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Is philanthropy still important?

12:14 UK time, Monday, 18 October 2010

One of the richest couples in the world, the Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, have pledged to give away 95 per cent of their fortune to aid projects. Do you welcome the support of philanthropists or should governments do more?

The couple's charitable foundation has already spent £17billion to help poorer countries. Bill Gates said that development aid, when spent wisely was the most effective investment that governments can make for saving lives, and building prosperous societies.

Melinda Gates added that at a time when spending on international development is one of the few areas the government has agreed to protect, the money donated by the UK was important. Much of the money spent by the foundation has been spent on vaccines against diseases like polio, malaria and HIV.

Should we all be more charitable? Are we becoming over reliant on philanthropists? How much money do you give to causes? If you had £17billion to spend on a good cause, what area of poverty would you like to see eradicated?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    It's more important than ever! We can't rely on nation states to deliver equality.

  • Comment number 2.

    how about give it to the uk goverment!
    stuff the 3rd world countries im sure they will be fine survival of the fittest! lets get ourself top notch then help other countries because there holding us back!

    im sure we could define the uk as a poor country now anyhow

  • Comment number 3.

    It is always better to have philanthropy than not, but there is one huge elephant in the room regarding this:


    If you need philanthropists then society has failed in its duties.


    In order for people like Gates to become so rich, the wealth of society had to be extraordinarily skewed. This is one of the reasons why philanthropy becomes required!

  • Comment number 4.

    Many years ago, during my formative years, I watched a film called Magnificent Obsession and since then I question the motives of anyone who "advertises" their charitable activities. As for my charitable deeds, that is between me and god.

  • Comment number 5.

    'If you had £17billion to spend on a good cause, what area of poverty would you like to see eradicated?'

    I'd aproach in in a different way.

    With that kind of money, I'd set up manufacturing industries along the lines of profit sharing co-operatives.

    As well as their normal pay employees would get an equal share of any profits made, whether its the managing director or the guy who cleans the machines.

    As well as providing plenty of low-unskilled jobs for decent remuneration The wealth generated amongst these peole would then be spent on other goods and service, providing a significant boost to the economy as whole, hopefully providing a solid base from which most people could be lifted out of poverty.

    By not basing the business model on the 'perpetually increasing profits' model favoured by most companies in the Western world these days we should be able to compete with cheap manufacturing in 3rd world countries.

    Plus no section of the community becomes reliant on hand-outs - from either charities or the State.

    Everyone's a winner.

  • Comment number 6.

    No.

    "If you had £17billion to spend on a good cause, what area of poverty would you like to see eradicated?"

    Corby? Unless I have misunderstood the meanings of "area of poverty" and "eradicated"?

  • Comment number 7.

    It is always to be welcomed when those with money help out.
    It would be better if those with money weren't so greedy in the first place.
    BG was lucky enough to have parents financially able to support the start of a company that through various - not always nice - methods grew to a very large and rich one, making him very wealthy in the process. It also (and I do know this as I was a victim) quite happily bought up competitor organisations with a single purpose - close them down - it did this regularly losing many people their work and opportunities in the process.
    Other people are actually even less principled and more odious - the directors of our banks, councils, hospitals etc. who all take massive payments because of being in charge of an organisation where they are neither qualified, experienced or open to any meaningful competition. It is to be remembered that the income of all of these organisations comes from tax payers who work at far less well paid positions, and these organisations are non-productive - they are a DRAIN on society, a DRAIN on productive industry - and its ONLY productive industry that creates wealth. The people in charge in the positions above are there by favour of friends and not by selection based on merit.
    Obviously the worst offenders against all common sense are the 'entertainers' - stars famous for being famous - those people who can't win a world cup but think they are footballers, those who can't sing but have nice..... that the record companies promote, those loudmouths who aren't funny but appear on TV... these people are paid hugely above any notion of value and generally do nothing useful with the money at all.

    But what a shame it is that our media and society in general is too stupid to see the problem that this all creates.

  • Comment number 8.

    This is a fantasic story and a true inspiration for a humans capacity to care and unbelievable generosity. As i`ve said in previous posts, money is merely a means to an end and what better way to use it. I mean, what good is having billions if it`s just sitting in a bank? Congratulations to the Gates, it`s nice to see humanity still exists in this materialistic and greedy world.

  • Comment number 9.

    I CAN NEVER UNDERSTAND WHY SOME INDIVIDUALS ARE ALLOWED TO ACCUMULATE TELEPHONE NUMBER FIGURES IN THE FIRST PLACE THE RICH ARE ALWAYS SAYING TAXES ARE TOO HIGH YET SOME FINISH UP WITH UNBELIEVABLE CASH SUMS AND THE REST OF US HAVE TO RELY ON SOME PHILANTHROPIC TYPE PERSON TO PUT THE MONEY BACK INTO GOOD CAUSES ,UNFORTUNATELY THE GREEDY RICH OUTNUMBER THE PHILANTHROPIC PEOPLE

  • Comment number 10.

    Philantrophy is not an option to release Governments from their basic duties of care to their citizens. Why hasn't Bill Gates & Warren DuBuffet not each received a Nobel price for their contributions?

  • Comment number 11.

    Now do a search for:

    gates eugenics

  • Comment number 12.

