Category Archives: Reclaiming Our Own Story

Dead Poets Society: Contact Microsoft or the Gates Foundation for Free One-Time Membership

Truth like-like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.

Y-Y-You push it, stretch it, it’ll never be enough.

You kick at it, beat it, it’ll never cover any of us.

From the moment we enter crying t-to the moment we leave dying,

it’ll just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.

~ Todd Anderson, The Dead Poets Society, IMBd quotes

Melinda and Bill Gates have attempted to cover the cold hard feet of truth with their blanket of propaganda in order to maintain their status as the richest couple in the world.

However, like in the poem from The Dead Poets Society, the cold feet of truth are always left exposed at some point, in this case for the people of the working class.  This exposure falls too late for some, however in the past weeks, two incidents have been uncovered that have impacted the worlds of real people, both in China and in the United States.

Both of these true stories are connected directly to Melinda and Bill Gates,  one to Microsoft, and one to the Gates Foundation’s control over public education.  Both are related to horrible working conditions caused directly by the Gates’.

Both stories end in desperation and finally in the loss of real human lives – lives precious to the families and co-workers of real human beings not as privileged as the Gates family, but valuable nevertheless.

**Warning- like the movie, the topic and photos are dark and graphic, as the truth is sometimes, and even more often as the Gates take more control over our world.

One such story involves the desperate working conditions, a 300 person suicide threat in protest, and the deaths of 16 workers by suicide at Foxconn – Microsoft’s X-Box manufacturers in China.

The second story, closer to home, involves the deplorable working conditions in a public school – ending in the suicide of a teacher, Mary Thorson, who was a 32-year-old physical education teacher at Cottage Grove Upper Grade Center in Ford Heights, Illinois, who ended her own life on November 24, 2011, citing horrible working conditions as her reason.  These horrible public school working conditions can be traced directly to the education reform and bullying of teachers via demonization of our profession started by none other than Melinda and Bill Gates.

The Gates family has more than any human needs – when it comes to money – and they use it to control the main stream media in their attempt at blanketing the truth with pure propaganda.

Here’s the propaganda and spin created by Microsoft and Gates via the media:

“Microsoft takes working conditions in the factories that manufacture its products very seriously, and we are currently investigating this issue,” the statement said.

“The welfare of our employees is our top priority and we are committed to ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and that their rights are fully protected,” the company statement said. ~ CNN, “Microsoft Probes Mass Suicide Threat at China Plant”

And here’s more propaganda by Gates:

“Microsoft is one of many companies that contracts with Foxconn to manufacture hardware. Upon learning of the labor protest in Wuhan, we immediately conducted an independent investigation of this issue,” starts the statement that comes from a Microsoft spokesperson.

Source: The Inquirer (http://s.tt/15csh)

And more propaganda by Microsoft:

“After the incident, Microsoft gave Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft the following statement. 

Foxconn has been an important partner of ours and remains an important partner. I trust them as a responsible company to continue to evolve their process and work relationships. That is something we remain committed to—the safe and ethical treatment of people who build our products. That’s a core value of our company.”

~ Rebecca Greenfield, “Foxconn Is Still a Hard Place to Work”, The Atlantic Wire

Workers at Foxconn morn the suicide deaths of their co-workers

due to Microsoft’s poor working conditions.

This graphic is part of the Swiss-based Public Eye campaign to elect the world’s worst corporation. Foxconn is a 2011 nominee.  ~ Greenpeace

But here are the cold hard facts, the feet of truth sticking out under the blanket of the Gates propaganda about China’s Microsoft X-Box workers:

“Last year a startling 18 Chinese migrant workers attempted suicide at Foxconn production facilities located in Guangdong, Jiangsu and Hebei Provinces. Fourteen died, while four survived with critical injuries. All were between 17 and 25 years old. Why did they, in the prime of youth, give up on their lives?

According to a woman working on the soldering line attaching speakers to MP3- and MP4-format digital audio players: ‘After work, all of us – more than 100 persons – are made to stay behind. It happens whenever workers get punished. A girl is forced to stand at attention to read aloud a statement of self-criticism. She must be loud enough to be heard. Our line leader would ask if the worker at the far end of the workshop could hear clearly the mistake she has made. Oftentimes girls feel like they are losing face. It’s very embarrassing. Her tears drop. Her voice becomes very small.’” ~ Jenny Chan, iSlave New Internationalist Magazine

‘I am just a speck of dust’…

Does that statement give you the same message as the Gates Foundation regarding the equal value [see below, straight from the Gates Foundation website] of every human life?  I think not!

Death at Foxconn: Ma Zishan mourns his son Ma Xiangqian, the tenth protest suicide against draconian management at the south China electronics firm. The suicides continue. Joe Tan / Reuters

“As American consumers ogle over shiny new gadgets at this week’s Consumer Electronic’s Show, the workers that make those products are threatening mass suicide for the horrid working conditions at Foxconn. 300 employees who worked making the Xbox 360 stood at the edge of the factory building, about to jump, after their boss reneged on promised compensation, reports English news site Want China Times. It’s not like this is the first time working conditions at Foxconn have made news outside China. But iPhone and Xbox sales surely haven’t lagged in the wake of those revelations and neither Apple nor Microsoft has done much of anything to fix things. 

