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Col 3: Charitable foundations are not necessarily good


This column is a little unusual as seemingly it has little to do with retirement. However, it will give you a better understanding of how the world is manipulated by people such as Trump, Putin and Xi, but also by international companies and in the end in one way or another it impacts on you.

Bruce Cameron 30July2023 Charitable foundations are not necessarily good

By Bruce Cameron
Co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Retirement in South Africa


A little over a year ago, while browsing in a bookshop, I picked up a book called the The End of Money by David Buckham, Robyn Wilkinson and Christiaan Strauli.

It was a fascinating journey through more the 100 international financial crises - and predictions of more to come. I was surprised that the authors are all from South Africa.

The book was incredibly well-researched and was definitely saleable on an international level.

Now they have published a second book: Unequal: How extreme inequality is damaging democracy, and what we can do about it. It is equally as good and also well-researched.

But this time the book is being sold internationally. Initially it was published under The Age of Menace: Capital, Inequality & the Battle for Dignity

What they underscore in the new book is that the battle for “good versus evil” is at a precarious high.

On the side of evil are assorted groups from “capitalism run amok” to “autocratic totalitarian authoritarianism”. Both are likely to result in worse economic hardship for the average person. Clearly part of the problem is the failure of politicians to tell the truth or use double-speak whether it is Putin, Trump, Johnstone or Xi.

A big problem for liberal democracy lies in the decoupling of democracy and capitalism, particularly when it is made more complicated by giant multi-national, virtual monopolies like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Tesla and Netscape.

The chapters vary through many topics with one of the more important being the role of monopolies and their hypocrisy.  In a chapter The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Gates comes in for harsh criticism and Gates is accused of remoulding himself from “a ruthless businessman” to a “billionaire philanthropist”.

The billionaire philanthropists are now placed in a position of solving many of the inequality problems that they have actually been instrumental in creating – and then they used their donations to often stimulate existing problems which many governments would have attacked.

A prime example is the use of vaccines for the Covid 19 pandemic. Researchers at Oxford University wanted to generate free access for a vaccine with all researchers contributing. This was opposed by Gates, who wanted the sale of high-profit patented vaccines. This resulted in middle to low income countries not receiving the vaccines initially – something South Africa and India were partly successful in challenging.

The type of companies, in which the assets of the ‘philanthropic’ foundation are invested, also contribute to inequality.

The book quotes sociology lecturer, Linsey McGoey, a former adviser to the World Health Organisation, as labelling them “philanthrocapitalism” in her book “No such thing as a free gift: The Gates Foundation and the price of Philanthropy.”

And in being philanthropists many avoid paying the correct or even any taxes.

Although not mentioned in the book, many of these billionaire philanthropists can also be found in South Africa.

The authors say the billionaires take “no responsibility for the political or social carnage they leave in their wake.”

The authors say that without addressing all these major problems of evil it will be impossible to “tackle poverty, address carbon emissions, survive another health crisis”, or, even “address international minimum tax rates, conscionable immigration policies or fair-minded trade tariffs”.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, the authors say, may help to reignite international human dignity and lead to a revival of liberal democracy and new, telling international organisations.

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