    You have to be very careful with philanthropy; you have to think up and down the line - the ramifications. Suppose you give a country free access to vaccines
    a) where are these vaccines coming from? Are they potent? Tested, or is the west testing the drug on "grateful" people of the developing world?
    b) suppose more babies survive, will they subsequently die of hunger or another disease - the results of western exploitation/bio-degradation?
    Much of the money spent by the Gates Foundation has been spent on vaccines against diseases like polio, malaria and HIV. For those who survive, will they subsequently die of hunger or another disease - the results of western exploitation/bio-degradation?
    c) is there some sort of living for the parents (or least the father), or is this child just another mouth to feed?
    These are just some of the questions that pop into my mind.
    Bill Gates: aid when spent wisely was the most effective investment that governments can make for saving lives, and building prosperous societies, but who is to make these "wise" decisions.
    May I add: Unwise decisions can cause more suffering, prolonged suffering.
    I welcome the support of real philanthropists, and Bill & Melinda Gates may indeed fall in to this category while far too many do-gooders do not.
    If FTT or FAT get passed at the G20, countries will be in a position to do more, until then most countries are strapped, but even if and when money becomes avaiable, nothing, NOTHING should be done without profound study of the "object of the charity", which includes the needs of the native population as seen through the eyes of the native population.

  • Comment number 13.

    Whilst the money will be put to good use and it's welcome, do they have to show off about it?

    If I had loads of spare billions, I'd invest it in trying to invent a free, better operating system for computers.

  • Comment number 14.

    Sounds fair enough to me.

  • Comment number 15.

    I think what they are doing is wonderful. I've always thought retaining vast wealth for oneself is abhorent. Even if they give away 95% of their wealth, they will still have about £500 million left so hardly down at heel! The Abromovich's etc of this world should be shamed into doing the same.

  • Comment number 16.

    Philanthropy has and always will be of immense importance to improving the fate of the human race. None of us can take anything of material value with us when we die so it is far better to share our wealth with others less fortunate in this world whilst we are still alive. As the "Good Book" clearly states; "To those to whom much is given - much will be expected". This applies to natural talents as well as to wealth.

  • Comment number 17.

    Yes it is. Philanthropy serves to maintain a system that requires philanthropy as a means by which society is periodically relieved of the consequences of said system. In that, philanthropy is an investment by the rich today in the continued enslavement of the peoples of tomorrow.

  • Comment number 18.

    Philanthropy is essential in any civilised Society. Governments need to protect and nurture Society: that means ensuring defence, education and health. Welfare should flow automatically from those basic provisions, and any who fall below the bar, the sick, the unemployable, the disabled whether physical or mental can be protected by Charity through the love of a community for its members. Thatcher told Society there was no such thing and that we were all indivuiduals: well that was crass ignorance when she said it and remains so. But we are living with her legacy, why was she so popular, because she was bribing individuals to look after only themselves and not the communities in which they had to live. Selling off utilities in exchange for very short term gains by individual investors, selling of social housing stock again for indvidual gain. I have no problem with the private sector providing jobs in pursuit of profits, we work for profit, we call it our wages, if we were not paid we would not work. Likewise businesses are not charities they exist to make money, but their wages are called profits what is wrong with that? If those who earn make too much wages/profit the fiscal system can be modelled to recoup the excess via taxation, what is wrong with that?
    Greed is not created by the private sector or Government but it is the antithesis of philanthropy, we will always have greed as we will always have the poor and the disabled, but we can cope as a society with those facts of life but not if we act as individuals rather than as a community.

  • Comment number 19.

    Are we becoming over reliant on philanthropists?

    That's a laugh!

    How many of the ultra rich are putting their hands in their own pockets to pay down the national debt?
    Anyone?

    Yet they are more interested in making free mercury/squalene/virus laden vaccines available to all.
    Try a search of " vaccine deaths india "

    That's one gift hoarse that I'd look behind the back teeth of.

  • Comment number 20.

    Some people reach a point at which it is impossible for them to spend the amount of money they have - and their investments continue to make them wealthier day by day.
    Giving some of it to other people is the only sensible answer to the problem.

  • Comment number 21.


    Quote: "Much of the money spent by the foundation has been spent on vaccines against diseases like polio, malaria and HIV."

    Is there a Vaccine for HIV?

  • Comment number 22.

    Yes I think they are setting an excellent example. Bill Gates has manufactured a real product and added value to the economy generally. Contrast that with the parasitism, irresponsibility and sheer greed of those in the banking sector. Many people like to slag off Microsoft just because they are a big corporation. As a British guy who is not particularly pro-American I still think they are great!

  • Comment number 23.

    If ever I talk about 'the rich' in a negative way, in my mind I always exclude Bill Gates from whatever sweeping statement I am making at the time. I always knew he (and his wife) were extremely generous, but 95 percent? That is incredible. If all super rich people put just 50 percent towards helping people then i'm sure a number of large charities could be put out of business, which is a good thing.

    I think all people, rich or not, should take a leaf out of Bill and Melinda's book.

  • Comment number 24.

    In another HYS about biodiversity there are many comments about how there are too many people on the planet. Maybe the answer is here. Instead of using the money to provide vaccines why not use the money to help the biodiversity of the planet?

  • Comment number 25.

    Like charity, the philanthropists go where government fails, or the narrow minded interests of religion interferes.

    The fact that we need people like Bill and Melinda Gates says so much about the failures of our supposedly modern world.

    Whatever you might think of Microsoft, the fact that Bill Gates can make so much money, and then give most of it away, is a dark comment on what we seem to value.

