Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have persuaded 11 more of their billionaire peers to promise to give away half of their wealth, including tech luminaries Gordon Moore (co-founder Intel) and Reed Hastings (co-founder Netflix).
The new 11 will join the Giving Pledge, a campaign Gates and Buffett launched in 2010 to try to kick-start a new era of American philanthropy.
People sometimes say that the United Nations doesn’t do enough to solve the big problems of the world. I’ve never really agreed with that point of view, but if anyone is looking for evidence of the UN’s impact, a good place to start is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
They were agreed to in 2000 by all 193 UN member countries and 23 international organizations. Creating that kind of consensus is—by itself—a significant achievement.
The great thing about the MDGs is that they provide clear targets and indicators of progress in key areas, including:
Ending poverty and hunger
Child and maternal health
Although a number of countries won’t be able to achieve all of the goals by the target date of 2015, the MDGs have been helpful in getting everyone to really think about their part, the progress they’re making, and what they can learn from others. The goals have focused political attention in developing countries, encouraged UN groups to work together, and inspired wealthy and fast-growing donor countries to coordinate their efforts.
ARPA-E: A Good Beginning for U.S. Energy Innovation
By Bill Gates
Clean energy and innovation are two areas that I’m passionate about, so I’ve been looking forward to investigating some interesting new energy technologies at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit this week.
ARPA-E is a new federal agency—the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy—created in 2009 to fund research of promising, but unproven, energy technologies. It was modeled after DARPA—the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—which was established in the late 1950s to accelerate development of U.S. satellite technology to keep pace with the Soviet Union. Research at DARPA led to a number of fantastic breakthroughs, including GPS technology and the Internet.
The idea behind ARPA-E is to help the U.S. fast-track development of innovative energy technologies that wouldn’t typically be funded by traditional energy companies. If just a fraction of the projects are successful, they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change, help the U.S. decrease its dependence on foreign oil, , and keep the U.S. competitive in advanced energy technologies.
I’ve been quite impressed with the people running ARPA-E. In less than three years, they have evaluated hundreds of proposals and made $521 million in grants to support 180 projects.
President Barack Obama proposed $80 million in new government funding for a program to boost science and math education in U.S. schools.
The aim of the new proposed funding is to train 100,000 specialized teachers, who would help to “meet an ambitious goal, which is 1 million more American graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math over the next 10 years.”
In addition, philanthropic organizations and private companies have committed to providing $22 million to help train new math and science teachers.
Organizations involved in the effort include the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Google, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Freeport-McMoRan and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.
The number comes from lost income and compounds every year with new dropouts adding to the roll call. It’s an interesting statistic that highlights a problem in education.
One that I call the college dropout bubble, but unlike most bubbles this works backwards. It’s a negative bubble:
Positive bubble – trade in which products are at inflated values.
Negative bubble – trade in which products are at deflated values.
I propose that a college education in this country has a deflated value. To the vast majority of Americans it just isn’t worth it. We can get 87% of our multi-lingual/racial/cultural people to get a high school education but, when it comes to college degrees we are at 39%.
There are more college dropouts (17%) than high school dropouts (13%)!!
That is a definitely a negative bubble and is probably impossible to explain. One could say it’s due to the skyrocketing costs of college, or just blame the cool kids for shunning school.
I do have a few topics that really annoy me and one happy-positive solution.
Another issue is the “point the finger” problem in education. Where everyone blames everyone else for our losing ways. Even the movie Waiting For Superman spreads it around liberally. Of course, we usually skip over the parents as if they play a role in getting a kid into and through college.
Then there is billionaire investor Peter Thiel offering $100,000 for students under the age of 20 to dropout. His rationale being that the cost of college is in a bubble (a positive one). An interesting argument until you realize that he is talking about exclusive Ivy-League and other private schools that cost $50,000 a year. As if they haven’t ever been over-priced…
For the record the average tuition at public schools is $7,600 and at private schools is $38,700.
This by no means covers all the issues and I bet my readers have many of their own.
For a solution I think we should go old-school. Pick up something that has been lost in our reverence for money and unhappiness, a hobby.
It’s easy to explain, ironically, by looking at America’s two most successful dropouts: Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Both have a hidden truth. Before they achieved instant wealth they were nerds in high school. I know very revealing, but it’s true and they spent an absurd amount of time playing with computers.
What’s the difference between us and them. Well, when high school hit we all dropped our hobbies for chasing girls/boys and lots of drinking. Few of us were successful with the opposite sex, though, we like to think we did better than Bill and Mark.
I hope that one day our youth (aka my future children), are able to drink less and tinker more. Pick up some nerdy, DIY hobby and run with it. Like the other day I saw a fellow on the beach testing out a remote control surfer robot, future billionaire…