3/27/2008

Gates Foundation Monopolistic?

Some humanitarian workers feel that the Gates Foundation's excessive sway has the best scientists “locked up in a cartel”. There is some concern that research priorities for sma ll organizations are distorted because the foundation does not specify areas it will not invest in.

Critics suggest that the foundation's massive spending on malaria research is a classic case of a near-monopoly leading to market failure: in this case, a market in medical prowess. The Gates Foundation has unforeseen effects: “Gates can solve problems with money—but a lot of money leads to a monopoly, and discourages smaller rivals and intellectual competition.”

Some people at the WHO, a Geneva-based arm of the United Nations, openly worry that the foundation is setting up a new power centre that may rival their organisation's authority. Such conspiracy theorists point to the foundation's recent grant of over $100m to the University of Washington to evaluate health treatments and monitor national health systems—jobs supposed to be done by the UN agency.

4 comments:

Tiger Coach said...

These are some darn interesting comments. I am quite interested to see you angle on the President's new "vision" of the FED's role in economics. Would these be a case of the fox watching the hen house?

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We have many similar sentiments about the markets.

Aidan said...

Wow, I never thought of a charitable organization being able to be considered a monopoly. If this is possible then I believe the Gates Foundation can be properly labeled a near-monopoly and market failure is a serious issue.

William said...

I think that with any good that happens in the world there are going to be those people that have something bad to say about it. I think it is ludicrous for people to complain that they aren't helping certain areas or that they are capturing too many of the scientists. Bill Gates is using his own money to help others. I think we need to argue/complain about other issues. I think that what the Gates Foundation is doing is great and benefiting a lot. I think if anything there should be good press about it, to make more people want to help. It seems that in our day and age you can't do anything charitable without having someone being offended.

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on Gavin for poor editing.

I have two points.

1) Anything coming out of the UN is drivel. If they complain about it, I'm in favor of it.

2) Landsburg has argued, correctly I think, that most people's conception of charity is self-serving. In this case, that applies to the smaller organizations. His point is that unless your marginal contributions to an organization can actually change your ranking of the neediness of different causes, then splitting your dollars up is about you feeling good and not helping others. My sense is that the small organizations are probably suffering from this, and that the Gates Foundation is the most capable of actually changing those rankings.