15 votes

The world loses under Bill Gates’ vaccine colonialism

31 comments

  1. [4]
    Autoxidation
    Link
    A few years ago, I worked on a machine-learning project that detected and classified buildings based off of satellite imagery. That work was entirely funded by the Gates Foundation, who used those...

    A few years ago, I worked on a machine-learning project that detected and classified buildings based off of satellite imagery. That work was entirely funded by the Gates Foundation, who used those maps with micro census data to build accurate census data for developing countries with little access to healthcare. Then the Gates Foundation funded vaccines and other point of access health care to those communities.

    Bill could sit on his billions like Musk or fund other profit seeking adventures like Bezos does, but he chose (or was convinced by Melinda) to create those kinds of opportunities for people. Maybe there was an ulterior motive of rebranding himself, but I can't ignore that it was, and is, a force of good in the world.

    There is a lot wrong in this world, often done for profit, greed, and hate. I have a hard time believing that project wasn't both moral and good, both for those people that received care (and probably still do!) and the world as a whole.

    21 votes
    1. [3]
      entangledamplitude
      Link Parent
      Was this data/report ever released? I’d love to get an understanding of the healthcare facilities in different regions!

      Was this data/report ever released? I’d love to get an understanding of the healthcare facilities in different regions!

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        Autoxidation
        Link Parent
        The data was paid for by their charity, so as far as I know, they owned it after it was delivered to them. I'm not aware of them releasing it to the general public.

        The data was paid for by their charity, so as far as I know, they owned it after it was delivered to them. I'm not aware of them releasing it to the general public.

        2 votes
        1. entangledamplitude
          Link Parent
          Fair enough, but that feels like a lost opportunity on their part :-)

          Fair enough, but that feels like a lost opportunity on their part :-)

          1 vote
  2. [28]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [26]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      It's more like people are using his recent bad press as reason to haul out long-established criticism for him. Personally speaking, I've always thought that his idea of "effective altruism" was...

      It's more like people are using his recent bad press as reason to haul out long-established criticism for him.

      Personally speaking, I've always thought that his idea of "effective altruism" was just a fancy way of saying "I'd like to keep my money; how can I get the best positive publicity without spending it?"

      Fun fact; if you took Bill Gates' current net worth and divided it by the median cost of a house, the number you'd get is greater than the current estimate of homeless people. He has so much money, he could nearly afford to pay for the full tuition of every child in poverty as long as they go through their state school. And if you think that his money would be best put in less fortunate foreign countries, consider the fact that he has more money than the vast majority of African countries (in terms of GDP). Heck, he's worth more than the GDP of almost every eastern-most European nations. And of course, this is based on figures made after his divorce.

      To give you an idea of how much Bill Gates actually spends on charity, I've found a source that says that he has given approximately $50 Billion USD to charities since 1994. But he also managed to increase his worth by $41 Billion dollars in the past year alone, and is still the 4th richest person in the world.

      14 votes
      1. rogue_cricket
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Yeah, I'm not keen on billionaire charity. They appropriate funds from public entities and skim off the value of the wealth their employees create to become billionaires to begin with. Then they...
        • Exemplary

        Yeah, I'm not keen on billionaire charity. They appropriate funds from public entities and skim off the value of the wealth their employees create to become billionaires to begin with. Then they take this money and, once they are satisfied with their personal yacht collection, donate what they feel they can spare towards their special interests. Largely they do this in ways that extend and enhance their own soft power. It's not charity in the same way an average person does it, it's an exchange for control and influence.

        Is it good that Bill Gates is helping poor people get medical treatment? Sure. But this is all money that could have been spent democratically, and perhaps if we as a society hadn't allowed people like him to hoard it, we would be in better positions to prevent the need for charity at all. For healthcare anywhere to be dependent on charity, let alone a single person's charity, is a terrible situation to be in!

        The only billionaire whose philanthropy I even begrudgingly respect is MacKenzie Scott, who gives charities large sums of money with very few stipulations on how that money is spent or whether they have to name something after her. When rich people donate large sums to charity, they often still want fundamentally to control the money. It is rare enough to not do this that charities have taken special note of Scott.

