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The Gates Foundation and the rise of "free market " philantrophy
Date: Monday, January 22 2007

The Gates Foundation and the rise of "free market" philanthropy

By Andre Damon
22 January 2007

A number of revealing details have surfaced in recent weeks concerning the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's largest charitable concern.

According to a report published January 7 in the Los Angeles Times, the
Gates foundation invests its assets in companies whose operations induce
some of the health problems it seeks to combat. The report notes that 41
percent of the foundation's holdings are invested in corporations whose
policies "countered its charitable goals." It also claims that the
foundation has holdings in over 60 of the highest-polluting companies in
the US.

In one example mentioned in the report, a recent medical study found that
half of the children attending a high school in Merebank, South Africa
suffer from asthma and other respiratory disorders. The study attributed
its findings to high concentrations of sulfur dioxide and other pollutants
spewed out by nearby mills and refineries operated by BP and Anglo

Dr. Nonyenim Solomon Enyidah, a local health commissioner, told the
newspaper that the immense amounts of pollution generated by these plants
weaken local residents' immune systems and leave them vulnerable to polio
and measles. Yet the Gates Foundation, which is ostensibly in the business
of combating these diseases, continues to invest hundreds of millions of
dollars in the companies that help to create them.

The Gates foundation is set up as essentially two independent
organizations-an asset trust and a charity. The foundation's
investments-such as those made in BP and Anglo American-are made with only
one concern, profitability. By mandate, its investment decisions are
completely isolated from its charitable activities.

The foundation spends about 5 percent of its endowment each year, an amount
that essentially represents the return on its investments. This profit-and
the vast accumulation of personal wealth that forms the backbone of its
endowment-is made possible by the continued exploitation of workers and
poor people worldwide. What the foundation gives with one hand, it takes
with the other.

In response to criticism stirred by the LA Times report, the Gates
Foundation replied bluntly: "We do not anticipate any change in our

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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