Instead of the raise they requested, these workers were given the following ultimatum: quit with compensation, or keep their jobs with no pay increase. Most quit and never got the money. That’s when the mass suicide threat came in. The incident actually caused a factory wide shutdown, reports Record China. 

Sympathetic corporate statements aside, the conditions haven’t much improved. Beyond this threat — the mayor eventually talked the angry workers down — suicides persist. Apple has given similar responses, saying it ensures safe working conditions and fair employee treatment. 

That translates to making employees sign “no suicide” pacts and letting 13 year-olds work half-day long shifts, as Mike Daisey, a self-proclaimed Apple fanboy, detail in this week’s This American Life. Daisey goes to Shenzhen, China, where Foxconn employs over 400,000 workers. He talks to both factory workers and businessmen, gathering chilling information about the situation at the factory, discovering suicide nets, 36-hour shifts, 27-year-old burn outs with dismembered limbs and underage workers.”

~ Rebecca Greenfield, “Foxconn Is Still a Hard Place to Work”, The Atlantic Wire

As I write this blog, I am chilled by the last statement by Daisey and the confirmed suicides of 16 Foxconn workers.  These deaths are due to the horrible working conditions minimized by Melinda and Bill Gates, who fool Americans about their caring philanthropy by more propaganda via media spin.

“Over the last two years, at least 16 Foxconn employees have committed suicide in the company’s Shenzhen, China factory. Three other workers attempted to kill themselves at the factory. Those deaths have prompted the company to say that it will install “suicide nets” around the factory to discourage employees from jumping from buildings. Foxconn has also offered some workers a 20 percent wage increase to improve morale.” ~ Don Reisinger, “Foxconn Settles With Workers Who Threaten Mass Suicide”, C-Net

But how could Melinda and Bill Gates possibly be responsible for the suicide death of a public school teacher due to working conditions? After all, the Gates don’t “own” and “operate” public schools!  Or do they?

Let’s look at the story about Mary Thorson and the Cottage Grove Upper Grade Center in Chicago, IL., starting with the propaganda by the Gates’ own views on how their influence impacts public education.

Gates  and Gates Foundation Propaganda:

“In most workplaces, there is an implicit bargain: Employees get the support they need to excel at their jobs, and employers build a system to evaluate their performance. The evaluations yield information that employees use to improve—and that employers use to hold employees accountable for results.

At Microsoft, we believed in giving our employees the best chance to succeed, and then we insisted on success. We measured excellence, rewarded those who achieved it and were candid with those who did not. Teachers don’t work in anything like this kind of environment, and they want a new bargain.

We know this because they told us so in a recent survey that our foundation undertook with Scholastic. It turns out that teachers don’t like their no-support/low-expectations working conditions any better than we do.”Grading the Teachers” ~  Schools have a lot to learn from buisness say Melinda and Bill Gates.

How does this statement straight from the Gates Foundation settle with you

after reading a statement from a Chinese worker about being a mere speck of dust?

Truth:

One might say that ALL lives have equal value to Melinda and Bill Gates – EXCEPT for anyone not wealthy enough to be in upper management, not wealthy enough to go to private charter schools promoted by Melinda and Bill Gates,or not wealthy enough to run in their social circles.  Some of these “LESS EQUAL” lives might be public school teachers, children and families who are poor, or those who work at Foxconn.  But do I have proof or evidence of that opinion?  I think the lives and words of Mary and the Chinese workers are evidence enough, but is there other evidence?

How do the Gates manage their employees here in Washington State at Microsoft, for example?  There is evidence that Melinda and Bill Gates treat their Microsoft employees in the exact same manner as they are treating US public school children, parents, and teachers – with a few ‘carrots’ and mostly ‘sticks’!

In fact, these ‘sticks’ of cold feet – the truth sticking out from their DeForming measures – are KILLING what they SAY the Gates say they are striving for in education reform –  that big word Melinda and Bill Gates throw around as Corporate EdDeFormers all the time – INNOVATION.  Another one of their trick words is “transformation”.  And another buzz word that they use to make working conditions for students, teachers, and factory workers is “accountability”.

This method of merit-pay-carrots and punitive-decentives kill collaboration, creating a competitive market driven, glory hogging, dog-eat-dog environment where bullies thrive, collaborators despair, and INNOVATION wilts away.  The onl”transformation” that takes place is the increasing stress under bullying that leads to despair.

These methods have also seen a rise in working condition suicides as reported by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, via Timesizing, Not Downsizing in their article entitled “Work Related Suicide, Death, and Violence”.