        15 votes
      2. [3]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        Caveat: effective altruism (the movement) is a different crowd. I don't think there have ever been close ties between them and Bill Gates? Looking at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's...

        Caveat: effective altruism (the movement) is a different crowd. I don't think there have ever been close ties between them and Bill Gates?

        Looking at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's financial report: they have about $50 billion in assets and seem to be spending about $6 billion a year. (Despite the name, it's not just the Gates; Warren Buffett is funding them as well.) Yes, it looks like most of his net worth isn't donated yet. (It's a bit murky due to "pledges" which is money promised but not donated yet.)

        One thing to realize is that when the market is going up like it has, anyone can make money as long as they don't screw up. The S&P 500 has about doubled in 5 years, and Microsoft has gone up more than 4x, so it's not at all surprising that Gates' net worth is way up. If it weren't way up then that would mean his financial management team is no good.

        12 votes
        1. [2]
          Akir
          Link Parent
          I was actually surprised to hear you say that about him not being a part of the effective altruism movement, because I seem to remember a lot of his statements about how he handled his charity...

          I was actually surprised to hear you say that about him not being a part of the effective altruism movement, because I seem to remember a lot of his statements about how he handled his charity "like an investment" or something like that, which he stated before effective altruism even had a term for it. But looking further into it, it looks like there's been a growth of people interested in the philosophy and it has somewhat changed it's course.

          I'm fully aware of the market going way up in the past few years, and to be clear I am not looking to say "look how evil he is" for it. But the fact of the matter is that he's not a public benefactor, and even though his hand isn't directly in business he's getting even more rich just by being rich. I'm sure we're all aware of the concept of the Time Value of Money. By keeping his money now, it just becomes more valuable later. The same is true if he were to have given it to people in need, especially if they could use it to build more stable lives for themselves.

          Paging @Adys just so I can keep my comments together; I'm aware of the fact that he's made the Giving Pledge, but frankly I don't have that high of an opinion of it. I've already explained the issues with TVM, but it also isn't a legally binding pledge. He can change his mind at any time. I also don't like the idea of the Giving Pledge because it seems to be more about marketing than charity because it doesn't actually give any specific timelines. "Yeah, you'll get the money. One day. Soon, I promise."

          Beyond that, I have to say I really don't like the idea of billionaire philanthropy because at the end of the day, it's the billionaires who decide who is worthy of it and who is not, and not the public. I don't criticize Gate's philanthropic choices, but even if he did use effective altruism to decide who to help, at the end of the day he's the one who made the decision, so it's completely arbitrary. And keep in mind that many billionaires are actively using their money to shape the world the way they see fit, and we largely think of them as evil; think about families like the Mercers or Kochs.

          7 votes
          1. skybrian
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Yes, it's a similar idea: looking for charitable giving that’s cost-effective in lives saved and similar metrics. Certainly, vaccination is one of the most cost-effective things out there, very...

            Yes, it's a similar idea: looking for charitable giving that’s cost-effective in lives saved and similar metrics. Certainly, vaccination is one of the most cost-effective things out there, very cheap for lives saved. The UN, most governments, and the big foundations (especially the Gates Foundation) all agree on this.

            The effective altruism movement is more closely associated with younger people with smaller amounts of money to donate. GiveWell doesn't have any charities doing vaccinations in its list of recommended causes because they can't compete with governments and the big foundations, so they're looking for something different. GiveWell mostly recommends charities in Africa (particularly Against Malaria, which gives out bednets). Other causes that seem popular with that crowd are existential risks and animal welfare.

            It seems like "Is Bill Gates a public benefactor or not" isn't the right question. He's one of the biggest out there, though only 13th in this list for 2020.

            If you ask, "is he donating to charities fast enough to keep up with the growth of his net worth," the answer seems to be no.

            4 votes
      3. [17]
        Adys
        Link Parent
        He and Melinda also signed the Giving Pledge. I don't really have a problem with a rich person getting richer if that money is put to good use afterwards.

        He and Melinda also signed the Giving Pledge. I don't really have a problem with a rich person getting richer if that money is put to good use afterwards.