  • Comment number 26.

    I, along with many others I suspect, would like to be more charitable in financial terms, but sadly the very low interest rates savers get, allied with all the tax allowances and other reliefs withdrawn by Gordon Brown during his Chancellorship have prevented me from doing so.

    All I can give is my time, and that I do one day, sometimes two days, each week. Money isn't everything - time and labour can also play their part.

  • Comment number 27.

    Philanthropy is important and people in this country donate generously to charities.

    The UK government must do more to look after the elderly, sick and unemployed and cut so-called foreign aid.

  • Comment number 28.

    First of all any act of charity is welcome and rich people should give much more than the rest. However, I am wary of this word 'philanthropist'. Has everyone forgotten the old parable of the poor woman who gives her only coin to someone worse off than herself? She has given more than any rich person who gives billions and yet remains rich. There is also an old teaching that when one donates it should be done in private and not for publicity. Also, rich people obtain money from the labour of those who work under them and from their customers (who may well be overcharged) so it isn't really their money, but the company's money. Nevertheless such charity is to be encouraged and other executives and wealthy people should likewise donate large sums of money to help the less fortunate. If we have to make it public so that rich people compete for praise, then perhaps we ought to if it works, even though it is better that these people donate out of kindness and in modesty.

  • Comment number 29.

    Such a lot of whinging about people being too rich.
    He got rich using (mostly) legal means and hard work.

    Now that Gates is rich, he's trying to use his money for the greater good on his own terms and he's earned the right to spend his money however he pleases.

    He should be applauded, and those who are whinging and moaning he has too much wealth should get up off their rear ends and go and work hard, earn a similar amount and then do things differently.

    i.e. earn the right to spend their money in the way they want too. Maybe then they'd realise how whiney they sound.

  • Comment number 30.

    Philantropy is the only proper means by which the "haves" can help the "have nots." Governments should be precluded from acting in this capacity because a true republic only deals in the business of government, not the business of helping the needy. Tax money should never be used for the purposes of assisting those down on their luck. By doing so, the government eventually removes the drive of the individual to excell and provide for themselves. This is the principal falacy of socialism. Forcefully taking money through taxes from the prosperous and distributing it to the lazy.

  • Comment number 31.

    Fear and guilt!

  • Comment number 32.

    Ignoring the wider issues about wealth distribution, Gates is a successful businessman. He is under no obligation to donate any money. None. Not a penny. He chooses to and regardless about what may motivate this, the end result is money that could otherwise be being used for the usual millionaire/billionaire toys of fast cars and women is going to worthwhile causes.

    This should be applauded, no matter how cynical you are about his monopolistic business practice.

  • Comment number 33.

    In my opinion we should not neglect the importance that philantropy has nowadays. Apart from thinking whether states and governements are fulfilling their duties towards their citizens, we should be proud that in the XXI century there are still people that are more or less altruistic and unselfish. People that are ready to share the fruits of their personnal succes with those who had not as much luck in their lives. We tend to underestimate all those foundations and associations that collect money in order to help poor, ill or those affected by natural disasters. So, unswering the title question : YES, the philantropy IS STILL IMPORTANT! and we should all hope that there will be more and more philantropists.

  • Comment number 34.

    My uncle was once referred to as a philanthropist.

    His reply was "More pist than philanthro!"

  • Comment number 35.

    9. At 1:32pm on 18 Oct 2010, leslog wrote:
    "I CAN NEVER UNDERSTAND WHY SOME INDIVIDUALS ARE ALLOWED TO ACCUMULATE TELEPHONE NUMBER FIGURES IN THE FIRST PLACE"

    er.. because mostly they have earned it?

    "THE RICH ARE ALWAYS SAYING TAXES ARE TOO HIGH YET SOME FINISH UP WITH UNBELIEVABLE CASH SUMS"

    The rich pay more tax than you both as an absolute amount and a percentage. You should be happy that they earn a lot... the more they earn, the greater the percentage of the tax burden they pick up.

    "AND THE REST OF US HAVE TO RELY ON SOME PHILANTHROPIC TYPE PERSON TO PUT THE MONEY BACK INTO GOOD CAUSES ,UNFORTUNATELY THE GREEDY RICH OUTNUMBER THE PHILANTHROPIC PEOPLE"

    I'd argue that all 'the rich' could be described as philanthropists - as I said, they pay more than their fair share of the tax burden.

    P.S. It's on the left of your keyboard, just below the Tab key.

  • Comment number 36.

    OK, now search Gates Eugenics...

    Please realise people that even our beloved BBC doesn't always provide the whole story.

    After a little research you will find that Bill Gates along with other wealthy folk are massive supporters of reducing the human population to a fraction of what it is now, some evidence suggests as low as 500 million... that's a lot of people to be made redundant from life...

    This idea is supported by many organisations, hence we are seeing increased pressure for birth control, sterilisation (see today's story about 'helping' the drug addicts not to have children, a clever cover story) and some would even say is the reason for repeated attempts to get Fluoride into our water supply (it is known to drastically decrease fertility).

    And no prizes for guessing who gets to stay and who gets to go...

    So be careful people when shouting that this is a good thing before you have looked into all the facts.

    Perhaps the world may well be over populated - but it's not to the degree that 6.5 billion of us need to be gradually culled over the next century.

    Search Georgia Guidestones, Eugenics and Depopulation for more information.

