The Gates Foundation Tries to Defend Its Investment in Private Prisons

Comments

1
This dovetails real nicely with the recent Dissent article about criticizing big philanthropies.
2
Thank you for reporting on this. No matter what representatives of the Foundation claim, we see what they value by the organization's actions. It's that simple.
3
I agree, divestment in the private prison sector should be pushed for. But at the same time this really feels like a drop in the bucket, 2.2 million out of a 36 billion dollar portfolio of a philanthropic organization. Not to mention the size of the investment relative to the amount of money in the private prison sector...

Totally respectable cause, just feel like maybe the 10,000 petitions/people could have been mobilized against a better target...

I feel very cynical
4
...or put your mouth where your money is. Bill and Melinda Gates as the globe-trotting public faces of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation talk to the press on a regular basis, but Bill and Melinda Gates as the trustees of the Asset Trust never do.

Got it.
5
"Hey, we make more money in a year than you'll make in 5-10 years from a 'deplorable' and unjust private prison company, but it's ok! because we reinvest that profit into good things, such as AIDS in Africa, so that when these immigrants are finally deported back home, there'll be less AIDS there. Or at least less people with AIDS dying. See? It's a good thing. Now, shhhhhhhhhhhh..."
6
Sorry, this is fucking stupid. The investment arm of Gates aims to make money, not philanthro-invest. If you limit your investments to companies that meet some random asshole at the stranger's bar for the day β€” today it excludes GEO, how about Philip Morris? Chevron? Chic-fil-a? β€” you are going to have suboptimal investment results.

Scott Adams: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10…
7
@6: In addition, if one was to scrutinize the mutual funds in our own investment accounts who's to know what shocking revelations would surface from those hundreds of companies.
8
@7 Is there anything you can't handwave away with an irrelevant offtopic comment?
9
@8 - I'm sorry to have upset you.
10
@6, 7: Socially responsible investing.

It's a thing.
11
@10 is right. Socially responsible investing isn't that hard. It is certainly possible to make a reasonable return on your investments or mutual funds without investing in for-profit prisons. That has to rank as one of the slimiest fucking investments imaginable.

And yes, Phoebe, I am 100% certain that mutual funds I have shares in do not include for-profit prisons in their portfolio.
12
what would happen if Gates sold their equity? the for-profit prisons would be owned by somebody who isn't into fighting AIDS, etc, no? would they close down w/o Gates equity?

what's the return of socially responsible investing vs. investing, generally? what's the price of a bed-net? imo the quest for moral purity here is a lil weird. personally I think it's really good news that this awful practice is subsidizing some nice things

these people aren't being deported because of some a-hole companies. a-hole companies get money because most people in the US, and especially most republicans, value a simplistic calculation of fairness and white essence over the efficacy of migration and they're prepared to do awful things to people to resolve that ideal's estrangement from reality.
13
Thanks for writing this, Ansel, and thanks for doing it for The Stranger -- which is pretty thin on political/social justice writing right now. It would be nice to have more articles that aren't about music or Danielle Henderson's university thesis.
14
@5 - yes.

Someday someone will write a book about the sheer nerve of the Gates - Melinda and Bill - and the Gates Foundation. There is a lot behind that bland blank veneer that would not be so pretty.

We could start with how they are trying to buy - and basically destroy - public education as we know it. (But not for their kids because, well, they go to Lakeside.)
15
Private prisons are untenable as a concept due to the negative impacts on legal rights caused by the profit motive. Keeping people in prison should never be a source of profit for organizations, especially ones that then turn around and use their profits to lobby for legislation to keep even more people in prison. Anyone who doesn't see this is wilfully ignorant. Gates should divest.
16
School to prison pipeline. Gates must like what it sees. Foundations are tax shields and we know Microsoft doesn't like paying tax. Isn't that what prison reform and school reform are all about? Search Wackenhut and WCC. They changed their name to GEO ten years ago, but have continued their practice of criminal mismanagement and abuse, include rape and neglect of teens in juvenile jails.
17
@6 - is there no bar for what a foundation can invest its tax-exempt money in? Especially one that claims to be philanthropic? Is it really necessary to invest in companies that hurt people or destroy the environment to make money?
18
Well, fuck yeah! Of course the Gates Foundation, one of the investment arms of the Gates family which works in conjunction with their frigging hedge funds, invests in all sorts of sordid stuff, from pushing Monsanto's GMOs, to financing (indirectly, of course) mercenary armies in Africa to ensure a steady supply of coltan, to privatizing the American educational system, already fucked up from being a capitalist educational system, etc., etc., etc., so what's so egregious about further investment in private prisons, it is simply consistent with their program.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Bil…

In November 2011, the Gates Foundation made a $376,635 grant to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which it claims was "to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement."

