Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bill Gates's Charitable Vistas

A critique by by economist Robert Barro on the role Bill Gates's philanthropic activities have had on the world, verses his activities as the founder of Microsoft.

While I think Barro is a little harsh here, he makes an interesting point that creating a product that increases productivity is far more beneficial to the world that simply giving away millions (billions?) to charitable causes. The argument goes that creating such a product (Windows), increases the ability for people to generate their own economic value. It is hard to argue with this point and in general terms, I would agree with it.

Of course, Gates isn’t just throwing around money and the focus of his foundation is (in part) funding research for cures that may not be economically attractive to some pharmaceutical companies (building software can be profitable, finding a drug that only poor people really need is not).

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