Dear Commons Community,
Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times column today, looks at corporate philanthropy and has a “Gosh Darn Golly” moment while congratulating the likes of Ted Turner, Bill Gates and others for their generosity in recent years to various causes. Some of what he says is fine such as Ted Turner giving $1 billion to the United Nations Foundation to fight global poverty. However, when he praises Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation, Kristof has not done enough homework. Bill Gates made his fortune at Microsoft which for decades engaged in monopolistic practices, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying to secure tax loopholes, and has frequently made the yearly top ten list of corporations paying the least taxes.
This is not to say that there are corporate-affiliated philanthropies doing good things but some of them are using money that should have been paid to the American government in the first place. In a sense, they are using the people’s money for their own glamour and glory. I have great respect for Kristof and his views but in this case, he missed something.