Meet Bill Gates, the philandering philanthropist who attempts to remake the world’s operating system in his own image. Please share this episode with your friends and start a conversation.
Warning: This podcast occasionally uses spicy language.
For an entertaining deep dive into the theme of season five (Phalse Prophets), read the definitive peer-reviewed taxonomic analysis from our very own Jason Bradford, PhD.
- Bill Gates, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, 2021.
- Alan Guebert, “Given What We Don’t Know, Why Do We Act Like We Do Know?,” Food and Farm File, September 25, 2022.
- Gates Foundation, “Bill and Melinda Gates Pledge $10 Billion in Call for Decade of Vaccines,” January 2010.
- Bill Gates TED Talk, “The next outbreak? We’re not ready,” 2015.
- Erin Banco, Ashleigh Furlong, and Lennart Pfahler, “How Bill Gates and partners used their clout to control the global Covid response — with little oversight,” Politico, September 14, 2022.
- Anand Giridharadas, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, October 1, 2019.
- Timothy A. Wise “Failing Africa’s Farmers: An Impact Assessment of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa,” Tufts University, July 2020.
- Anmar Frangoul, “Bill Gates on why he’ll carry on using private jets and campaigning on climate change,” CNBC, February 7, 2023.
- Alnoor Ladha and Lynn Murphy, Post Capitalist Philanthropy: Healing Wealth In The Time Of Collapse, October 17, 2022.
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It’s time for the annual Crazy Town Hall! This exclusive webinar on June 6, 2023 is our way of thanking listeners who support the show financially. We hope you’ll join us!
Jason Bradford I’m Jason Bradford Asher Miller I’m Asher Miller. Rob Dietz and I’m Rob Dietz. Welcome to Crazy Town where the local seed swap has been cancelled for intellectual property violations. Melody Allison Hi, This is Crazy Town producer Melody Allison. Thanks for listening. Here in season five, we’re exploring Phalse Prophets and the dangerous messages they’re so intent on spreading. If you like what you’re hearing, please let some friends know about this episode, or the podcast in general. Now on to the show. Asher Miller Hey, guys, Rob, Jason, how are you guys doing today? Rob Dietz Doing pretty well. Jason Bradford Not too shabby. Asher Miller Good. I’ll be honest, I spent most of last night on the internet doing some digging on conspiracy theories. I’m gonna tell you why. When I feel particularly crazy I like to look and scan on the horizon to see who’s crazier than me. It makes me feel a little bit more sane. Rob Dietz There’s at least one or two of them out there. Asher Miller So I was feeling – it took a while – here’s the problem. Jason Bradford It’s about relative status. Asher Miller Relative status. I was feeling particularly verklempt or something. I wasn’t in a good place. So it took me like seven hours of rabbit holing things. So I was curious what conspiracy theory stuff have you guys come across in recent years? You’re like, “Oh, chef’s kiss. That’s beautiful.” Jason Bradford There’s so many good ones. But the one that leaps to mind is the whole notion that JFK Jr. is still alive. And he’s like working with Trump to fight the evil Satanic Illuminati people. I guess in Dallas sometime last year hundreds of people were gathered waiting for him. So the JFK Jr. one is one. Rob Dietz Wait. What did they say when he didn’t show up? Jason Bradford I don’t know. Asher Miller Traffic sucks right now. You know? Rob Dietz Well, that is a pretty good one. My favorite — I used to live in D.C. and I would always take people to that very, very fake museum, the Air and Space Museum, where they had the stuff on the lunar landings. Yeah, totally fake. What lunar landing, right? That was my favorite is that – We talked at some point about that documentary, “Room 237,” that Stanley Kubrick was behind the fake filming of the lunar landing. It’s just – It’s brilliant. Jason Bradford That’s a good one. That’s a good one. Asher Miller I wouldn’t put it past him. Rob Dietz I love it. Asher Miller Speaking of not putting past people, I’m gonna go for one that was quite common a couple years ago. It’s still beautiful in so many ways. Bill Gates microchipping us through the vaccines. Rob Dietz That one is particularly relevant for us today. Because our phalse prophet is none other than the microchipper himself. Yes, we’re going to be doing Bill Gates. So let me, for you guys and for our listeners, let me just run through real quick bullet points on Bill Gates. I think most of us are familiar, but let’s just – Jason Bradford He plays tennis. Asher Miller That’s not true. Jason Bradford Yeah, he’s a tennis player. Rob Dietz Alright. So he was born in Seattle, Washington in 1955. He is a storied computer nerd, probably one of the earliest of that species. You know, he basically made it to high school in time to start messing around with computers. He goes to Harvard, drops out in 1975 to found the company Microsoft with his buddy, Paul Allen. And then he of course, takes over the operating system for most of the computers in the world, becomes the youngest billionaire ever, and in 1995 he became the richest man in the world. Jason Bradford Wow, that 20-year run from college dropout to richest man in the world. Rob Dietz Yeah. Well and then – Asher Miller Alexander the Great did it faster. Might have been richer, actually. Rob Dietz What college did Alexander drop out of? Asher Miller He didn’t need to drop out of college, buddy. Rob Dietz So then he goes on and he founds the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the year 2000 or so to address health and education issues. He gets named Time Magazine Person of the Year with Melinda, and with Bono. Here’s a little bit of trivia, the lead singer of U2 jumps in there. And then in 2008, he shifts from being the full-time guy at Microsoft to being a full-time chair of the foundation. And you know, he’s now a big giver instead of a taker, right? Jason Bradford Yeah. No, that’s great. What a storied history. Asher Miller We’re done, right? The podcast is over. Jason Bradford We’re gonna dive into, you know, there is a little controversy and stuff. He got divorced recently. And so he’s been in the news for that. And also the previously mentioned conspiracy theory that’s popped up in the news. Rob Dietz That’s had to be his biggest news story, right? I mean, I’m sure, if you Google Bill Gates, you gotta come up with microchip in the vaccine somewhere at the top of the list, right? Asher Miller Yeah, maybe a little Epstein stuff thrown in there. Jason Bradford Oh yeah, that’s true. Haha. Asher Miller Allegedly. Rob Dietz Yeah. Yeah. So he’s got some notoriety in there, right. Asher Miller Yeah. For me what’s interesting about Gates, just in terms of his like career arc or whatever is like, there has been some mythmaking around him, or kind of a persona that was created. And I don’t know if it was intentionally created or if it just sort of happened. But you know, this whole idea of like, he was this geek, you know, he was portrayed a lot in the media as sort of like this kind of geeky dude that you know, will happen to become the richest guy in the world. And that really hid the fact that the guy was a real predator. I mean, he was a shark. And the practices that Microsoft put into play in terms of like dominating the marketplace, becoming a monopoly, we could probably do a whole podcast just on that in terms of like, false prophethood. We won’t get into that, but you know, like, my dad worked with him quite a bit and interacted with him. That persona, let’s just say, of him being kind of the simple geek or whatever, not so true. Jason Bradford Okay. Yeah. So, the other part of the story about his persona is he was kind of a frugal guy and maybe had the calculator in his pocket and the pen kind of thing, whatever it’s called, and the thick glasses and unassumingly ate burgers, you know, from his favorite fast food joint. But then he ends up building this just ginormous house over the lake Hundreds of millions of dollars in value, whatever. It’s crazy, crazy sized, luxury, private