        5 votes
        1. [16]
          vord
          Link Parent
          I would rather all of that money circulate now, and be put to good use now. Not 20+ years from now, and certainly not directed by the people handing it out. Institute a hard wealth cap (I like 10...

          I would rather all of that money circulate now, and be put to good use now. Not 20+ years from now, and certainly not directed by the people handing it out. Institute a hard wealth cap (I like 10 million). Anybody above that cap gets taxed at 50% of total wealth annually until below the cap. Let those assets be distributed democratically, not via aristocracy.

          Billionaires should not exist, it is a failing of the economic system. If money is representative of resources, then billionaires are the epitome of dragons sitting upon piles of gold.

          12 votes
          1. [13]
            Adys
            Link Parent
            Just want to address this separately, because $10MM is very low and would affect a lot of people (which isn't to say it's necessarily a bad thing, but the more people you affect, the more likely...

            Institute a hard wealth cap (I like 10 million). Anybody above that cap gets taxed at 50% of total wealth annually until below the cap.

            Just want to address this separately, because $10MM is very low and would affect a lot of people (which isn't to say it's necessarily a bad thing, but the more people you affect, the more likely it is there's externalities you haven't thought about). One example would be that you'd get people pulling all their assets out of the US and lose out on taxing them altogether. Another point you have to think about is to keep the cap updated for inflation, and if your economy is healthy, the lower it is the more you'll have to update it lest too many people hit it.

            One last example: Say I have $20MM cash. I put $15MM into a very fancy house which is now part of my net worth. Are you still taxing me? If so, how am I paying for it?

            IMO you're one magnitude too low for such a solution to be workable at all.

            As an aside, there's multiple types of rich (and ultrarich) people in the US and you probably want to look at each group separately. People who just have a ton of useless accumulated wealth from an inheritance are a good target. That's why inheritance taxes usually work really well. Those who are getting rich actively off their work are a more complex target: For some of them, you might want the work they're doing to be put to a stop because, for example, it's predatory or otherwise harmful. But that's not a tax question. For some others, you don't necessarily want them to stop doing what they're doing, and above all you want to be careful not to straight up prevent people from creating value.

            As an aside, I also believe that within certain limits, it's a good thing to have lots of people rich enough to effect changes that would otherwise be left to governments. There's a very limited amount of governments on the planet, and they all tend to function very similarly, and none of them particularly efficiently. A one-off "eat the rich" in the US would have large amounts of wealth going to the US government, which is already ultrarich. What good would that achieve, concretely?

            Or to put it another way (and maybe I'm cynical here but I'll defend the point), you'd probably have a fuckton of that money going into the defense budget, lots ending up in a bunch of money-hungry departments, and maybe some sliver would end up increasing a few schools' budget. Given that many of those people being taxed regularly give money to education directly, you might have actually made a loss on even that.

            The hard truth is that the US government has all the money it needs to fix a lot of problems that primarily affect lower classes. It chooses not to, by not distributing the money it has to the areas that need it. Infusing the US government with more cash won't fix that, and while I don't think the money you're targeting is generally being used particularly well right now, simply taking it would probably make the problem worse.

            4 votes
            1. [12]
              vord
              Link Parent
              I do have a solution for that: Nobody should be able to own a home with that level of disparity. If the property is in such high demand, perhaps it should be publicly owned and now under private...

              One last example: Say I have $20MM cash. I put $15MM into a very fancy house which is now part of my net worth. Are you still taxing me? If so, how am I paying for it?

              I do have a solution for that: Nobody should be able to own a home with that level of disparity.

              If the property is in such high demand, perhaps it should be publicly owned and now under private ownership.

              If you buy a property and improve it yourself, that's fine. When you sell off that property, it can be sold below what you put into it, or any money acquired at that sale are forfeited.

              And a hard cap just means that's where the wealth stops completely. Start a soft cap at 1 million...where income tax rates start hitting 95%+, and wealth taxes start increasing. Make it virtually impossible to hit 5 million, let alone 10. The net affect would be that homes would rarely sell for more than a few hundred thousand simply because it would be too hard to make opulent mansions out of the reach of an average person.

