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Comment on "Wired on Steve and Bill's Social Status"
by David H Dennis — Jan 28
For some reason, I've always been pretty negative towards charity. Maybe it's because when I was younger, I saw how poor people actually lived, and it was a lot closer to the cliche of a guy handing his last buck to the liquor store clerk for a Night Train than the poor but honest family shivering in the cold, begging for their next meal.

So if someone makes a product I like, I'd rather have the money go to them than to charity. If Bill Gates wants to help poor countries, why doesn't he give away his software in Asia and China instead of sending goon squads to Internet cafes to arrest the poor but dishonest about software licensing? They're marginal operations that make so pathetically little they couldn't afford software licenses, but Bill doesn't care. You eliminate them and you eliminate the access to technology for poor people Bill says he wants people to have.

I hope his guys find a cure for AIDS - or at least that someone does - but I'm not inclined to praise him to the skies until we actually see if his giving away of money actually does some good somewhere. I've noticed that whether in government or the private sector, money that's given away is wasted most of the time.

I'd rather someone concentrate on making a great product than giving away his money, because it's the great products - and, unfortunately, the awful ones like Windows - that really affect people's lives. AIDS kills thousands; Windows makes virtually every man, woman and child on the planet just a little more miserable. It's tough to make any kind of moral equivalency in this case, but certainly I'm not going to forgive Bill Gates for creating the abomination that is Windows no matter what he does.

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