Bill Gates wants to bequeath his fortune and get out of the ranking of the richest personalities: really for a good cause?
Steph Deschamps / July 18, 2022
For many years now, Bill Gates, the former head of Microsoft, has been counted among the world's wealthiest people. A wealthy position that the billionaire accompanies with regular donations and a commitment to humanitarian causes.
This week, on Twitter, Bill Gates took another step in his desire to improve the world and announced that he had made a radical decision: to bequeath his fortune. Yes, but to his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, created in 2000, a nonprofit organization fighting poverty, disease and inequality around the world according to its website.
He indicated that he would increase the annual budget by $9 billion. This will add up to $20 billion in one fell swoop. He explained on Twitter: For the future, I plan to give almost all of my wealth to the foundation. I will go down and eventually disappear from the list of the richest people in the world. I have an obligation to give my resources back to society in a way that will have the greatest possible impact on reducing suffering and improving lives. And I hope that others in positions of great wealth and privilege will also commit to this moment, he writes. Would Bill Gates feel out of place on the prestigious list?
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is, however, the subject of much criticism. Datagueule, a program of the French public channel, reminds us for example that the money of the organization is not directly distributed to good works. The foundation devotes only 5% of its assets to donations, the legal minimum to benefit from tax exemption. While the 95% is invested. A trust (editor's note: a legal structure, which serves as an investment fund in this case) attached to the foundation is responsible for investing them in fossil fuels, with Total and BP, in GMOs with Monsanto and Bayer, or in the arms industry. A foundation that feeds the scourges it claims to fight against. Charity doesn't care about the hospital, says the report.
In his book L'art de la fausse générosité. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, journalist Lionel Astruc points out the conflicts of interest linked to the organization. According to the former reporter for L'Express and Libération, the foundation helps companies conquer markets under the guise of philanthropy. Often, we see that the companies that are in the foundation's trust investments [...] are also among the beneficiaries of the donations. So there is a real problem. That is to say, you give money to a company that will bring you money back. [...] Notably Coca-Cola, which in 2014 had 138 million euros of investments from the trust, and which moreover benefited from programs intended to train 50,000 farmers so that they could grow passion fruit in Kenya (editor's note: fruit intended for Coca-Cola). For Monsanto, the conflict of interest is even more enormous. So much so that a former Monsanto executive is now part of the foundation's team. The foundation, in Africa, is the Trojan horse of GMOs and Monsanto, explains Lionel Astruc.
For its part, the scientific journal The Lancet conducted an analysis of the 1,094 global health grants awarded between 1998 and 2007 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The survey reveals that a large part of the health grants are given to American or supranational organizations. This situation prevents countries and regions from developing their infrastructure and research tools. The analysis also indicates that the foundation prefers to support programs that will enable the development of markets that can be exploited by companies rather than empowering populations in need. Whenever there are two solutions, namely a natural remedy made locally by local populations, and a vaccine that will be sold by a large laboratory from outside a rich country, the Gates Foundation chooses diseases that call for the opening of markets, the creation of vaccines, denounces Lionel Astruc.