Gates Foundation Still Sponsors Blogs That Praise Its Work, Lobbies Governments, Takes Over School Districts
Summary: Latest examples of lobbying and agenda-setting by lobbyists and investors from the Gates Foundation
PETER FOSTER HAS just published an article titled “Conspicuous donation” [1, 2]. Therein, he speaks about the acts of the Gates Foundation, whose donations are not just giveaways. For some background, see our lengthy posts about philanthrocapitalism.
You could say Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s effort to raise $5 billion for child and maternal health in poor nations wouldn’t have succeeded without the G8 and G20 summits.
Gates is using marketing/applying PR tactics and putting pressure on them. It happened just before the summit, in a private meeting. Harper was the right man to lobby because he was the host, but Gates previously lobbied other heads of nations who attended the summit [1, 2, 3, 4]. It includes pressure on Nigeria (first reference), which relates to last month's lobbying visit.
Anyway, here are portions of the good article from Peter Foster:
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and the dangerous rise of philanthrostatism
A couple of weeks ago, the world’s richest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, launched a scheme to “invite” America’s billionaires to give away half or more of their wealth.
This move was widely interpreted as applying “pressure.” It thus left the impression that America’s Super Rich are a stingy bunch. Similarly, it tainted any signatory of the “Giving Pledge” with the suspicion that he or she might not have coughed up unless Bill and Warren — like the two portly gentlemen in the Scrooge story — had turned up on behalf of the poor.
The motivation behind the move is intriguing. Capitalism is perpetually under siege, and particularly so in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the BP blowout, the two latest alleged examples of the unbridled “greed.” But far from defending this remarkable wealth-generating system, which enables individuals to indulge their charitable urges on an unprecedented scale, the Giving Pledge seems to confirm that there is something wrong with it. More than that, it supports the subversive notion that private wealth is somehow really collective property, to be marshalled by the High Minded.
Mr. Gates has also become an advocate for corporate arm twisting both to make more products for “the poor” (under pain of government sanction), as well as becoming directly involved in promoting such grand UN schemes as the Millennium Development Goals. He has called for a “Creative Capitalism,” which muddles bottom-line objectives with political ones. This potential morass is also called “Philanthrocapitalism,” which again implies that capitalism and philanthropy need to be negotiated together.
One of the more bizarre analogies for the Giving Pledge is that it is like the promise taken by alcoholics, as if a talent for wealth creation was some kind of disease. According to The Economist, no less, the Giving Pledge letters “are intended to create a moral obligation, which will be reinforced by peer pressure from others who take the pledge — a bit like members of Alcoholics Anonymous who promise to stay off the booze.” But then maybe that parallel is less surprising when you realize it was Economist New York bureau chief Matthew Bishop who co-wrote the book Philanthrocapitalism.
While Messrs. Gates and Buffett should be free to give away as much as they like, and pressure their peers to their big hearts’ content (although I hope somebody has been bold enough to tell them to mind their own philanthropy), their activities become dangerous when they start directing public policy: Philanthrostatism. The best thing great capitalist entrepreneurs can do for society is to create jobs, serve consumers and make profits.
Previously we gave many examples of Gates paying journalists to write their stories about the activities of the Gates Foundation (sometimes book authors are paid too, as long as they advance the same plot). This is a subject that we covered a lot at the beginning of the year and now this appears in the news:
Gates Foundation quadruples Crosscut grant
This month, the Gates Foundation posted a $400,000 grant to Seattle news and opinion blog Crosscut, which late last year received $100,000 from the world’s largest foundation.
They are funding the press, which leads to bias (by selection or omission). Crosscut may also raise suspicions about other publications like the Seattle Times, which is widely criticised for just praising Microsoft and the Gates Foundation on a regular basis (not even throwing soft balls at any of them). Microsoft takes them out to dinners, maybe pays/compensates them too (in one way or another). Kristi Heim continues to advertise the Gates Foundation on a weekly basis [1, 2] and former Microsoft employees receive promotional coverage from this publication. More Microsoft PR (not even technology) from Sharon Pian Chan of the Seattle Times continues to indicate that something is amiss in the Seattle press. Maybe it’s that money which Gates even quadruples to support “opinion blogs”. Whose opinions are they and what priorities will there be when Gates pays half a million dollars to just one blog? Crosscut does not get many visitors at all and it contains a lot of Gates promotion. No wonder Gates gives it money. It’s like PR. It’s business. A few years ago it was reported that Gates gave hundreds of millions to newspapers. It can easily affect coverage.
“It’s a natural extension to Microsoft’s mindset of artificial scarcity and centralised control.”As we pointed out last week, Microsoft hopes to turn US schoolteachers into its state-sponsored PR agents. Gates plays a role in it too. It wouldn’t be too cynical to suggest that Gates’ push for reform in US education [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] is part of Microsoft’s attempt to use PR to grab children’s education around the world. It’s a natural extension to Microsoft’s mindset of artificial scarcity and centralised control.
