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Different views on foundation

January 16, 2007

Re "A foundation states its case," letters, Jan. 14

Patty Stonesifer, chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stated in her response to the recent Times coverage of Gates' investment practices: "Changes in our investment practices would have little or no impact on these issues." Did she actually say that the money the foundation has to invest cannot make a difference, while the money it has to donate can? Regardless, change occurs through the combined actions of many. Why do anything if you are measuring your success by the effect of your singular act?

Stonesifer also says on the Gates Foundation website that consensus about what to invest in when employing discrimination is difficult to come by. There are sophisticated screening tools to evaluate companies' practices ( Making investments in companies that pollute, use child labor or make people sick is immoral. The question is: Do the ends justify the means? Don't be fooled by Stonesifer's efforts to confabulate this.


Pacific Palisades


Stonesifer does a disservice to the Gates Foundation, Microsoft Corp. and the Gates family. If any shareholder can influence corporate boardrooms, the Gates Foundation can. Her implication that "an individual stockholder" cannot halt suffering may literally be true. However, a stockholder of the Gates Foundation's stature most certainly can influence decisions.

Microsoft has changed the way the world operates by the development of Windows software. Certainly the foundation should match that effort with its investment strategies. One would hope that the foundation's investment management would work in tandem with the granting arm and hasten the effects of the humanitarian aims it supports. Socially responsible investing should be a practice followed by all. In the long haul, it will generate a greater return.


Laguna Beach

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