  • Comment number 37.

    13. At 1:39pm on 18 Oct 2010, coolhandpaul wrote:

    Whilst the money will be put to good use and it's welcome, do they have to show off about it?

    If I had loads of spare billions, I'd invest it in trying to invent a free, better operating system for computers.


    Something like Linux you mean ?

  • Comment number 38.

    4. At 1:16pm on 18 Oct 2010, Confuciousfred wrote:
    Many years ago, during my formative years, I watched a film called Magnificent Obsession and since then I question the motives of anyone who "advertises" their charitable activities. As for my charitable deeds, that is between me and god.
    -----------
    That is a valid point. But it can be argued that people who advertise their charitable activities encourage others to support their businesses or corporations, in turn enabling more charitable hand-outs.

  • Comment number 39.

    For an overview and comparison of Philanthropy in the USA and UK see here...

    http://www.philanthropyuk.org/Resources/USphilanthropy

    The rest of the Site also has some interesting material both general and specific, use the Links on the left of the above Page

  • Comment number 40.

    29. At 2:31pm on 18 Oct 2010, Mike from Brum wrote:
    Such a lot of whinging about people being too rich.
    He got rich using (mostly) legal means and hard work.

    Now that Gates is rich, he's trying to use his money for the greater good on his own terms and he's earned the right to spend his money however he pleases.

    He should be applauded, and those who are whinging and moaning he has too much wealth should get up off their rear ends and go and work hard, earn a similar amount and then do things differently.

    i.e. earn the right to spend their money in the way they want too. Maybe then they'd realise how whiney they sound.
    -----------------------------------------------
    How do you know they haven't already done that?

  • Comment number 41.

    37. At 3:04pm on 18 Oct 2010, Magi Tatcher wrote:
    13. At 1:39pm on 18 Oct 2010, coolhandpaul wrote:

    Whilst the money will be put to good use and it's welcome, do they have to show off about it?

    If I had loads of spare billions, I'd invest it in trying to invent a free, better operating system for computers.

    Something like Linux you mean ?

    --------------------------------------
    Yeah but one you can play games on.

  • Comment number 42.

    Trouble with philanthropy is that it just goes to show how much the microsoft product was over charged to joe public in the first place for gates to amash this fortune unlike the British inventor of the WWW that gave it to the world for free.
    Whats the difference between generosity and philanthropy.
    Philanthropy is where you get personal recognition.
    Ye4p sounds about right for an american

  • Comment number 43.

    With the economic down turn, the apoplexy of our politico leaders to do anything that is other than a short term sound bite, we are required to look to private donors. The few workers already have too much to pay for the unemployed, those with no right to be there and combat threats to their countries. So the politicos only waste the money by employing civil servants on gross salaries to oversee things they do not understand, would not use with their higher income, and look down on those who do want and need them!
    The only potential problem is is it benign or is there an ulterior motive, or have I confused donors with politicos?

  • Comment number 44.

    Philanthropy is more important than ever. With the massive cuts in public expenditure charities & philanthropists are going to be relied on more than ever to provide adequate support services that the government are too mean, short sighted & idologically opposed to provide & finance.

  • Comment number 45.

    40. At 3:18pm on 18 Oct 2010, coolhandpaul wrote:
    29. At 2:31pm on 18 Oct 2010, Mike from Brum wrote:
    Such a lot of whinging about people being too rich.
    He got rich using (mostly) legal means and hard work.

    Now that Gates is rich, he's trying to use his money for the greater good on his own terms and he's earned the right to spend his money however he pleases.

    He should be applauded, and those who are whinging and moaning he has too much wealth should get up off their rear ends and go and work hard, earn a similar amount and then do things differently.

    i.e. earn the right to spend their money in the way they want too. Maybe then they'd realise how whiney they sound.
    -----------------------------------------------
    How do you know they haven't already done that?



    because if they'd done it themselves, they wouldn't be whining about someone else doing it! Losers whine, winners get on with it.

  • Comment number 46.

    To all those maoning about them wanting credit for this:

    a) so what, they deserve credit for doing something nice like this!

    b) them doing this so publically brings it into the spotlight

    c) b might then encourage other rich people to do similar, it might be because it's now "cool".

    Regardless of their intentions, you can't really have a go at someone donating 95% of their money!

  • Comment number 47.

    Is philanthropy still important? Certainly. Can I have some, please? More seriously, full marks to Bill Gates and company, but don't forget, we can all share in philanthropic works, by giving a little time if nothing else.

  • Comment number 48.

    I've always thought that charity is a substitute for good policy. Whenever a govt policy leaves people out in the cold, charity comes in and mops up the damage, basically a coverup. Rich people paying for the right to set up propaganda (esp religious) efforts to victimize the poor just encourages the rich to get more people marginalized as it gives them more control.
    Charity is not a first resort. Review your policy, get the bleeding hearts out of it and take responsibility for everyone within the system.
    If you discover that when people fail, there's a place for them to go, it's too easy to design policy for "a few" failures. Well, look around you: there are more than a few.

  • Comment number 49.

    Nice gestures from multi-billionaires.

    For my part when my savings reach 2% of that which Mr and Mrs Gates currently have I shall give everything extra to charity.

    I am beginning to enjoy the glow of this philanthropy lark.

  • Comment number 50.