jet around the world. So really, he ended up becoming one of the billionaire class. Really kind of, in some ways, going from this unassuming image to really sort of flaunting wealth in some respects. Rob Dietz Yeah, I mean his mansion is legendary. Like 66,000 square feet. Jason Bradford Yeah, but were you we’re not even going to talk about how billionaires end up being corrupted by the wealth and just being over consumptive. We’re not going to focus on that. Rob Dietz Okay, well . . . Asher Miller We’re not? Rob Dietz No. Another thing we’re not going to focus on, but just has to get mentioned is he is now the biggest private owner of farmland in the United States. He owns 242,000 acres. That’s a little bit more than what you got on the farm outside our studio windows here. Asher Miller Loser. Rob Dietz Yeah. Pretty, you know, say what you will about that, but that’s maybe a dangerous thing for somebody to own that much land. Jason Bradford Yep. And he buys land around cities hoping It’s going to turn into another city kind of thing, too. They call it transitional land. Rob Dietz Yeah, he wants to build smart cities in the desert. Jason Bradford Yeah. Okay, smart. That’s very smart. Asher Miller He’s also a large investor in a bunch of different companies that are working on clean energy technology, so to speak, miracles. He has a fund called Breakthrough Energy. And, you know, he has been quite outspoken about climate – We could talk about that maybe a little bit later. But his push around, you know, this investment is beyond investing heavily in wind and solar and nuclear. He’s been looking for what he calls energy miracles. So investing in things like that. Which I just have to say, it reminds me of my absolute favorite cartoon of all time by Sidney Harris. Do you guys remember that one where there’s two people at a blackboard? And there’s like this whole math computation thing that happens and in between these two sections there’s like a little thing written on the board that says, “Then a miracle occurs.” And the professor is like, “I think you need to be a little more explicit here in step 2.” Jason Bradford Yeah, Energy Miracles is a really telling term. And in that book, he goes over this equation where CO2, so like emissions of CO2, let’s say, is equal to the number of people, they call P, times the services per person, S, times the energy per service, or E. And then C is the CO2 output per unit of energy. And so basically saying that you have to multiply all these. All these factors go into how much CO2 is actually going into the atmosphere. Rob Dietz Right. It’s the number of people times the amount they consume times the amount of energy that’s wrapped up in that, times the emissions, rather than the energy. Jason Bradford Exactly. And in order to get to net zero, which he calls about, we need to get one of these numbers to zero is the case. Like if you think about multiplying, one is a zero. Pick one of the four. And so he picks – Asher Miller Just pick them out of a hat. Rob Dietz He picked P, right. He wants zero people on the planet. Jason Bradford Well that’s what the whole vaccine is for. Rob Dietz And the buying of farmland. He actually only wants 1. He wants himself. Jason Bradford He’s going to buy it all and starve us. Anyhow. Well, that’s a whole other rabbit hole you can go down to. But anyway, of course what he’s asking for is these miracle technologies where we have zero CO2 emissions per unit energy. And honestly, we’re actually not going to get into that, but other episodes will go into how kind of wackadoodle this is. Rob Dietz Wait, wait. Are you telling me there might be a false prophet who’s got something to do with the climate miracle tech sector? Jason Bradford There’s many out there. There’s many out there. Asher Miller It’s a real growth industry, Rob. Invest now. Rob Dietz Well, yeah. Gates is already investing. He’s a leading indicator of what I should invest in. Asher Miller It is ironic, I have to say. You know, Gates is also pretty influential. He has this like, I think it’s called Gates Notes or something like that. He reads these books and then he writes on a blog, you know, things that he’s thinking about. A lot of people read this shit. And he’s talked a lot about and read a lot of Vaclav Smil books, right? And I find that so fascinating, because it’s like, and the dude could get on a call with him. You know, Bill Gates can talk to anyone. I mean, he’s one of the preeminent voices on energy issues. Rob Dietz Yeah, limits to growth and . . . Asher Miller Well, he’s more of a nuanced person, I think. I wouldn’t put him in the limits of growth camp, necessarily, but he’s absolutely someone who sees energy as a central, if not the central driver, of society, right. Rob Dietz He’s done some amazing data analyses too where he looked at the mass of land mammals and shows that 97% of remaining mammals – Jason Bradford Oh, that was him? Rob Dietz Yeah, that’s people and livestock. Asher Miller Our domesticated animals, yeah. In any case, you know, Vaclav Smil, I would say is much more of an energy realist. And apparently Bill Gates loves his stuff but then somehow can just compartmentalize or I don’t know. Jason Bradford Yeah, Vaclav Smil does not believe in miracles. Let’s just put it that way. Asher Miller Yes, let’s put it that way. Jason Bradford Yeah. Why are we giving him a hard time? Rob Dietz Okay. Well, so we’ve catalogued a few areas we could have gone with Bill Gates as a Phalse Prophet, but I’m going to let you know why we’re picking him for this episode and it’s kind of counterintuitive. The reason we’re doing this is because of his philanthropy and his second career as a philanthropist. You’d think that he’s trying to do good, like I was joking around – He’s now a giver. Why? Well I mean, yeah, let’s talk about this. I mean, it’s really nice, because he says that, “I believe with great wealth comes great responsibility.” Jason Bradford Spiderman. Rob Dietz Yeah, he’s got Uncle Ben’s wisdom. So that’s good. You know, anybody that believes like that has got to be all right. And he wants to give back to society. What’s the rest of his quote, he says, “It’s a responsibility to see that those resources are put to work in the best possible way to help those most in need.” Jason Bradford Yeah, sounds fine with me. I mean, good for him. Rob Dietz So why are we picking him again? What’s wrong with this philanthropic . . . ? Jason Bradford Okay, well, let’s turn to that – His philanthropic exploits. Okay. So he actually established the foundation, the Gates Foundation thing, in 1994, okay? But of course, he didn’t quite retire and go full time to that until more recently. It’s now the largest philanthropic foundation in the U.S. with an endowment over 50 billion. And it has been involved with projects related to the eradication of infectious diseases, focusing on things like malaria and polio that don’t get a lot of dollars from the wealthy nations. Transforming food systems, near and dear to my heart, eliminating poverty, climate and energy a little bit nods to that, as well as transforming education. Rob Dietz I’m just – maybe there’s a spoiler alert, but I’m thinking his way of changing food systems might not be that near and dear to your heart. Jason Bradford Well, let’s now . . . Let’s just go through – Rob Dietz Let’s just see what happens. Asher Miller I will say, so I’ve been involved in nonprofit work since what? 1996. And I think it’s hard to underestimate the impact that the foundation has had in the world of philanthropy. I mean it really sent shockwaves when he first really endowed this huge Foundation. He has so much wealth. He was the richest man in the world, you know. And then he had Warren Buffett throw money in after him and be like, whatever Bill wants to invest in with his philanthropy, I’m gonna back it. And you know, they have been the 800 pound gorilla in the room for a lot of things. And in part also for like their approach to philanthropy and what they expected. You know, they’re pushing for certain measurable outcomes and sort of things that changed the culture of philanthropy a lot. Jason Bradford Have we looked up – Actually have we fact checked how much gorillas weigh? Asher Miller It’s a good question. Yeah. It’s probably more than 800 pounds. Jason Bradford I don’t know. There’s mountain gorillas, there’s a lowland gorillas, there’s male, there’s female. It’s complicated. Rob Dietz Well, gorillas will be our next Phalse Prophets so be sure to get those facts gathered. Well, so let’s dive into his African Food and Farming Odyssey. So the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation essentially launched this group called AGRA, which stands for the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa. Rockefeller Foundation was also a backer in 2006. But it’s two-thirds funded by Gates. And the point of it was to increase food output on the continent. And over the last 17 years, AGRA has spent a billion dollars trying to double crop yields and income for small scale farmers across 13 countries. Jason Bradford Sounds pretty comprehensive. Rob Dietz Pretty big, yeah. And of course, maybe that Green Revolution moniker sent a few shivers down the spine. So the idea is AGRA is reviving Green Revolution ideas, promoting high yield seed varieties that are fed with synthetic fertilizer. And of course, protected by doses of pesticides. Asher Miller Can we just make sure that our listeners know what we mean by the Green Revolution? Rob Dietz Yeah, so that’s going back to Norman Borlaug. The idea of, we’ve got to increase, his specialty was wheat, but basically small grain crops. And we’ve got to grow as many as we can, as fast as we can, to support the burgeoning population. Jason Bradford And it was a combination of mostly the merger of breeding for the ability to use the synthetic fertilizers. And so historically, the crops could only use so much nitrogen. So if you applied more nitrogen, they’re like, I don’t know what to do with this. Because nature never had that much nitrogen available. But what you’re able to do with the breeding, and what Norman Borlaug figured out was, he could breed for these crops that have very heavy yields because they could use nitrogen, but they also were agronomically harvestable. So part of the problem was, for example, you have this nitrogen that crops get so big, and they just fall over and lodge. So he figured out how to make these dwarf varieties of wheat that would stand up still and could be harvested by combines. But that technology suite got applied then to all kinds of crops, staple crops. Not just wheat. Rob Dietz Yeah, pretty much any grain right? Jason Bradford Yeah, grains and like soybeans, or whatever. So . . . Asher Miller And obviously, it had a huge impact in terms of world population and hunger and all that. It was also a vehicle for converting fossil fuel energy in a sense. Jason Bradford And it postponed the Ehrlich Population Bomb, right? Sort of that fear got diminished by the fact that you suddenly had massive increases in yields of agricultural products. Rob Dietz Kind of an interesting note about Borlaug as he said exactly that. He said, Hey, this is a good ‘solution’ – I’m putting that in quotes – For the time being. You know, we’ve kind of pushed our problems out into the future. But don’t pretend like you can just keep doing this forever. Jason Bradford When I read about Norman Borlaug, I actually see the guy was a very complex human being that understood the broader aspects of what he was doing. He wasn’t a purist, like technology solves everything. Rob Dietz Okay. Somebody who might not have understood the broader aspects was Bill Gates. Can we turn to him? Asher Miller Yeah, so let’s get back to Bill and Melinda’s excellent adventure in farming and food production in Africa and why we want to talk about it. So there’s a guy named Alan Guebert <Goo-Bear>?. Rob Dietz No, no, no, no that’s Alan Guebert <Ghee-Bert>. He’s a buddy of ours. He writes the Food and Farm File, which is, he’s hilarious. He’s snarky, but super insightful. Asher Miller Sorry I mispronounced your name, Alan. Jason Bradford Yeah, sorry. Rob Dietz I like that. I’m gonna call him Goo-bear from now on. Asher Miller Call him Goober. Jason Bradford He grew up on a dairy farm in the Midwest. Asher Miller Anyway, he wrote back in September 2022 something called, “Given what we don’t know, why do we act like we know,” And he sort of gives a perfect setup for this whole exploration of people like Bill Gates and the Foundation coming into Africa, and now a quote here: “Most of American agriculture sees Africa as one vast nation and one vast market. It is, of course, neither. Africa, in fact, has more nations (54), more languages (over 2,000), and more cultures (3,000-plus), than any other continent on Earth. It’s also the world’s second largest and second most populous continent with three times the population and twice the area as North America [. . .]given our broad ignorance of Africa, why do we still think we know what’s best for this culturally rich, incredibly diverse, enormous continent’s farm and food sectors?” Rob Dietz Because I have a billion dollars. Jason Bradford Well, so what happened over the past 17 years in Africa with AGRA and trying to export the Green Revolution. So Timothy Wise, a research fellow at Tufts University, said that instead of this sort of doubling, right? There was a 30% increase in hunger across those same 13 nations where AGRA was applying Western techniques. And where there were gains in yields, they could be attributed more to extensification, so the addition of more land under cultivation, than to the intensification, or more crop production per acre. Rob Dietz Yeah, and there were other poor results environmentally as well. There’s strong evidence of negative impacts like acidification of soils, because he’s got these monocultures and you’re cultivating with synthetic fertilizers. Same things we see here. Asher Miller And there was little evidence of significant increases in the incomes or the food security of the small-scale food producers. There was a lot of indebtedness as farmers were unable to pay loans that they took out for the seeds and fertilizer. AGRA farmers were also stripped of their autonomy as they were restricted to using the seeds and the fertilizers that were mandated by AGRA project leaders. And this led to the decline in more nutritious staple crops, so the region’s sweet potatoes and millet. Rob Dietz That’s great. Good results. Asher Miller But it was well intentioned guys. Rob Dietz It’s not surprising too to know that AGRA has extensive ties, of course, financial ones, with the big agribusiness firms like Bayer and Cargill and, yeah, great! Jason Bradford Yeah. Okay. Well, we’re just running through things now. We’re gonna go in more critique later. So that’s sort of the basic for their food and farming transformation of Africa, but we’re gonna have more to talk about. Asher Miller So look, if you look at what the Gates Foundation does, this is an enormous foundation, right? It’s the, what? I think it’s the largest private foundation in United States. There’s a lot of areas that they focus on. I want to focus on the vaccines, though. In fact, This is probably the area where they’ve gotten most attention for the Foundation’s work. Rob Dietz Both in the real side and the conspiracy theory side. Asher Miller Yeah. So in 2010, they announced that they’re, and they were doing stuff before this but this is an example. In 2010, they announced that they would be spending $10 billion over the next decade on developing and deploying vaccines in the poorest countries around the world for diseases like polio. They really have a goal of eradicating polio and also trying to figure out ways of tackling malaria. These kill or maim millions of people. Jason Bradford Or just make people sluggish. I’ve known a lot of people that have malaria off and on it’s awful. Asher Miller More than that, though, I would say they’ve gotten attention in more recent years for their involvement in COVID vaccine specifically. Jason Bradford I mean, to his credit, Bill Gates warned well in advance of the risk of a pandemic. He gave a 2015 TED Talk, for example, titled, “The next outbreak: Why we’re not ready.” Rob Dietz Yeah. And they may have