Gates on China: Give to the Poor

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Is man altruistic by nature? Very stupid question really since we all know that man is man’s worst enemy. It’s Man that is Wolf to Man, lupus est homo homini; and we have known that since 195 BC. But, we still expect others to be altruistic, to give to others and to even care about the state of well-being of the people. Bill Gates is no different. He now believes that the Chinese should become philanthropic. It’s a shame that there was nobody around to tell him right from the first billion he made that he should be giving it to others so that he could buy his pass to give to Saint Peter.

Gates has urged the Chinese rich to give more to the poor and that the country is suffering from a class divide. Admittedly, there is definitely something to do if we are philanthropic in China. But, has Bill Gateslooked in his own back yard and seen the widening gap between the poor and the wealthy few? Has he witnessed how people actually live in his own country? Why would anyone presume that altruism and philanthropy are natural traits in men? Surely we can see that this is not the case and why should we expect someone that has pulled the lucky number out of that hat to suddenly wake up and get a bout of philanthropic well-wishing? It’s doubtful whether or not those people actually managed to get to the top of the wealth stakes in society by being nice and worrying about the well-being of others. Generosity never figures in the books of those that have had to trample to the top, unless of course that they have got so far up the ladder that there are no rungs left (i.e. the Bill Gates’s of the world). There’s little wonder why and how Gates can be the most generous when he gained the celebrity-status hotspot of the world’s richest person (Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index in 2013) and that was the first time that he got to the top since the creation of the index in 2007. Gates is worth over $72.7 billion. He is also the second most generous person in the world after Warren Buffet.

Gates stated in the interview given to the newspaper: “Only when we help poor people break away from destitution and illness can the whole world achieve sustainable development”. He went on to state: “Investing in poor people requires the involvement of every social strata. I believe that the returns from investing in poor people are just as great as [returns] from investing in the business world, and have even more meaning”. Yes, that may well be true, but how many will hear that? How many believe that the gains from investing in the poor are as great as investing in business? That’s not the role model that we have created in the meritocratic society of being the best employee of the month that was created by the self-made man in the USA. It’s get on and succeed, or live in poverty.

By the end of 2013, there were some 358 billionaires in China, which was a rise of 41% in comparison with2012. According to research carried out by Charities Aid Foundation however China ranks only 115 among135 other countries regarding the amount of money that is given to the needy (World Giving Index 2013). The USA is however today in the number one position. Americans give more money to charities proportionally than any other country in the world. The latest figures (2012) show that the US is ranked in first place followed by CanadaMyanmarNew Zealand, which are all in second place. Ireland is 5th and the United Kingdomcomes in in 6th place. Globally, the average percentage of people that donate money, volunteer their time and help strangers grew around the world despite a fall in economic growth in 2012 (from 4% to 3.2%).

But, just last week, the two co-founders of China’s AlibabaJack Ma and Joe Tsai, announced that they were going to set up a $3 billion foundation in China (which means 2% of the company’s equity). The foundation will target environment, education and healthcare.

It’s easy when you have the money to appear to be generous. It’s a shame that the Western wealthy didn’t do it throughout their careers; but they were probably making money off the backs of the hordes of workers.

Bill Gates gave the interview to the People’s Daily, one of China’s official state newspapers that has a readership of 3-4 million people around the world, with multi-lingual editions.

Originally posted: Gates on China: Give to the Poor

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