    36. At 3:02pm on 18 Oct 2010, U14403753 wrote:
    "After a little research you will find that Bill Gates along with other wealthy folk are massive supporters of reducing the human population to a fraction of what it is now,"

    Good. It needs to be done.

  • Comment number 51.

    So Gates robs us all over 20 years then gives the money to the poor and everyone is happy about this?

    bah.

    Microsoft have been convicted in European courts over their business practices before you all run to the mods.

  • Comment number 52.

    I appreciate the efforts Bill and Melinda Gates but shouldn't philanthropy be a national tax? That way money could be pinpointed on effective development projects worldwide. That way all countries could develop without their being any political motive for who receives the aid. If development teams were professionalized, Africa could have had a water and sanitation system 50 years ago. I think most of the money given to other countries is wasted in graft and corruption. Establishing one worldwide development agency would offer countries a framework to development and precious money could be targeted effectively without ending up in politician's pockets. Someone like Bill Gates could make annual contributions and track where every penny was spent. The current phianthropic aid system and government bodies seem innefective and never
    really get the job done. There have got to be better, more strategic ways to spend massive amounts of money from philanthropic people and government agencies.

  • Comment number 53.

    I see many posts here applauding Mr Gates for his generosity.
    You have been suckered by sound bite

    Please do a search for:
    gates eugenics

    I'll give you a starter
    http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article17644.html
    http://www.philipbrennan.net/2010/09/15/bill-gates-death-panels-tip-of-the-iceberg/

    Now I know, from reading the posts on the "How can we protect the diversity of life on Earth?" that many of you think that the world is overpopulated. Perhaps it is. Yet do you really advocate "vaccinating the world against overpopulation"?

    Perhaps you take the "it's alright because it's not here" attitude. Well there's another bubble to burst. It is going on here. It's often referred to as a "soft kill" program and has been going on for years.

    Bisphenol-A in tinned food, mercury or squalene in vaccines, aspartame sweetener (re-branded to something that sounds like 'nutrableat') that breaks down to methanol and formaldehyde in the blood stream, GM foods tec, etc... are all part of a soft-kill eugenics program.

    You don't think that any government would allow this if it were true? Well please do your own re-investigation on 9_11 now that the 'authorities' (public servants) have been forced into releasing new material via the Freedom of Information Act and work out for yourselves the ramifications about the 'official' reports being a holey tissue of lies.

  • Comment number 54.

    Philanthropy remains important, just as it did in Victorian times when successful businessmen supported their local communities by founding schools, hospitals and foundations of other sorts. We need more of such behaviour, especially by the Bankers who should be donating their huge bonuses in this way. Footballers with their massive earnings might also be encouraged to donate in this way as a means of putting back something into their local communities. Governments have a part to play too by providing incentives for philanthropy to take place. Those to whom circumstances have endowed great wealth should consider it their responsibility to behave in this way and be provided with incentives to do so.

  • Comment number 55.

    41. At 3:22pm on 18 Oct 2010, coolhandpaul wrote:

    37. At 3:04pm on 18 Oct 2010, Magi Tatcher wrote:
    13. At 1:39pm on 18 Oct 2010, coolhandpaul wrote:

    Whilst the money will be put to good use and it's welcome, do they have to show off about it?

    If I had loads of spare billions, I'd invest it in trying to invent a free, better operating system for computers.

    Something like Linux you mean ?

    --------------------------------------
    Yeah but one you can play games on.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    C:/DOS

    C:/DOS/RUN

    RUN/DOS/RUN

    Sorry, old joke but funny in anoetic kind of way

  • Comment number 56.

    I do hope it annoys those infantile far right americans you see on tv that get stressed out about 'socialism' - unbeknown to them they benefit from various forms of 'socialism' (every day that 'socialists' allow them to breath for example). Bill & Melinda are doing the right thing.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    Hey! Don't knock Bill Gates. He had a product which a lot of people wanted and was able to charge. Market forces. I'd do the same given the same circumstances, but then I am not that bright. Philanthropy is a waste of time. It only encourages people to have more kids and the spiral into poverty that brings.

    In the meantime - anyone want a jar of my homemade chutney? Only £50 a jar.

  • Comment number 59.

    It's difficult to argue with someone giving away 95% of their wealth to help others - I might even forgive him for "Windows".

    It would be nice, though, if more of us were in a position to give to those in need. Philanthropy is an undoubtedly a good thing, but if wealth were more equally distributed then more of us could be involved in it.

  • Comment number 60.

    How about using all that excess money that Gates don't need to create jobs for the millions of desperately unemployed?

  • Comment number 61.

    When my late father said he'll be taking his wealth with him when he dies I replied, I'll write you a cheque for the full amount and place it in the coffin with you. When you come to cash it, dad, I'll honour the cheque.

  • Comment number 62.

    Do you welcome the support of philanthropists or should governments do more?

    Both. It would be good to see the greedy, corrupt bankers do more, but then, that's not in their obscene, greed based mentality.

    If all the bankers died today, I'd shed not one tear for them.

  • Comment number 63.

    54. At 4:51pm on 18 Oct 2010, Alasdair Campbell wrote:

    Footballers with their massive earnings might also be encouraged to donate in this way as a means of putting back something into their local communities.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Many, many footballers in the Premier League do volunteer both their time and money supporting charitable causes.