been readier than our government or the public because they kind of started doing stuff when the pandemic hit. So, Gates Foundation and key partners in the vaccine work, they collaborated and lobbied for distribution of vaccines. So they spent almost $10 billion since 2020. So they’re really pumping out the money. That’s the same amount as the U.S. lead agency that’s fighting COVID abroad. So you know, you’ve basically got the Gates Foundation doing the work of a government. They set up this thing called Covax, which is a consortium that wanted to get testing and vaccines deployed in countries that are low-middle income. It’s kind of interesting, maybe similar to the farming deal, they didn’t really achieve their objectives. So Covax had this aim of delivering 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021. And it had only delivered 319 million doses. So it fell quite a bit short. And only 20% of people on the continent of Africa were vaccinated as of August 2022. Asher Miller Yeah, there’s a great piece that was done by Politico and another newspaper, I can’t remember right now, sort of investigating the role of the Gates Foundation and these Gates Foundation and Welcome Foundation jointly funded projects. There’s kind of like a spiderweb, I don’t want to be, you know, conspiratorial minded about this. But of like, organizations have been set up over the years that the Gates Foundation has its hands in, that played this really big, outsized role kind of in deployment. And to their credit, they were trying to advocate to get vaccines and testing in low and middle income countries. But there’s some big questions about the approach that they took. So the biggest controversy of all, to me, is their opposition to lifting intellectual property protections, right? So, Gates has been very outspoken, directly basically, about it. And Anand Giridharadas,Yeah, sorry, Anand. I’m messing up names today. He’s a journalist and author of a book that I think people should really read that’s very apropos of this topic on philanthropy called, “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.” And he wrote a little bit about Bill Gates’ his attitude towards intellectual property of the vaccine makers, right. And he said, quote, “Directly asked him during an interview with Sky News if he thought it would be quote, unquote, helpful to have vaccine recipes be shared. Gates quickly answered, “No.” Asked to explain why not, Gates, whose massive fortune as founder of Microsoft relies largely on intellectual property laws that turned his software innovations into 10s of billions of dollars in personal wealth said, quote, “Well, there’s only so many vaccine factories in the world and people were very serious about the safety of vaccines. And so moving something that had never been done, moving a vaccine, say from a Johnson & Johnson factory into a factory in India, It’s novel. It’s only because of our grants and expertise that it could happen at all.” So now he goes on. He says, “Well, who appointed this billionaire Head of Global Health?” Rob Dietz Well, he did. Asher Miller This was a quote from Nick Dearden, the Executive Director of Global Justice now, which advocates for patent waivers. He was asked that in light of Gates’ comments. And then what he said, Nick said was like, “Oh, I guess he did.” Rob Dietz I would like to appoint this guy. He’s looking in the mirror. Jason Bradford What’s ironic is he gives the example of India which is one of the major pharmaceutical producers on the planet. Asher Miller It’s back to this idea of like, we know how to do stuff and these poor countries don’t know how to do anything. Jason Bradford It’s just bizarre. Rob Dietz It’s on his calendar each day. Appoint myself Chair of Global Health. Appoint myself Chair of the Tennis Team. Appoint myself Chair of Whatever. Jason Bradford Well, you say you don’t want to be conspiratorial, I think that those are the real conspiracies. Like there are people out there with enormous influence and power. And yes, they talk, they communicate, they have webs of relationships. That’s the real conspiracy we should be looking at. Rob Dietz Oh, it’s a web. Remember Uncle Ben. Jason Bradford Okay, listeners, I want to remind you all that I have this paper out. It’s called, “A species level taxonomic treatment of the false prophets, with hypotheses on their origin and evolution.” Asher Miller Has this been peer reviewed? This paper yet? Jason Bradford Well, Rob’s looked at a part of it. Asher Miller Dylan the dog. Jason Bradford I love Dylan. It’ll go through rigorous peer review by the time it’s on our website. But anyhow, this was a pretty straightforward one and It’s not that exciting. We’ve had some exciting Phalse Prophets, a Cyborgian, Kurzweil was pretty exciting. But Bill, Bill’s a classic Double Downer, alright? And we’ve had them before. And these are basically guys that, you know, they know we’re on a completely unsustainable path, but they basically believe we’re just going to keep doing what got us into this mess, only harder. And they really believe in some kind of technology that will help us get through this but they’re kind of agnostic on the details. Like Bill is just like, invest in all these companies. Energy miracle. Rob Dietz Yeah, energy miracle. Magic seeds. It’s all going to happen. Jason Bradford It’s all going to happen. I don’t have a lot more to say at this point, but the paper is looking good. Rob Dietz What’s the Latin name on that Double Downer? Jason Bradford Okay, This is kind of tough – Homo deorsum-duplici Rob Dietz Now see, I thought since you are the designer of this taxonomy it’d be Homo deorsum-bradfordi Jason Bradford I don’t practice these. I don’t practice saying these Asher Miller Oh, you’re right that you would have named it after yourself. Jason Bradford Actually, you’re not allowed to name it after yourself. I’ve got a couple species named after me. Asher Miller Name it after Rob. Jason Bradford I could name it after Rob. Rob Dietz No, no. Okay, so we’re gonna dive into the troubles here with our false prophet and this broken model of philanthropy. But before we really start hammering those points, I do want to say that I think Gates and the Gates Foundation, there’s some positive there, right? I mean, first of all, very, very good intentions, working in parts of the world that maybe are underfunded or don’t have as good of access to resources as other parts. There’s also this issue of trying to invest in things that governments or businesses aren’t ready to invest in. So I think we want to be careful not to just say that’s all bad. Asher Miller Yeah, maybe It’s more about approach and that’s part of why we wanted to talk about Bill Gates and this approach to philanthropy. Rob Dietz Yeah, I mean, one example is, you know, you can think of climate. I mean, you know, his starting point is climate is real. We’ve got to do something about it. That’s what that book that he wrote recently is about. But the Koch brothers or you know, other quote “philanthropists” aren’t exactly in that camp. Now, of course, at the same time, he’s got his hypocritical sides. You know, he likes to fly around in a private jet. That’s been in the news recently. Like, why are you flying around the world and a private jet and then telling people to reduce their emissions? Jason Bradford Yeah, that’s tough for all these super wealthy people. I get it, you know. Not everyone that’s a billionaire is like that, but I see why it’s hard to avoid doing that in some respects. Rob Dietz Well, I’ve been asking why you’re cruising around your farm and that electric golf cart when I have to walk. Asher Miller Well, It’s a Rolls Royce golf cart. Jason Bradford Oh my god. That thing is so awesome. Asher Miller Serious power. Yeah, you’ve got the little champagne holder and everything. Jason Bradford I toss the fertilizer from it. Rob Dietz I hate it when I’m behind you and all that cigar smoke is just wafting back. Jason Bradford My tobacco farm is fantastic. Asher Miller Okay, so yeah, okay, dude is a hypocrite, check. I mean, we could say that about a lot of people. Rob Dietz Not the three of us here. Asher Miller Of course. We’re not hypocrites here, no. So I want to talk about philanthropic colonialism. So if we think about philanthropy, and his kind of philanthropy, as sort of an expression of the colonial mind, you know, this idea that, like, you’re coming in to a place, and you know best. You are full of your power. Your sense of, we talked about this, in the case of early colonization, right? It was supported sanctioned by the Catholic Church, right? You’re there to convert these poor humans. So it’s a little bit of that same mindset of coming in and saying, we need to lift these poor people out. They’re losing out on life. On the potential of life, on progress, right? You know, in one case, it was like, you guys are gonna die and go to Hell. You’re not gonna go to heaven. In this case it’s like, you’re not fulfilling what your life’s purpose is. So we need to lift people out of this. So take them poverty and subsistence agriculture and all that. Jason Bradford Access to modernity is the greatest thing we can give people. Rob Dietz I thought you were referring to, they’re missing out on having a closet just loaded with trinkets and too many clothes. Jason Bradford We’ll get there. Yeah, I mean, you get them into the cities, you know, you have machines, do the labor, etc, etc. So they get their goodies. Rob Dietz I think of it is… savior syndrome is a phrase that kind of popped in mind. Like, “Hi, I’m gonna come in and tell you how to run things. Because, you know, look at look at how well I’ve done where I am.” Asher Miller And look, people have written extensively about this and organizations that work on these issues. Like Oakland Institute does really important work in Africa and other places around. It sort of land grabs, and sort of taking people who’ve had traditional ways of living, subsistence agriculture, you know, these tight local communities, and either relocating people to cities, as you mentioned, Jason, or are basically taking these folks and just like wiring them directly up to the global economy. Now you have to be producing for the global economy. As we talked about with AGRA stuff, you’re getting seeds from us, you’re getting all this stuff. You have to use the things that we’re telling you to use. Rob Dietz You’re in debt to us too. Don’t forget that part. Asher Miller You’re in debt to us and you’ve got to sell to these markets. And that basically, under the guise of saying, oh, we’re lifting up, we’re creating more prosperity for you. Putting aside whether that actually happens or not for a second, it’s the idea that now you have to be absolutely plugged into the global economy, and you’re dependent upon it now. Jason Bradford Yeah. There’s this interesting notion, and we’re gonna get into this in other episodes so I’m not going to belabor it. But there’s the idea in the agricultural world, actually, so it applies in this specifically as well, of the notion of sparing versus sharing approaches to preserving biodiversity in nature. So the sparing approach is what the Gates Foundation is doing. They’re basically saying, when you have people who have to interact with nature for their subsistence, they are destructive to nature. And the world cannot have people doing this kind of livelihood, because they are going to destroy the planet. And so their thought is that we will have them to move into cities, make their agriculture more efficient, so you can spare the space and nature can now thrive. The other approach that you see is the agroecological approach or the sharing approach with nature. The idea being, people can live in place and have livelihoods. If they do it in a way that is responsible, humans in nature kind of co-evolve and cohabitate places. Rob Dietz Look, I’m in favor of conserving areas and sort of maybe not keeping people out. But you know, like, you restrict what you can do in them. Like a national park or something like that. And we’ve discussed on this show the half-earth deal that EO Wilson’s Foundation supports and the idea of just space for nature. But to take people off of the land and say, you can no longer act responsibly and have some livelihood based on the resources available, that’s utterly ridiculous. Asher Miller It really is insane when you think about it because you look at indigenous communities, and let’s take fire practices, you know. Let’s take how people deal with forests, right? It wasn’t like we had these pristine, untouched forests in North America. It was that the indigenous communities had a relationship with the land, you know. They would practice basically preventative fire techniques and things like that. And now we’re learning actually that maybe we should think about implementing those versus what we’ve been doing. It’s amazing. The hubris of thinking, well we know best, right? We know best on how to do stuff. Rather than think about these indigenous communities, these land base communities, where you have countless generations who have built this incredible repository of knowledge that gets passed down from generation to generation about how to live with the actual land that they’re living with. And dealing with scarcity. And we’re gonna go to them and say, “You don’t know what the fuck you’re doing.” Rob Dietz Yeah, but how much money do they have? Come on now. Jason Bradford And dealing with risk. They also know the reason they don’t just grow one highly productive crop is because they hedge. And so they don’t do monocultures and they don’t do the high yield grain. They also grow these tuber crops, for example. I mean, they’re hedging constantly because nature is variable. And all this worry about the climate, and Bill Gates will talk about how the climate is gonna really harm these people. We need to help them. It’s like, they actually have a lot of the basic understanding of how to hedge risk and survive and persist. Asher Miller Well, and I also think about what all that does for the human soul, right? So you’re talking Jason about taking people off of their traditional land and putting them in cities as part of progress, or whatever. And again, you know, I was just saying you have these communities with countless generations of knowledge. And we’re going to look at them and be like, “You guys don’t know what you’re doing.” We also have, we are a species that has evolved, co-evolved with nature. Literally symbiotic relationship. You look at your gut biota, right? And we’re gonna say, no, we’ve got to take us out, stick us in these cities, these artificial environments, right? And it’s like, no wonder, I mean this is simplistic, but no wonder people are sick. No wonder people are depressed. Jason Bradford And now there’s what’s called Nature Deficit Disorder. Asher Miller We’ve disconnect people from where we’ve evolved to live. It’s very similar to, you know – In some ways, the perfect metaphor for this, perfect in a really dark way, is how we take it. We thought it was wise to take young children, you know, children from Native American communities here or First Nations in Canada, stick them in schools to basically indoctrinate them into western culture. And we’re doing this to save them, right? To help them. And what happened? Jason Bradford It’s a good analogy. Asher Miller They’re depressed and suicidal and miserable, and, you know, maybe they turn to dependencies on things. Whatever it is, it’s like. . . Jason Bradford It’s very sad. Rob Dietz I love it how we take these concepts, like you’re talking about forest bathing, like It’s a scientific thing that it’s healthy to be – That used to be living! Asher Miller Like a new discovery. Rob Dietz You didn’t go out and bathe in the forest. You just were living. Jason Bradford I know. I guess that’s one of the things I discovered when I started farming was how happy I was. And then they started like, “Oh, these soil organisms produce this organic molecule that when you breathe it, it makes you happy.” Like, “Oh, that’s good.” Rob Dietz Well, there’s more to the philanthropic disaster than just the colonialism, as well. I think the entire model is built on something utterly screwy. So you have the idea that a person like Bill Gates amasses this incredible fortune by essentially