Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Makes Me Nervous

NPR and most media outlets have understandably been covering the Buffett mega-charity story. They've also been covering the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation too. The coverage I've heard has all been positive. First let me say, that I'm glad that Buffett has decided to give his money to worthy causes--I was pleased to hear that he is an advocate for estate taxes and for abortion rights. I'm also glad that Gates has used his money for saving the lives of perhaps hundreds of thousands of children with vaccines and with encouraging innovative school programs within public schools. But the question nags: Is it really healthy (for democracy, security, etc.) to have such massive concentrations of wealth in the hands of individuals. What if the world's next wealthiest individuals decide to use their massive wealth to support radical racists, or extremist militias, or clandestine prisons, etc.? It is also worthwhile to mention where some of the extreme wealth has come from: a lot of Buffett's from the problematic Coke Company and Gates, of course, from Microsoft which has used monopolistic practices (see 2000 article and more on EU practices a story that is breaking even as I write--see BBC News) to maintain its hold on operating system and Internet browsing software.

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