What are the chances that the world’s richest man might well become the world’s most influencial and powerful?
Bill Gates’ recent announcement that he plans to remove himself from day-to-day management of Microsoft by 2008 in order to spend more time administering the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for some might have sounded like a retirement announcement. However, it might mark the day that he moved from changing (and controlling) the way we use computers to changing how governments react to international crises. The Gates Foundation, which currently has an endowment of ~ $27 billion, is to be the recipient of about $31 billion from Warren Buffett, it was announced today. It will be the largest and doubtlessly most powerful, foundation of its kind. To put this in context, the Foundation will have more money than the GDP of the world’s 60 poorest countries combined, and more money than the poorest 158 countries (also GDP).
The Gates Foundation will operate largely outside government oversight and control, which can be a bad or a good thing. It certainly will have enough muscle to leverage government action when necessary, which for the beneficiaries of the Foundation, will be a very good thing. The democrat inside me gets nervous about this, but I can’t fault the Foundation for its goals or its past accomplishments. I only hope that it continues on the same path.
Use your power for good, Mr. Gates. Please!