runaway ruthless business practice, right? You monopolize and beat the crap out of your competition. Jason Bradford And then you get to play God. Rob Dietz Then you build a philanthropic endowment and use that endowment to combat all the problems that occurred because of the ruthless run away business practices. It’s kinda circular. Asher Miller That’s the circular economy, Rob! Rob Dietz It’s really frustrating. Asher Miller It’s a beautiful thing. Jason Bradford It’s almost like this little fiefdom, like as I mentioned, God or . . . Who decides now how all this wealth gets spent? And it’s Bill, right? He’s appointed. He’s self-anointed. Rob Dietz At least that guy, as I said before, he has a heart and he seems well intentioned, conspiracy theories aside. But yeah, you can come up with all kinds of foundations that are tax free, you know, nonprofits that are doing just horrible work, like Post Carbon Institute. No, but like there’s the Ayn Rand Institute. There’s all these just wonderful – Asher Miller I think, well intended, benign, or ruthless and evil, wherever they are on the spectrum, the bottom line is, there is an accountability there, right? I mean, these foundations are accountable to their own board of directors or trustees, you know. Which are usually the people who have made the money in the first place, you know, the people they know. And, you know, we can have a whole conversation about the decision making and the strategy of foundations to address that. You made this comment, Rob about going in to try to fix a circular economy. Of fixing the things that you basically broke in the first place? That’s a little bit philanthropy as well, you know. And to think that the people that are often the trustees or directors of these foundations, who themselves profited and benefited from that system, that they’re going to look at this system in a way and say, “Oh, we can actually address and should address the source of the problem in it.” Jason Bradford Well, the other thing I think that’s important: There’s a lot of hubris, thinking they know what’s going on. But there’s also the applying of this sort of business model, sort of perspective, to everything. To have to turn – It’s almost like, these people need to be given these, like the Africa agriculture example, a suite of things they can buy, to grow things they can sell. It’s like, first of all, they’re trying to make subsistence farmers businesspeople. And I think it’s because they’re trying to carry over their business success, the idea that if they have success in business, they know now how to create success in other realms of policy. And I just don’t think that’s necessarily true at all. Rob Dietz Yeah, I think one of the things that you see a lot is they think profit has to be an incentive for doing something. So you were talking earlier about the vaccine, Asher and how Gates, his response of, “No, we don’t want to just make this freely available.” Or, “We need to protect that intellectual property and earn profit, because who’s going to make this stuff unless you can take away billions of dollars?” That goes way back with him. I don’t know if you guys were aware, but when he left Harvard and started Microsoft, almost right off the bat, he wrote this open letter that was really aimed at computer hobbyists, people that were screwing around with programming at the time. And it was to rail against the sharing of software. He was like, “This is a terrible practice.” And there’s some merit to his argument and that his point was, those of us working on making software, we need to be able to make a living. Otherwise, we’re not going to spend the time on it. We’re going to be off doing something else. So to a point that makes sense, but for frickin sake, like, you don’t have to be so protective of everything that you become the richest man in the world because you were able to secure that intellectual property, right? Jason Bradford You know, some of the greatest things people do they do because it’s about something they find joy in, they find pleasure in, they want to give beyond their own narrow interests, they want a community, they want to – So it’s just crazy that that’s what he thinks drives people’s behavior. And one element of what drives behavior is, yeah, I need enough to get by. But most people, this is enough to meet their basic needs, and then they want to flourish in these other ways. So I just think his entire model of what motivates humans is wrong. Rob Dietz And It’s not just his model. I mean, that’s what you brought up, Jason, this sort of business lens to view all of this stuff. Asher Miller And we refer to him as a Double Downer. And I have to say, I think that there’s a valid rationale for what he’s saying, at least saying in that letter if I interpret it correctly, which is, look, you know, you can’t expect people just to make this stuff and you not pay for it, basically. Because people will start making it or it will be shitty or whatever, do you know what I mean? And in the system that he operates in, the capitalist world, the capitalist economy that we’ve created, that’s a rational argument. You know, we could look at how you incentivize and create a different system where if people’s essential needs are met, they’re motivated to create things and share with the world because of other reasons, other motivations. So I think there’s a validity to that argument. It’s just what you had said, Rob, which is like, you go from that to like, now I’m going to utterly dominate the computer software space, right? And ruthlessly destroy all competition. You know, it’s like, you didn’t have to go that far, dude. Rob Dietz “Hey, hey. I wrote a letter about this, okay. I do have to go with that far.” Asher Miller Um, I want to get back to something you talked about, Jason, or maybe you had said it, Rob, I don’t know. It’s convincing through the work that they’re doing in Africa. You gotta get the seeds from the market, you gotta buy from the market, and you gotta sell to the market. You know, and this whole idea that plugging people into the market is the best thing you can possibly do for them. It reminds me a lot of the conversation we had about Bill Clinton where he was really into these public private partnerships where we can meet the needs of society and the most disadvantaged among us by really using the profit motive of businesses to kind of create these new markets or whatever, and lift people out of poverty. And that’s that same sort of mindset to public private partnerships. Bill Gates has talked about this a lot. And it certainly was the approach to the sort of like the COVID stuff and the vaccines. It was like, we have to do these public private partnerships. You’ve gotta get these pharmaceutical companies, and they should be driven by profit motives, and we partner with them as public entities. But always support the profit motive. Always. Rob Dietz Again, there’s a logic to it, right? Because he’s trying to invest where a company or a government wouldn’t. But with his investment, he’s hoping to bring them in and sort of spur some broader investment. So I kind of like that idea. But there’s a limit to it. Asher Miller We’re also, as you say, there’s also this role of philanthropy in it, right. So we’re talking about public private partnerships between government and businesses. But in a sense, also, foundations are now stepping in to meet some of these – Maybe there are these areas where there isn’t profit to be gained, right? So it’s the role of foundations, you know. Which is basically pennies on the dollar of profit that people, individuals, have made out of the system. It’s usually exploiting something, nature or other people, being put to areas where maybe there isn’t a profit that can be had somehow because he can’t rely on corporations to do it. So philanthropy will do it. But never the really the role of government. Our collective resources being put to market. Rob Dietz I do want to protect the forest. So I was going to start a timber company, cut it down, sell it, and then use the profits to buy a quarter of the land back and put that in a preserve. You guys like that idea? You with me? Jason