              Yes, the US government is the most dysfunctional on the planet. It's high time for a proper replacement....the average person (the kind without even a few thousand to their name) pay more in taxes and recieve less benefits than much of the rest of the world. That doesn't change the underlying ideology of how immoral billionaires are, and even multi-millionaires. There's a simple solution to avoiding paying so much tax: Pay out more to the workers who are doing most of the actual work of your company.

              4 votes
              1. [8]
                Adys
                Link Parent
                I don't think you understand what you're asking. There's going to be disparity no matter what, because there are things which are worth millions, tens of millions, sometimes even hundreds of...

                I do have a solution for that: Nobody should be able to own a home with that level of disparity.

                I don't think you understand what you're asking. There's going to be disparity no matter what, because there are things which are worth millions, tens of millions, sometimes even hundreds of millions of something else.

                Or to put it another way, how many apples will you give me for my apartment? What about my entire building? What about this hotel?

                Nevermind real estate. Let's imagine we're in a world where real estate just works differently and perfectly. What about companies? Can a company not be worth $10MM? If I have $20MM and don't want to be taxed, I'll just buy a company, right?

                "But let's tax companies then". Well, yeah, targeted taxes work. You won't get the money you think you'll be getting though. And if you try, then it's not US companies the ultrarich will be buying.

                You're competing against other countries, remember.

                It feels like you haven't really thought this through. And honestly, I used to moderate some Blizzard game communities, and people would always come in and yell out their Magic Fix for player vs player balance. Such a simple solution. Then you dig into it and PvP balance was such a complex beast that it would take minutes for arguments to fall apart, or in the best case devolve into a much much much deeper dive than the original "magic fix".

                This was for simple, young games with mere millions of players. I think it's pretty naive to think any of world economics, class warfare, the tax code and corporate finances can all be fixed and simplified in anything smaller than the design doc it takes to change a Frostbolt's mana cost.

                6 votes
                1. [7]
                  spctrvl
                  Link Parent
                  I don't think you're completely following @vord's proposal. The idea isn't that nothing worth more than $10M can exist, it's that assets worth more than that must be owned and governed...

                  I don't think you're completely following @vord's proposal. The idea isn't that nothing worth more than $10M can exist, it's that assets worth more than that must be owned and governed collectively and democratically. In that way I think it's a little more sophisticated than you give it credit for, since it's effectively shifting the economy to market socialism, but starting with big businesses and the ultra-wealthy rather than with the collectivization of agriculture or something.

                  6 votes
                  1. [6]
                    Adys
                    Link Parent
                    I'm trying to give it weight but there's a lot missing here. Let's say a $10M home can't exist / can't be owned by a single person. Can I have two $5M homes? We're talking about a class of people...

                    I'm trying to give it weight but there's a lot missing here.

                    Let's say a $10M home can't exist / can't be owned by a single person. Can I have two $5M homes?

                    We're talking about a class of people that invented its own currency (art) in order to give themselves liquidity that can bypass the government. I've witnessed so many of these rules being so easily bypassed, maybe I'm a little blasé about it now.

                    3 votes
                    1. [5]
                      spctrvl
                      Link Parent
                      I believe the idea is that you can't personally control more than $10M in assets.

                      I believe the idea is that you can't personally control more than $10M in assets.

                      7 votes
                      1. [4]
                        Adys
                        Link Parent
                        And so what prevents me from hiring someone to act on my behalf, who would own something on my behalf? (Yeah, this is something rich people do. Today.) Welcome to taxes Whack-a-Mole. Have a seat,...

                        And so what prevents me from hiring someone to act on my behalf, who would own something on my behalf? (Yeah, this is something rich people do. Today.)

                        Welcome to taxes Whack-a-Mole. Have a seat, this might take a while…

                        We do have strategies that are known to work: hyper-targeted taxes. If you're casting a broad net, people can easily dodge it; but with very specific targeting, it gets harder. The more specific the target, the more likely it is to only hit the people you want to hit, too -- I don't need to be omniscient to know a massive change like the one proposed above would do collateral damage.

                        And my overarching point is that you don't need this money to fix things. The idea that "the most dysfunctional on the planet" (quoting @vord) would redistribute it efficiently and equitably is madness anyway. They're not distributing the trillions they already have, correctly. More money would make things even worse.

