Thursday, February 7, 2008

Poor Bill Gates

Bill Gates has apparently decided that the key to lifting the world's poor out of poverty is to shame corporate America into throwing its loose change at charities. (And of course, one has to suspect that Bill Gates's own charitable trust is the best one to funnel those dollars into.)

The author of this article, Bill Easterly, makes the practical case against the kind of "charity" Bill Gates wants to impose on the poor, and he makes a great argument in favor of the kind of capitalism Bill Gates himself has benefited from, so there's no need for me to rehash his insights. Rather, I write to ask a more subjective question: "Are we really all that surprised that Bill Gates (having found his self-aggrandizement futile) now finds his messiahship worthwhile?"

Hardly! After all, this is the same Bill Gates who just a few years ago told Time Magazine: "Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."

Please understand, I truly wish Bill Gates all the best -- by which I mean, I wish he'd take the advice of the One to whom he will ultimately give account: Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. (Rev 3:17-18)

"Alas, poor Bill Gates!" I do plead with you: "Apply the salve of humility to your eyes, and look up -- look up and gaze on the One who 'though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.' (2 Corinthians 8:9) Let Him clothe you in His righteousness. (Revelation 19:8)" And finally I beg you, "Spend your few remaining shekels of time procuring the gold that endures."

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