    There was a great documentary on channel 4 that I really can't remember in the way of details about (maybe someone can enlighten me) but there was a woman trying to be 'inventive' by going to a football club and basically lecturing the players with a speech about how 'if only you gave your pay for juuuust onnnne day to char-i--ddeee' and the players cut her down saying 'look love, we give many times more than that already'

  • Comment number 64.

    59. At 5:26pm on 18 Oct 2010, Andrew Morton wrote:

    ..It would be nice, though, if more of us were in a position to give to those in need. Philanthropy is an undoubtedly a good thing, but if wealth were more equally distributed then more of us could be involved in it.

    +++++++++

    and less people would be in need too

  • Comment number 65.

    We must try and give charities as much as we can afford. But in India we have to be more careful of avoiding the thugs. Once the thugs comes to know someone is giving charities to the needy they become needy and grabs major part of the charities. It is very difficult to find who are the real needy and also very difficult to make out whether the person who approaches you is real needy or the thug who have their group of specialist to fool the charity giver. For giving charity I will request to give importance 1st to the school fees from school till the end of graduation, 2nd to the girl child because I have seen innumerable teenager girl working to feed their families, the girl child must be given help with which she becomes independent and no MALE can play with her like FOX. 3rd is the old lady, i have seen aged lady above the age of 60 still working to feed her family. Helping such peoples to such extent that they become independent will make our world happy.

  • Comment number 66.

    50. At 4:39pm on 18 Oct 2010, entreri100404 wrote:

    36. At 3:02pm on 18 Oct 2010, U14403753 wrote:
    "After a little research you will find that Bill Gates along with other wealthy folk are massive supporters of reducing the human population to a fraction of what it is now,"

    Good. It needs to be done.

    ==============

    Keep taking the aspartame/sodium fluoride/BPA/vaccines.
    Please lead by example.

  • Comment number 67.

    People in the UK and US are the most generous private givers in the world, and that includes volunteerism as well as monetary giving. It's part of our common social culture, I guess. The attitude elsewhere seems to be, "Let the government do it".

  • Comment number 68.

    If Bill Gates is proposing to donate/pledge scores of $ billions, how can that not be important?



  • Comment number 69.

    If Bill Gates gives away money, it's his own money to give.

    If the Government gives away money, they are giving away other people's money.

  • Comment number 70.

    Govt has its role and philanthropy has its place. If Philanthropists choose to donate money to help society, it is most welcome and a kind gesture. To whom much is given, much is expected. It should be a matter of choice and govt must not abrogate its responsibility to society or else we might as well stop paying taxes and take care of our society. I give to my preferred charities when I can afford to just like many ordinary citizens do.

  • Comment number 71.

    On a TED Conference I watched Malinda hold Coca Cola up as a model to follow. Coca Cola pursues intimidation and murder in countries like Turkey Columbia. Coca Cola uses contaminated water in India.

    Gates Foundation’s investment portfolio, including 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock with an estimated worth of $23.1 million purchased in the second quarter of 2010

    “The Foundation’s direct investment in Monsanto is problematic on two primary levels,” said Dr. Phil Bereano, University of Washington Professor Emeritus and recognized expert on genetic engineering. “First, Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well-being of small farmers around the world, as well as an appalling environmental track record. The strong connections to Monsanto cast serious doubt on the Foundation’s heavy funding of agricultural development in Africa and purported goal of alleviating poverty and hunger among small-scale farmers. Second, this investment represents an enormous conflict of interests.”

    Monsanto has already negatively impacted agriculture in African countries. For example, in South Africa in 2009, Monsanto’s genetically modified maize failed to produce kernels and hundreds of farmers were devastated. According to Mariam Mayet, environmental attorney and director of the Africa Centre for Biosafety in Johannesburg, some farmers suffered up to an 80% crop failure. While Monsanto compensated the large-scale farmers to whom it directly sold the faulty product, it gave nothing to the small-scale farmers to whom it had handed out free sachets of seeds. “When the economic power of Gates is coupled with the irresponsibility of Monsanto, the outlook for African smallholders is not very promising,” said Mayet. Monsanto’s aggressive patenting practices have also monopolized control over seed in ways that deny farmers control over their own harvest, going so far as to sue—and bankrupt—farmers for “patent infringement.”

    This is Charity with a motive. Don't be fooled.

  • Comment number 72.

    Philanthropy can only be good.

  • Comment number 73.

    Is philanthropy still important?

    Very much so, what goes around, generally does come back around.

  • Comment number 74.

    while I doubt it has much of an adverse effect on their quality of life, It's still very good of the Mr and Mrs Gates to make such huge donations.

    If any individual wishes to contribute to helping others in any way then it's commendable. However, in a time where the British electorate is forced to stomach cuts in public services across the board (and pretty stoically on the whole) and in a climate where people are having to make sacrifices at a personal level in the interests of the nation, it's absolutely disgusting that the British government is forcing British taxpayers to prop up other countries.

  • Comment number 75.

    I agree with comment No 3
    Bill Gates was allowed to have a virtual monopoly for many many years enabling him to rack up obscene amount of profit and now he wishes to swage his conscience or not by giving enormous sums away on particular projects that he personally likes and not necessarily the best for the country or children involved, not his fault but the system he was brought up in.

  • Comment number 76.

    As a social breakdown occurs after the chancellor cuts to benefits soup kitchens will keep society together..the few people who have jobs need to take responsibility and give to the starving!

  • Comment number 77.

