Monday, August 5, 2013

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & the war against the working class

The other evening I viewed the so-called news program 60 Minutes.  One of their featured stories was of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  This story, narrated by Charlie Rose, attempted to paint this foundation as a group of people who came down from the heavens to save the human race. 

William Gates spoke about how he has a timetable for curing several diseases that especially effect people who live in abject poverty.  Gates is also interested in financing programs to educate people who, he claims, would not have this opportunity without his foundation.  How could there be anything wrong with these initiatives?

What is wrong with the Gates Foundation?

First, we must understand that William Gates is a billionaire.  He also has received funding from Warren Buffet who also is a billionaire.  The question to be asked is: How did these individuals attain the obscene amounts of money they possess, while forty percent of the world’s population lives of two dollars per day or less?

First, we might look at some facts.  For the past thirty years the standard of living in this country has been deteriorating.  Literally hundreds of millions of jobs have been eliminated, and the replacement jobs usually pay less.  While computers and robots have advanced technology, these advances have also eliminated jobs. 

All of this has meant that most working people need to work more hours for effectively less pay.  The increased cost of, health care, education, transportation, and housing, have outstripped the so-called wage increases of workers.           

As a part of this war against working people, there is discrimination against Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, immigrants, and women.  By paying these people less than white men, capitalists like Gates and Buffet can reap enormous profits. 

We don’t need to look at individual examples of people who were discriminated against by these employers to verify this statement.  In order for these men to derive any profits they needed investors.  Those investors have profited from many years of workers toiling under horrendous and discriminatory conditions.

Today, many of the investors of the world have moved their factories to nations where wages might hover around two dollars per day.  In other words, while William Gates claims he is helping the poor people in the world, he has also reaped enormous profits from many of those same people.

Today thousands of workers who toil in China in the Computer industry might have an age of less than eighteen, working sixty hours per week, with forced overtime.

We might also understand that by setting up a charitable trust fund, Gates is allowed to keep much of the money he would have had to pay in taxes.  This means that, while cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit are closing schools and cutting pensions, William Gates is sitting in rooms thinking about how to spend billions of dollars.

I will not deny that this foundation has given people opportunities they would not have had otherwise.  The problem is that the overall standard of living in the world continues to deteriorate.  Profits that have been derived from these billionaires also help to drive down the standard of living.

The foundation doesn’t support these causes

We might consider the organizations that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will not contribute to.  Clearly they do not contribute to unions that attempt to make life better for workers.  In order to make life better for workers, unions need to demand that corporations reap less in terms of profits.  This is why the so-called nonprofit organizations never, to my knowledge, aid unions.  In fact, the so-called nonprofit organizations exist because they receive funding from highly profitable corporations.       

Clearly this foundation does not contribute to the Cuban government that is giving real aid to the less developed nations in the world.

In fact, Cuba has sent tens of thousands of doctors to nations that have little or no health care systems.  In fact, Cuba has trained tens of thousands of doctors, from around the world, free of charge.
No doubt, some of the money that financed William Gates’ Microsoft Corporation, might have come from profits derived on the island of Cuba before the revolution.  In those days, working people in Cuba relied on sugar production and lacked work for most of the year.  One of the other jobs for many Cuban women was prostitution. 

While there continues to be many problems in Cuba, this nation has gone through a complete transformation.  Cuba today has more teachers and doctors per capita than any other nation in the world.  Infant mortality in Cuba is about half of what it is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The percentage of people in Cuba with HIV/AIDS is about one-sixth of what it is in this country.

With this record, we might ask a legitimate question as to why the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation isn’t giving money to the Cuban government.  I believe a strong case can be made for the argument that today Cuba is doing more to improve health care in the world than any other source.

Clearly this foundation isn’t giving money to free Mumia Abu Jamal or Leonard Peltier who have won international support of their freedom from the prisons in this country.  We might also mention the five Cubans who are also held in US prisons for working to end U.S. sponsored terrorism against their homeland.  No, this so-called wonderful foundation isn’t supporting any of these causes.

Living in denial

In the so-called news story about this foundation we learn that William Gates is an avid reader.  While Gates might read many books, he lives in denial of a fact established hundreds of years ago.

John Locke was a philosopher who argued that: “All wealth is the product of labor.”  This means that working people and farmers produce all the wealth in the world.  The food we eat, the cars we ride in, the clothes we wear, are all produced by working people.  The capitalist system takes that wealth and allows a tiny percentage of the population to control it.

In other words, William Gates never created any jobs.  While he ran a company that manufactured computer software, his primary goal was profits.  Working people are the ones who created all the wealth Gates will ever have.

Because Gates refuses to recognize these facts, he actually believes that the obscene amount of wealth he has will benefit humanity.  He also refuses to look at the fact that while he gives away billions of dollars the standard of living in the world continues to deteriorate.      

No, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation doesn’t represent a solution to our problems.  Charitable organizations have been around for a long time, and the standard of living continues to deteriorate.  Only when working people mobilize to make this a world where we are treated with the respect and dignity we deserve, will we be able to liberate ourselves from the likes of William Gates.

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