World View: Bill and Melinda Gates Take Pollyannaish View of Rwanda and Rest of World

A bus is adorned with an image of incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame, expected to win a third election term in Friday's poll

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Bill and Melinda Gates take Pollyannaish view of Rwanda and rest of world
  • Bill and Melinda Gates’ programs for contraception availability
  • Concerns grow about an approaching global financial crisis
  • Today’s major news from Europe: Meghan Markle closes a car door

Bill and Melinda Gates take Pollyannaish view of Rwanda and rest of world

Bill and Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda Gates

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, may be ideologically on the left, but it is hard to criticize someone who is taking a global view for the good of mankind, and is spending his own money to try to solve world problems like poverty and HIV aids.

I met Bill Gates a few times during my past as a Senior Technology Editor and technology journalist. I found him to be a brilliant man at both marketing and technology. I recall digging into the code and functionality of Windows 95 when it came out in 1995 and being extremely impressed that so complex a product could work so well and in so many diverse environments.

So when Melinda Gates was interviewed at length on CNBC on Tuesday, I was curious to hear some specifics of her plans for how she and Bill were going to save the world and to analyze what she said from the point of view of Generational Dynamics.

Like many people, she is completely oblivious to the growing nationalism and xenophobia in the world, to the growing military threats around the world, to the growing global financial crisis in countries around the world, and how these things completely negate her Pollyannaish view of the world and how they make the investments she is proposing either impossible or else completely worthless if they occur in this generational Crisis era.

I will start with something she said near the end of the interview that really caught my attention: (my transcription):

As I traveled the world, I asked myself: is there anywhere in the world where we have true equality for women, and the answer is no, not even in the United States.

One of the places that have 40 percent women parliamentarians is Rwanda. It’s because President [Paul] Kagame said we will have 40 percent of parliamentarians. They’re way over that now.

In fact it is true that over 50 percent of the members of parliament in Rwanda are women. Ms. Gates’ point was that Paul Kagame is a great pro-woman humanitarian who has bravely taken the political step to make sure that there is gender equality in parliament.

But even someone without knowledge of generational theory can see that that is not what is going on here. Rwanda is in a region riven by centuries of tribal war, particularly between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis. In a three month period in 1994, Hutus massacred close to a million Tutsis in the most brutal way.

Whoever comes to power after a crisis ethnic civil war uses brutal police power to suppress the opposition, using the excuse that a new civil war must be prevented. This has happened in DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, Thailand, Cambodia, Iran, Venezuela, Libya, and other places.

Paul Kagame was a Tutsi military leader who was killing Hutus in the 1980s and continued doing so both before and after the 1994 genocide. This is a person who has perpetrated some of the most horrific things that one human being can do to another. Like many leaders in such countries, he is refusing to give up power, and he is using violence to suppress the opposition. Even today, there are reports that he is using terror attacks to subvert the Hutu government in Burundi. So he is no humanitarian, and if he supposedly supported gender equality, there must be something else going on.

An NPR article in 2016 described what happened:

Following 100 days of slaughter in 1994, Rwandan society was left in chaos. The death toll was between 800,000 and 1 million. Many suspected perpetrators were arrested or fled the country. Records show that immediately following the genocide, Rwanda’s population of 5.5 million to 6 million was 60 to 70 percent female. Most of these women had never been educated or raised with the expectations of a career. In pre-genocide Rwanda, it was almost unheard of for women to own land or take a job outside the home.

The genocide changed all that. The war led to Rwanda’s “Rosie the Riveter” moment: It opened the workplace to Rwandan women just as World War II had opened it to American women.

The call for equality was led not by thousands of women but by one man — President Paul Kagame, who has led the country since his army stopped the genocide. Kagame decided that Rwanda was so demolished, so broken, it simply could not rebuild with men’s labor alone. So the country’s new constitution, passed in 2003, decreed that 30 percent of parliamentary seats be reserved for women. The government also pledged that girls’ education would be encouraged. That women would be appointed to leadership roles, like government ministers and police chiefs. Kagame vowed to not merely play catch-up to the West but leapfrog ahead of it.

So in a country whose population is 60-70 percent female, Paul Kagame sought to appoint women to high positions. When Ms. Gates uses Rwanda as a model country to be emulated by other countries, you have to wonder what she is thinking, or whether she knows anything about Rwanda before the last six months.

The next question to ask is whether Rwanda is fundamentally different from other countries, besides having a lot of women in parliament. The same NPR article provides some answers:

But even though the change was dramatic and swift, how deep was its impact? Can a country truly transform its core culture from the outside in?

Justine Uvuza wondered that, and decided to find out. A Rwandan herself who had grown up in a refugee camp in Uganda and then moved back to Rwanda in 1994, after the genocide, she worked for a while for the Kagame government promoting Rwanda’s pro-women policies. She was curious how much progress had been made. So when she was getting her Ph.D. at Newcastle University, she returned to Rwanda to interview female politicians about their lives — not just their public positions but their private lives, with their husbands and children. She found with rare exception that no matter how powerful these women were in public, that power didn’t extend into their own homes.

“One told me how her husband expected her to make sure that his shoes were polished, the water was put in the bathroom for him, his clothes were ironed,” Justine says. And this husband wanted not only his shoes laid out in the morning, but his socks placed on top of the shoes. And he wanted it done by his wife, the parliamentarian.

So really, having women in parliament is great for show but it makes little difference in people’s lives.

There are basic Generational Dynamics principles at work here. It is a core principle of Generational Dynamics that, even in a dictatorship, major decisions are made by masses of people, by generations of people. The attitudes of politicians are irrelevant, except insofar as they represent the attitudes of the people.

It is certainly commendable that Bill and Melinda Gates want to spend their own money to promote gender equality. But I think that it’s unfortunate that they are wasting their money, time and effort on programs that have a zero percent chance of succeeding.

Generational theory is not easy to understand, but Bill Gates is capable of doing so. Gates and his wife should focus their attention on programs that might actually work. NPR (29-Jul-2016) and Newcastle University (PDF,2014)

Bill and Melinda Gates’ programs for contraception availability

I’ll give one more example from Ms. Gates’ interview:

There’s a youth boom in Africa – 60 percent of the population is under the age of 25. If we invest in their health and their education, they’ll lift up their economies. They have huge potential. They’ll lift up the continent.

But the converse could also happen. If we don’t make those investments, you’re going to see more HIV Aids, more deaths. So we need to keep our eye on the ball and make these investments, as a world.

I met women all over the world, and when I sit down and talk to them, in their homes, in their villages, in a township, and really listen to them … they would say to me, “What about that tool, what about that [contraceptive] shot. Why can’t I get it?” They would say, “I have five children, it’s not fair to my youngest child for me to have another women.”

Somebody has to answer those cries, and somebody has to rise above the politics, and say that this is important, has to be on the global agenda.

I’m Catholic, I had many discussions with my family, my parents, my siblings, with former priests and nums, and at the end of the day I decided, I use these tools, I counsel all three of my children, my sons, my daughter, to use these tools and know about them, and I thought I have to follow my conscience. Women’s babies are dying because they’re coming too quickly, and women’s bodies can’t sustain what’s going on. So at the end of the day, I had to wrestle my conscience and my conscience says, this is the right thing to do.

These are great objectives. And perhaps making contraceptive shots available to women will reduce population growth, especially if the husband also thinks it is unfair to his five children to have a sixth.

My personal opinion is that this kind of program will not work under any circumstances, because the rate of population growth is deeply embedded in the culture. Consider that in America there was a reduction in fertility before WW II, and then a Baby Boom after WW II. This had nothing to do with the availability of contraceptives. There are other examples of this type as well.

But even if the program worked, the effort would be totally wasted. With nationalism and xenophobia increasing around the world in this generational Crisis era, the world is headed for a world war, and these contraceptive programs will simply fall off a cliff and be totally irrelevant.

This should not be too difficult for Bill and Melinda Gates to understand. Instead of wasting their effort on programs that a 100 percent probability of failure, they should devote their efforts to preparing for the world to come, after a world that has to be rebuilt by the 4-5 billion people who survive the world war, and then have to find their way when the Singularity occurs. CNBC

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Concerns grow about an approaching global financial crisis

In the last four or five years, I have noticed a major change in the commentary of financial experts and analysts on television. It used to be that the only view that was expressed was that the financial system had recovered nicely from the financial crisis of ten years ago and that the worst that could happen is a mild recession, from which the economy would recover quickly.

Ironically, even that has not happened. There has been a bull market on Wall Street for years, much longer than history tells us is possible.

So now what I am hearing more and more is that analysts are strongly hinting that a major financial crisis is coming.

In an interview on Bloomberg TV on Wednesday morning, JPMorgan’s Mary Erdoes was asked whether there are things in the global economy that are too good to be true. She replied (my transcription):

Oh lots of things. I mean everything from housing prices in certain parts of the world, to currency prices in certain parts of the world.

You can’t possibly think we’re in a normal world, when you have an $11 dollars that was thrown at the market to buy whatever, to keep things propped up.

Add to that a nice little tax reform in the United States of America to help that, and you have negative yields in 40% of europe. This is just not normal. You have not normal things, and not normal things don’t end well.

The problem is all of this stress testing in the world isn’t telling us what’s going to manifest itself. next, because everything – it seems too benign, everyone is so comfortable, and that’s exactly when you need to be the most uncomfortable.

Other panelists concurred, mentioned other issues: inflexibility of euro currency to meet crises, and closing of open borders.

I am hearing this kind of thing a lot more these days. They clearly are expecting a major global financial crash, triggered by something completely unexpected – not a surprise to my readers. The S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio is at 24.55, which is astronomical by historic standards, where the historical average is 14, and it was around 5-6 as recently as 1982, indicating that the stock market is in a huge bubble.

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Today’s major news from Europe: Meghan Markle closes a car door

Meghan Markle closes a car door (BBC)
Meghan Markle closes a car door (BBC)

Former “Suits” star Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, the new wife of Prince Harry, made big news on Wednesday when she closed a car door.

She was driven to the Royal Academy of Arts to see the opening of an exhibition of works from the Oceania region.

She stepped out of the car and closed the door. She is supposed to wait for someone else to close the door for her.

This is now a major “moment” in the UK. The big question is: Will she close her own car door again the next time she’s driven to an event? BBC

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Microsoft, Rwanda, Paul Kagame, Hutus, Tutsis, Burundi, Justine Uvuza, Mary Erdoes, Suits, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry
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