    It's interesting to see most people see these philanthropists as heroes when, in fact, all of them have gained their fortunes by treating others badly and by unscrupulous business practices. The money they are giving back to society was the money they made from their bad behaviour so they aren't giving us anything that wasn't ours anyway.

  • Comment number 78.

    Icebloo writes: "It's interesting to see most people see these philanthropists as heroes when, in fact, all of them have gained their fortunes by treating others badly and by unscrupulous business practices. The money they are giving back to society was the money they made from their bad behaviour so they aren't giving us anything that wasn't ours anyway."

    So long as this attitude prevails, this country is finished. We're already a good long way down that path, and the populist anger fomented (by our "leaders") against the bankers will make it worse.

    When they leave, who will be left to pay taxes?

  • Comment number 79.

    Is philanthropy still important?

    It is better to give than to receive.

    Sorry - try as I might, I simply can't fault the logic.

  • Comment number 80.

    is bill gates and his wife trying to buy there way in to heaven look at the parable of the widow and the rich man that sums it up.do you really believe they would give up most of there wealth perhaps they have given a lot of money to charities. could this be playing on there conscience because don't people ever read where the resources come from to make computers well the components that make the batteries for pc come from mainly mines in Africa and other poor country's and the people that employ the labourers are mainly gangsters that force poor people in to the most dangerous situations to retrieve these elements with hardly any pay.but I suppose the public don't really want to hear the dark side of bill gates empire do they.

  • Comment number 81.

    There is always room for philanthropy but far better is sacrificial giving and mutual support. So why all this fawning over these people compared to the many millions who have handed over a hard earned 10 bucks.

    I'd rather see 1,000,000 people give $1 each than 1 person able to dispense with 1bn. You can do just as much with $10 as with 17bn.

    If only Microsoft hadn't ruined and squashed all those other engineers and would-be entrepreneurs on its way to amassing this ridiculous amount with its clever licensing, etc Not to mention the zillions small businesses round the globe have had to pay for software they hardly use. He has missed hi opportunity to make a real difference. This 17Bn is too little, too late and is basically giving back what he took.

  • Comment number 82.

    Philanthropy is the lost treasure of human nature and the undiscovered pearl of civilised society.

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    They should give it to creditors to clear random peoples debts if you ask me, that would get alot of people to start spending again...

  • Comment number 85.

    Whilst Bill Gates is a nice chap Im afraid that keeping just 5% of his fortune would leave him richer than most so forgive me for being cynical.Its the duty of any national government to ensure its people are well provided for and that means using its taxes wisely.The African despots stand in a long line with hands held out for Bill Gates cash to buy yet more Mercedes whilst the population starves.
    All of Bill Gates money allows is for dictators to carry on spending money that should have been spent on medicine etc;No amount of surplus money by super rich people will have any effect until its actually spent on production of food and industry,you only help people by giving them the tools to do it for themselves.Now that would be a good way to spend your surplus cash-but of course dont hold your breath!

  • Comment number 86.

    The trouble with depending upon philanthropy to get those things done that need doing is the simple fact that for every one ultra rich philantropist there are a hundred or a thousand ultra rich who are of the opposite persuasion. The truth is that the market system allows money to flow in to too few pockets so that wealth as well as income gets ever more distorted. Thank God that there are a few like Bill Gates who are willing to attempt to do good with their vast accummulations of wealth and one can only wish them success with their efforts but in the meantime there are many thousands out there who are busy squirreling away vast fortunes by depriving and cheating the very people that Bill Gates et al are trying to help; not only that but they are then perverting matters even more by doing everything that they can to avoid paying their due share of tax that given good government, (admittedly not always available), could also be used to help the deprived.

  • Comment number 87.

    The Bill Gates Story is one of immense luck. He was turned down many times by large companies and had no option other than to carry on. That said he's a bloody nice chap. He's realised he can be of some help and he's got stuck in - many wouldn't in his shoes. He is an inspirational person and I admire him greatly. I wish I was in a position to be as charitable as he has been.

    I am facing a great deal of financial hardship myself and have had to cut back to bare bone living. It's hard. I spend £18 per month on supporting a child through World Vision and for as much as I could do with that money I refuse to stop paying it.

    Charity is for us all to measure within ourselves. You can give money. You can give time. You can even just listen to someone who is lonely.

    But let's not ask the question is it more for government. Hell it's for all of us.

    Warren Buffett has also supported Bill's Foundation to the tune of some tremendous money. You know they are really good people. Don't measure it. Don't debate it. Just give what you can, when you can. Be wise and pcik your charity so that your donation goes to the right place and doesn't get eaten up in bribes and corruption. But don't let that stop you.

  • Comment number 88.

    78. At 9:17pm on 18 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    Icebloo writes: "It's interesting to see most people see these philanthropists as heroes when, in fact, all of them have gained their fortunes by treating others badly and by unscrupulous business practices. The money they are giving back to society was the money they made from their bad behaviour so they aren't giving us anything that wasn't ours anyway."

    So long as this attitude prevails, this country is finished. We're already a good long way down that path, and the populist anger fomented (by our "leaders") against the bankers will make it worse.

    When they leave, who will be left to pay taxes?

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


    No, Icebloo is probably right. Better for all these rich people who are slammed so much on HYS NOT to give their money away at all. Otherwise there is nothing to complain about.

    Wealth should be shared out.

    What are they doing, sharing out some of their wealth? Oh NO!

  • Comment number 89.

