cover image The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire

The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire

Tim Schwab. Metropolitan, $29.99 (496p) ISBN 978-1-250-85009-6

The Microsoft mogul’s vaunted charity has done more harm than good, according to this heated polemic. Journalist Schwab debuts with an exploration of the allegedly counterproductive machinations of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—“one of the most feared organizations on earth,” Schwab writes, because its vast funding resources give it dominion over the global nonprofit sector. Much of his criticism targets Gates’s work on vaccines: the Gates Foundation both dominated and botched the World Health Organization’s COVAX program to procure Covid vaccines, Schwab argues, resulting in a tragic scarcity of vaccines in Africa and other poor regions. He also tags Gates with pushing America toward the Common Core program of educational standards, which failed to improve student performance, and prodding African farmers to use genetically modified crops that failed to improve yields. Along the way Schwab probes Gates’s egomania and rages, his harvesting of tax breaks, his chumminess with the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and vague intimations of racism at the Gates Foundation. Much of Schwab’s case against Gates is simply that he is a billionaire and therefore a defender of inequality and “a canker on democracy.” Still, Schwab’s critique hits home when he details how Gates Foundation initiatives have misfired with little benefit from billions spent. Gates’s detractors will find useful ammunition here. Photos. (Nov.)