See how this same model Gates uses to destroy working conditions impacts employees and INNOVATION at Microsoft. as reported by Joe Wilcox on Beta News in his article, “Why Former Employees Say Microsoft Can’t Innovate”

One of the reasons – Gates doesn’t seem to even understand the concept and meaning of the word… “Innovation”… to him it means “status quo” per his employee, Rodriquez. Yet Gates makes many comments against teachers and teachers’ unions demonizing them for “protecting the status quo!”

Incentives that Discourage Risk, Innovation

“Related to gut-bulging middle management: some HR review and compensation processes discourage many employees from taking the kinds of risks necessary for Microsoft to regain its competitive edge and, quite frankly, to innovate in truly meaningful ways. Microsoft’s definition of innovation, for most of its product groups, is anything that preserves the status quo — meaning extending Office and Windows and increasingly server software like SharePoint and Windows Server. Risk is a dirty word for many employees looking to advance at Microsoft.

A former employee whom I’ll call Rodriguez said of the HR review process: “Microsoft has become too ‘scorecard’ heavy and highly litigated to the point it kills an employee’s spirit of free thinking and creativity, since everything a person does is closely judged by management.” Among the former Microsofties I communicated with over the last couple of months, Rodriguez was the harshest critic of Microsoft’s review process, which he observed is going on right now; fiscal year ends on June 30 and reviews occur midway.

Several former and existing employees tried to explain Microsoft’s seemingly complicated review and compensation process. People are hired at a certain level and can advance up levels, which have corresponding salary ranges. During reviews process, employees are graded with such designations as ‘exceed,’ ‘achieved’ and ‘underperformed’ commitment ratings. These are based on numerous criteria, which include management assessment of performance and achieving goals set during the previous review process. Other criteria include “contribution rankings.” Problem: These criteria sometimes work cross-purposes to performance. Fred explained:

Processes became more bureaucratic and individuals were less empowered to take action.  In fact, oftentimes the incentive structure encouraged individual contributors not to do the right thing, but just to do what they committed to in their review the year prior. In other words, if you committed to include Feature A in Windows, and halfway through the year you realized that was a bad thing for Windows and Microsoft customers, the incentive structure actively discouraged you from trying to kill the feature, because then you wouldn’t have achieved your commitments.

Barry also made similar complaints about the “decentives” to doing a good job. “The metrics are too complex,” he said. “We were evaluated also on a client’s satisfaction with our work.” The client could range from a reporter for Microsofties working in PR to developers for employees doing product development or for anyone to other groups within Microsoft.

Several current and former employees wanting to do better or escape from stifling management situations would request transfers. However, many managers wanted to keep their staff in part “because it would reflect badly on them,” Barry said.

“I was put in ‘performance detention’ due to wanting to expand to another part of the company and ended up in the ‘crapper’ list,” said another former employee, whom I’ll call Mickey”. ~ Joe Wilcox, Beta News, “Why Former Employees Say Microsoft Can’t Innovate”

I and many others have already blogged and written about the Gates’ control over public education reform.  The policies of our US Department of Education are controlled almost entirely by Melinda and Bill Gates.  In fact, Fareed Zakaria on CNN’s “Fixing Education” recently introduced Gates as being “more powerful” than Secretary Arne Duncan of the Department of Education.

Philanthropy vs. Billanthropy:

First and foremost, the Gates Foundation promote themselves as philanthropists.  By the Webster definition, I would highly disagree and redefine  the correct term that describes Melinda and Bill Gates as “Billanthropists”, a term coined on a title of the Economist below.

Webster’s Dictionary definition of Philanthropy: “1: goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially: active effort to promote human welfare; 2: a: an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes b: an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes.”

 A friend and I collaborated to write/edit a definition of Billanthropy:  1. Feigning goodwill, generosity and altruism in an effort to consolidate power and control; using propaganda and financial ‘incentives’ (grants, scholarships, gifts) to trick society into accepting changes in legislation and policies that promote the selfish interests and agendas of the elite billanthropists; influencing and controlling policy and legislative initiatives and attaching mechanisms to ensure profit and power for the elite. b. an organization that pretends an interest in the public good and uses indoctrination and brainwashing to encourage others to donate money.  The funds are then used to promote their own agendas, to make profits and create tax havens.   This process also creates a closed loop, whereby the elites maintain power and control over all institutions within the social-political-economic structure, locally and globally.  [see 1, term used to describe the behavior of Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation as well as many other US Billanthropists.]

Clearly, by the record of recent events, the Gates have invested in A.L.E.C. to control Ed Reform , controlling legislation. This has led to changes in laws surrounding philanthropy, allowing them to both control legislation, government, and education policy while profiting from the many arenas they claim to be ‘giving’ to, while in the meantime they also provide themselves with a fat-cat tax haven.

