David Pogue has a thoughtful post about BillG. Excerpt:
Some people won’t be happy no matter what Mr. Gates does. They say he made the decision for P.R. value, or even as a plot to boost Microsoft’s software sales. “Interesting theory: ‘Buy Windows Vista. Do It for the Children,’” writes one critic online. “Ah, Bill, you are a shrewd weasel indeed.”)
But despite all this, and even despite Microsoft’s history, I find it almost impossible to remain cynical about Bill Gates’s intentions. I think he’s changed. Maybe when you’re in your 50’s, you start to think about how you’ll be remembered.
It’d be one thing if he were retiring to enjoy his fortune, or if he were using it to buy football teams or political candidates.
But he’s not. He’s channeling those billions to the places in the world where that money can do the most good. And not just throwing money at the problems, either–he’s also dedicating the second act of his life to making sure it’s done right.
In fact, when you step back far enough, Mr. Gates’s entire life arc suddenly looks like a 35-year game of Robin Hood, a gigantic wealth-redistribution system on a global scale.
I know this is going to earn me the vitriol of Microsoft-bashers, but I’ll say it anyway: Bill Gates has the money, the brains and the connections to really, truly make the world a better place. I admire him for the attempt. And I believe that if anyone can succeed, he will.
He just might be right. David also links to Bill Moyers’s remarkable interview with Gates.
Later… One of the comments to David’s post contained a link to an interesting New Yorker article about the Gates Foundation’s work.