Here is the latest article which shows how Gates is working to change schools. People should be reminded that state officials are actually elected to manage such tasks; Gates is merely intervening.
School reform advocates are rightly excited about a persuasive new study showing that New York City’s small, specialized high schools are outperforming larger, more traditional schools, significantly narrowing the graduation-rate gap that currently exists between white and minority students across the city.
The study, done by MDRC, a nonpartisan research group and paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focused on about 21,000 students. Nearly half attended the small schools focused on in the study, and the rest attended schools that were mainly larger and older.
Gates engages in more lobbying as he goes on trips, this time trying to turn education into his own establishment, treating these schools like private property. An example we repeatedly mention is Memphis. We covered the subject in:
- Boston Globe Writes About Gates’ Dangerous Influence on US Education, Memphis Provides New Example
- Gates Foundation Accused of “Steer[ing] State and National Policy in Education” (Monopolising Schools)
- Gates Roundup: Monsanto, Colonisation, Clinton Ties, and Control of Education
- How the Gates Foundation Blocks GNU/Linux and Free Software in National Libraries, Then Inherits Education
- “Both Sen. Williams and Mr. Gates Do a Great Disservice to the Hundreds of Thousands of Students and Teachers”
- The World According to Gates: Constructing a System of Profitable Philanthropy
- More Dubious Practices from the Gates Foundation
- Microsoft Builds Coalitions of NGOs, Makes Political and Educational Changes
- Microsoft and the Gates Foundation Inherit More Roles of the US Department of Education
- Bill Gates and Microsoft Use Government Support to Turn Public Schools Into Private Business
The short story is that Memphis is all about advertising and PR. Those advertisers try to spin off these ‘models’ which are essentially experiments to later be expanded to other places and become the ‘norm’ for schools. It’s all managed and funded by Gates, who sincerely believes that he knows better than anyone what’s good for education. This is a threat to people’s democracy and also the verge of tyranny by the state’s rich list.
“Wanted: Ad firm to tout Memphis City Schools Gates Foundation Grant,” says the headline of this new article. That’s right, they are advertising again. It’s all PR and we’ve seen it before.
PR effort seeks to recruit top teachers, attract private funds
Just about the time the leaves begin changing color this fall, Memphis City Schools itself expects to roll out a more colorful and nuanced image.
The district plans to spend about $200,000 on professionally designed TV ads, social-media campaigns and print advertising as it pushes to recruit high-quality teachers, retain the ones it has and pump up a community fund drive scheduled to raise $21.3 million by the end of the year — a task the district took on when it received a $90 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
So Gates is generously donating in terms of brainwash and imposing one’s views on the public, appealing to psyche. The funding given to blogs ensures that people won’t notice; it leads to self-glorification and shallow coverage.
“Bill Gates touts charter schools, accountability,” reports AP.
Billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates said Tuesday that charter schools can revolutionize education, but that the charter school movement also must hold itself accountable for low-performing schools.
What is this all about? Let’s find out. According to this press release, Gates is playing politics again. He was made the keynote speaker in the National Alliance for Public Charter School.
Here is a transcript and some of the press coverage which helped push Gates’ agenda in schools:
- Bill Gates touts charter schools, accountability
- Charter Schools Don’t Do Miracles
- Bill Gates Wants Charters Held Accountable
- Bill Gates Touts Importance of Charter Schools on American Education Landscape
Gates’ power was probably less harmful when he was still inside Microsoft; at least he was only confined to bossing people in software and not bossing everyone’s children. Does this whole gig make him the unelected minister of education?
“With goal of newer, better teaching, charter schools have spread across Texas,” reports Dallas News. Guess who’s being it?
The forces include strong local political support, backing from philanthropic giants like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ambitious charter school management groups, private investors, fed-up urban parents – and even President Barack Obama.
On we move from the area of schools and into public libraries, where Gates has been combating GNU/Linux by making a ‘donation’ (but it needs to run Windows and Office). We wrote about the subject in posts such as:
- How the Gates Foundation Blocks GNU/Linux and Free Software in National Libraries, Then Inherits Education
- Gates Foundation (and Microsoft) Take the Libraries Takeover Global
Here are some self-funded, self-serving ‘surveys’ in the news:
The library was one of a handful in Louisiana to take part in a national survey last year conducted by the University of Washington Information School in cooperation with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Here is a new example of a library being used to indoctrinate members of the public for the use of Microsoft Office.
Library calendar: Learn Microsoft Word
10 a.m. Woodruff Library, Beginning Microsoft Word. Learn the basics of using MS Word 2007 to type and save documents on your computer.
This is not good. State-backed promotion of Microsoft products is advocacy of the same monopoly abuser whose shoddy products were found to be violating competition rules. What kind of lesson does that give to children and impoverished adults?