One of the main ways the Gates can no longer correctly use the term “philanthropy ” is because of recent legislation called PRI’s or Program Related Investments. PRI’s  [A PRI, broadly defined, is a foundation investment to support a charitable project or activity involving the potential return of capital within an established time frame., see NHI in link for more.] By legislating PRI’s for profit, the Gates have all but eliminated their claim to fame when it comes to being philanthropists and now fall into what urban dictionary may define as Billanthropy.

But what do the Gates have to do with the working conditions of public school teachers, you ask?  It all boils down to controlling the US Government and if you don’t believe me, follow the money.

How are the Gates involved in poor working conditions for teachers in public schools, you might ask?

It all started when Gates started the path to kill public schools by first demonizing and deprofessionalizing the teachers.

Here, Diane Ravitch schooled Bill Gates and talks about his demonization of public school teachers  in a response printed in the Washington Post by Valerie Strauss.

Gates:Is she [Ravitch] sticking up for decline?”

Ravitch: “Of course not! If we follow Bill Gates’ demand to judge teachers by test scores, we will see stagnation, and he will blame it on teachers. We will see stagnation because a relentless focus on test scores in reading and math will inevitably narrow the curriculum only to what is tested. This is not good education. “Last week, he said in a speech that teachers should not be paid more for experience and graduate degrees. I wonder why a man of his vast wealth spends so much time trying to figure out how to cut teachers’ pay. Does he truly believe that our nation’s schools will get better if we have teachers with less education and less experience? Who does he listen to? He needs to get himself a smarter set of advisers. “Of course, we need to make teaching a profession that attracts and retains wonderful teachers, but the current anti-teacher rhetoric emanating from him and his confreres demonizes and demoralizes even the best teachers. I have gotten letters from many teachers who tell me that they have had it, they have never felt such disrespect; and I have also met young people who tell me that the current poisonous atmosphere has persuaded them not to become teachers. Why doesn’t he make speeches thanking the people who work so hard day after day, educating our nation’s children, often in difficult working conditions, most of whom earn less than he pays his secretaries at Microsoft?”Diane Ravitch, Ravitch Answers Gates by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

 

The crime is not Mary Thorson’s own suicide, but that of the Gates’ and all those complicit in intimidating her, and the entire public school system.  Mary is not alone in this feeling of intimidation and this will not be the last suicide caused by Melinda and Bill Gates.

But what about the working conditions for Mary Thorson? 

How could Melinda and Bill Gates possibly have influenced her choice to commit suicide? 

The real cause lies in taking away so much control over people through bullying.  This stripping of power instills fear and loss of self-respect.  Students, teachers, families, and all working class people need a sense of liberty — a sense of control over their own lives.  Just like Neil Perry in The Dead Poets Society, Bill and Melinda Gates take over our lives, telling us exactly how we must teach, how and when we have to test, and the high stakes attached blame us for ‘failures’, humiliating all of us publicly.

These draconian teaching methods were not settling well with Mary Thorson as she watched her students in high poverty respond.  These draconian teaching methods aren’t settling well with many teachers.  Draconian teaching conditions lead to horrible working conditions.  Horrible working conditions lead to horrible learning conditions for our neediest students, especially and Mary Thorson just couldn’t keep forcing these on her students.

In Mary and the people in China’s Foxconn factory, we see the results of such oppression.

Instead of helping Cottage Grove address the issues of poverty, the Chicago school system, highly influenced by Bill and Melinda Gates education policies, intimidated its teachers.  Through the nation’s policies of No Child Left Behind –  Cottage Grove was forced to become a SIG turnaround school [2010], labeling it forever as a failure and holding it up for public humiliation rather than helping it.  School Improvement Grants [SIG] are only offered to schools AFTER they are designated as “failures”.  Why can’t we give schools and children what they need WHEN they need it?  Before they fail?  Why don’t we honor true innovation and creativity like they do with such success in Finland?

The sticks of public humiliation used by Gates to brutalize Mary Thorson who gave so much to her students in poverty proved to be too much for her.

How many more teachers, students, workers do we have to lose before we stop the Gates from this bullying behavior?

Without the pressure of lobbying and earmark dollars, without the controls placed on both the Bush and Obama administrations by Melinda and Bill Gates — it is quite likely that the education reform policies would die away in their own suicidal death spiral.

But with the Gates funding used as the ultimate carrot and stick, they are truly driving the despair that Mary and millions of other teachers across America are feeling.   Students are suffering much of this despair as well. Most of this despair is due to bullying, starting at the top of our corporations, through government, down through districts, and into our schools.  Mental health experts can tell you about these direct cause and effect correlations.

Here in her article entitled, “Illinois teacher Commits Suicide Citing Working Conditions”  by Kristina Betinis, we find the very similar story line to the workers from Microsoft’s Foxconn in China – a story of being pushed and bullied by Melinda and Bill Gates to the point where life itself is not worth living – where the person feels their own life is NOT valued by the Gates at all, by their unions, districts, or schools –  much less equally.

