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Can we trust the “antitruster?”

October 9, 2010

I should probably start by saying that I am not a huge Bill Gates fan. I don’t have anything particular against him but I don’t think he’s the best thing since sliced bread, either. Perhaps it’s the whole “is he or isn’t he building Microsoft into a monopoly” memories but I’m always skeptical of gazillionaires, especially when they start touting all their charity work and personal donations, and I made no exception when I found myself watching a“60 Minutes” special on Bill and Melinda Gates the other night (I was cooking and was elbows-deep in chicken so I couldn’t change the channel).

From the get-go, the Gates family was being praised for “giving away a fortune.” I mean, sure it’s easy enough for one of the wealthiest men in the world to give away a bunch of money but is he actually getting his hands dirty and helping the people who really need it? I don’t have a ton of respect for “60 Minutes” so that probably didn’t help win me over, either. In my opinion, it isn’t so much a news show as a PR (in this case, read “spin”) platform for various celebrities and such to showcase themselves. I found myself scoffing at the opening sequence and thinking that these two were probably just throwing money at whatever problems they thought were important (without taking any real responsibility for following through with their actions) but after watching for a few minutes, I realized that much like I was elbows-deep in chicken, they are elbows-deep in helping Americans and international people alike.

I found myself compelled to do a bit more digging and I came across the Gates Notes. It’s not your traditional blog (there’s no long-winded, cynical college student shoving her opinion in everyone’s face) but rather a compilation of informative articles related to Bill and Melinda Gates’ charity work and projects. The site offers some pretty interesting insight into what Gates has been doing for the last 4+ years, since leaving his full-time position with Microsoft and also manages to compel one to find a way to help his global campaign to improve education, agriculture, medical access and a host of other important issues. The Gates Notes “blog” is effective because it’s not forcing anyone to take a side with or against the author, but instead makes it possible for pretty much everyone to find something they are interested in learning more about and also helping to improve. I also really like that, unlike many other foundations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation isn’t focused just on helping the less-fortunate in other countries – they also fund a variety of programs right here in the U.S. I often feel that people are quick to look at other countries as being in need but the truth is we have a fair share of our own issues right here on American soil that are being overlooked.

I wish I could say all of my skepticism has been washed away but sadly, that task isn’t as easy as one would hope. I do believe, however, that if more and more gazillionaires were doing what Bill and Melinda are doing, the world would no doubt be a better place for all.

Here is the video of the “60 Minutes” segment – please watch it if you have time and let me know what you think about the Gates’ effort to change the world.

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