Bill Gates on Education and Philanthropy
By David Henderson
I was impressed by the latest “60 Minutes” report on Bill and Melinda Gates and many of their choices about what to spend their fortunes on. One main choice is their large spending on producing a vaccine against malaria. Here’s an excerpt:
And listen to what they have spent already: $4.5 billion for vaccines; almost $2 billion for scholarships in America; and $1.5 billion to improve farming in Africa and Asia, just to name a few. The foundation’s wealth ranks up there with America’s biggest companies, just behind McDonalds and ahead of Boeing.
I loved this segment:
“Well, if you have money, what are you gonna do with it? You can spend it on yourself, you can have, you know, thousands of people holding fans and cooling you off. You can build pyramids and things. You know, I sometimes order two cheeseburgers instead of one. But we didn’t have any consumption ideas. And if you don’t think it’s a favor to your kids to have them start with gigantic wealth, then you’ve gotta pick a cause,” Bill Gates explained.
Bill Gates also had a good concise explanation for why he was donating money for a malaria vaccine:
“Well, there’s a huge market for cancer drugs. And there’s dozens of pharmaceutical companies that spend tens of billions on those drugs. In malaria, when we announced a grant for $50 million, we became the biggest private funders. And so, the fact that it kills over a million children a year and yet has almost no money given to it, you know, that struck us as very strange. But it became the thing we saw, ‘Okay, this will be unique. We’ll take the diseases of the poor, where there’s no market and we’ll get the best scientists working on those diseases,'” Bill Gates explained.
I was disappointed, to put it mildly, by the Gates’s commitment to education in American. By education, they clearly meant what I’ve pointed out that co-blogger Bryan means: not education per se but schooling. Another excerpt:
“I think it’s most alarming that we’re only preparing a third of the kids to go on to college. That’s a frightening thing for our democracy to say a third of kids are prepared to go,” she replied.
And here’s Bill:
“The country is built on ingenuity. It’s built on having lots of very well-educated people. And if you were from a poor family, how are you going to be break out of that? Well, education is the only way. Education is the thing that 20 years from now, will determine if this country is as strong and as just as it wants to be,” Bill Gates explained.
The level of self-unawareness in the above quote is mind-boggling. Does Bill Gates think Microsoft would have been a better company had he not dropped out of Harvard?