More Windows in libraries can be found in the past week’s news. It’s funny that the Gates Foundation is almost always mentioned.
Donations are not donations when the donating party has something to gain. Then it becomes just an investment with RoI. One good example of this is the “Green Revolution”, which received some criticism in this very recent article that names the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
MB: Do you think that liberal foundations and/or individual liberal philanthropists have influenced your own work, and if so how?
MB: In Africa there is often quite a lot of overlap between the activities of environmental groups (i.e., Big International NGOs) and major mining corporations: how do you interpret the nature of such relationships? Here I am referring to groups like Richard Leakey’s WildLifeDirect, and the mining industry’s support of conservation ventures in Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
MB: Major foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have taken a lead role in promoting what they refer to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Could you please comment on the potential impact of this new Green Revolution for Africa?
MD: If they learn from the disastrous blunders of the original green revolution, it just might succeed.
Under the Patronage of Hala Bseiso Lattouf, the Minister of Social Development, Microsoft Jordan organized the ‘NGO Connection Day’ in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Development on Thursday June 17th at the Sheraton Hotel, with the attendance of 250 active NGOs and civil society organizations.
Microsoft Jordan is just trying to “connect” with NGOs in ‘NGO Connection Day’. What’s in it for Microsoft? Well, that’s just too obvious.
“Microsoft Jordan is just trying to “connect” with NGOs in ‘NGO Connection Day’.”Last but not least, something ought to be said about Gates’ huge investments in health-related industries (“CSU Cancer Researcher Awarded NIH and Gates Foundation Grants”). The foundation has massive (and ever-increasing) investments in vaccine, which is an important thing for human health all across the globe. But one mustn’t forget that many companies are getting extremely rich in the process. A lot of swine flu vaccines have just been burned after hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars were spent on them. The companies which made them lost not a penny; it is those who bought the vaccines from them who had their money burned in a big pile and recent reports from most reputable papers revealed that scientists had senationalised and exaggerated the threat in order to help makers of the vaccination increase sales. This is good for shareholders of big pharmaceutical companies, including the Gates Foundation (being an investor, which is the side it does not advertise).
One problem which is occasionally brought up by biomedical researchers is that the Gates Foundation promotes a sort of monopoly in various areas; In other words, trying to drive the health agenda, just as they do in schools and libraries. Here is a gem from last week’s news:
William H. Gates Sr. was the first of two keynote speakers at this year’s annual meeting of the American Health Lawyers Association, held June 27-30 in Seattle. Gates, otherwise known as Bill Gates’ dad, had a long career as a lawyer himself and now works on directing his son’s vast fortune toward global health initiatives as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
More money, more power. Veterinary investments are spotted in last week’s news too:
- Zoonotic Diseases: WSU Breaks Ground On School For Global Animal Health Building
- WSU breaks ground for new Global Animal health Building Site
- WSU breaks ground on school for global animal health building
Guardian Activate summit is back with an extra-special array of speakers primed to tackle the challenge of changing the world through the internet
4.36pm: Now: Where next for the web? “Future technologies and their impact on society and humanity” with Joe Cerrell, European director of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Jan Chipchase, executive creative director of global insights of Frog Design, Desiree Miloshevic, board trustee at Internet Society, and Clay Shirky, professor of Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. Quite a cast.
In Africa too one can find the involvement. It’s too easy to forget that Gates has huge investments (for-profit) in the pharmaceutical industry, so there is justifiable scepticism when donations are being made (see the start of this post).
GAVI connections aside, Bill Gates is said to (possibly) be a bigger funder of WHO than the US government. What does that say about the WHO‘s direction? It’s like Gates participates in influence games (lobbying).
However, a careful examination of the list of voluntary contributions and the donors shows there are several organizations like the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) — which has contributed over $85 million — and the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) that has given over $9 million to WHO. The Gates Foundation happens to be one of the biggest donors for both GAVI and PATH.
This gives the Gates Foundation enormous influence over the direction taken in health. It would probably be innocent had Gates not profited from decisions made by the WHO. █
“The chief of malaria for the World Health Organization has complained that the growing dominance of malaria research by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation risks stifling a diversity of views among scientists and wiping out the world health agency’s policy-making function.
“In a memorandum, the malaria chief, Dr. Arata Kochi, complained to his boss, Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the W.H.O., that the foundation’s money, while crucial, could have “far-reaching, largely unintended consequences.”
“Many of the world’s leading malaria scientists are now “locked up in a ‘cartel’ with their own research funding being linked to those of others within the group,” Dr. Kochi wrote. Because “each has a vested interest to safeguard the work of the others,” he wrote, getting independent reviews of research proposals “is becoming increasingly difficult.”
“Also, he argued, the foundation’s determination to have its favored research used to guide the health organization’s recommendations “could have implicitly dangerous consequences on the policy-making process in world health.””