Bill Gates, the archetypal capitalist shark, has done more to help the world’s most economically disenfranchised people than have 158 years of socialist activism. Gates has done more than just establish himself as a Jewcy radical—he’s forced us to reconsider our most basic assumptions about the nature of radicalism itself.
Gates has been the richest man on the planet for the past 12 years. But after spending his entire adult life accumulating that unimaginable wealth, Gates is now giving it away. In 2000, he founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which seeks to eliminate preventable infectious diseases such as malaria, measles, polio, and tetanus, together responsible for the deaths of millions every year in the developing world. These deaths are the consequence of what Gates’s friend Bono describes as “stupid poverty”—the kind that kills people because they can’t afford a $2 pill.
According to Jim Kim, former director of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department, before Bill Gates came along there was a sturdy consensus that not much could be done to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Gates has reinvigorated the field of global public health, providing vast financial resources and rebranding global health as a media-friendly cause.
In the process, Gates is bringing the for-profit sector’s hardheaded, goal-oriented modus operandi to the nonprofit world. Gates is unapologetic about seeking the biggest bang for his philanthropic buck. He emphasizes prevention over treatment, because he can save the most lives that way. He focuses on simple technologies that have a likelihood of being adopted. And he only invests in countries where the government itself shows willingness to fight disease. The last condition isn’t intended to punish poor people who live under corrupt governments; it’s just that Gates isn’t willing to leave his projects to the mercy of kleptocrats who show more interest in building palaces than in fighting disease. So in Mozambique, the Gates Foundation recently funded the world’s biggest-ever trial of malaria medication. But you won’t be seeing a similar program anytime soon in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Let the hard left romance petty dictators in the name of anti-imperialism. Gates would rather save lives.