Summary: A look at some recent reports on foundations that extract power from money
THE openwashing at the Grameen Foundation is an issue we covered before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and more of the same reminds of us predatory lending that’s backed by the Gates Foundation, pretending to help the poor but actually benefiting lenders. It’s all for the benefit of the rich. In this recent article which we almost missed criticism is being echoed about Gates’ funding of questionable goals. Robin Rogers writes:
Critics have also raised concerns about the Gates Foundation’s promotion of genetically modified crops to address food shortages in Africa and Asia. The complicating factor comes from a key element of this kind of giving: the blending of philanthropy and profit. The Gates Foundation has invested in Monsanto, an agriculture company that develops genetically modified seeds as well a.s specialized chemicals for those crops. The worthy goal of sustainable agriculture may be mixing with corporate interests.
Billionaire philanthropy is powerful. It goes beyond quaint notions of “doing good.” But it is clear that we need checks and balances on this power. That’s the only way to stop good intentions from turning the United States — and the world — into a plutocracy.
Just before the holiday, a private equity firm, Aureos Capital, announced that the Gates Foundation had invested several million dollars into an African Health Fund. Another example of philanthropy directed towards equity and social justice? Not quite. Reporting a total sum of US$105·4 million, Aureos says this “unique fund will drive expansion of healthcare providers in Africa”. How so? The fund is financed by various banks and corporations with the intention that profits will come from investments into private sector health services. The goal is to provide investors with strong financial returns by building payment-based (“affordable”) health services. The CEO of Aureos, Sev Vettivetpillai, believes that “improving the health of Africa’s poorest” can be achieved by funding private health-care providers across the continent. To the contrary, many health systems experts will say that fuelling a largely unregulated private health sector, instead of investing in public sector services, only adds to poverty and inequality in countries with weak existing health-care infrastructures. So why is the Gates Foundation investing in a fund that is likely to harm health systems in the countries it claims to care about? This is surely philanthrocapitalism gone mad.
Patent business mode. Someone sells patented drugs here. The bottom line is, the foundation offers a synthesis and conversion from money to power and power to money. It also orchestrates a lot of false reporting, using a budget of billions of dollars. █