Whiplash at the Gates Foundation

Two days after The Los Angeles Times ran a lengthy exposé of them, the Gates Foundation did the right thing. Then four days after that they issued a big, fat never mind.

Apparently, the Gates Foundation (Does Anybody Have Change for a $66 Billion-Dollar Bill?) has a problem with their right hand not knowing what their left hand is doing.

There's the Giveth hand, and the Taketh Away hand. And if I hear any more talking from the back row, you're all going to have go to www.latimes.com/gates and read the whole damn, two-part article on January 7th and January 8th.

All right, then. The Giveth hand giveth to places like Solid Ground, the Seattle-based non-profit which counsels victims of predatory lenders, like Ameriquest. And, (why do I always see the same hands?) the Gates Foundation invests heavily in Ameriquest.

Human Interest Break: It's my impression that Bill Gates was kind of a genius, also kind of a workaholic, megalomaniacal control freak who didn't have a clue how to dress until he found Melinda. She promptly got him some decent clothes and brought to his attention the fact that he was filthy rich and it was time to start giving away some money.

"Bill: Stop! You're already rich!"

"I . . . I am?"

"Yes. Now we're going to set up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and give some of this money away. And don't you dare put on that ridiculous shirt."

Back to the Taketh Away hand, which invests in companies like Tenet Healthcare (unnecessary surgeries for profit, Medicare fraud and other pranks) and also in companies which buy stuff made by the slave labor of children, mostly in Africa, and chemical plants and the (yawn) oil companies, and so on. Oh, but the Foundation does good works in Africa!

So what does The Los Angeles Times want already? They want the Gates Foundation to use its investment positions to reform these companies, or use widely available social investment criteria to screen their investments.

But it seems Bill and Melinda are much too busy doing good works.