Bill Gates has had run-ins and associations with unscrupulous elements.
Microsoft recently won a 10 billion dollar Pentagon contract. The Pentagon – the U.S. Department of Defense – are the managers of the Forever Wars (1, 2). Despite abundant publicity and influence, Gates remains silent on their war crimes while his company profits off of their actions.
Gates is also known to back corrupt biopharmaceutical companies. One example is Emergent Biosolutions who profited off of anthrax fears in 2001 and subsequent pandemic panics.
Gates has donated to institutions such as Harvard and MIT via convicted pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Gates’ former chief scientific adviser, Boris Nikolic, was recently named as an alternate executor for Epstein’s will. Gates is also listed as a passenger on Epstein’s private plane.
“He who pays the piper, it is said, calls the tune.”
“So today Gates remains cartoonishly rich, and free to step down from Microsoft’s board on his own terms. Meanwhile, the corporate media happily help to spit-shine his reputation as a generous benefactor of humanity instead of a petty, bullying scumbag.”
Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) found BMGF pouring at least 250 million dollars into the fourth estate, raising questions on the “ethical issue” of “billionaire philanthropists’ bankrolling the news.” Donations have been made to major media outlets and journalistic institutions: NPR, PBS, ABC, BBC, NBC, The Atlantic, Univision, The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, ProPublica, The Texas Tribune, Gannet, the Poynter Institute, the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the National Press Foundation, the International Center for Journalists, etc. The Guardian’s entire Global Development section was made possible through a partnership with BMGF. Money given to newsrooms are restricted in what they can be used for viz. content that elevates the agenda of BMGF.
Quoting the Seattle Times, CJR says, “To garner attention for the issues it cares about, the foundation has invested millions in training programs for journalists. It funds research on the most effective ways to craft media messages. Gates-backed think tanks turn out media fact sheets and newspaper opinion pieces. Magazines and scientific journals get Gates money to publish research and articles. Experts coached in Gates-funded programs write columns that appear in media outlets from The New York Times to The Huffington Post, while digital portals blur the line between journalism and spin.”
BMGF has directed significant wealth towards global health news coverage. Allegedly to “perhaps suppress criticism of its more unsavory activities.” Fact-checking platforms such as PolitiFact and USA Today – run by Poynter Institute and Gannet respectively, both of which receive funds from BMGF – actively defend Gates against “conspiracy theories” and “misinformation”. Critics of Gates’ outsize power and ability to dictate “solutions” in everything from public health to agriculture are drowned out by the louder voices of “the many academics, nonprofits, and think tanks that Gates funds.” An indicator of media bias is the fact that Gates should be “viewed as a totem of economic inequality” whereas he is regarded as a “moral authority on poverty.”
BMGF invests millions in “journalism training and in researching effective ways of crafting media narratives.” And these investments have paid off. It is said that “[T]wenty years ago, journalists scrutinized Bill Gates’s initial foray into philanthropy as a vehicle to enrich his software company, or a PR exercise to salvage his battered reputation following Microsoft’s bruising antitrust battle with the Department of Justice. Today, the foundation is most often the subject of soft profiles and glowing editorials describing its good works.”
BMGF is said to be unwilling to engage or respond in any way to journalists that questioned their enormous investments in media, and the conflicts of interest it raises. Organizations that benefit from gracious funding are said to indulge in what is called “solutions journalism,” journalism that overlooks problems and glorifies solutions. BMGF is the largest donor – directing over 6 million dollars – to one such organization: the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN).
Media Freedom Foundation president, Mickey Huff, said that BMGF “exerts influence in a way that is typical for foundations working through PR firms, grants, and endowments of professors.” For example, BMGF hired a PR firm – Emerging Ag for 1.6 million dollars – to manipulate the United Nations on gene drives, a project Gates is heavily invested in. “Edward Bernays would be proud of the achievements of this type of propaganda,” said Huff. Such a level of investment explains both the glowing coverage the foundation receives and lack of scrutiny it is under. Sociology professor Linsey McGoey claims that billionaire motives for giving to the media are “to help legitimate the spurious idea that large corporate actors can rectify the economic harms and economic inequality that their practices have often compounded.”
