Sunday, September 28, 2003

Why I don't hate Bill G.

I'm a loyal, longtime Linux/KDE user, but I have little patience for people in this community who spend more energy resenting Microsoft and Bill Gates than doing something productive for Free Software. Gates is simply the technology businessman par excellence, neither more nor less. And he's much less evil than, e.g., Larry Ellison (Oracle was started by the CIA, and responded to September 11th by lobbying for the creation of Big Brother databases to track the behavior of American citizens), or Steve Jobs (a die-hard monopolist who steadfastly refuses to port Mac OS to a commodity hardware platform), or even Scott McNealy (if Sun were not weaker than Microsoft, they would never be opening up their platform or their processes as they are). If you don't like Microsoft software, then don't sit around carping about it; put it out of your life and donate your time to Free Software projects.

Well, anyway, all this is a roundabout way of introducing this MeFi report on Gates's charity. I think most of the commenters are off their rockers in their contemptuous dismissal of Gates's very real and very important charity work. It would be great if poor nations could rely on aid from rich nations' governments (and the taxes paid by all their citizens), instead of the largesse of rich individuals; but within the limitations of current circumstances, Gates's philanthropy is worthy of praise. I love the spectacle of comfortable First Worlders sitting in front of computers (most of them using Microsoft software), whilst slagging off a man whose actions may save hundreds of millions of lives before he dies. How many lives will you save in your lifetime? Yeah, I thought so.

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