“Microsoft is evil”, Barbeque Edition

A friend of my mother’s was introduced to me at a family barbeque, and started in. Background: lives in a nice suburban neighbourhood, sends her kids to private school.

“Lovely to see you!…

So how do you feel about working for them?” (measured tone)

Pretty good, most days?

“Microsoft is evil.”

(is-she-joking?-pause) Um, look, I think we make dumb decisions sometimes, but could I ask why you think we’re evil? Is this an EU thing?

“I read that the Bill Gates foundation was trying to find a cure for Malaria.”

(confused expression) you did say ‘evil,’ right?

“and you know what that means” (expectant eyebrow-arching)

Fewer dead people?

“Yes!” (triumphant look)

(thinking hard) I can’t see how that’s bad? Is this a theological thing?

“Well it’s for globalization, isn’t it?”

Uhm… what?

“The whole idea is that if Malaria gets eradicated, there will be more people to work in sweatshops.”

(I’d swear the whites of the eyes were in some way frothy at this point)

(Pause) Yes, I guess, that’s technically feasible in some way. Let’s just suggest that we have a programming sweat shop in the Malaria belt.

(Expectancy; exultation)

What I think you’re saying is that you’d rather that about a million people died each year, than, say, they all survived and a couple of thousand worked for very low wages.

(Derailment moment; this-isn’t-quite-the-slam-dunk-I-had-planned)

(nearly shouting) “Well, no, but curing Malaria means more cheap workers. And more cheap workers means more globalization. It’s being done for a profit motive.”

(trying to calm everyone down) Let’s just assume that you’re right and it’s all a big, costly, nefarious scheme to obtain more cheap workers. Just to be clear, I don’t think that’s the case.

Are you telling me that a profit motive that leads to survival for millions, and a small income for a few of them, is more evil than all those people dying, then? Isn’t survival a start?

“But globalization is bad! Sweatshops!”

(patience with crazy person expended) Malaria worse! Death! If you don’t live, it’s a bit awkward to say you’d like your living conditions to be improved, isn’t it?

The conversation turned to other things…

Comments (5)

  1. Tristan K says:

    Sweatshops Through Survival.

    It's a new T-Shirt I'm going to get printed.

  2. what can you say? a lot of people just NEED conspiracy theories...

  3.      Scary Tristan...really. MS has been accused of many things, like monopoly and all, but encouraging 'sweatshop', this is new :).

  4. Kelsey says:

    Well done.

    I would have grabbed the nearest heavy object and thumped them across the head.  I spent years reading, visiting, and researching "sweatshops" and what I found was that one person's sweatshop is another person's opportunity. Sure that might be a bit simple, but it's way more complex than this person's logic: globalization = bad.

    Like most things, there is a gray area where the truth lives.

  5. Reader says:

    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is evil and working with those who want to bring bio-technology to Africa, like Monsanto and the Clintons, will likely kill and cause suffering for far more Africans than malaria. I encourage you to read Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel.

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