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the neuroscience of philanthropy March 11, 2008

Posted by AP in neuroscience.
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new york times magazine:

Charity, do-gooding, philanthropy it’s all just selfishness masquerading as virtue. So says the cynic. In modern times, the theory that each of us, despite occasional appearances of self-sacrificial nobility, is ultimately and invariably looking out for No. 1 got a big boost from Darwin’s theory of evolution. By the logic of natural selection, any tendency to act selflessly ought to be snuffed out in the struggle to survive and propagate. So if someone seems to be behaving as an altruist — say, by giving away a fortune to relieve the sufferings of others — that person is really following the selfish dictates of his own genes. The evolutionary psychologist Randolph Nesse confessed that he slept badly for many nights after absorbing this supposed discovery, which he called “one of the most disturbing in the history of science.”

Before resigning ourselves to a similar spell of disillusioned sleeplessness, it might be instructive to test this theory against a particular case of philanthropy. In recent years, Bill Gates has channeled billions of his dollars to a foundation devoted to fighting disease and poverty. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation may today be the single-most-powerful force in the world for the relief of suffering. But what, one might ask, is in it for Bill?

bill’s burden February 7, 2008

Posted by AP in econ, international.
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william easterly, author of the white man’s burden , writes in the wsj on bill gates, capitalism, and hope for the developing world:

Why Bill Gates Hates My Book

By WILLIAM R. EASTERLY
February 7, 2008

This newspaper reported recently that Bill Gates hates my ideas. I have no hurt feelings, at least nothing that months of intensive psychotherapy can’t cure. Mr. Gates, after all, has allied himself with the foreign aid establishment. This establishment is notoriously sensitive to criticism from people like me, who find no evidence that the aid industry’s grand schemes are actually lifting anyone out of poverty.

Mr. Gates has now put forward his own scheme — “creative capitalism” — in a speech at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos. He argues that today’s capitalism does not benefit the poor. For Mr. Gates, regular capitalism works “only on behalf of those who can pay.” While entrepreneurs fall all over themselves trying to meet the needs of the rich, “the financial incentive to serve [the poor is] zero.” As a result, basic needs such as food and medicine go unmet.

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rolling stone’s 40th anniversary issue November 14, 2007

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, arts/culture, books, campaign finance, comedy, design, econ, environment, film, health, hip-hop, history, immigration, international, interviews, iraq, iraq war, media, misc, music, news, politics, race, religion, science, style, tech, television, terrorism.
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“This issue looks forward, not back, and it’s packed with interviews with the artists, leaders and thinkers who can best divine what our future holds. It arrives, appropriately, during the run-up to next year’s presidential election, which looms as a moment of truth for our nation. “People are nauseous about being perceived as the enemy,” Bono says of America’s standing in the world. “Whoever fixes that problem gets elected.” But it’s not just politics – as a society, we face choices that will likely determine the fate of our civilization, matters of war and peace, resource depletion and explosive population growth. And, of course, global warming: “It’s a mistake to think of the climate crisis as one in a list of issues that will define our future,” Al Gore tells us. “It is the issue.”

We don’t claim to have the answers to these challenges, but we do know where to look for leadership and inspiration. The values of tolerance, inclusiveness, common sense and personal liberty (not to mention fun) that took shape in the 1960s have animated this magazine ever since.”

chock full of wit and wisdom from some of the world’s most interesting minds…

you can find the entire issue digitally right here, but the interface rolling stone set up is really horrible, so i’ve made the text from some of the interviews into pdfs:

BILL CLINTON

BILL GATES

AL GORE

SAM HARRIS

PAUL KRUGMAN

BILL MAHER

JON STEWART

CORNEL WEST

KANYE WEST

here’s some quotes that i’ve culled:

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