At last, the finish line is in sight. Once this mammoth set of blog posts is out of the way I can get back to working my way through a list of things that I have been meaning to write about for some time. This will be the final post on the book Philanthrocapitalism and the topic. I promise.
So, where were we? Towards the end of the book. Chapter 11.
Once again Philanthrocapitalism continues its seduction of the large multinationals with more grovelling to Nike, Shell, Barclays, Pfizer, and Coca-Cola. Walmart is singled out for numerous pages of praise, despite the innumerable criticisms it has faced. Even with the text in the book, the criticisms still far out way the praise. Celebrities are then introduced and afforded a hefty pat on the back themselves. Bono, Angelina Jolie, and Madonna are just some of those who appear.
The fact that I have to go to a fourth 2,000-word blog post in order to analyse the failings of Philanthrocapitalism and my displeasure at its argument says something in itself.
Most of the books that I read and find myself disagreeing with would not merit an 8,000 word essay, but such is the intensity and attempted persuasive power of Philanthrocapitalism that it is necessary to deconstruct just how far off the mark it is. The entire “the rich can save the world” theory is at best misleading, and at worst an outright lie. Now that we are on to the fourth blog post on the topic, I hope that you are beginning to see this.
There is no panacea for alleviating poverty, but providing access to energy appears to be the next best thing.
As a Fundraising Officer much of what I say to potential donors is in the future tense. We will secure X, this will enable Y, which will benefit Z. Though my words are based on previous findings and accurate projections, donors are, understandably, often sceptical.
The bold claims that we make in our applications and during our presentations seem too good to be true. How can a single intervention improve not only the health of the people it is for, but also their education, their nutrition, their income, the gender inequality in the area, and also combat climate change? Those unaware of the reality would dismiss our claims as falsehoods, but they are not.
To continue with our analysis of Philanthrocapitalism we will return to the book, and a character who appears more than a few times throughout its pages.
Bill Gates compares his Foundation and his charitable endeavours to government and big business. He structures it in such a way that it mimics that of governmental agencies, and such is his dedication that he now works for the Foundation in a full time capacity. However, he believes that his Foundation is not big enough to solve certain issues, malaria being one that he mentions.
Quite rightly he recognises that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation alone cannot solve all of the world’s problems, and he realises that in order to tackle such global issues one would need global organisations and cooperation. Curiously though he does not recognise, or at least admit, that such organisations already exist. The United Nations (UN) has existed since 1945, UNICEF since 1946, and the International Red Cross with its 97 million volunteers since 1885. If such organisations are to be the ones that help tackle global issues would it not be better if Gates gave his time, money, and support to them instead of establishing his own Foundation. A Foundation, which even by his own admission, has its limitations.
To return to where I left off in Part One, we had just passed the introduction in the book. An introduction that Walmart’s owners would have been very pleased to read.
The book continues in a similar vain and soon introduces a concept of the “good billionaire”. In order to make this concept a reality it is suggested that a social contract needs to be formed so that billionaires have knowledge and have committed to how they should act. As I was reading this concept for a social contract for good billionaires I was reminded about something that I had seen regarding JK Rowling. In 2011 JK Rowling featured on the Forbes billionaires list, but since that time she has failed to do so again, and this is despite the continued successes of the Harry Potter franchise. The reason that she no longer features on the list is that she has given so much of her wealth away she can no longer be classified as a billionaire. Perhaps then the first rule for any “good billionaire” is not to be one.
There are mentions of the growing inequality in the world, but it is not expanded upon or criticised. What is condemned by the book and its authors, however, is the “rejection of philanthropy”. A strange thing to focus on as I doubt anyone would argue that giving away money to those less fortunate is a bad thing. Even I don’t reject philanthropy, I just advocate a situation where such philanthropy is not needed. This rejection, so the authors believe, was “extreme” in post World War Two Britain.