Acton Institute Powerblog

Enterprise is the Most ‘Effective Altruism’

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Many of you know Jay Richards from his regular lecturing at Acton University. He has a newly co-authored piece in The Daily Caller, “Enterprise is the most ‘effective altruism.’” There’s more to be said on the complex issue of helping the poor than can be put in a single op-ed, of course, but there’s some great food for thought here, particularly for those who view business and markets as necessarily part of the problem. Jay and Anne Bradley use the example of Microsoft to explain the confusion:

The Gates Foundation has saved an estimated 5 million lives thus far. But we rarely hear of the countless lives saved or improved by the profit-seeking activities of Microsoft…. One effect is the Foundation itself. To be able to start such a large aid organization, Bill Gates first had to be a successful entrepreneur. As a philanthropist, Gates is not “giving back” to the world, as if he had taken from it in the first place. His philanthropic giving is possible only because he first “gave” as an entrepreneur.

… Microsoft succeeded only because they provided value for hundreds of millions of people. Gates had to meet the needs of his customers … And to stay ahead, he had to invest wisely rather than consume or give away all the profits.

Jonathan Witt


  • Chris Gensheer

    Love this! This is why it’s important to reject the false dichotomy of business vs. philanthropy. If you want to see/make the world a better place, be faithful and excellent at both at the expense of neither.

  • SPQR

    Why use Gates as an example given his hostility to Christian values especially vis. a vis. life. He’s a proponent of ‘family planning’ and population reduction. Surely there are better examples to make this valid point.

    • AcceptingReality

      Bravo SPQR, you are absolutely right. The Gates Foundation is involved in the worldwide population control movement. They spread the contraception lie in third world countries without reservation. In my humble opinion, a truly committed and virtuous Christian should view the Foundation as something far less than a force for good. Melinda Gates consorts with dissenting Catholic nuns passing herself off as a faithful Catholic all the while promoting anti-Catholic moral views across the globe. Bad example.