Archived News

Bill Gates’ “Philanthropy” Shows His Far-Left Ideology

By Tue, 27 June 2006September 1st, 2020No Comments

The money trail of his philanthropy suggests some clues to the political leanings of Microsoft’s founder.

Is Bill Gates a Closet Liberal?
Andrew Leonard
30 January 1998
Salon.com

In 1997, Bill Gates contributed $35,000 in support of a Washington state ballot initiative supporting gun control.  In 1993, he ponied up $80,000 to fight a conservative initiative seeking to roll back state taxes.  And ever since 1994, the William H. Gates III Foundation, Bill’s private philanthropic funnel, has been busy channeling millions to groups that specialize in “reproductive health and family planning.”

…Bill Gates has always enjoyed a singularly apolitical reputation…

…his struggle with the federal government has been adopted as a cause célèbre by many Net-based libertarians.

…Look at the personal checkbook record: pro taxes, pro birth control, against guns.  The evidence is clear …

…His own father, Bill Gates Sr., who administers the approximately $300 million William H. Gates III Foundation, summed up the situation most succinctly: “If you think you’re going to get me to characterize what he does as liberal or conservative, you’re crazy.”  Bill Jr.’s politics are not for public consumption…

…Gates’ more grandiose gestures — $20 million for a computer center here, $12 million for a biotechnology building there and a whopping $200 million for wiring up rural libraries to the Internet — get the headlines.  But his smaller philanthropic statements give us the few clues we have to what Gates, the man…

…Sure, Bill Gates has given away close to $600 million.  But more than 90 percent of that sum has been disbursed since 1994, and more than half the total was given away in 1997 alone.

1994, incidentally, was the year Bill Gates’ mother, Mary Gates, died of breast cancer…

…Hardly a soul in the wired world can have escaped hearing the much-ballyhooed pledge from Bill and Melinda Gates to spend $200 million over the next five years on library Internet access.  Less well publicized has been Bill’s 1997 gift of $115 million worth of Microsoft stock to the Gates Foundation, which has brought the total endowment of the foundation up to around $300 million.  After a slow start, the foundation gave away some $40 million in 1997, a big jump from 1996’s $6.5 million…

$1 million to Ursuline Academy1 in Dallas (where his wife, Melinda French Gates, was high school valedictorian)…2

The big-ticket donations do not come without associated waves of skepticism from Gates’ stable of critics.  That $12 million grant for the new biotech building at the University of Washington?  Just the price tag necessary to lure a star biotech professor to the Seattle area, where he can serve as Gates’ informal advisor on biotech investments.  Last year’s $20 million pledge (through the Gates Foundation) to Cambridge University for a new computing center?  A fine way to keep a close eye on one of the world’s most illustrious centers for cryptography research — and an investment sure to pay huge dividends as digital security becomes ever more paramount.  And that oh-so-noble deal to wire up the libraries?  An insidious scheme: Hook the poor kids on the Net, and then make sure that they’re all using Internet Explorer as the browser of choice.  Future generations of Microsoft market domination will be assured.

No businessman as famous for being as ultra-competitive as Bill Gates can ever escape cynical accusations that his every move is motivated by greed.  Nor should he.  But the smaller details of Gates’ giving lead us to a different truth…  The groups that the Gates Foundation is giving money to have close ideological and organizational ties with [“]pro-choice[”] bastions like Planned Parenthood.  Religious right zealots are already beginning to pay attention…3

The first overtly political statement on the Bill Gates balance sheet is his $80,000 contribution to a coalition working against the passage of Washington state ballot initiative 602…

The anti-602 campaign was victorious.  Gates’ next foray into initiative politics met with less success.  Initiative 676, a handgun safety bill in 1997 that would have increased licensing and training requirements for new handgun purchasers, went down to overwhelming defeat…

…Joe Waldron, chairman of WeCARE, a coalition of anti-gun control activists that led the local opposition to 676, refused to speculate.

“I don’t want to put it in those terms,” said Waldron.  “It’s like kicking Superman in the kneecap: You can do it, but you may not like the consequences.”…

…And there is absolutely no evidence of Gatesian financial support for measures that could be considered “conservative” in a political sense…

…After all, his own father contributed $150,000 to support Initiative 676 — more than four times as much he did…

Ultimately, separating out what is attributable to the parents and what to the son may be pointless.  It’s a joint venture.  Nothing better illustrates that fact than the William H. Gates III Foundation.

Gates Jr. created the foundation in 1994, the same year his mother died of breast cancer…

Bill Gates Sr., with the part-time help of one private secretary, administers the foundation from the comfort of his home.  It is, he said, “the thing that occupies the largest percentage of my time.”

The foundation does not accept unsolicited requests for funding nor does it give out grant-giving guidelines.  But a review of its tax returns, which are public record, reveal some clear points of social concern…

…$10,000 for [“]refugee relief[”]…  But the third and smallest group, medium-sized donations, stands out: They’re the only ones with political import.

The Gates Foundation has given $750,000 over three years to the Seattle-based PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) — funding that has in part been used for such work as “a quality assurance survey of contraceptives in 22 countries.”  The Alan Guttmacher Institute received $1 million over three years for “an international examination of issues facing young women around the world.”  And finally, most recently, the Department of Population Dynamics at Johns Hopkins University received $2.3 million for an array of programs aimed at training international specialists in “reproductive health and family planning.”

“Reproductive health and family planning” is a buzz phrase that emerged out of the 1994 United Nations Cairo conference on population issues, said Dr. Gordon Perkin, president of PATH.  In the past, the research topic used to be referred to as “population control” — though, said Dr. Perkin, “the words ‘population control’ are not used any more, except by people who don’t know the field.”

Billionaires have always had a fond spot in their hearts for population control: Ted Turner is a big supporter, as is Warren Buffett, a Gates family friend…

But whatever you call it — “population control” or “family planning” — this isn’t just a billionaire fad for the Gates family.

“Bill Gates Sr. has been deeply involved in this issue for decades,” says Laurie S. Zabin, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.  Zabin, who served with Gates Sr. on the national board of Planned Parenthood, was instrumental in getting the Gates Foundation grant for Johns Hopkins.

But that doesn’t mean Gates Sr. is the only one who cares about overpopulation, said Zabin: Gates Jr. “has supported issues of real social concern and certainly this is one of them.”…

A “proclivity fit” is one way to put it.  Or one could surmise that Bill Gates is growing up to be the man his parents raised him to be…

…So far, he has loosened the reins on a mere fraction of his massive bank account…

FULL ARTICLE HERE

  1. Ursuline Academy of Dallas” is an elite Roman Catholic prep school for girls.  Odd that Salon’s Andrew Leonard doesn’t think this is noteworthy.
  2. Also “missed” by Leonard was Melinda French-Gates’ devout Roman Catholicism.
  3. “Religious right zealots”?!  Yeah.  No bias here.