James Love (by way of t byfield <tbyfield@panix.com>) on Thu, 6 Aug 1998 04:00:01 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> philanthropy

[Original subject: "Bill Gates writes RN on Wealth 
 disparities letter, Ralph Nader's comment"-T]

On July 27, 1998, Ralph Nader sent a letter to Bill Gates, asking that
he and Warren Buffett convene a conference on national and global 
wealth disparities, and what to do about it.  Bill Gates wrote Mr. Nader
to respond, in a letter dated August 4, which Mr. Nader received today,
and Mr. Nader issued a brief statement in response to Mr. Gates' letter.
Mr. Nader's first letter is one the web at:

Mr. Gate's August 4, 1998 letter and Mr. Nader brief note are 
included below:

<----------------begin Bill Gates' Aug 4, 1998 letter-------->

August 4, 1998

Mr. Ralph Nader
Washington, DC 

Dear Mr. Nader:

I want to respond personally to the letter that you sent me last week
and address some of the topics you raised. Though we may disagree on a
number of issues about Microsoft and the incredible innovation and
competition in the software industry, it appears that we have something
in common: an interest in philanthropy.

It hasn't been much of a secret that I intend to give away the bulk of
my wealth during my lifetime. I regard myself as a steward of that
wealth, and on a number of occasions I have acknowledged what a great
privilege and responsibility it will be to return it to society.

Melinda and I have made a start on this process during the past few
years, and have endowed two philanthropic foundations with more than $1
billion. Those foundations fund efforts in public health, education and
the empowerment of the economically disadvantaged.

One project we are very excited about is providing PC and Internet
access to libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada. The vision of our
Library Foundation is that anyone- regardless of their social status or
income- who can get to a public library, will have access to the
tremendous resources of the Internet. Already, library patrons and
librarians are showing us the tremendous things people can accompllish
when given the right tools. Libraries have been very important
institutions to both Melinda and myself. I'm happy we could contribute
to their continued development in this way.

My primary responsibility at this time is to continue to guide
Microsoft. This work is very rewarding because I believe that the low
cost computing, which we have helped to create, is empowering people
everywhere and is helping to make important advances in health care and
education. Later in my career I will give away the bulk of whatever
wealth this work creates in a way that does the most good possible.

I am in agreement with my friend, Warren Buffett, when he says that
people who are successful in one field should be careful about
suggesting they know all the answers in other areas. I do encourage
everyone I know to participate in philanthropy. However, philanthropy is
very personal. I think people should give because they want to give, and
not because of pressure from a conference or anyone who claims they have
all the answers in this area.

I'm happy to see that we agree on the important ends philanthropy can
achieve and wish you all the best in your giving activities.


Bill Gates
Chairman & CEO

<------------begin RN's brief response-------------------->

    Ralph Nader Response to Bill Gates August 4, 1998 Letter

 Mr. Gates kindly recounted his present and future
philanthropic initiatives.  My letter was not addressed to his
philanthropy.  It requested that he and Warren Buffett convene a
conference of billionaires on the structural issues of wealth
inequality in our country in order to explore, without any pre-
judgment, the best experience and ideas for addressing this

 Ted Turner, who has long held ideas on the leadership
responsibility of billionaires, and Sol Price, founder of the
Price Clubs and a thinker about these subjects, have told me that
this is a meritorious request.

I hope Mr. Gates will focus on the specific invitation to convene
this conference.


Ralph Nader wrote a letter to Mr. Gates on July 27, 1998 asking
him and Warren Buffett to convene this conference.

For More Information contact Ralph Nader at: 202-387-8030.

James Love
Consumer Project on Technology
P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036
love@cptech.org, http://www.cptech.org
202.387.8030, fax 202.234.5176
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