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I’ve been seeing some of the responses on my hypothetical “MS gives 5% to AIDS prevention and treatment,” which is basically a devil’s advocate argument, and I’m getting some rather interesting twist and turns.

Perhaps the oddest, though, is the opinion that Bill Gates is One of the Evilest Men in History.

Well, folks, if you think that, you don’t know what evil is.

If you think Bill Gates is just like Hitler or Stalin, do you have any notion of what Hitler and Stalin did? Any? Or are they just bad words to you?

To keep it short, both men were directly responsible for the deaths of ten of millions of people. How can you possibly equate anything Microsoft has done to that? How?

When you say something like that, you are trivializing and insulting those tens of millions of people, not to mention the far greater number of those who suffered less severely or indirectly as a result.

If you want to compare Bill Gates to somebody, compare him to John D. Rockefeller. The first one. The guy who started the Rockefellers off. The man whose company, Standard Oil, virtually monopolized the U.S. oil industry around 1900.

What he did with Standard Oil is a hell of a lot closer to what Microsoft has done than the Holocaust or Gulag Archipelago.

That’s the kind of historical comparison you should make.

It might also be instructive to take a look at Mr. Rockefeller’s career and see the past predict the future.

Standard Oil got through a number of antitrust actions successfully, too. Hell, the Sherman Antitrust Act (the granddaddy of American antitrust law) was largely written BECAUSE of Mr. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. However, eventually, it was (somewhat) broken up due to court action.

Secondly, Mr. Rockefeller spent the latter part of his life (he lived into his nineties), at least approving of his son’s efforts to put less effort on making money and more on giving it away. His descendants certainly continued that.

Today, while the initial efforts of Mr. Rockefeller have not been forgotten, on the whole, the charitable efforts of the Rockefeller family have earned it a pretty positive public opinion.

And so it is likely to be with Mr. Gates and his descendants.

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