This kind of Gates pressure -cooker of bullying teachers is taking over the country, as was written about here:

“At a December district school board meeting, it became clear Thorson was not alone in feeling threatened by the school administration. Teachers admitted that they are intimidated by school officials, afraid for their jobs and dare not speak openly about the conditions they face. More than one teacher spoke about being harassed for taking sick days. Another teacher noted the irony of having an anti-bullying campaign in the school while the teachers are being bullied.

At the meeting, school administrators pushed back, blaming teachers for not speaking up or citing specifics. School board President Joe Sherman said, “If you guys would have come and brought allegations and we didn’t address it, then you would have every right to say what you need to say.”

Intimidation is a tactic in a nationwide strategy to de-professionalize teaching, as a precondition for the dismantling of public education and the selling off or leasing of its related assets. The so-called educational reforms, begun under the Bush administration and expanded by President Obama, have largely been couched in the highly confrontational language of “accountability,” which implies that teachers are overpaid and undeserving of professional status. This has accompanied a frontal assault on the workplace gains teachers struggled to win throughout the 20th century.

The state of Illinois has led the implementation of these “reforms”, subjecting schools to extremely aggressive measures, including mass firings which force teachers and staff to re-apply for their jobs, buyouts, capricious and punitive academic testing measures, and regular school closures and consolidations, which force students to make their way to schools in other areas. These policies have inflamed the crisis in public schools and the communities they serve, contributing to higher drop-out rates, violence, overcrowding, and burn-out among teachers.

School boards routinely provide cash incentives to administrators to implement these changes on a school-by-school basis, extracting concessions from teachers in violation of their teaching contracts. Ratings and disciplinary measures are regularly used to meet pre-determined numbers of layoffs which administrators are required to carry out over a school year. Outspoken teachers identified by administrators as “troublesome,” and the better-compensated veteran teachers are typically targeted.

In the Chicago Public Schools system, recent “reforms” have included longer school days, where teachers and other staff are not compensated for an additional seven hours per week, and many have reported being threatened and intimidated by school administrators into voting in favor of the extended hours.

As these reactionary policies devastate schools, students and teachers, the state and local budget crises have intensified the negative impact of lower wages and fewer school resources.

It is deeply tragic that the miserable conditions in public schools could result in the suicide of a dedicated young teacher, but once the ruthless policies of the ruling class are seen in full light, such tragedies are all but inevitable. Last October, a longtime Los Angeles-area teacher took his own life after being labeled a “less effective teacher” by the Los Angeles Times. (See “Teacher ranked ‘less effective’ by the Los Angeles Times takes his own life”)

Mary Thorson’s parents have made a special effort to communicate their daughter’s intentions. Her mother said that the young teacher’s suicide was directly related to the pressures at Cottage Grove Upper Grade Center, emphasizing that Mary had no prior mental health issues and was never in a combat situation in the Army Reserve. Thorson’s father said, “Is the school responsible? Yes, the school is responsible.”

Is the school responsible?  Yes, the school is responsible. 

But by their actions – Melinda and Bill Gates have made themselves ‘the school’.  And they are responsible.   For by placing themselves into this position of power over our public schools – by their propaganda winning over the indoctrinated minds of the public to demonize and intimidate our nation’s children, parents, teachers, and schools until they have become even more powerful than our own Department of Education – now, Melinda and Bill Gates ARE the school and yes, they are responsible.

I grieve for the Thorson family, for Mary’s students and coworkers, and for all the family members/coworkers in China who cared deeply about the 16 workers who committed suicide there.  I know a nation of teachers grieves for the Thorson’s and as a nation of 99% working class people, America grieves with China as well.  Once we get past the most painful part of this grief, I believe something will shift.

Like in The Dead Poets Society, there is a tale of redemption. 

I believe that when enough people begin to feel their cold numbed feet of truth wake up, that indeed these lives in China and Illinois will serve a much higher purpose.

What happens under the pressure placed on us?  Do we conform to Bill and Melinda Gates’ standards?  Or do we walk to the beat of our own drummer with courage?

“I stand up here because I remind myself that I must always look at the world in a different way.”

~  John Keating, The Dead Poets Society

We as a nation need to follow the example of the teacher and students in The Dead Poets Society –  we need to stand up on our desks and dare to be our highest selves, dare to look at the world of working class people differently, dare to look at teaching and learning differently, dare to look at children of poverty differently, dare to defy the Gates dynasty and dare to defy the remainder of the Corporate EdDeFormers.  The time is now, before there are any more tragic deaths like Mary Thorson’s!

John Keating: “Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!” ~ The Dead Poets Society, IMDb quotes

Carpe’ Diem, my friends!  Seize the day and reclaim our public schools back from these tyrants! 

Neil Perry’s father, wants to control his life, his destiny,  his future – like Gates wants to control ours.  These aspects of our lives do not belong to Gates or any other man or woman just because they are wealthy.  We must not give this up to anyone.  This much I know, our lives and our schools are worth taking back from the bullies.  Like the narrowed curriculum and bubble tests of the Gates edreform, the bullying and controlling — they leave out the poetry, the marrow of our own lives.

