Monday, May 16, 2005


You can say what you like about Bill Gates. Typically he is the sort of person you can slag off with impunity (unless you are a competitor, or have I just done what I'm blogging about? Oops). He's the sort of person you can insult and be safe doing it, because he's rich, and therefore he is a bastard and hell, everybody is doing it.

I know little about him and what I do 'know' is based round reports of his apparently dodgy business practices. Whatever he does, today I simply do not care.

Today the BBC has reported that he has donated $250 million to Grand Challenges in Global Health, an organisation that he and his wife Melinda set up in 2003, to treat malaria, polio and influenza. This is a good thing. I want to say as well that I don't care about potential ulterior motives he might be suspected of having. The reasons I don't care can be found in one of my favourite books, and certainly one of the most inspiring in terms of writing and travelling, the book being A.A. Gill's A.A. Gill is Away. A.A. Gill is another one of the safe targets, and someone else for whom there is a 'love him or loath him' appraoach. Personally, I love him, and a sample of his writing can be found here. In one chapter Gill visits Uganda to visit a treatment centre for sickness. There is a lot in the chapter to make you very angry (in fact it is called I don't know what makes you angry). The very last paragraph (in its abridged format) reads something like this (apologies, Mr Gill):

"Between 1975-97 there were 1223 new medicines. Of these thirteen are to treat tropical diseases. Four of these arose from the pharmaceutical industries desire to cure humanity. None were discovered on purpose."

Whatever you might think about his motives, whatever you might think about his business practices, today Bill Gates did a Very Good Thing.

No comments: