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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What is a Humanitarian?

Interesting take on what the word humanitarian means by Jonathan McGlumphy at Virginia Tech:

It is also of interest to compare Mr. Bezos to Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Both are clearly men of strong minds, as evidenced by their respective fortunes made in the technologies sector. The difference lies in how each has chosen to divest the large sums of money they have made. Mr. Gates has stepped down from a lead role in Microsoft to devote time to his charitable foundation that disburses substantial amounts of funds towards fighting AIDS and poverty in third-world nations — an endeavor that serves only select individuals.

Mr. Bezos, on the other hand, had chosen to invest his resources in an area that will ultimately benefit all of humanity. It is true that not everyone will reap the immediate benefits, but consider that it took decades for most of the world to have the wonderful inventions of electrical generation, motive power (be it steam or hydrocarbon), and telecommunications. Imagine where we would be if the financial backers of the Edisons, Bells, Watts, Ottos and Diesels of the world had chosen to give their money to the poor rather than the aforementioned pioneers of technology.

The greatest irony is that our society labels men like Gates as great humanitarians, but gives slanderous labels such as “greedy capitalist” to men like Bezos. Yet it is the Bezos of the world, along with the men of minds they finance, who will push humanity as a whole forward. As such, we should celebrate the triumphs of free minds and free markets over the altruism of those who would leave humanity in a position of stagnation.

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