John Keating: “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer.

That you are here –

that life exists, and identity;

that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?”


Antitrust: The New Monopoly Frontier – Education and The Legacy of Bill Gates

In a 2001 film loosely based on the life of mega-mogul Bill Gates, “Antitrust” packs a punch against the very idea of a “MONOPOLY”.   I can’t help but think about Steve Job’s recent death and do a little comparison of personality traits between rival tycoons Gates and Jobs; how one seemed to want to create things that benefit humanity which in turn created power for himself that he often chose not to wield while the other seems to wants to create only power for himself through monopolies.  While both moguls have been difficult to get along with at the professional level, their impact on the world couldn’t be more different.  What legacy will Bill Gates leave behind?  How will it differ from that of Steve Jobs?

Gates at one point in time gets some attention that seems to have shocked him:  “The attack against Bill Gates is symbolic, it’s against hierarchical power itself.”  ~ Noel Godin


“On February 4th, 1998, Bill Gates has been hit with a cream pie in Brussels. The offender, a Belgian guy, got away. Two helpers, a French woman and a Belgian student have been held in custody for a while by the Belgian police. Read more about the event on C|Net.

Noël Godin, the man behind this, has made it a sport to throw cream cakes in celebrities’ faces. “The attack against Bill Gates is symbolic, it’s against hierarchical power itself.”, Noël said in an interview.”

“Many people wonder why would anybody do this, why would anyone not like Microsoft? The answer is: Microsoft has monopoly power and they abuse this power to get even more power. If you don’t believe this, please read the Findings of Fact from the US district court. At least read the last paragraph:

412. Most harmful of all is the message that Microsoft’s actions have conveyed to every enterprise with the potential to innovate in the computer industry. Through its conduct toward Netscape, IBM, Compaq, Intel, and others, Microsoft has demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power and immense profits to harm any firm that insists on pursuing initiatives that could intensify competition against one of Microsoft’s core products. Microsoft’s past success in hurting such companies and stifling innovation deters investment in technologies and businesses that exhibit the potential to threaten Microsoft. The ultimate result is that some innovations that would truly benefit consumers never occur for the sole reason that they do not coincide with Microsoft’s self-interest.”

Subsequent to this fact finding, Gates has diversified his MONOPOLY PORTFOLIO in his pursuit of several other targets, first and foremost: Education.

Today on Christiane Amanpour and ABC’s “This Week”, Gates mocked Amanpour  and the 99% who pay more than our fair share of taxes, as she tried to pin him down to answer whether or not he agreed with his partner Warren Buffet regarding “The Buffet Tax” that would increase taxes on the rich.  Gates laughed out loud contemptuously, responding:

“I just can’t imagine these millionaires and billionaires going down and barriciding (sic) the streets because they’re going to have to pay four or five percent more in taxes,” Gates said. ..“I’m not an expert on how we should do taxes. Clearly, you can’t raise the taxes we need just by going after that one percent,” Gates said.

I would agree, he is not a tax expert, nor is he an EDUCATION EXPERT and in fact has a much skewed perspective of education based on his own personal experiences.

A little history: Although Gate’s mother was a school teacher for a very short period, the experiences Gates had in school likely twist his viewpoint as to what education should truly be.  To give you a little history of how education looked for Bill Gates the student, I did a little digging into his biography.

What I discovered was a history of negative behavior struggles that prompted the Gates family to move their son to a private school.  I find it ironic that these private schools promoted by Gates himself today now more often than not exclude children with behavior issues or any special education needs.  In Bio-True Story-Bill Gates the author writes:

“Around the age of 11 or 12, Bill’s parents began to have concerns about his behavior. He was doing well in school, but he seemed bored and withdrawn at times. His parents worried he might become a loner. Though they were strong believers in public education, when Bill turned 13 they enrolled him in Seattle’s Lakeside School, an exclusive preparatory school.”

Gates continues with devious behavior issues at the prep school where he is caught creating the first computer virus.  Here we can clearly see the difference between Gates and Steve Jobs, where Jobs is interested in creating a combination of liberal arts and technology to benefit human kind; Gates is interested in creating a virus that destroys things created by others, summing up the personality differences between the two.

“While working with the Computer Center’s PDP-10, Gates was responsible for what was probably the first computer virus, a program that copies itself into other programs and ruins data. Discovering that the machine was connected to a national network of computers called Cybernet, Gates invaded the network and installed a program on the main computer that sent itself to the rest of the network’s computers, making it crash (became damaged). When Gates was found out, he was severely punished, and he kept away from computers for his entire junior year at Lakeside.”

Read more: Bill Gates Biography – life, family, childhood, children, parents, name, story, history, wife, school http://www.notablebiographies.com/Fi-Gi/Gates-Bill.html#ixzz1cJ1FpiRS

He later goes on to persist in this Machiavellian behavior at Harvard when he uses the government owned computers there to begin his private business interests in creating his first monopoly.

