I Get Mail – Bill and Melinda

I wrote this in response to people on Reddit and I figured it would actually make a decent blog post.

I think you have to understand how “real charity” works.

MSF, the Red Cross and the like are famous for this.

The majority of people on the planet are not cut out to go to third world nations and do charity. The best way to do charity is to provide resources that help create local charity. So you staff the workers with locals. The reason for this is three fold. You are creating new jobs, you are creating new skills and you are building infrastructure or training people to build infrastructure. This is building value in local  communities and means that they are less reliant on you. This creates “the values and knowledge needed for improvement”.

Now you may not always have the people for the job. Somalia is going to lack doctors, years of crushing civil war make it a place not conducive to the training of these specialists or the support of them. So in these cases you need to bring people in. You know how not to do Charity?

When in Haiti I ran across some missionaries and charity workers who didn’t speak French who came to babysit. I tell this story a lot but it is important.

Now you may say “What’s wrong with that you miserable bastard!” to which I will say this. There are locals who speak French and who know the culture who are far better baby sitters. In fact bringing a babysitter in from the USA is a waste of money, resources and space. Ironically if this person stayed at home and didn’t donate they would have helped more. A donation would be better.

The same applies to third world nations (I work in India.)

Your entire ethos of charity must be to make yourself redundant as a non-native. They must not need you. Everything you do to help must have the end goal of either being a stop gap till they train someone to replace you or with the goal of training your replacement.

So for this you need to create value. Infrastructure. Water, Education, Food.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does all of these on top of healthcare. The schools they set up teach agriculture in the evening to farmers. They fight female infanticide and female genital mutilation. They vaccinate and provide proper sex education and obs/gynae care. They even build sanitation. The humble toilet saves a lot of lives.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is so far “the Real Deal”.

Despite what the quacks say (the BMGF is hated by quacks who think Bill Gates wants to kill people with vaccines).

He’s not creating that infrastructure though. At first I was on the holy Gates bandwagon but over time I’ve since become quite annoyed at the entire thing. I mean, these guys (with Buffet) are billionaires but yet they just do the typical pandering elitist thing that all the other rich people do – help Africa. Now, I get it, Africa needs a lot of help but throwing money at those problems isn’t going to solve them. The reason why they have so many problems is mostly related to lifestyle (sound familiar?). As they showed in the video those Africans are living right next to a trash dump that they created. You don’t have to be a genius to know not to dump trash right next to where you live. That’s basic common sense. You create a trash dump area quite a ways away from where you live. They don’t need a large plastic tech toilet and that’s much too expensive anyway.

Another problem is poor water but Dean Kamen has already solved that problem with his water purifier. Why doesn’t Gates buy a thousand of them and give them to the Africans? Not sure.

Whenever I see a story on some rich dude giving away their fortune to charity (always a foundation for tax reasons and to keep the bulk of the wealth safe) I always cringe waiting for the footage of Africa. It’s like a rich elitist meme. When you get rich you don’t help your own community, your home country. No, give to Africa just like “We Are the World.” Of course we know that this effort, while making rich elites feel good about themselves and relieve their guilt, did absolutely nothing fundamental.

About the only thing that Gates is doing that will actually benefit people in a fundamental way is his thorium reactor project which isn’t his main focus. I’m just so sick of this pandering bullshit. How about a billionaire give money towards longevity research (and-aging), a department of cures, etc. It’s been 30 years since USA for Africa and yet we’re still doing mass vaccines and that is progress?

Personally I’m ashamed that he’s isn’t giving back to who actually made him rich – his own country and his own people. We make him rich and then he gives all the money to Africa? WTF!?! We’ve got lots of problems right here. Everyone in the US isn’t living in a suburbanu McMansion with great health/dental care. Start in your own backyard and forgo the elitist pandering.


In the 4 years I have been here the life expectancy has gone up. Child mortality has gone down. Female Gender ratios have gone up. Literally every single marker for improvement has gone up. The problem is the SCALE of the project. Your argument is “It’s a massive problem, so why bother!”. There are hundreds of millions of people, I am talking about less than 1% of people getting this sort of improvement here.

No I don’t think you understand how charity works.

Not All Africans Live Next To Trash Dumps. Like Seriously? Are we living under the notion that Africa is a gigantic trash dump? Bullshit.

I will point this out to you. Just 100 years ago the most powerful nation on the planet was dumping sewage into it’s own water supply and drinking it.

And less than 10 years ago we had Hurrican Katrina. Where there was an outbreak of diarrhoeal diseases. Because “you don’t have to be a genius to know that you shouldn’t drink flood water”.

That’s the thing. The vast education (and believe me, America’s Education Compared to my Patients Is Vast) did not prepare many Americans for the nature of disaster. People forget. And then you must realise that the flooding of the streets means that sewage systems don’t function properly. No Toilets Plus Someone Drank The Water = Outbreak of Diarrhoea.

Rich, Smart, Educated Americans fell for it. What hope have illiterate Africans?

Oh. And they don’t dump next to their house. They live in the dump. They are scavenging.

Let us go back to Katrina. I mentioned. The sewage system stopped working. One of the biggest Killers in Africa is Diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is “fucking deadly stuff”. We are rich, fat and have OTC anti-diarrhoeals so we can survive it but kids still die from diarrhoea even in rich nations. In poverty stricken ones?

