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What’s Worse, MS or AIDS?

No, not multiple sclerosis, Microsoft.

The percentage of adults with HIV exceeds 20% in much of Southern Africa. The number of people who will die if not treated due to this will dwarf the number that died in the Holocaust. For the countries in that region, this would be a slow-motion Black Plague.

The UN is trying to launch an AIDS initiative, and besides seeking money from governments, a major contributor is likely to be the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They just gave $100,000,000 for this cause.

Let’s say Microsoft announces it will donate 5% of its sales to this UN effort, or one way or the other come up with the equivalent (about a billion dollars a year).

An intriguing variation on this would be a much higher percentage from sales or fines resulting from catching people using illegal copies.

I think this would be a brilliant move on Microsoft’s part.

If they raised a billion dollars a year on AIDS treatment and prevention, that would be far more than even the U.S. has pledged so far, and probably as much or more than it is ever likely to pledge. Certainly far more than any bunch of rock musicians ever came up with.

Since he’s already handed $100,000,000 over, I’m sure Mr. Gates does personally care about the situation, but I’m just as sure he’d be aware of the public relations and financial benefits of such a move, too.

My question is to the boycott Microsoft people, the Linux people, the warez folks. What would you say to that?

On the one hand, you have bad old Evil MS. On the other hand, it could (and would) be argued that your activities would effectively cost lives.

What are you going to say, that Microsoft is so evil that it is better for a few million (other) people to die than to hand them money?

And BTW, the vast majority of these people are black. If not treating a few hundred black men for syphillis in Tuskegee was racist (and it certainly was), just what would you call effectively advocating the nontreatment of millions of black Southern Africans, oh politically correct ones?

And please, don’t even think about mentioning the possibility of The Warez Foundation or Linux Download Foundation as funding alternatives. (Those selling alternative OSs obviously could and probably would match MS, but that would involve paying, now wouldn’t it?)

Don’t try to shovel off the responsibility on government, either. No legislator is going to allocate more money to make up for the small minority that won’t buy Microsoft. Besides, that boils down to spending other people’s money, anyway. What about yours?

I don’t see how you could claim LiveAid and all the others are good while MSAid would be bad. MSAid would raise a lot more money. That brings us right back to “MS is a greater evil than millions dying.”

Or is the politically correct attitude more important than actual action? Is image really everything?

Bit of a dilemna, isn’t it?

You can email me, but I’d rather you post your comments in our Forum thread on the subject.

Email Ed


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