Originally Posted by Sarah in SC
Likewise, I'm a fan of Paul Polak's methods of fighting poverty by using business principles. Ever since I read that Adventure Capitalism book by hedge funder Jim Rogers, I've given a cold eye to how NGO's work in many places. The Gates Foundation wants to make sure that their stated goals are actually met, instead of a "feel good" big show.
And I had heard some reports that the Gates Foundation work in fighting AIDS was actually counter-productive in terms of overall benefit. I have no doubt that Bill & Melinda are sincere in their efforts, but there can be unintended or unconsidered consequences.
IIRC (this was an old podcast, Science Friday, I think), people were claiming that all the attention on AIDS and the big infusion of $$$ drew away from other important programs. They (and they all seemed to have good credentials) mentioned that clean drinking water was one of the biggest issues facing many. But if there were $$$ flowing in to treat AIDS, that is where the workers and efforts went. They said it wasn't uncommon that people were given their cocktail of pills to take, but they had no clean water to take them with.
I can't say just how big an issue that was, it's obviously very complex. And hopefully, this latest effort does not create similar conflicts. My point is, a poignant headline and good intentions don't always translate to good results. I'm a results oriented guy, and I hope this passes muster.
I guess another question I have - I know that poor countries have high birth rates, but isn't this by 'choice' (or maybe better to say a product of their poor circumstances)? But as I understand it, they feel they need to have many children to hopefully have enough live to support them. That may be the wrong approach, but it would be their choice, right? So are they going to choose to use contraceptives? I don't know - just throwing it out there. This might be a case of targeting the symptom, rather than the disease (and sometimes, that's all you can do)?
If someone threw $100B of charity at me to manage, and told me to use it wisely, and there would be critics out there monitoring - well, I realize it's a tough thing. Seems like it would be easy, but it's not. You can always second guess if that was the best use of the money, or what the side effects were. Who knows?
Separately from all that,
I do have a little 'sour grapes' over the name of those foundations the Gates created. They had an illegal monopoly, their anti-competitive practices probably set the computing industry back many years by crushing competitors that might have brought us superior products. Much of their fortune was gained illegally. Instead of the "Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation", I think the foundation name should be "Everyone Who Spent Money on Microsoft Products Foundation". [/mini-rant]