The Hygenic Toilet is a simple, effective way to control diarrhoea. As is education about such things as water purification and pasteurisation and indeed “hygiene”. I mean we know that hygiene is important yet there are still rich “westerners” who don’t take showers everyday. And indeed “westerners” who drank flood water during Katrina. It’s awfully easy to claim that Africa will amount to nothing when we leave while ignoring all the achievements that Africans have done and the progress.

Oh BTW? Slingshot is $1000 to 2000. It’s pretty expensive gear. For a couple of dollars we can build wells and for a couple more we can have rain water harvesting. And for a few more we can have solar stills and hygenic toilets. Slingshot is still under trials and requires a solid source of water which is the entire bloody problem.

Your entire gripe boils down to “Fucking Africans! Always Getting Help From Billionaires”. Did you ever think that they are getting the most help BECAUSE they need the most?

As for helping your own community? I am sorry? White Billionaires don’t need much help and Bill Gates has created jobs in America. A lot of jobs. America’s biggest problem is not that there are poor people but that people HATE the things that help the poor. So every time you want better education or healthcare, some fucking idiot raises the spectre of socialism and watches as poor people vote against stuff that helps them. Any nation regarded as socialist is demonised to the point of lunacy. Point in case? My Country and the infamous death panels that would kill Stephen Hawkings. Why I am repeatedly told that we pay 50% of our Income in the UK which is news to me considering most people in the UK pay the same tax rate as Americans. In order to pay the 50% tax rate you need to be “rich”. Like 200,000 dollars a year rich. The vast majority of people do not earn this kind of money.

I am of the opinion that if you told Americans that child education, anti-child labour laws and 2 day weekends were “Communist/Socialist” ideas then people would send their illiterate children down the coal mine on Saturdays simply to not be associated with it.

Every single attempt to help the “poorest” in the USA has been crippled. To the point where the super rich sit around and look at parents who work two jobs and speak of it as the American Dream. And the worst bit is it’s crippled by the people who it would benefit it the most.

Your argument is moronic.

That’s like saying “You shouldn’t help the man in the burning building until you help your mum out with the laundry”.

That’s like saying that we should not spend money on art, science, architecture, space programs, TVs, Internet or one of hundreds of other luxuries we take for granted until every single person in the USA has a chicken in their pot. It’s stupid and that is not how reality works.

Charity begins at home. Get the fuck back to the poorest areas of your own country and get to work. The minute you leave India will revert back to what that country has come up with on their own.

You shouldn’t help the man in the burning building until you help your mum out with the laundry

You shouldn’t if the burning building is on the other side of the globe where the buildings are made out of paper.

America’s biggest problem is not that there are poor people but that people HATE the things that help the poor.

Exactly the point I was bringing. Elitist pandering. This needs to stop.

You mean the United Kingdom? We are doing rather well thanks. Our poor are “Western Poor” rather than “dying slowly from chronic starvation”.

Well enough that we can go give people the things we take for granted.

Like Shoes and Medicine.

And you didn’t pay an ounce of attention. A lot of what charity does is infrastructure and education.

Just because I leave, the midwives I helped train do not. Neither do the sustainable toilets (which we don’t take care off because the locals know how to do it and the locals have set up their own schemes to get hold of more). All that education does not vanish because we didn’t teach villagers to be students, we taught them to be teachers. We didn’t “save prostitutes”, we gave them power. We created a small army of change. Of little knock on effects that make this patch of the Earth slightly more fun to live in.

I actually train my replacements. We all actually have “a mission” and a lot of that involves making charity pointless and redundant. Like reducing infant mortality through proper midwifery. When I leave the midwives won’t vanish. When I leave the infrastructure, training and staff will exist to keep condoms, abortions, IUDs and pills going in the community. When I am done they will never need me again.

Oh and I am ethnically Indian. The country comes up with some frankly astonishing people. The problem is you never get to hear about them. My job is to give these astonishing people some muscle to make changes. Once the changes are done they can make more changes and build on success. I do think that “Indians” should have the same stuff that I do being a British Indian. Things I take for granted. Like shoes.

The person here who is elitist is you mate.


  1. wilsim says

    I think you should have gone after this conceited dolt even more harshly.

    I don’t have the right words to express my disdain for people that tell other people what they think other people should and shouldn’t find the most important.

  2. DsylexicHippo says

    “Every single attempt to help the “poorest” in the USA has been crippled. To the point where the super rich sit around and look at parents who work two jobs and speak of it as the American Dream. And the worst bit is it’s crippled by the people who it would benefit it the most.”

    The peasants in America have been led to believe by their overlords to be eternally grateful for the crumbs of bread falling from the rich man’s table. To challenge that notion with a healthy bit of inquiry, skepticism and common-sense would be treasonous. That would be like hankering for communism of course.

    As for his vitriol against BMGF – he has managed to prove, with a little bit of help from you, that despite being an elitist, he is not quite incapable of being a fool at the same time.

  3. M can help you with that. says

    If the Gates Foundation is doing good things in Africa, they should focus their efforts there; the alternative is that they continue funding ALEC and pushing for the privatization of education and the destruction of unions in the US.

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