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.
In The Land of the Rising Sun, not everything is as it seems. A place known for its rich ancient history, its cultural delicacies, and more recently for its superb standard of life, Japan also has a darker claim to fame. A secret that I was told is “very, very underground.”
With the writing of my (non-tattoo related) first book out of the way, I have found time to return to the topic of ink on skin, and an issue which I have been wanting to write about since the moment I heard about it almost exactly 12 months ago.
Whilst walking around The Great British Tattoo Show last year, my cider in one hand, and my notepad in the other, I came across a stall and an artist who we shall call Barratt (he wanted to keep his true identity a secret for reasons that will become clear later). He was working out of Scandinavia at the time, but he had been an apprentice in Japan for a number of years, and it was he who told me about the shady world of Japan’s human canvas industry.
Writing for The Daily Mail in 2008 (says it all really doesn’t it) Richard Branson said: “Entrepreneurs have made the world a better place, taking the risks involved in innovating products and services that make people’s lives easier, better and safer.” A bold, sweeping statement that is not entirely accurate.
Branson’s piece for the newspaper was titled “In defence of capitalism” and is precisely the argument you expect to hear from a man that is worth, according to Forbes’ latest estimate, some $5 billion.
For Branson, capitalism is the answer to the world’s problems. He admits that it may need a few tweaks and changes, but he is insistent that it is only through the pursuit of profit that societies are to improve.
The Virgin boss is just one of a number of billionaires that appear fairly frequently in Philanthrocapitalism: How The Rich Can Save The World. It is a book that I read a few months ago, but did little to convince me that the wealthy are indeed the world’s saviours.
At the start of this season I wrote a brief preview of what I thought would lie ahead for Liverpool. Now that the final ball has been kicked, and Anfield has fallen silent, it is time to evaluate my predictions.