Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dispatches from Libertopia

More than a few times now I have heard the story, perhaps merely legendary, that Eva Peron once began a speech with the invocation "We, the shirtless," lifting her arms to enfold the massive crowd below her, and that in the pregnant pause that followed the microphone amplified out to they, the shirtless, the snick, snick, snick, snick of diamond bracelets as they slid from her wrists to collide at her elbows.

On a completely different note, there's some must reading over on Tom Paine, an article entitled "Eat The Rich (Starting With Bill Gates)" -- a title that deserves our commendation, quite apart from the insights and goodly snark that follows. I'll quote some favorite moments, but encourage anybody who hasn't already read the piece to give it a looksee:
Conservative morality has enshrined the billionaire philanthropist as the ideal model of do-gooding. The Gilded Age robber barons who built our public libraries and universities are held up as the reason why we do not need government social welfare programs (or to continue funding those libraries): merely enforce private property rights and let Christian piety take care of the poor. When the rich get super-rich, and they've bought all the gold-plated cocaine straws they can use, they'll start donating their excess bags of gold coins to the less fortunate....

The world's richest man, Bill Gates, with his wife, Melinda, runs the world's largest private foundation... The Gates' do-gooding... and [Warren] Buffet's gift [doubling the Foundation's assets]... cementing the image of the beneficent rich in our collective consciousness...

[But] where [does] all that money actually comes from...? Businesses that around the world are doing people harm as part of their daily work, including frequently causing the very problems Gates and his ilk claim to be interested in solving.

Remember, in order to qualify as a non-profit charity, the Gates Foundation is only legally required to give away 5 percent of its assets annually (that's still around 1.5 billion -- the $800 mil[lion] the Gates Foundation gives away every year as part of its Global Health Iniative alone is approximately equal to the entire budget of the U.N.'s World Health Organization). The rest of that money is plowed back into the capitalist system in order to make MORE money. And the capitalist system? It ain't pretty.

1 comment:

n8o said...

Give a man a fish, and tomorrow, he'll be back for another.

Teach a man to fish, and he'll starve until he can pay off his student loans.