Bradford You’re an evil genius? Rob Dietz Well, this brings me to another point, which is this whole businessification. Is that a word? It might work when you’re trying to sell software, or whatever. Basically, you have a very easy thing that you’re after. You know, you’re trying to sell a product or market a product so that you can maximize your profits and build shareholder value, whatever. You know, the thing that unifies businesses, well, that’s so much trickier in the world of policy, you know. You have these huge issues like poverty, or climate change, or the food system doesn’t work, right? And so there are a lot more goals. It’s a lot more complex. A lot more people involved. And you can’t just act like some dictator and go in and fire half of your staff. Jason Bradford And often the goals of public policy are different than the goals of business. In fact, they’re the opposite. Right? I mean, selling more Cheetos is not a public policy outcome that we’re trying to achieve. Rob Dietz It’s unfortunate because America has done really well on that. Asher Miller Yeah. And you reduce it down to things that you can measure. And those are not necessarily the things that are actually best, right. It’s a pretty simplistic way of approaching things. You know? Rob Dietz You know, with policy, as our colleague Richard Heinberg has talked about pretty extensively, you tend to run into predicaments, not simple problems. These are very, very complex issues. When you try to apply some fix, you often have unintended consequences. And I don’t know, maybe Gates has had a couple of unintended consequences along the way. Asher Miller I think there may be a strategy here that we’re not recognizing, which is maybe the whole microchipping people, it’s just a way of solving that predicament. Let’s make sure that everyone acts in a certain way. Jason Bradford So that can control them. Yeah, evil genius. Rob Dietz I just take back everything I said about Gates. Jason Bradford Okay, now that we’ve roasted Bill Gates, we get to sort of sum it up in a simple insufferability index reminder, This is based on a 0 to 10 criteria. Zero would be the real good people, like Harry Potter. 10 would be like Voldemort. Asher Miller I don’t understand that one. Okay. Jason Bradford Well, he was really good. Or Neville. Asher Miller Nelson Mandela. Rob Dietz You’re not very well read, Asher. So I wouldn’t – You couldn’t get that reference. Jason Bradford Anyway. Hermi-ohni, maybe. . Rob Dietz Hermi-ohni? Ha ha. What was it? No, you got his disease. It’s Alan Goo-bear and Hermi-ohni. Anyways – Asher Miller They’re going on tour together. Rob Dietz Can you order that in an Italian restaurant? Give me the Hermi-ohni with the red sauce. Jason Bradford That’s a dessert. Anyhow. So what we’re going to deal with is their intentions, you know, are they malevolent, power hungry, selfish human beings? Are they good with a nice awareness for the polycrisis? Personality – Do you like them? Are they nice enough? Or you couldn’t stand to be in same room. Ideas – Are they completely wackadoodle? Could they be a fellow of Post Carbon Institute? And then scorers bias. Rob Dietz Okay. Asher Miller Okay. Rob Dietz I want to start. I actually got to see Bill Gates live. Jason Bradford Oh, nice. Asher Miller Oh man. Did he do an encore? Rob Dietz I know. Well, after we put our lighters up in the air and – So he came to my college. I mean, honestly, the mythology was so intact because this was probably in 1992, 93. Jason Bradford Sure, you’re still in college. Rob Dietz He was like the head geek of the world. Microsoft was probably like the coveted job to go out and get. So he seemed pretty cool in a like geek sort of way to me. And I also just want to say his intentions, they seem good. I don’t know despite what you said, Asher, about probably his geeky persona being a facade of sorts. I don’t know. I feel like he might be a nice enough guy. Jason Bradford So your scorer’s bias might be kind of leaning towards giving him extra point. Rob Dietz I don’t know. I’m just thinking on the intentions and personality side I’m not scoring much. Asher Miller So do you have a score in mind? Rob Dietz But pretty bad on his hubris and overstepping into places where he shouldn’t be. So I’m kind of in the, I think the 3-4 range. Jason Bradford Pretty low. Okay. Okay. Interesting. I have a little bias because he is a tennis player. I saw him do an exhibition match doubles with Roger Federer on TV. On TV. I wasn’t there because he brought professional tennis to Seattle, which hardly ever happens. Pro tennis rarely comes to the West Coast of North America. It’s very upsetting. So anyway, I give a little bias there. He’s not completely wackadoodle. He’s a Double Downer so you gotta get a point there. He’s, you know, he’s a little full of himself. It’s obvious. So I’m going to give him a four as well. Yeah. Rob Dietz Yeah. Asher Miller Okay, the scorer’s bias is going to come into play here for me. Jason Bradford Okay. Asher Miller First of all — intentions, I’m going to score him low on that. By low we mean in the positive way, right. Jason Bradford Yeah. Asher Miller So I think his intentions are actually pretty good. So I’m gonna give him 1 for that right. Personality I’m gonna mark him higher because I have it on good authority that he’s a fucking asshole. Jason Bradford I see. Okay. Asher Miller At least he was in the business realm. Literally yelling and screaming at people. Jason Bradford He seemed nice on the court. Asher Miller Oh, did he? Rob Dietz And when he was hired to give a speech he seemed nice. Asher Miller Okay. So I’m, you know, I’m gonna go for a solid like 2.5 there. Wow. Okay. Okay. Jason Bradford And then ideas – I’m kind of with you, Jason. I’m gonna go pretty low there. I think he’s not a total wackadoodle.. So I’m gonna give him a one. Yeah, so we’re at 4.5. But here’s my scorer’s bias, okay? This is giving the dude the benefit of the doubt because allegations are alleged of other behaviors that if they were true, put the dude in fucking Voldemort territory. Can we just acknowledge that without getting into it? Okay, so that’s my little caveat there. My little asterisk. I forgot about that. Rob Dietz So you got him as a 12 then? Asher Miller I get him at a 4.5 right now, pending further information that might send it all the way into the 10. Jason Bradford Well, I want to congratulate Bill for being the lowest on our insufferability index thus far. Under a five on average. So congratulations. Melody Allison Other podcasts ask for a lot of stuff. Buy their merch, join their Patreon, donate your left kidney. We’re just asking you to share the show. If you’re like me and you find it funny and thought provoking then please tell three friends, hit that share button, and get some other people joining us in Crazy Town George Costanza Every decision I’ve ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right. Rob Dietz I want to let our listeners know as we get going on the Do the Opposite that before we really get anywhere, we’re going to send Bill an award for his banner score on the insufferability index. Asher Miller I think we have to wait until the end of the season. Yeah, we don’t know. Rob Dietz Oh true. Asher Miller And crown a champion. Rob Dietz Okay. Jason Bradford I think he’s got a good shot at it. Okay, I know what’s coming up. Asher Miller He’s seriously on the leaderboard. Jason Bradford Yeah, he’s on the leaderboard for sure. I don’t think he’s gonna get knocked off. Rob Dietz He’s putting up good scores. Jason Bradford Yeah, yeah. Asher Miller Good job Bill. What a skewed scale we have by the way. Like if Mr. Rogers were here, he’d be like, “What the fuck?” Rob Dietz I’m the least of the worst. Okay, so in the do the opposite realm, how about if we start by not having these goddamn multibillionaires in the first place? How about that? Yeah. If we’re gonna allow that kind of business to take place then let’s tax them. And the sad part about this is that even Bill Gates agrees with what I just said. At one point his father was in charge of the foundation. That’s how he started it. He’s like, I’m gonna make the Gates Foundation