Monday, July 14, 2003
BILL GATES: KILLING AFRICANS FOR PROFIT AND P.R. -- MR.
BUSH'S BOGUS AIDS OFFER
By Greg Palast
Bring back Jayson Blair! The New York Times has eliminated
the scourge of plagiarized journalism by eliminating
journalism altogether from its front page. Check this
Sunday's edition: "Bill Gates is no ordinary
philanthropist," gushes a Times reporter named Stephanie
Strom, re-writing one of the digital diva's self-loving
press releases. Gates has saved 100,000 lives by providing
vaccines to Africans, gushes Stephanie, according to someone
on the payroll of ... Bill Gates. And he's making access to
drugs for Africans, especially for AIDS victims, "cheaper
and easier." Stephanie knows because she asked Bill Gates
Then we get to the real point of this journalistic Lewinsky:
"Those who think of Mr. Gates as a ruthless billionaire
monopolist ... may find it hard to reconcile that image with
one of a humorously self-deprecating philanthropist."
Actually, that's not hard at all.
Stephanie, let me let you in on a little secret about Bill
and Melinda Gates so-called "Foundation." Gate's
demi-trillionaire status is based on a nasty little
monopoly-protecting trade treaty called "TRIPS" -- the
Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights rules of the
World Trade Organization. TRIPS gives Gates a hammerlock on
computer operating systems worldwide, legally granting him
the kind ofÊmonopoly the Robber Barons of yore could only
dream of. But TRIPS, the rule which helps Gates rule, also
bars African governments from buying AIDS, malaria and
tuberculosis medicine at cheap market prices.
Example: in June 2000, at the urging of Big Pharma, Bill
Clinton threatened trade sanctions against Argentina for
that nation's daring to offer low-cost drugs to Southern
Gates knows darn well that "intellectual property rights"
laws such as TRIPS -- which keep him and Melinda richer than
Saddam and the Mafia combined -- are under attack by Nelson
Mandela and front-line doctors trying to getÊcut-rate drugs
to the 23 million Africans sick with the AIDS virus. Gate's
brilliant and self-serving solution: he's spending an
itsy-bitsy part of his monopoly profits (the $6 billion
spent by Gates' foundation is less than 2% of his net worth)
to buy some drugs for a fraction of the dying. The bully
billionaire's "philanthropic" organization is currently
working paw-in-claw with the big pharmaceutical companies in
support of the blockade on cheap drug shipments.
Gates' game is given away by the fact that his Foundation
has invested $200 million in the very drug companies
stopping the shipment of low-cost AIDS drugs to Africa.
Gates says his plan is to reach one million people with
medicine by the end of the decade. Another way to read it:
he's locking in a trade system that will effectively block
the delivery of medicine to over 20 million.
The computer magnate's scheme has a powerful ally. "The
president could have been reading from a script prepared by
Mr. Gates," enthuses the Times' cub reporter, referring to
Mr. Bush's AIDS plan offered up this week to skeptical
Africans. The US press does not understand why Africans
don't jump for Bush's generous handout. None note that the
money held out to the continent's desperate nations has
strings attached or, more accurately, chains and manacles.
The billions offered are mostly loans at full interest which
may be used only to buy patent drugs from US companies at a
price several times that available from other nations. What
Africans want, an end to the devastating tyranny of TRIPS
and other trade rules, is dismissed by the Liberator of
We are all serfs on Microsoft's and Big Pharma's
'intellectual property.' If Gates' fake philanthropy
eviscerates the movement to free Africans from the tyranny
of TRIPS, then Bill and Melinda's donations could have the
effect of killing more Africans than then even their PR
agents claim they have saved. And for our own Republic, we
can only hope that when the bully-boy billionaire injects
his next wad of loot into the Bush political campaign, he
uses a condom.
Copyright (c) 2003 Greg Palast.