“I don’t know if the Gates Foundation’s projects work,” says Marc Cooper, assistant professor at the University of Southern California. “And if the Gates Foundation is going to pay for all the news coverage around this, we’re never going to know.” Cooper finds it laughable when media claim Gates money doesn’t influence their coverage. “Every grant comes with at least one string attached,” he says. “Recipients can be reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them. […] It’s an echo chamber.”
The Seattle Times asks, “How can reporting be unbiased when a major player holds the purse strings?”
Alan Macleod says, “It appears that once billionaires have purchased every worldly material good possible, the only things left to buy are power and influence.”
CJR summarizes: “Bill Gates has shown how seamlessly the most controversial industry captain can transform his public image from tech villain to benevolent philanthropist. Insofar as journalists are supposed to scrutinize wealth and power, Gates should probably be one of the most investigated people on earth—not the most admired.”
“Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.”
Former British Prime Minister Clement Attlee
The Grayzone reports, “Bill Gates has no reason to crave money. This is a common response to claims that Gates’ philanthropy isn’t motivated solely by the kindness of his heart. But despite these frequent characterizations of Gates ‘giving away’ his fortune, his net worth has actually doubled in the last two decades.” Despite being presented as a warm-hearted philanthropist, dedicated to giving away his entire fortune to needy causes, Gates’ fortune has increased forty percent – at least 31 billion dollars – in 3 years.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is the largest private foundation on Earth, reporting over 51 billion dollars in assets at the end of 2019. Dr Vandana Shiva says that “The World Bank and the IMF look like midgets in front of the Gates Foundation, in terms of power and influence.” The Nation found that BMGF’s 50 billion dollar endowment generated 28.5 billion in investment income while only giving away 23.5 billion. Corbett asserts that the “foundation is not structured as a charitable endeavour.”
Using a private, philanthropic foundation to insulate immense wealth, repair tarnished public images and generate hero personas is not new. Nearly a hundred years ago, the U.S. supreme court dissolved John D. Rockefeller’s illegal oil monopoly. Two years later, he formed The Rockefeller Foundation to accomplish just those things: dodge taxes, maintain control over excessive wealth and generate good public relations (PR). Rockefeller knew that to gain the adoration of the public, he had to appear to give them what they want: money. Gates improves upon that model. The Rockefeller and Gates foundations have collaborated numerous times since. William H. Gates II, Bill Gates’ father, names the Rockefellers as sources of inspiration in his autobiography.
A study recently showed how foundations use donor-advised funds (DAF) to keep charitable donations within the donor’s control; they never lose wealth by giving.
Derrick Broze writes, “While some might argue that Bill Gates’ scheme is brilliant – donate your fortune by forming a foundation which can give tax-deductible donations to companies you partly own and reap profits while avoiding taxes – it is allowing him to hide his money in a myriad of ways. It has almost become impossible to track every donation, investment, or other partnership.” Broze, quoting The Nation says, “it is difficult to ignore the occasions where their charitable activities seem to serve mainly private interests, including theirs—supporting the schools their children attend, the companies their foundation partly owns, and the special interest groups that defend wealthy Americans—while generating billions of dollars in tax savings.”
Rob Larson writes, “Billionaire-funded philanthropy is a public-relations scam. But Bill Gates and his foundation are the perfect picture of why this model of billionaire philanthropy is so flawed. Gates’s foundation was originally cooked up as a feel-good gloss to cover up his shredded reputation during Microsoft’s antitrust trial, putting him in the long tradition of obscenely rich people using the occasional generous gift to try justifying their enormous wealth and power.”
Professor McGoey, author of No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy, says, “Philanthropy can and is being used deliberately to divert attention away from different forms of economic exploitation that underpin global inequality today.” Gates’ wealth is called “extraordinarily anti-democratic”; it grants one rich man veto power over decisions and directions of organizations that should be collectively made by the highest representatives of the world’s population.
Alan Macloed says, “If we are to move towards a better society, the philanthropy of the super-wealthy must be scrutinized, as all too often, what appears to be a generous gift is actually a calculated action intended to increase their power, image or influence.”
Gates is lauded for his genius and generosity. The New York Times recently called him The Most Interesting Man in the World. Upon closer inspection, one will discover that Bill Gates is actually a threat to democracy, an obstacle to sustainable solutions, and cares far more about return on investments than any public good.
There are myriad angles to examine this from; the next few sections are relatively brief and rapid-fire. Bear with me, before instinctively adopting the anti-anti-vaxxer stance and crying conspiracy theory. Neither should we dismiss all considerations of conspiracy by bundling it with the most ridiculous; much like this piece in Bloomberg.
