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The Rise of the Phony Philanthropists

By Guy Sorman, City Journal - November 19, 2013

Bill Gates is putting out a call to inventors,” the CNN story began last March, “but he’s not looking for software or the latest high-tech gadget. This time he’s in search of a better condom.” Incongruous as the story seemed, the former Microsoft titan had joined the struggle against sexually transmitted diseases. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was offering a $100,000 start-up grant to anyone who could design a condom that didn’t interfere with sexual pleasure. Rachel Zimmerman, host of public radio’s CommonHealth, called the Gates Foundation’s initiative “truly inspired.” But was it? After all, the latex industry has pursued the same goal for decades and devoted many millions of dollars to the effort. What’s the point of a philanthropist trying to do what the market is already doing?

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