His first monopoly does not go by without a challenge however.

“On May 18, 1998, the DOJ and twenty state attorneys general filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft, charging the company with abusing its market power to thwart competition, including Netscape. On November 5, 1999, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issued his initial findings of fact, finding that Microsoft held monopoly power and used it to harm consumers, rivals, and other companies.

The sensational United States v. Microsoft case hit Gates with a double whammy. Besides losing the case (the judge ruled that Microsoft had committed monopolization and tying, blocking competition, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Ac), Gates’ courtroom behavior (recorded in a series of Videos) badly eroded his already sagging public image.

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson said that Gates suffers from “a Napoleonic concept of himself and his company, an arrogance that derives from power and unalloyed success.”

Many people correctly predicted that Microsoft would be rescued from justice after George W. Bush was elected President in 2000. But Gates had been permanently branded an arrogant monopolist and a tyrant, a perception that would cost Microsoft dearly. [emphasis added] ~ David Blomstrom, “Bill Gates: A Critical Biography”

The judge isn’t the only one who views Gates this way

“Some people consider Bill Gates the best example of a corrupt capitalist tycoon. Scott McNealy, of Sun Microsystems, said Bill Gates is “probably the most dangerous and powerful industrialist of our age.” ~ David Blomstrom, “Bill Gates: A Critical Biography”

It is well known how Bill Gates rose to the top, and once he got there he did not change his spots.  In 2010 he was found to be exploiting child labor in China as reported by Uppity Woman on her blog post titled “Microsoft caught exploiting child labor in China…Gee, what a surprise!”

“The National Labor Committee released a report called “China’s Youth Meet Microsoft [MSFT]: KYE factory in China produces for Microsoft and other U.S. Companies” on Apr. 13. It accuses KYE (photo, right), a major supplier to the world’s largest software company, of child-labor law violations in its factory in Dongguan, China.

The report says: “KYE recruits hundreds (up to 1,000) ‘work-study’ students 16 and 17 years of age, who work 15-hour shifts, six and seven days a week making webcams, mice and other computer peripherals. Some of the workers appear to be just 14 or 15 years old. A typical shift is from 7:45 a.m. to 10:55 p.m. Most of the students work for three months, but some stay longer.” The investigation was conducted over a three-year period.”

Additionally, Gates uses his lobbying power, PR and children to insure his continued profits through schools.

“One area that Microsoft relies on to keep its monopoly going is the school system. As noted this morning, Microsoft indoctrinates children at taxpayers’ expense, using children to sway an office’s choice of software and using teachers as a training workforce for Windows™ and Office™, among other proprietary software products from Microsoft®.”~ “ Increased Opposition to Bill Gates/Microsoft/Exploitation of Schools, Shameless PR Explainedby Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yet we all know, “money talks!”  The millions of dollars donated to lobby political candidates, the earmark monies donated with the price of failed policies, and being the richest man in the world who can buy his own audience – all goes a long ways in keeping Gates at the top of the education game. So far he’s partnered with Pearson Publishing, Warren Buffet, and the scandal-ridden Rupert Murdoch on a variety of education projects designed to keep him at the top.  He’s positioned himself politically to insure that regardless of election outcomes; he will remain at the top.

This competitive deviance seems to hold true today as Gates first demonizes teachers and public schools, setting out on the path to creating a narrative virus that infects public schools; all so that he can promote his own products through privatization, while ‘selling it’ as philanthropy!

Well, I’m not buying his Philanthropy scheme!  Neither is Molly Belt who recently wrote about ‘education reform’ on her blog titled “You Stay Out of My Classroom and I’ll Stay Out of Your Boardroom”:

“Education “reform” strikes me as much the same. In fact, I don’t even like calling it “reform”. It’s more of a hostile take-over…

“ ‘Most of the complaints about the foundations are coming from teachers unions or education professors who happen, in this case, to disagree with their preferred strategies,’ says Frederick Hess, education policy director at the American Enterprise Institute.” (Billionaires in the Classrooms, by Alan Greenblatt). Exactly. When the professionals, the experts, are saying that these “reforms” are not positive for education or will not be effective, why do we demonize them instead of listening to them?”

No one can argue that Bill Gates is the richest man in the world, but  will Bill Gates leave behind a legacy just as Steve Jobs has left behind him?

Gates seems to be betting that the world will remember him for his philanthropy.  Does he truly NOT see the damage he is doing to further divide the ‘haves’ from the ‘have nots’?  Does he not realize the stigma of poverty’s impacts let alone the labels of ‘failure’ he gives to children who don’t pass the tests he promotes to rate them?

Gates is either extremely out of touch with reality for those who live in poverty or is exploiting these children for his own personal gain.  You decide for yourself.

Anthony Cody tackles this topic in his blog Living in Dialogue “Teachers Letters to Obama” – “If Only the Billionaires Cared About This Data”.  As do the most prominent education leaders of our time, leaders like Diane Ravitch, Jonathan Kozul, and Stephen Krashen in their discussions about poverty. Here Anthony explores and invites one teacher to share her experience with poverty.