                        That the ultrarich have too much power is another matter. I agree it's a problem. It's not true of those with a mere $10MM to their name (I know a lot of people at that range; the money is convenient, but what power they have is in knowing how things work, not in the money itself). Tax restructuring won't solve this.

                        In general I don't think you want to make it more difficult to make money. You want to make it easier to those who can't, or don't know how. You want to boost education, remove the predators, remove traps (such as self-perpetuating loans), make it as easy as possible to learn and hone unique skills, teach entrepreneurship, add safety nets, etc etc. All these things are incremental and can be done today. That is, there's a future in which these things actually happen.

                        The whole fantasy about overthrowing the government and putting in a quickly-drafted version of socialism, idk, it seems like a waste of time to talk about it. I'm happy to entertain the idea here for the sake of figuring out if there's some good things that could be learned there, but so far I'm not convinced the approach would solve the actual problem it's trying to address.

                        7 votes
                        1. [3]
                          vord
                          (edited )
                          Link Parent
                          The ultra-rich will always have too much power. If you can afford to say "I will pay you 300k annually to do my bidding for 60 hours a week," then you will have exponentially more power than the...
                          • Exemplary

                          That the ultrarich have too much power is another matter. I agree it's a problem.

                          The ultra-rich will always have too much power. If you can afford to say "I will pay you 300k annually to do my bidding for 60 hours a week," then you will have exponentially more power than the person you are paying that 300k. Money talks, as they say. Corruption is fueled by it. The only way to eliminate this power gap is to eliminate the wealth gap.

                          I'm not explicitly talking about making it harder to earn money. I'm talking about making it exponentially harder to make more than a standard deviation of money than any other person.

                          Any wealth accumulated beyond that gets progressively taxed higher. As @spctrvl gleaned, it's very much about collective ownership of assets. So if you start a business solo, you earn all income you make. You hire a worker, they aren't a worker, they're a partner. Equal sharing of the profits. Fractional ownership of every company, every employee equal.

                          So if anything, making money will be easier for 95% of people. Because rather than just collecting the lowest wage a company can get away with, they'll be collecting the sum of the value they helped create. Having that shared distribution of wealth accumulation will make it much harder to build these gigantic stockpiles of cash.

                          The whole fantasy about overthrowing the government and putting in a quickly-drafted version of socialism, idk, it seems like a waste of time to talk about it.

                          I'd say it's an important thing to talk about, because if enough people agree on a path forward, it becomes possible to make that change. Nothing is more infuriating to me than people who say "Well that's nice, but that's not the way it is, so why should we try to change it" The only reason it is this way is because people accept what is, as good enough. These convos tend to go off the rails I think in part because simple proposals (let's stop creating billionaires and start bleeding the existing wealth slowly) quickly turn into "well what about this policy problem." It feels like if a simple idea is tossed out into the ether without a fully-formed constitution and pre-made legal precedent it gets dismissed. I even tried to hint that the 10 million was kinda an arbitrary cutoff. Not to say you explicitly did this stuff (the rant spiraled a bit), but I feel a lot of disruptive political discussion goes this way, which makes it harder to have.

                          8 votes
                          1. [2]
                            Akir
                            Link Parent
                            I wish that there were more businesses like you mentioned. I think co-ops are the best types of businesses; they have the tendency of keeping the quality of work extremely high. If I had the...

                            I wish that there were more businesses like you mentioned. I think co-ops are the best types of businesses; they have the tendency of keeping the quality of work extremely high. If I had the choice, I would purchase everything from co-ops because I know that my money is going to the people who are in charge of making their product or service so great.

                            8 votes
                            1. spctrvl
                              (edited )
                              Link Parent
                              I think forming an economic federation of co-ops with the goal of producing all of the necessities of life is probably the single most important thing we can do when it comes to building dual...

                              I think forming an economic federation of co-ops with the goal of producing all of the necessities of life is probably the single most important thing we can do when it comes to building dual power structures. Something like a cross between Mondragon and the IWW.

                              8 votes
              2. [3]
                hhh
                Link Parent
                1 million in assets is an average amount of wealth. depending on the location it would mean a pretty thrifty retirement. even at 5 million dollars and you're still living normally. you're living...

