Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Monday, July 10, 2006

How Would You Have Spent Buffet's Billions?

I've been meaning to ask: How would you have spent Buffet's billions?

He donated $31 billion to the Gates Foundation. That's a lot of money.

At first it seemed in poor taste (and certainly taboo) to criticize Buffet's largesse, but the fact is, that was a once-in-a-generation gift. I for one don't know enough about the Gates Foundation to evaluate it. They're going for a cure for AIDS, and not even little old contrarian me can fault that goal. But I can ask: are they the best people to pursue that goal? Who else could have used that $31 billion better?

Some others have already weighed in. The Nation piece is especially trenchant in its critique of the popular but ineffective efforts of the Gates Foundation and similar foundations:

[T]he health system in the United States is busted. That is where Gates and Buffett might have come in had they had the onions to use their money to redesign the system and generate the political force to put the design into effect.

Such an undertaking would have pitted the Gates/Buffett-financed forces against the insurance companies, the nursing home chains, the hospital cartels and the drug monopolies. Success would have meant that in any given year, ten times the Buffett fortune would have been rescued from the health racketeers and redirected to prolonging life and happiness in the United States.

Whether in Africa or Chillicothe, Ohio, a drug or treatment is useless if the institutional arrangements do not exist to get it to the patient in a timely and humane fashion. Currently, such arrangements do not exist at all in many parts of Africa and exist in the United States in only a dwarfed and defective form.

So, you win a billion dollars or 30 in the lottery. How would you spend it?

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