Uncharitable charity


The press has been buzzing for a few days over hyper-billionaire Warren Buffett's arrangement to merge most of his money with Bill Gates' foundation. To the extent that they do something good that benefits people, this is laudable.

On the other hand, I can't get all sanguine about it, since Buffett, like Gates, has been a population-control zealot for years and, as Mary Meehan wrote in 2001, a big donor to abortionists in the US and overseas. He even bankrolled the liars of (well, really they're ex-)Catholics for a Free Choice.

One commentator in the business press has the nerve to point out that this supposed Mr. Philanthropy earned his money the old-fashioned way: with ruthless amorality.

But that's not a surprise, considering he wants to "help" the poor by seeing that fewer of them make it to birth.


Lately, whenever I mention in family conversations about Gates and Buffett giving all this money to population control, their defendants amongst my relatives will say, "well, maybe, but they also give a lot of money to good things. Gates gives schools computers and stuff." How do I conter-argue that?

Really you don't have to rebut it.

The logic of their position is: he gives money to abort babies, but on the other hand, he gives computers away. (Or gives money to legitimate health care projects: whatever.)

I'd just ask (in a nice way, wanting to understand their point of view): "And that kind of balances it out?"

That is so transparently absurd that you don't need to persuade them it's wrong. Interiorly, they know already that promoting killing is a bad thing, and it can't be dismissed just by saying: the guy does some good deeds too. People know that, so you can just nod and be pleasant and let them come around in their own time.

The thing is RC, I've had a similar argument with my father, and he does think they balance out. He claims that just because an organization gives money to a pro-abortion charity, as long as their giving money to good causes as well, it's okay. He would accuse me of, "not seeing the forest for the trees."
It's also one of the many ways that he continues to justify voting for pro-abortion candidates.

Your dad's right that there is an issue of perspective here. If I may switch metaphors: some people don't seem to notice the elephant in the room.

Buffett gives money to an organization that supplies suction pumps to perform abortions. This is not just supporting an organization that has pro-abortion policies; it's direct subsidy of killing.

Now, a particularly illogical person might say that it's acceptable to do some killings as long as you do some good deeds to make up for it, but I doubt that most people would accept that as a general rule for society.

I'm pretty sure Gates has changed the focus of his foundation away from population control and giving away computers to disease eradication in the Third World. All of the stories in the last three years that I can find focus on that aspect. If I recall correctly, this was a result of a trip to Africa, when he and his wife were shocked to find that Internet access wasn't the top priority for most Africans.

part of the issue I have with the focus of the Gates Foundation is that they are big vaccine supporters - and it isn't that vaccines are necessarily evil, but that many of them derive from aborted babies. Granted, these abortions were mostly in the 1960s, and no new babies have been killed to make the new vaccines - but I still have issues with this.

I have a hard time comprehending anyone's objections to Warren Buffett's gift of billions to the Gates Foundation, especially by people who believe themselves to be moral beings. If this act of generosity can't be judged as an ethically positive event, then there is something seriously wrong with us as Catholics.

In the last five years, the Gates Foundation has had great success in a variety of health-improvement projects in over 30 countries. It has been praised in virtually every corner of the world as a philanthropic organization of the highest calibre -- ethical, efficient, effective, benevolent. Their projects have had tangible, documented impact in reducing diseases and improving health for millions of people, world-wide, and this doesn't even consider the long-term benefits to the unborn offspring of those whose lives have improved so dramatically.

For those who may now feel a flash of anger at the paragraph above, I ask: What more could you possibly want? Must every action or idea be absolutely 'pure' of any 'stain' of population
control or reproductive health for it to be morally and ethically acceptable?

What would Jesus say about this issue? I'd bet he'd say we've lost our collective minds for debating this gesture for even one minute.

Was I too harsh, Jim? I don't mean to deny Gates or Buffett credit for doing something good. After all, see my first paragraph above.

Gates positively has improved from his initial approach, when he seemed to think that Africa needed computers and condoms above all else. So definitely it's two cheers for him doing something positive for public health, when it's by moral means. We certainly ought to ask God to help their good deeds; maybe whatever grace is at work in them will dispose these guys to go further in a direction that does good for people.

As to your objection: I don't usually dare to speak for our Lord Jesus, but I doubt that any sort of public benefaction would bring him to lay aside His concern-- no; make that: outrage about the killing of children.

You people make me ill. All you care about is your rediculous religion. We wouldn't want less kids born for the catholic church to screw up. I think your group has "put people first" to such an extreme that any thinking person sees the hypocracy of your every thought and ideal. You don't really care about the rest of the world, only the idiots that think they can commit almost any sin and cure it with confession and mysterious chants. You would have a world with no regard for science and nature, where the other creatures on our planet are there to serve you in your selfish "greatness". Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have my support while you vile hate mongers make me want to hand out birth control to catholic children so we can stop the madness!

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On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

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This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on June 29, 2006 1:36 AM.

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