Concerns have been raised about the decision of the Gates to invest in Monsanto. [6] Reportedly, the shares are valued at $23 million. Monsanto has been involved in numerous controversial agri-business activities, including genetic engineering of seeds and efforts to use a "terminator" gene to control germination.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also a major investor in BP, with nearly 43 million shares, a company whose lax regulatory record has been seen as a big factor in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.[8] The Nation reported that as of December 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had at least $958.6 million invested in BP and ExxonMobil.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is among the numerous right-wing foundation and corporate donors to the non-profit education organization Teach for America. Teach for America has received criticism from the Center for Media and Democracy and others as it is "backed by a number of right-wing interests that have bankrolled the conservative push to privatize, voucherize, and generally dismantle free and universal public education in America". [17] Between 2011 and 2012, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated between $1 million and $5 million to Teach for America.

Now who was on the Dec. 2007 (last date checked) Gates Foundation advisory panel on Global Development Program?

Rajat Gupta (Mr. Offshore American Jobs guy, who is now in jail for insider trading)

Larry Summers, of course!

Ernesto Zedillo, at Yale University, was the subject of a recent failed extradition attempt by the Mexican government.

And, of course, Philip Zelikow, the clown from the 9/11 Commission Report.

And what foundation (Hint: Gates Foundation) is funding a bunch of crapola, including Jeb Bush's foundation?

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?tit…

Bill Gates by way of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, funds a number of astro-turf grass groots groups to challenge teachers' unions in education, including Teach Plus, the Education Equality Project, Educators for Excellence , the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Center on Education Policy, the Education Trust and former Florida governor Jeb Bush's Foundation for Educational Excellence. Bush has extensive ties to educational testing companies that make millions off of teach-to-the-test statewide testing programs.

And see below for the Gates Foundation's investments in G4S (necessary for those mercenary ops in Africa, don't ya know?) and Dyncorp, with a history of involvment in sex slave trafficking:

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2…

http://www.naturalnews.com/044687_Sylvia…
19
Imagine if they liquidated most of that trust and spent it all on charitable works today instead of trying to plan for charitable spending in perpetuity.
20
Look up GEO group. They don't only run abusive private facilities that hold immigrants. They run private prisons for youth and got fined millions of dollars for their abuses, callous medical "care" and deaths associated with the private jailers group, in Texas for example. There is no excuse, Gates people. Your money makes the abuse and violence possible.
21
It's not just immigrants the GEO group is abusing (I can see how lovely folks at Gates would quickly look away when it comes to poor immigrants). Look up GEO. They have been fined millions of dollars for violations, deaths and horrendous medical 'care' in juvenile prisons. The private industrial prison complex apparently is just as good a money maker as any when it comes to the Gates Foundation. If they can defend this, they have no standards and no morals.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEO_Group
22
@19 - The big irony (or punchline) is that through planning for perpetual charity you plan for perpetual inequality, not only ideologically or indirectly, but actively in the case of corporate philanthropy.

@20 - And doesn't their foundation have numerous scholarships for "underprivileged" kids?

@12 - Even if American xenophobia promotes detention and deportation, changing those thoughts and ideas requires political action. Everyone can be a force for change, even more so if you are the one funding private prisons. They could refuse to invest in these centers and refuse to work with any company that does. But I guess that would hurt their profit margin. Gosh dang ethics, getting in the way of wealth accumulation.
23
The Gates Foundation generally make good grants. Not always. They have funded a transportation study done by the creationist Discovery Institute which pumps money into Discovery via "administration" charges off the top.

They have funded attacks on K-12 education which are no different than those supported by the Koch brothers, pushing vouchers for theocratick evangelistic schools which teach students that the world is only 6,000 years old, that men rode on dinosaurs and that the KKK was a benign civic organization. They push for-profit charter schools as well.

The Kochs go after K-12 because the billionaire boys don't like to pay any taxes, including property taxes to support public schools, and because teachers are members of organizations that collectively express political priorities and candidates.

The Gates Foundation, on the other hand, is probably merely delusional about the ability to "improve" schools by defunding them. Just like they're delusional about their investment in GEO Group being equally "benign."

β€œIt ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” Mark Twain
24
Has anybody actually looked into the way Bill Gates is "fighting" AIDS in Africa? Circumcision is supposed to be the answer? Really? One of the smartest businessmen ever moonlights as one of the dumbest philanthropists we have ever witnessed.
25
Last year it was found out that a lot of teachers and nurse who have 401Ks probably own stock in private prisons unknowingly. As someone said, all you would have to do is dig a little to find out that a lot of people probably supporting them unknowingly

26
Last year it was found out that a lot of teachers and nurse who have 401Ks probably own stock in private prisons unknowingly. As someone said, all you would have to do is dig a little to find out that a lot of people probably supporting them unknowingly