The Hypocrisy of Philanthropy
It is all over the news how Bill Gates predicted the current pandemic some years ago. The man is not an epidemiologist or a doctor, but one of his many charities focuses on pandemics. Therefore, he has become a Nostradamus for predicting this pandemic and the ones in the future.
I wonder if he foresaw how the Trump presidency would turn the greatest democracy on earth into a banana republic, because the federal government’s efficiency does play a critical role in controlling the epidemic.
In 2009, when the H1N1 flu pandemic broke out in US, over 60 million people were infected and 12,000 people died between April 2009 to April 2010, according to the CDC website. Yet, we barely remember it, because the novice Obama administration managed it in a way that did not upend our daily lives, while trying to heal a cratered economy left behind by the Bush administration.
Yet, Here we are today in the middle of a pandemic lockdown, where a thriving economy has come to a standstill, where governors and city mayors are scrambling for ventilators and other life-saving equipment, health workers are dangerously short of masks, isolation gowns and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), while FEMA has become useless, CDC bungled the testing, the Navy fired a captain who was only looking out for his crew, churlish Mr. Kushner says he won’t help the states because these are “our” stockpiles, while over half a million people are infected and twenty-thousand people have died in a span of two months, in a continuing nightmare of growing infections and deaths, President Stable Genius is very happy with himself because his television ratings are up.
The reason this pandemic is as bad as it is, in our nation, has to do more with the bottomless ineptitude and corruption of the Trump administration than any prophecy. President Trump disbanding the team of pandemic experts and weakening the federal government by filling it with clueless loyalists, has more to do with the predicament our nation is in, than any prophecy.
In any previous administration, the federal government would have sprung into action early on to contain the crisis, instead of dilly-dallying wishing for miracles and sunny days. Once the problem was brought under control, the US government would have taken the lead in providing assistance to other nations in helping them cope with their crisis.
Therefore, I wish Mr. Bill Gates would focus on pressuring the Trump administration in doing its job properly, rather than rub our noses in the pandemic by saying, ‘I told you so.’¹
If Mr. Bill Gates truly wants to help our nation, let him organize an initiative with the other wealthy people and force our government at various levels to help resolve the fundamental problems of perennial poverty in our nation. The predominant reason lot of people are suffering economically in this pandemic is because of deep income disparity, where a majority of people live precariously from paycheck to paycheck, several of whom have lost their jobs in the lockdown and the situation has become dire for many.
As a first concrete step to help our nation, I would like to see Mr. Gates take initiatives to reverse the 2018 tax law passed by the Trump administration, which was a giveaway to the ultra-rich. According to a 2017 article in Forbes, 50% of our nation’s wealth is owned by Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos, while the rest of us have to make do with the other 50%.
Think about it, three households in our nation carve out half the pie for themselves, while 63 million households have to make do with the other half. Is it any wonder that a large number of the population are left without a single crumb? In the past two years, since the tax-giveaway, the gap has only grown wider, with Trump administration and the Republicans taking steps to gut the programs that protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
All of this renders moot, the idea of philanthropy as an act of generosity. When the wealthy few, tilt the functions of government in their favor, their magnanimity reeks of hypocrisy. If we think about it a lot of these wealthy philanthropists in our country are not giving away that much. What they are doing is using their wealth to control us in a different form.
For those government programs that gets de-funded, when the perpetually wealthy don’t pay their fair share of taxes, they can always start a charity, to fill that need. Thus, these private individuals and their families can hold the rest of us beholden, because only they get to decide who gets what, how much and on what terms, as though they are kings and the rest of us are peasants at their mercy. If the wealthy and powerful stopped meddling with our democracy and ensured fairness, there would be less need for private charities and even if there were such charities, their generosity would be sincere and free of hypocrisy.
Therefore, instead of predicting the next pandemic, I wish Mr. Gates would explain to us about the hidden means through which the wealthy and the powerful fortify and expand their wealth, at the expense of the majority of American taxpayers. Let him explain what steps he would take to fix the problems created by this covert feudal system built by people like him who are hollowing out our nation and by extension vaporizing the American Dream.
If he doesn’t know what is going on in our nation, I recommend that he take a session with Bernie Sanders, where he educates the audience about income inequality:
¹Note: Mr. Bill Gates never said, ‘I told you so’. But given what we are going through, for him to go around saying that he predicted this pandemic years ago, when so many are sick and dying, for someone of his stature, seemed petty. So I used the phrase, ‘I told you so’, to show the effect his actions had on me. As such this is my interpretation of his actions, within the context. It is not something he said at all.