Here are my primary sources, open to interrogation, quoted and paraphrased throughout, with my own emphasis here and there:
Through the power of monopoly, Microsoft established itself as a software empire. This made Gates the richest man in the world. In the past, Gates had a very poor public image, known for dodging questions on and defending his ruthless business practices. Gates was also generally despised in the software community. Yet, the Corbett Report says, “[O]nce reviled for the massive wealth and the monopolistic power […], Gates is now hailed as a visionary who is leveraging that wealth and power for the greater good of humanity.”
Besides the bought and paid-for spin, other records of Gates’ personality refer to his frequent “abrasive, childish rants” and “childlike temper tantrums”. Gates is regarded as being “not very good at listening,” and is said to hold “many of the patronizing assumptions about developing countries and how best to organize the world” that you would expect from a rich American tech geek. While running Microsoft, he was known to slam his fist on the desk while saying, “We’ve got to crush” any other vendor that dared sell software. Gates attacked the wealth tax proposed by presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Neither won the party’s nomination but Gates joked about having to pay 100 billion dollars in taxes; paying that amount would leave him with 22 billion dollars. Gates golfs with Bill Clinton, dines with Newt Gingrich and hosts Al Gore at Redmond, once bragging: “Of course, I have as much power as the president has.” Rob Larson refers to Gates as “a transparently evasive and condescending ruling-class dick.” Today, the man once associated with “ruthless, predatory monopolistic conduct” has rebranded his name through the power of philanthropy and public relations.
Gates is always on hand to overlook systemic inequality and excuse free-market-induced poverty. Or to lecture the masses on green living and the need to stay indoors while he buys private jet companies. In the United States, Gates’ homeland, 35 million go hungry and over 500 thousand are homeless, while Gates himself owns the most farmland:
As Larson notes, Gates’ new positive image and efforts are “a fig leaf for ruling-class dominance.”
Humanity is in bad shape. The world is crumbling under an uneven distribution of wealth and power. We must examine behavior and beliefs reinforcing this status quo.
If we pay attention to the crimes of unfettered capitalism, we find that obscenely wealthy people use bought power to shape public life and discourse in favor of their status and pockets. Mass misery is directly proportional to the wealth of self-serving billionaires and the power of profit-hungry corporations. No salvation will come from these entities. Billionaires are not the heroes. They are the villains.
Batho Pele is a Sotho-Tswana phrase meaning “people first” – all people, not just a few filthy rich bastards.
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up for treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborer’s who mowed your fields, which you have kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.”
Let’s wrap our heads around a billion dollars. 1000000000 United States Dollars is roughly 15303440000,00 South African Rands. If you earned just enough to crack the top 1% of South African earners, it would take you ~26158116 years to earn that amount of money. Jeff Bezos has 187 of those billion dollars.
Inequality.org says that the world’s 10 richest billionaires own 801 billion dollars in combined wealth. This is a sum greater than the total goods and services most nations produce on an annual basis. Meanwhile, over 734 million people live below the poverty line. This represents a criminal level of inequality. The report states, “Those with extreme wealth have often accumulated their fortunes on the backs of people around the world who work for poor wages and under dangerous conditions.”
No fair system allows one man to idly make 149,353 dollars (over 2 million rands) a minute. Not while children die of hunger. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFRPI) says that it would cost 14 billion dollars a year to end world hunger. No billionaire bothers because there’s no money in that.
This is an explanation of the situation in the United States, referred to as “homicidal greed”:
The vast majority of the yields of our global economy are being captured by the world’s rich. Society is set up as one large enrichment scheme designed to extract wealth from the 99% and funnel it to the 1%. The point of capitalism is not to make the world a better place – it’s to make a profit.
Parenti says, “There’s only one thing that the ruling circles throughout history have ever wanted – all the wealth, the treasures, and the profitable returns; all the choice lands and forests and game and herds and harvests and mineral deposits and precious metals of the earth; all the productive facilities and gainful inventiveness and technologies; all the control positions of the state and other major institutions; all public supports and subsidies, privileges and immunities; all the protections of the law and none of its constraints; all of the services and comforts and luxuries and advantages of civil society with none of the taxes and none of the costs. Every ruling class in history has wanted only this-all the rewards and none of the burdens.”
