepage
    Who cares what percentage. At the end of the day, 1% of Bill's wealth is enough to treat a million people, whereas 100% is enough to treat 5. Get off your soap box, and realize this is about the victims, and helping them out (which requires $, not %).

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell