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The Irish Times: The Bill Gates Problem

Updated: May 5

Review of "The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire" by Tim Schwab in the Irish Times


As the festive season gains steam, most of us will contemplate giving over the coming weeks. In addition to purchasing gifts for our nearest and dearest, many will engage in private acts of charity. According to The Wheel, 77 per cent of Irish adults donated to charity in 2022, while The Irish Times reported that in 2019 Ireland ranked fifth in the world for giving, with the article appropriately subtitled “Small-scale giving is in our nature”.


However, the obvious benefits of small-scale charity often lead us to overlook the qualitatively different world of large-scale philanthropy. It is precisely this kind of philanthropy, now often referred to as “impact investing” or “philanthrocapitalism” among insiders, that forms the topic of investigative journalist Tim Schwab’s book.


Although this is his first book, Schwab is not a rookie journalist, and he has selected an ideal subject for his investigations. Gates’s lengthy history of personal and professional controversy is included, including his relationship with former business partner Paul Allen, which the book’s intro details in slightly gossiping fashion. Gates presides over the second-wealthiest charitable organisation in the world, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which holds close to $70 billion in assets. To put this in perspective, only the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the de facto primary shareholder of the insulin and Ozempic producing Novo Nordisk pharmaceutical company, is wealthier.


Read the full review on the Irish Times here

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