The rich regard the poor with contempt, constantly calculating ways to avoid, rob and silence them.
According to Luke Savage, “Billionaires are the grotesque products of an exploitative, immoral economic system.” He goes on to say, “A billion dollars, let alone the over $100 billion amassed by Jeff Bezos, is not a reward proportionate to someone’s social contribution. It’s institutionalized theft, plain and simple.”
Apologists for billionaires defend them on many points.
1 – Billionaires are geniuses, deserving of their position. They won the game
Parenti has a good answer: “If the very rich are naturally so much more capable than the rest of us, why must they be provided with so many artificial privileges under the law, so many bailouts, subsidies and other special considerations – at our expense? Their ‘naturally superior talents’ include unprincipled and illegal subterfuge such as price-fixing, stock manipulation, insider training, fraud, tax evasion, the legal enforcement of unfair competition, ecological spoliation, harmful products and unsafe work conditions. One might expect naturally superior people not to act in such rapacious and venal ways. Differences in talent and capacity as might exist between individuals do not excuse the crimes and injustices that are endemic to the corporate business system.”
Often, when we talk about genius billionaires, we fail to mention the privilege that enabled them. Here’s a snippet from Extreme Wealth is Not Merited:
I understand why people want this to be true. To believe that with enough grit and cunning, they too can ascend the rungs of society. This is why many defend offensive fortunes. Unfortunately, in reality, it is a myth, a delusion sold to keep civilians hopeful within a perverse system.
2 – Billionaires are signs of a free market and vibrant democracy
Re-read United States of Capital and Unfettered Capitalism. Neither paints a picture of freedom or democracy. The United States is home to the most billionaires in the world yet it experiences obscene levels of poverty and inequality.
3 – Billionaires solve problems with charity and innovation
Charity is not a solution to widespread poverty and hunger. It’s dehumanizing to receive charity. The rich use charitable organizations to score good public relations (PR), retain control of their wealth and dodge taxes. No wealthy person has put a dent in their fortune by giving it away. In fact, many use it as a tool to complement their business activities.
“Of course no amount of charities in spending such fortunes can compensate in any way for the misconduct in acquiring them.”
Johnstone deconstructs the argument of rich men saving the world. Her article reads, “Which means the only answer capitalism has for the current plight of our species is the blind-faith belief that the world is about to be saved, any minute now, by a handful of union-busting tech billionaires who choose every single day not to use their vast fortunes to end world hunger.”
4 – Billionaires are early adopters. When they acquire something new, it eventually trickles down to us, making the world a better place
Quoting economist Robert Frank, Pizzigati says that the wealthy set the consumption standard which makes the rest of us rush and stretch ourselves unnecessarily thin. We spend more in reaction to people at the top spending more. Yet they have so much more to spend. Whereas many finance newer standards of living by neglecting savings and taking credit. Grand spending by the rich undermines the quality of our everyday transactions. Poorer people are put under pressure to keep up.
In reality, the concentration of wealth has created luxury markets. Retailers focus their attention and innovation on luxury markets, and ordinary people are ultimately never satisfied, being unable to keep up.
Pizzigati asserts, “The awesomely affluent have no net redeeming social value. Their presence coarsens our culture, erodes our economic future, and diminishes our democracy. Any society that winks at the monstrously large fortunes that make some people decidedly more equal than others is asking for trouble.”
According to Billionaires Are a Sign of Economic Failure, “The super-rich use their wealth to pay as little tax as possible, making active use of a secretive global network of tax havens, as revealed by the Panama Papers and other exposes.” It also states, “Billions are not just used to ensure lower taxes. They can also be used to buy impunity from justice, to buy politicians, or to buy a pliant media. The use of ‘dark’ money to influence elections and public policy is a growing problem all over the world.” The conclusion: billionaires undermine social mobility and democracy.
You’ve heard about the bad billionaires: Bernie Madoff was a fraudster, Jeffrey Epstein was a pedophile sex trafficker. At the same time, we’re inundated with puff pieces on how great billionaires are – their genius, their altruism. While almost all of that is paid-for PR, billionaires do not exist in isolation. Phillips says, “They generally know or know of each other – often personally – do business together, hold significant personal wealth, share similar educational and lifestyle backgrounds, and retain common global interests.” Birds of a feather flock together.