Sarah Puglisi describes what many teachers across America experience that Bill Gates seems to be missing in his world view, his experiences, his perspective – or is it simply because he wants to see MORE of this through his deviant side?

“Homelessness and poverty up close is hard. It smells, actually in my room this year, it takes from the very fiber of a being, it is destructive to those that stand in uselessness looking as well as those suffering it. I’m dealing with a woman and her child suffering terribly now-she should never be alone in this, her faculties are not good enough to deal. She can’t go grow food on some family place, she’s like a forgotten being. And so are the supports that should exist, dysfunctional. But my concern is a child, one not washing, that can’t get into a shelter til after 9 at night that’s out by 5AM, that hasn’t had a real bath in a month. No costume for him. And I need to go buy him a pair of pants or two really, couple shirts and get his clothes and wash them. Among the realities in my teaching work I think I’m beginning to understand what I really need to articulate is what poverty is like to a learner. A child that didn’t pick, nor make any of this. And who is so sweet.” ~ Sarah Puglisi

Of course, this is about a 3rd grade classroom in California, so far away from the Gates Manor.  It really doesn’t matter though, as Gate’s long arm of monopoly reaches into every corner of  what used to be a great public education system.  Flaws, yes, but one that at least attempted to serve ALL children.

What about the children in my classroom in his own backyard?  Perhaps he would say they are doing better since they come to me ‘clean’ and their poverty is not as ‘visible’ to the naked eye, nor can you smell the crisis these students experience,  nor can it be identified through the bubble tests he promotes. But does that mean these inequities don’t exist?

Teachers know all kinds of narratives.  We carry these stories of our children with us in the light of day and through the darkness of night.  But more importantly, our children LIVE these non-fiction stories.

And all the standardized tests, software, online programs, and one-size-fits-all Common Core curriculum in the world is not going to help these kids, Mr. Gates!

Only the caring relationship and belief in each of them given from a real live experienced teacher in a small enough sized classroom that allows differentiation and emotional support will help these kids! 

Only wrap-around services and a rich classroom library will help these kids! 

Only learning that is relevant to EACH of these individuals will help these kids! 

Only the kind of warmth that comes from a real human being vs the cold bubble test or online game will help these kids! 

Only freedom from hunger, sunshine, fresh air, and time spent in in the multi-sensory world of  nature will heal these kids!

And only someone who looks beyond their poverty and into their rich potentials, finding a way to demand that they dig deep enough to see it themselves through the gift of hope will help these kids!

Trust me, that person is NOT Bill Gates!

These are just some of the children in Bill Gates back yard that aren’t helped by his monopoly:  The refugee child from Iraq and their family who were woken in the middle of the night by an American soldier dragging the entire family out of bed, taking the father from the home at gunpoint-  not telling them if or when he was to be returned.  How about the child whose mother is in jail?  Or yet another child whose father is in jail.  What do his schemes do to help the child whose family is going through a divorce and says “I just know it will never go back to the way it was before.” ?  Or the child who lives with ‘foster grandparents’ because mom’s home is condemned?

Nothing!  In fact worse!  As his privatization and focus on standardized testing increases more and more money is siphoned away from the counseling programs, music, library, and PE programs that help serves these children and give them the only joy they experience each day.  Budget cuts form larger class sizes that prevent teachers from providing the additional support these students need to be successful.

Does Bill Gates monopolize his profits on the backs of the children in these narratives and their teachers?  You bet he does!  His exploitation will leave him a legacy not unlike that of Citizen Kane.  There will be those who believe he was purely a philanthropist, giving a future to those who might not have one.  As for me, I know better.  I live in his backyard and see what he is doing to our children.  We are the victims of his narrative and we want to change the story.   He doesn’t deserve to win this one.

What if we demanded that Gates get out of education, that our districts give up all products related to this monopoly, and that if he truly wants to help that he needs to do it our way?

What if we woke up to a different world, a different Bill Gates?  One who funded full day kindergarten across America, Wrap-Around Services, and classroom libraries for all schools in poverty instead of investing in these ‘viruses’ destroying public education today:

  • Standardized testing
  • Common Core Curriculum
  • Charter Schools
  • Online schools

The answer:  If Bill Gates invested in full day kindergarten across America, wrap-around services, and classroom libraries for schools in every public school  he would BENEFIT humanity instead of creating a few winners and many losers in his game of MONOPOLY  – a game that destroys rather than creates.

He would also lose a monopoly, profit, and his deviant power.

Although Bill Gates has appointed himself the Education Czar, he is not God.   And honestly, we have allowed this hostile takeover!

What he might gain would be a positive legacy, trust, and true gratitude from children, parents, as well as teachers across America.

This is not just up to Bill Gates.

Whether or not Bill Gates monopoly remains at the CORE of education is up to us.