Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Saint Bill Gates

Bill Gates and Paul Allen first registered their company as Micro-Soft on November 26, 1976 in Albuquerque New Mexico and had revenues of $16,005 that year.

On January 1, 1979, the company moved from Albuquerque to Bellevue, Washington. Then on February 16, 1986, Microsoft relocated again to Redmond, Washington. Around one month later, on March 13, the company first went public with an IPO.

On August 24, 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95, a new version of the company's flagship operating system which featured a completely new user interface, including a novel start button.

Windows 95 was released without a web browser as Microsoft had not yet developed one. The success of the Internet caught them by surprise and they subsequently approached Spyglass to license their browser as Internet Explorer. Spyglass went on to later dispute the terms of the agreement, as Microsoft was to pay a royalty for every copy sold. However, Microsoft sold no copies of Internet Explorer, choosing instead to bundle it for free with the operating system.

More than a million copies of Microsoft's Windows 95 were sold in the first four days after its release. It literally changed the world. Now 18 years later in 2013 Bill Gates is spending $1 million to build a garage for his home on Lake Washington.

Besides supporting vulnerable children and families in Washington State, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's major concern is to promote global health, to help eradicate hunger and poverty in poorer nations, and to advance science and technology to save lives in developing countries. The foundation had over $28 billion to support their philanthropic initiatives in the areas of global health and learning.

In a recent interview Bill Gates says, “The vast majority of the wealth, over 95 per cent, goes to the foundation, which will spend all that money within 20 years after neither of us are around any more."

Commendable and saintly work, helping the poor. Very noble.

But when Americans first wake up for work in the mornings, their first concern isn't usually about their next-door neighbor, the people across the state line, or in another country on the other side of the world. It's their and their family's own well-being that has first priority. Maybe, if after paying the rent and buying groceries, they might leave some extra cash in the collection basket at their local church on Sunday mornings.

But they need jobs first, to support their own needs, before they can be generous and grandiose in their giving to others. Maybe it's very humane that Bill Gates pays it forward, after becoming phenomenally successful first, but also having the means to care for his own immediate family...like building a nice home and adding a spiffy new garage. Maybe after such great success he felt compelled to do good and help others around the world. Jesus would probably think that's a good thing too.

I'm sure there aren't a great many Americans who would wish harm or ill will on others, and don't feel some level of empathy for the poor, abused, and down-trodden in other countries. We don't want to see young children starving in India or China anymore than we want to see hungry or sick children here in our own neighborhoods.

Stephen Colbert recently appeared at a Clinton Global Initiative event with former President Bill Clinton, who is also very concerned about poverty overseas. Watch his interview with Stephen Colbert, it was very telling regarding what Clinton thinks America's role should be in the world.

Yes, it's very honorable and good -- and commendable and saintly work -- what the mega-wealthy such as Bill Gates (and former Presidents, such as Bill Clinton) does to help the poor, making the world a much better place to live. Maybe that's why other very successful people also feel compelled to engage in this type of notable and charitable giving --- not as a tax-write off, but to pay it forward and help ease their own guilt for having too much for themselves.

And maybe --- because they became so wealthy --- that is our proof that they would also be the best arbitrator of our global problems, and the best caretaker and distributor of our global resources. So the wealth and health of others must met out and managed by those who are the most earnest and responsible....because they know better than most.

Bill Gates says, "I’m certainly well taken care of in terms of food and clothes. Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organization [his foundation] and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world."

Yes, commendable and saintly work, helping the poor.

But when Americans first wake up in the mornings, they'd also like to go to a job paying a living wage. So that maybe in some way, some day, they too could be in a better position to help the less fortunate among themselves and around the globe in this dog-eat-dog world.

Last Fall at the Brookings Institution Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president, presented a plan to add 20,000 H-1B visas and an equal number of STEM visa green cards to help get "qualified" workers.

Yes, commendable and saintly work, helping the sick and poor (and unemployed) in other countries.

For decades our most esteemed and honorable members of Congress have bent over backwards to facilitate these good corporate philanthropists, such as Mister Gates and others, to pursue their generous endeavors with favorable tax laws and trade agreements. After all, who was better qualified to administer these foundations and redistribute the wealth than those who were capable of establishing them in the first place?

Taxing the rich to pay for our government programs and infrastructure is, to them, a waste of their precious resources...and spending and investing their capital in foreign nations, enabling their economies, and providing a tax base for their governments, is for them, the overriding priority. (As though the poor and unemployed in this nation had too much).

I suppose in a perfect world, every man, woman and child would have an equal amount of resources and opportunities. But because the world (and people) aren't perfect, we should celebrate the efforts of those who try to help others --- of their choosing (so long as they themselves are first well provided for).

Wal-Mart also gives to feed the poor, rather than pay their own employees better wages, forcing many to use food stamps, and costing the government for "wage subsidies", while also dodging taxes. All the while, Wal-Mart's CEO Michael Duke is taking home 1,034 times the typical Wal-Mart worker pay, giving the retailer America's widest CEO-worker pay gap.

$67 billion later, Bill Gates says, “It’s about human dignity and equality. The golden rule that all lives have equal value and we should treat people as we would like to be treated.”

Don't ask me what operating system I used to post this, or ask me if I buy my groceries from Walmart. That's a ridiculous and absurd argument. Would a starving person refuse food from someone who also beats them?

While although the innovation of the PC may have changed the world, and enabled Mister Gates to help others around the globe, I think we might have survived just as well without the iPhone --- but then again, maybe China wouldn't have been able to create 10 million new jobs last year.

Bill Gates' Living Room

Bill Gates

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