                Start a soft cap at 1 million...where income tax rates start hitting 95%+, and wealth taxes start increasing. Make it virtually impossible to hit 5 million

                1 million in assets is an average amount of wealth. depending on the location it would mean a pretty thrifty retirement.
                even at 5 million dollars and you're still living normally. you're living very comfortably, sure, and won't have to stress about retiring or paying for college or what have you. you could maybe even buy a nice car or two, and live in a suburban mcmansion and send your kids to a private school. but it is fundamentally the same lifestyle as someone middle class. $5million doesn't get you shit in terms of power. and it's still very possible to lose $5million with poor decisions. it's upper-middle class.

                i think a soft cap is a good idea, but maybe instead starting at $10million and going up by a bit under a percent until $100million and hard capping at $100million.

                at $100 million you're rich. you have influence. but you're not heading a quasi-country like the billionaires under the current system are

                2 votes
                1. spctrvl
                  Link Parent
                  Something to consider is that without the possibility of the ultra rich hoarding things like real estate as investments, it's quite likely that houses and other necessities of life would cost...

                  Something to consider is that without the possibility of the ultra rich hoarding things like real estate as investments, it's quite likely that houses and other necessities of life would cost substantially less, and that wealth under the cap goes a lot further in material terms than it does today. And while low grade millionaires might not have that much political power as individuals, they have immense political power as a class, arguably more than billionaires, as well as immense economic power to command and live off of the labor of others, and both of these power structures are affronts to democracy that need to be done away with.

                  5 votes
                2. vord
                  Link Parent
                  You and I must be living in very different worlds. I'm pushing 40. I have about $30,000 to my name, between retirement fund, mortgage, and all other assets...no other debt. This puts me above...

                  1 million in assets is an average amount of wealth. depending on the location it would mean a pretty thrifty retirement.

                  You and I must be living in very different worlds. I'm pushing 40. I have about $30,000 to my name, between retirement fund, mortgage, and all other assets...no other debt. This puts me above average for my peers.

                  Also, in an ideal world, nobody needs millions for retirement because between proper pensions and social security, everyone will have a comfortable retirement

                  4 votes
          2. [2]
            Adys
            Link Parent
            I mostly agree with that but then, to borrow a parallel, the players can't be at fault if we acknowledge it's a problem of the game's broken mechanics. My problem with Gates are specific to his...

            Billionaires should not exist, it is a failing of the economic system.

            I mostly agree with that but then, to borrow a parallel, the players can't be at fault if we acknowledge it's a problem of the game's broken mechanics.

            My problem with Gates are specific to his past life not his current one. As far as I'm concerned, he's made up for them.

            2 votes
            1. PahoojyMan
              Link Parent
              The players are effectively rulemakers though, so they are definitely at fault.

              the players can't be at fault if we acknowledge it's a problem of the game's broken mechanics.

              The players are effectively rulemakers though, so they are definitely at fault.

              9 votes
      4. [4]
        suspended
        Link Parent
        Does anyone know what this criticism is?

        long-established criticism for him

        Does anyone know what this criticism is?

        2 votes
        1. [3]
          vord
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Well, for starters he lied, cheated, stole, and manipulated to build his empire. Built up a massive base then leveraged that base to squeeze out competition. Adopted standards and manipulated them...

          Well, for starters he lied, cheated, stole, and manipulated to build his empire. Built up a massive base then leveraged that base to squeeze out competition. Adopted standards and manipulated them so competitors stopped working. Microsoft almost killed Java. Stagnated browser development for a decade. Almost killed Apple, which I honestly liked until iTunes hit the scene and the lock-in ecosystem kicked into high gear. Decimated actually learning computer skills, replaced with training in Office.

          The slap on the wrist for one of the most egrarious violations of antitrust in modern industry paved the way for this mega-tech oligopoly. Amazon and Google would not exist as such if not for Microsoft. If you dislike them, you have Bill to blame.

          His charity does good work, but is also manipulative in its own right, the handling of the AstraZenica vaccine being the most recent.