To drive home the point that billionaires are bad, I will not look at the avarice of Bezos, the buffoonery of Musk (1, 2) or the odiousness of Trump. Let’s rather take a look at a “good” billionaire.
Global capitalism is well insulated and defended. Labor and social movements – regarded as “bad for business” – are sabotaged; their candidates precluded from elections. It happened to Jeremy Corbyn (1, 2) and Bernie Sanders, twice. Teaching alternatives to capitalism has effectively been banned in English schools. There isn’t time to get into the violent, systematic dismantling of any nation that considers alternatives to neoliberal capitalism. But count the number of U.S. interventions since World War II:
Ideologically, the capitalist system is supported by well-financed Public Relations and Propaganda (PRP). Philips says, “Corporate media today are highly concentrated and fully international. Their primary goal is the promotion of product sales and pro-capitalist propaganda through psychological control of human desires, emotions, beliefs, fears and values. Corporate media do this by manipulating the feelings and cognitions of human beings worldwide, and by promoting entertainment viewing as a distraction to global inequality.” And again, “The transnational media and PRP industry are highly concentrated and fully global. Their primary goal is the promotion of capital growth through hegemonic psychological control of human desires, emotions, beliefs and values.”
Notably, “six major global media organizations offer a continuing ideological justification for corporate capitalism and diminish or censor information that questions the ongoing concentration of wealth and increasing inequality…the dominant ideological message from corporate media today is that the continued growth of the economy will offer trickle down benefits to all humans and save the planet.”
Corporate media are bankrolled by the ruling class. Johnstone says, “Advertising is a trillion-dollar industry worldwide because it works. And propaganda works much, much more effectively. […] An entire empire depends on keeping Americans too poor to compete politically with the plutocratic class which uses its wealth advantage to control the political/media class, and too propagandized to know that things ought to be different.”
Mainstream media’s primary directives are to turn a profit and serve upper-class interests. The Propaganda Multiplier says, “In that sense, it is logical that our traditional media – which are predominantly financed by advertising or the state – represent the geopolitical interests of the transatlantic alliance, given that both the advertising corporations as well as the states themselves are dependent on the transatlantic economic and security architecture led by the United States.”
Cory Morningstar says that media is a tool of the ruling class.
The control over social media is best demonstrated in the case of Parler.
Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, Ted Turner owns CNN, Rupert Murdoch owns Fox and Michael Bloomberg owns Bloomberg; in a later post, you will see how much Bill Gates pours into the media. (The “MS” in MSNBC stands for Microsoft.) The New York Times is a medium for war propaganda. To secure a reporting job at The New York Times, you need to subscribe to the “mainstream oligarchic imperialist worldview”. The Guardian always requires a second look, going so far as to excuse child labor. I’ll admit to viciously referring to mainstream journalists, relative to independents, as “Empire Cucks” and “Imperial Bootlickers”. Would any billionaire-funded, government-aligned news outlet publish stories in conflict with their funder’s interests? Mainstream narratives suggest that the answer is no.
Corporate media content will show you extremists and call that “The Other Side,” cultivating deep divides in society. They peddle fear and monopolize your attention. They protect wealthy criminals. Read Ronan Farrow’s account of the extent to which the politico-media complex protects sex predators. Mainstream media is an essential element of the empire.
Johnstone says, “The most Orwellian tool of our rulers which does the most damage and affects the most lives is not surveillance, nor police militarization, nor government secrecy, but domestic mass media propaganda. You don’t need the ability to quash public uprisings if you can propagandize people away from rising up at all. And they can. And they do.”
We are kept divided, distracted and hard at work, encouraged to be self-involved; this ensures that the looting and plunder continues uninterrupted overhead.
The policy of Apartheid in South Africa also had much to do with money. In Freedom Next Time, John Pilger writes, “[Apartheid’s] lifeblood flowed from the British imperial legacy of Cecil Rhodes and other ‘men of commerce and industry’, who at the turn of the twentieth century stole the land, resources and economic birthright of the majority.”
Hennie Van Vuuren further makes the case in Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit. Van Vuuren writes, “In complete secrecy, allies in corporations, banks, governments and intelligence agencies helped move cash, illegally supply guns and create the apartheid arms money machine. […] They were all complicit in a crime against humanity. Motivated by ideology or kinship most sought to simply profit from the war.”
The same principles underlying abominable systems of the past exist today, applied in more evolved, sinister forms.