Feb 18, 2002
Bill Gates and his wife have created the largest charitable foundation in U.S. history with assets of 24 billion dollars. It is supposed to focus on health care in the poor countries.
Bill Gates reported he was “shocked” to find out that poor countries have 90% of the world’s diseases and only ten% of the world’s resources used on health care.
If Gates was shocked, then it’s because he’s been too busy counting his money to notice what’s been going on. In any case, Gates is now presenting himself as a philanthropist. But philanthropy begs the question of where poverty-borne disease comes from.
In the rich countries, capitalists push to increase the exploitation on their work forces, as much as they are able – whether in the form of lousy wages, worsening working conditions, rising health care payments, ruined pensions or temporary work contracts. Where did Gates own money come from if not the poverty level wages of so many thousands of part time and temporary workers at his Microsoft facilities in Seattle? Exploitation translates into poverty for an important part of the working class, and increased poverty translates into increased disease.
On the scale of the world, the same thing happens – but with this difference: the corporations take advantage of arbitrary national borders imposed on the former colonies – borders which prevented a coherent economy from developing inside these countries. They use the roots they sunk deep in their ex-colonies to continue controlling the economy. They use their own armies and navies to back up local military dictators who keep the population in check. All of this enables them to pay starvation level wages. Microsoft wouldn’t be nearly so profitable without the widespread use of child and female labor to put together computer parts under near slave labor conditions. (After all, without computers, what use is software?)
Capitalists like Gates, presenting themselves as philanthropists, are still the top dogs in a system which ensures the poverty of the vast majority of this world.
His foundation doesn’t touch this aspect of the problem – but it certainly saves him a pretty penny in taxes while, he can hope, it will shine up his tarnished image.