          Bill is the perfect picture of a modern robber baron. Look through the wikipedia page, notice the common theme: Ruthless businessmen who didn't give a damn about legality or morality to make their money. They monopolized markets and abused their positions to get richer. Smuggling opium, murdering unionists, fraud, forming cartels, and tax dodging just to name a few. Many labor laws and business ethics laws are a direct result of their actions.

          All followed up with philanthropy. Yea, I guess it's better than purely hoarding it for themselves, but that's probably small comfort to those who were hurt along the way.

          To me, it feels like "Yea, I shot your friend in cold blood, but look I took the funds from his bank account to build a homeless shelter, so we're good right?"

          Edit: Oh man, I completely forgot about the lie that was the openness of docx. European governments started demanding open formats (like off in OpenOffice), to insure public documents remain accessible even if original product goes defunct, that somebody would be able to restore the content by reimplementing. Microsoft declared that docx was open, but it contained several binary blobs that couldn't be reimplemented.

          11 votes
          1. [2]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            History is complicated and alternate history is difficult; who knows what would have happened? Microsoft helped save Apple at one point. Also, if Netscape could compete for longer, maybe it...

            History is complicated and alternate history is difficult; who knows what would have happened?

            Microsoft helped save Apple at one point. Also, if Netscape could compete for longer, maybe it wouldn't have gone open source? And then perhaps Firefox would never have gotten the large market share it had at one point without IE stagnating? In the end it turned out that Java wasn't all that great anyway, and this was primarily self-inflicted.

            I'm not saying they're great; we all loved to hate Microsoft in the old days. But they didn't kill anyone as far as I know.

            9 votes
            1. vord
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              You and I are remembering a different history. The saving of Apple is an urban myth. Yea, they handed over money...as a settlement for a lawsuit. The big chain of what-ifs is kinda a moot point. I...

              You and I are remembering a different history. The saving of Apple is an urban myth. Yea, they handed over money...as a settlement for a lawsuit.

              The big chain of what-ifs is kinda a moot point. I don't really care about how the browsers continued to evolve, open browsers would have been a thing either way, as the free software movement was still underway. But more importantly, if not for the anti-competitive nature of it, IE likely wouldn't have ever hit that 98% or so marketshare. There would have been a much more open market, standards would have likely stabilized better. Opera likely would have remained a more-viable option....and Opera is/was awesome. The lack of monopolization would have driven that same level of competitive improvement that spawned with Firefox and Chrome entering the scene. Except continually since 1997 and not stagnating until ~2005 or so.

              Java is/was actually quite good...it took enterprises by storm, and there's still a thriving market to this day. The browser extension wasn't so good, but neither were the contemporaries of ActiveX and Flash, especially with regard to security. Android is a JVM, and it's quite performant. The code is immensely portable, making it a preferred target for much cross-platform software. There was a gigantic lawsuit regarding Microsoft's abuse of Java for Windows. MS Java was one of the staple cases of Embrace, Extend, Extinquish. It was mostly compatible with Sun Java...except that they added Windows-only extensions and various other breakage, which undermined one of the main advantages of cross-platform Java. C# exists becase Microsoft was cut off from Java.

              And I'm saying this as someone who didn't really understand just how abusive Microsoft was until about 2003, when I discovered free software. I even preferred Microsoft's products at the time.

              I've said it elsewhere (to you I think actually), but I won't trust Microsoft at their word until they release their core products under an MIT or GPL license. Until that day comes, any marketing material or ancillary free software they produce are merely advertisements or hooks into the rest of their platform.

              9 votes
    2. monarda
      Link Parent
      I almost didn't finish reading because the first paragraph added this sentence, which has nothing to do with anything in the article. It pisses me off because when I continued reading, I read...

      I almost didn't finish reading because the first paragraph added this sentence,

      But Bill Gates himself, subject to revived scrutiny around sexual misconduct and perhaps the most powerful person in global health, hasn’t budged.

      which has nothing to do with anything in the article. It pisses me off because when I continued reading, I read things and followed links I hadn't previously read about Bill gates lobbying efforts regarding vaccines and intellectual property rights. The only reason I went back and finished reading is because of yours and Akir's comments.

      10 votes