08.03.10

Role of the Gates Foundation Comes Under Pressure Due to Shareholder Conflicts

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 3:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Businessman holding a crystal globe

Summary: Large foundations and the Gates Foundation in particular meet scrutiny as their grip on the world is better realised by today’s press and the impact is explained

THE Gates Foundation continues its endeavours alongside similar rich people’s foundations, whose function is to improve someone’s image and sometimes make a profit at the same time. According to this new press release, there is passing of money from Gates to Rockefeller (they already collaborate on some projects in Africa) as though Rockefeller doesn’t have enough funds. This has proven to be baffling to many:

Not that helping “emerging donors” develop strategies for “effective giving” is an unworthy goal — indeed, it is likely the most efficient way to impart best practices in lean administrative costs and minimal philanthropic waste. At a time of severe economic anxiety, however, one does wonder precisely why $3.5 million is the magic figure here. Could the same objective be met with $2.5 million? Or $1.5 million? What, exactly, is this money paying for?

Unfortunately for the Gates Foundation, more and more writers realise what it’s up to. Here is what someone wrote in India last month, insinuating that Gates’ investments had strings attached to them. It’s a code for control and we will show some more examples of this later today.

Last week, an article on Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation becoming one of the biggest donors for the World Health Organisation (WHO) had many exclaiming how wonderful a man Gates is to give away so much money. Indeed, Gates must be the biggest philanthropist of all times. Yet, there in unease in the health sector across the world about one person or his foundation setting the global agenda on health.

[...]

The Global Health Watch Report-2 (GHW2) published in October 2008 points out that the Gates Foundation is governed by the Gates family with no board of trustees; nor any formal parliamentary or legislative scrutiny. “There is no answerability to the governments of low-income countries, nor to the WHO. Little more than the court of public opinion exists to hold it accountable,” says the report.This lack of accountability and transparency is cited as a major problem by health experts.

The ties between the Gates Foundation and pharmaceutical industry has also come under scrutiny as Gates funded organisation like the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) has many pharmaceutical companies, especially those from the vaccine industry, as its members. GAVI has pushed many expensive vaccines into national immunization programmes in developing countries. This according to GHW2 has led “health activists to question if the Foundation is converting global health problems into business opportunities” for the pharma industry.

The Gates’ Foundation’s position on intellectual property (IP) rights is also a cause for concern. After all, Microsoft, along with other corporations, is pushing to strengthen IP rights and patent laws even further. Stronger IP rights will affect developing countries’ right to allow generic companies to manufacture essential medicines at affordable prices. Patents and monopolies only make medicines more expensive and inaccessible to majority of the people.

[...]

The emergence of cash rich players including World Bank, the Gates Foundation and GAVI, along with the shift to the public-private partnership mode in health, has left the WHO often following an agenda, rather than setting it.

It is a good article overall, as it makes clearer some of the fundamental dangers with this phenomenon in general (but also this one foundation specifically).

Indians have already realised that Gates has GMO-oriented investments, which then lead him to promoting GMO in India. The problem with it is dependence in particular. India should not have to buy its seeds from abroad or pay a tax to companies like Monsanto each time some food is required. That’s pretty much what Gates has been advancing though. And now we learn that Gates awards $1.6M for dwarf wheat research and there is greater control of agricultural science using funds as a stick/carrot approach:

Scientists on cutting edge

[...]

The event was hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Here come the Rockefellers again, the context being agriculture. From The Independent:

“There is some vital work being done by the Gates Foundation, by the Rockefellers, the State Department,” he says candidly. “But I see a disconnect ? they all talk about yield as if farmers in Africa have a choice: to sow particular types of seed, to get to market. But these are the poorest, most disenfranchised farmers in the world. They often have a small plot of dust and that’s it.

This is an area that we explored before. Basically, the Gates Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation both advance GMO in Africa. Like in India, the local population is often resentful about it, at least those who understand the ramifications. Many people simply distrust Gates, even though his foundation claims to be charitable and well-meaning, especially when it comes to science. Gates has no academic science background and he tends to be guided/exploited by people with agenda.

“But since I worked on the IBM PC BASIC and the Model 100, I haven’t had a chance to actually create a program myself.”

Bill Gates

Speaking of agenda, as the health chief the Gates Foundation appointed a bullying manager from the pharmaceutical cartel. His surname is Yamada and he issued threats against those who stood in his way. Sadly, at least two publications were giving him a platform to promote his agenda last month [1, 2]. As we demonstrated many times before, the pharmaceutical cartel seems to be using the Gates Foundation as a host from which to promote its products. In turn, the Gates Foundation invests money in the pharmaceutical cartel.

The Atlantic raises the issue of foundations being investors (which are also exempted from tax):

What Happens When Charities Become Major Shareholders?

[...]

Large foundations generally have significant investment portfolios. Often, they’re most interested in bonds and high-dividend stocks, so that they can use the income they generate for their contributions to the poor. Of course, the opportunity cost of holding onto all that wealth is having less of your assets to distribute to the needy more immediately. But there’s certainly something to be said for the stability perpetual income provides.

[...]

This is a difficult internal conflict that is likely becoming increasingly common, as the non-profit industry grows and the rich more commonly provide stock gifts to charities. Indeed, Buffett alone has promised to eventually give 85% of his Berkshire Hathaway holdings to charities. The easiest solution to avoid the conflict might be to sell all stock and rely on fixed income only, but that isn’t necessarily in the firm’s best interest either, as stocks often outperform debt. So they will inevitably remain shareholders. In that role, how should non-profits behave?

Here is another new article which is borderline criticism (a rarity from philanthropy.com):

Perhaps the most troubling issues posed by the Gates-Buffett crusade is its potential to intensify the inequities that exist both in the nonprofit world and in the rest of society.

Foundations, corporations, and other forms of institutional philanthropy tend to favor the nation’s most-privileged citizens and neglect the neediest people and organizations. An outsize share of the money from those institutions goes to established colleges, hospitals, and arts and cultural organizations. Only a small amount finds its way to organizations that serve vulnerable children, low-income people, minorities, women, the disabled, and other disadvantaged constituencies. A tiny portion of philanthropic money is channeled to groups that seek to influence public policies.

Very wealthy individuals have an even more unbalanced record when it comes to philanthropy.

[...]

The infusion of additional great sums of money by very wealthy individuals is likely to increase societal inequities, the gap between large and small nonprofit organizations, and the disparity between privileged and disadvantaged citizens.

In reality, such foundations tend to take away function from governments that are elected by the people for the people. This means that few rich families can become agenda setters. Those who value their democracy need to resist it.

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This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2010/08/03/gates-foundation-under-fire/

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