OPINION: How the Gates Foundation’s Investments Are Undermining Its Own Good Works
Monday, August 25, 2014
Via Charles Piller in The Nation:
Soon after Susan Desmond-Hellmann became chancellor of the University of California San Francisco medical center campus, she faced an acute personal embarrassment. Financial disclosures revealed that she and her husband, both physicians, owned a sizable chunk of stock in Altria Corporation, a top cigarette maker. The chancellor commendably divested those shares and donated the proceeds to tobacco-control research.
In May, Desmond-Hellmann became the first physician to head the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private foundation and one of the most influential forces in global health. Desmond-Hellmann could draw on her personal experience—both as a doctor and as a once-oblivious investor—to double the foundation’s productivity.
For all its generosity and thoughtfulness, the Gates Foundation’s management of its $40 billion endowment has been a puzzling ethical blind spot.