    Ruffled writes: "Otherwise there is nothing to complain about."

    Can't have that! We're British, you know!

    "Wealth should be shared out."

    It already is. The top 1% of taxpayers pay 25% of the income tax. See table 2.4 on http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/income_tax/menu.htm

    "What are they doing, sharing out some of their wealth? Oh NO!"

    Fair enough. Contact Bill gates and ask him to desist.

  • Comment number 90.

    78. At 9:17pm on 18 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:

    Icebloo writes: "It's interesting to see most people see these philanthropists as heroes when, in fact, all of them have gained their fortunes by treating others badly and by unscrupulous business practices. The money they are giving back to society was the money they made from their bad behaviour so they aren't giving us anything that wasn't ours anyway."

    So long as this attitude prevails, this country is finished. We're already a good long way down that path, and the populist anger fomented (by our "leaders") against the bankers will make it worse.

    When they leave, who will be left to pay taxes?



    The naivety of some adults still astounds me. The amount of money these philanthropists give is minuscule compared to the UK budget yet the amount of money they have sucked out of our economy with their bad behavior is huge.
    Their money will change very little here but it will ease their own consciences and it's an excellent method of self promotion.

    If they wanted to do good they would have treated others better i.e. paid better wages to their workers, they would have worked with other companies instead of creating monopolies etc. If they had done this the wealth would already be more equal and people wouldn't have to rely on charity.

    Philanthropists and other greedy people CREATE the need for charity.

  • Comment number 91.

    88. At 11:42pm on 18 Oct 2010, ruffled_feathers wrote:

    78. At 9:17pm on 18 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    Icebloo writes: "It's interesting to see most people see these philanthropists as heroes when, in fact, all of them have gained their fortunes by treating others badly and by unscrupulous business practices. The money they are giving back to society was the money they made from their bad behaviour so they aren't giving us anything that wasn't ours anyway."

    So long as this attitude prevails, this country is finished. We're already a good long way down that path, and the populist anger fomented (by our "leaders") against the bankers will make it worse.

    When they leave, who will be left to pay taxes?




    Oh, and by the way, the mega rich don't pay a great deal of taxes. We are too terrified to make them pay much because we are scared they will invest their money elsewhere. They have use their wealth as a weapon for decades.
    Working people carry the greatest tax burden in any country. This is fact.

  • Comment number 92.

    For $17b you could eradicate leprosy and get your name in the history books. Most other things would be a complete waste,in that aid is not a permanent solution to anything. How many years have Oxfam been going, and yet there are apparently still people starving in Oxford.

  • Comment number 93.

    Given the damage that our present government is intending to do to most of our vital public services, clearly gifts from the occasional billionaire are not enough. We all need to contribute what we can: it's called income tax. Another clever way of raising funds from where there is money is the "Robin Hood Tax" on all financial transactions. What is the poin in us having governments if they don't do things we wan in the way we want them done?

  • Comment number 94.

    Icebloo bloos: "Working people carry the greatest tax burden in any country. This is fact."

    Did you read the table? Course not! It contradicts your fantasy.

  • Comment number 95.

    The Gates have earned this money to spend as they see fit and are an inspireation to us all. They have more courage than anyone.

    This affects everyone indirectly like a ripple in a pond, deep felt and far reaching to all four corners, to which I am truely grateful to hear about.

    It is restoreing faith in human kind at such a bleek time in the words history of economic endevors. The Gates have done what many are not capable of. Seeing a solution far greater than ourselves and committing to it.

    They are our unsung heros safeguarding the human race by saving many lives now and hereafter on a global world wide scale, the effects of this kindness to mankind are truely far reaching fingers touching into everyone's future. Probably far wider than one could ever imagine.


    I am thankful for them in this pond
    They are amazing people
    I am in awe.

    Thank you :0)



  • Comment number 96.

    More nonsense from Bloo: "The naivety of some adults still astounds me."

    On that, at least, we can agree.

    "The amount of money these philanthropists give is minuscule compared to the UK budget yet the amount of money they have sucked out of our economy with their bad behavior is huge."

    Sucked out? They are providing goods and services at a price that YOU and "the country" agreed to pay. Want to do it for less? Start your own company!

    (A dose of reality would do you a great deal of good.)

    "Their money will change very little here but it will ease their own consciences and it's an excellent method of self promotion."

    I don't think they have any need to ease their conscience. Why should they?

    "If they wanted to do good they would have treated others better i.e. paid better wages to their workers, they would have worked with other companies instead of creating monopolies etc."

    Microsoft pays well. And the "monopoly" of which you speak actually BENEFITS you. Ever tried to export a file between different types of OS?


    "If they had done this the wealth would already be more equal and people wouldn't have to rely on charity."

    If they had done that? Sure. Microsoft could have hired lots of poor Africans.

    "Philanthropists and other greedy people CREATE the need for charity."

    Let me ask you a question: Is any employer acceptable to you?

  • Comment number 97.

    Philanthropists are an enigma in that the money they give away they couldn't possibly have earned in the first place.
    Peter D South Carolina

  • Comment number 98.

    If there were no rich, who would then become the enemy?

  • Comment number 99.

    Dr Ghost wrote: "If there were no rich, who would then become the enemy?"

    The stupid.

  • Comment number 100.

    Bill Gates a philanthropist? You can not be serious?

    Look to whom his largesse is distributed and research what they do with it and what is the outcome.

 

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