and Dad, you run it. So Bill Gates Sr., he partnered with our buddy, friend of this podcast here, Crazy Town, Chuck Collins. We interviewed him and he’s on our board here at Post Carbon Institute. And so he and Bill Gates Sr., they advocated for upping the estate tax and Bill Jr.’s on board with that. Asher Miller Interesting idea. Yeah, he’s been supportive of that. Jason Bradford Okay, that’s good. Rob Dietz So Bill himself wants to do the opposite. Jason Bradford Isn’t that interesting? Okay. Well, I’m gonna come at this from the perspective of agricultural food system farming. And I’m just thinking about like, there are all these groups in Africa doing work that is really counter to Gates. It’s almost like you’ve got these like Mothra Gorilla in Africa. That was really bad. Rob Dietz Wait, what are you talking about? Did you just take a Godzilla villain and pair it with a pseudo King Kong? Jason Bradford Yeah, That was just horrible. Rob Dietz Okay. We’re gonna up Jason’s coffee and be right back with more on agro-ecology. Asher Miller Yeah, I wouldn’t call him Bambi, but what are these two evil things? Jason Bradford Yeah, that’s wrong. Anyway, what you’ve got going on is, there’s people who think about what to do if you have extra money, and you’re a do-gooder, maybe you were in the Peace Corps or whatever. You’re going somewhere. There’s different ways of approaching other cultures, and thinking about quote, unquote, “development” and what it means. There’s the Gates Foundation way, which seems to be, everyone needs to be like us and modernize and go into cities. And then there are people who actually have a respect for these other cultures, who are who are interested in learning about them, maybe even preserving or enhancing their life, but not in a way that’s domineering. More about questioning and partnering. And I think those approaches need to be supported. Okay? And I want to kind of turn this around a little bit because the sickness we have in our modern world, this nature deficit and our inability to probably do anything functional for our own survival, aside from making money and then buying stuff from the machine, is really awful I think. And if you go to these places where people are, quote, unquote, “poor” or “subsistence,” sure, you may have a hard time relating to them because they’re in such a different world than you but maybe that’s because your culture is kind of screwed up. And you need to learn from them. So anyway, that’s sort of the do the opposite. Maybe we should be thinking about how to sort of just be a little more circumspect about the full-throated modernism we’re all about. And not have so much hubris but have some humility when we’re looking at these other cultures. Maybe we need to learn from them. Asher Miller I think it’s a really interesting point there, which is one point you’re making is that actually this whole thing could be flipped on its head. Instead of us quote unquote, coming from the global north of the west to “rescue” people in Africa or in the global south or indigenous communities. That maybe the knowledge transfer might need to go in the other direction. But, at the same time, what I guess I would add to that is let’s not colonize their wisdom either, their knowledge and practices. The approach needs to be one of humility and learning and reciprocity, rather than, like, holy shit, the consequences of everything we’ve been doing for the last couple of centuries are coming to bear on us now. Jason Bradford We’re desperate. We need you. Asher Miller Tell us what to do. You know? Which is still an exploitative sort of approach, you know? Jason Bradford And is there a role for some of modernism to merge a little bit with some of these places and some form of development? Asher Miller I think Ray Kurzweil is working on that. Jason Bradford Maybe. I mean, vaccines might be kind of good in some cases, and maybe some of the communication devices we have. So yeah, I’m not saying like, don’t help in any kind of way. But face it in a different kind of perspective. Rob Dietz It’s not like there isn’t a role for scientific knowledge and expertise. I mean, you started off talking about agroecology which is about a kind of farming that takes into account the sense of place, the soils you have, the water, the kind of permaculture types of thinking. Jason Bradford And is willing to learn from sort of folk wisdom, so to speak. Rob Dietz Right, folk wisdom, but also, there’s a scientific piece to that. Jason Bradford And you can do tests. And you can improve. Rob Dietz Yeah. I mean, I see you operating the farm this way. Jason Bradford You have? Nice. Asher Miller I just see him in his Rolls Royce. Rob Dietz With the cigar smoke wafting out the back. Jason Bradford I do take that seriously. I consider it. Yeah, it’s not easy. Because I didn’t grow up in this, you know, Asher Miller I guess I would just add, so think about doing the opposite and here we are talking about Gates Foundation of philanthropy. Let’s talk about doing the opposite in the role of philanthropy itself. And I would say almost like thinking about this as sort of like degrees of change, you know one is a different approach to how philanthropy sees itself. And I think we are starting to see some philanthropists who come to their philanthropy with much more humility. They see that the financial wealth that they currently have to share as not theirs to give. So they don’t feel a control over it. They don’t necessarily feel like coming with those resources has to be sort of a dictation on what you’re supposed to do. And in some cases, you see philanthropy actually turning over some decision making to NGOs. Setting up systems where they’re really turning towards experts out in the field, sometimes the very NGOs that they support, to help them figure out where they should be investing. So seeing much more of a partnership. I think if you go deeper than that, you start exploring, what is the role of philanthropy? What’s it born out of? A good friend of PCI’s, Alnoor Lada, and his partner in writing, Lynn Murphy, wrote a really, I would say, profoundly challenging book called, “Post-Capitalist Philanthropy: Healing Wealth in the Time of Collapse.” And in some ways it’s like a love letter to say, “Let this go. This is not yours.” Do you know what I mean? All of this wealth comes from basically the exploitation of people in nature. You have to let it go. And we have to let the system that created that go. And even further than that, it’s looking at one, the fact that we’re relying so much on philanthropy to fix issues that are caused by the economy and responsibilities that the government has vacated. So we have to reassess that. And two, recognizing that the entire philanthropic model is built on growth. It’s built on the whole edifice of it. The whole idea of you have an endowment, you grow your endowment, and you’re giving 5% a year on that. And what you’re actually trying to do is to keep growing your endowment more than you’re spending it. It’s pathologically insane. It’s part of the growth system. And it only works if you’re growing. And growth so far, as we’ve talked about, is built on consumption. It’s built on exploitation. It’s built on the natural world. That’s fucked up. Jason Bradford Yeah. It is. Asher Miller It’s not sustainable. And we have to completely rethink that altogether. Rob Dietz Yeah, I want everyone to know that what you just said is protected by intellectual property. And we plan on selling that, so anybody out there who wants to buy some wisdom, you know who to call. Melody Allison That’s our show. Thanks for listening. If you like what you heard and you want others to consider these issues, then please share Crazy Town with your friends. Hit that share button in your podcast app or just tell them in a face-to-face meeting. You can start some much-needed conversations and do some things together to get us out of Crazy Town. Thanks again for listening and sharing. Jason Bradford If you’re like millions of patriotic, overweight Americans with diabetes and cardiovascular disease, you struggle with a painful dilemma. 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