American Literature 1

Table of Contents

American Literature

The Scarlet Letter

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Reading: Chapter 1-4 ( Skip “The custom House” Chapter)

Do an image search of “Scarlet Letter” or “Hester Prynne.” Choose three differents images of hester and write a page or so explainning the meanings behind the pictures. What aspects of her personality do these artists and models seem to be most interested in? What passages from the first four chapters seem to describe her as the pictures do?

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American Literature

� 1�

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Bill�Gates�Issues�Call�For�Kinder�Capitalism� Famously�Competitive,�� Billionaire�Now�Urges�� Business�to�Aid�the�Poor� By�ROBERT�A.�GUTH� January�24,�2008;�Page�A1�

Free� enterprise� has� been� good� to� Bill� Gates.� But� today,� the� Microsoft� Corp.� chairman� will� call� for� a� revision�of�capitalism.�

In� a� speech� at� the� World� Economic� Forum� in� Davos,� Switzerland,� the� software� tycoon� plans� to� call� for� a� “creative�capitalism”�that�uses�market�forces�to�address�poor-country�needs�that�he�feels�are�being�ignored.�

“We�have�to�find�a�way�to�make�the�aspects�of�capitalism�that�serve�wealthier�people�serve�poorer�people�as� well,”�Mr.�Gates� will�tell� world�leaders�at�the� forum,�according�to�a�copy�of�the�speech�seen�by�The�Wall� Street�Journal.�

Mr.� Gates� isn’t� abandoning� his� belief� in� capitalism� as� the� best� economic� system.� But� in� an� interview� with� the� Journal� last� week� at� his� Microsoft� office� in� Redmond,� Wash.,� Mr.� Gates� said� that� he� has� grown� impatient� with� the� shortcomings� of� capitalism.� He� said� he� has� seen� those� failings� first-hand� on� trips� for� Microsoft�to�places�like�the� South� African�slum�of�Soweto,�and�discussed�them� with�dozens�of�experts�on� disease�and�poverty.�He�has�voraciously�read�about�those�failings�in�books�that�propose�new�approaches�to� narrowing�the�gap�between�rich�and�poor.�

In�particular,�he�said,�he’s�troubled�that�advances�in�technology,�health�care�and�education�tend�to�help�the� rich�and�bypass�the�poor.�”The�rate�of�improvement�for�the�third�that�is�better�off�is�pretty�rapid,”�he�said.� “The�part�that’s�unsatisfactory�is�for�the�bottom�third�–�two�billion�of�six�billion.”�

Three�weeks�ago,�on�a�flight�home�from�a�New�Zealand�vacation,�Mr.�Gates�took�out�a�yellow�pad�of�paper� and�listed�ideas�about�why�capitalism,�while�so�good�for�so�many,�is�failing�much�of�the�world.�He�refined� those� thoughts� into� the� speech� he� will� give� today� at� the� annual� Davos� conference� of� world� leaders� in� business,�politics�and�nonprofit�organizations.�

Among�the� fixes�he�plans�to�call�for:�Companies�should�create�businesses�that�focus�on� building�products� and� services� for� the� poor.� “Such� a� system� would� have� a� twin� mission:� making� profits� and� also� improving� lives�for�those�who�don’t�fully�benefit�from�market�forces,”�he�plans�to�say.�

Mr.�Gates’s�Davos�speech�offers�some�insight�into�his�goals�as�he�prepares�to�retire�in�June�from�full-time� work� at� Microsoft� –� where� he� will� remain� chairman� –� and� focus� on� his� philanthropy,� the� Bill� &� Melinda� Gates�Foundation.�

Mr.� Gates� sees� a� role� for� himself� spurring� companies� into� action,� he� said� in� the� interview.� “The� idea� that� you�encourage�companies�to�take�their�innovative�thinkers�and�think�about�the�most�needy�–�even�beyond� the�market�opportunities�–�that’s�something�that�appropriately�ought�to�be�done,”�he�said.�

His�thoughts�on�philanthropy�are�closely�heeded�because�of�the�business�success�that� made�Mr.�Gates�one� of�the�world’s�richest�men.�His�eight-year-old�charity�is�expanding�rapidly� following�the� 2006�decision�by� Warren�Buffett�to�leave�his�fortune�to�the�foundation.�That�donation,�at�the�time�valued�at�about�$31�billion,� increases�to�some�$70�billion�the�hoard�Mr.�Gates�says�will�be�given�away�within�50�years�of�the�deaths�of� him�and�his�wife.�

� 2�

Serving�the�Poor� But� Mr.� Gates’s� argument� for� the� potential� profitability� of� serving� the� poor� is� certain� to� raise� skepticism.� “There’s� a� lot� of� people� at� the� bottom� of� the� pyramid� but� the� size� of� the� transactions� is� so� small� it� is� not� worth� it� for� private� business� most� of� the� time,”� says� William� Easterly,� a� New� York� University� professor� and�former�World�Bank�economist.�

Others�may�point�out�that�poverty�became�a�priority�for�Mr.�Gates�only�after� he’d�earned�billions�building� Microsoft�into�a�global�giant.�

Mr.�Gates�acknowledges�that�Microsoft�early�on�was�hardly�a�charity.�”We�weren’t�focused�on�the�needs�of� the� neediest,”� he� said,� “although� low-cost� personal� computing� certainly� is� a� tool� for� drug� discovery� and� things�that�have�had�this�very�pervasive�effect,�including�the�rise�of�the�Internet,”�he�said.�

Although�Microsoft�has�had�an�active�philanthropic�arm�for�two�decades,�only�in�2006�did�it�start�seriously� experimenting�with�software�in�poorer�counties�in�ways�that�would�fit�Mr.�Gates’s�creative�capitalism�idea.� Under�that�2006�program,� handled�by�about�180�Microsoft� employees,� the� company� offers� stripped-down� software�and�alternative�ways�of�paying�for�PCs�to�poorer�countries.�

With�today’s�speech,�Mr.�Gates�adds�his�high-profile�name�to�the�ranks�of�those�who�argue�that�unfettered� capitalism�can’t�solve�broad�social�problems.�Muhammad�Yunus,�the�Bangladeshi�economist� who�won�the� 2006� Nobel� Peace�Prize� for� his� work� providing� small� loans� to� the� poor,� is� traversing� the� U.S.� this� month� promoting�a�new�book�that�calls�capitalism�”half�developed”�because�it�focuses�only�on�the�profit-oriented� side�of�human�nature,�not�on�the�satisfaction�derived�from�helping�others.�

Key�to�Mr.�Gates’s�plan�will�be�for�businesses�to�dedicate�their�top�people�to�poor�issues�–�an�approach�he� feels� is� more� powerful� than� traditional� corporate� donations� and� volunteer� work.� Governments� should� set� policies�and�disburse�funds�to�create�financial�incentives�for�businesses�to�improve�the�lives�of�the�poor,�he� plans�to�say�today.�”If�we�can�spend�the�early�decades�of�the�21st�century�finding�approaches�that�meet�the� needs�of�the�poor�in�ways�that�generate�profits�for�business,�we�will�have�found�a�sustainable�way�to�reduce� poverty�in�the�world,”�Mr.�Gates�plans�to�say.�

� 3�

In�the�interview,�Mr.�Gates�was�emphatic�that�he’s�not�calling�for�a�fundamental�change�in�how�capitalism� works.� He� cited� Adam� Smith,� whose� treatise,� “The�Wealth� of� Nations,”� lays� out� the� rationale� for� the� self- interest� that� drives� capitalism� and� companies� like�Microsoft.�That� shouldn’t� change,� “one� iota,”� Mr.� Gates� said.�

But�there’s�more�to�Adam�Smith,�he�added.�”This�was�written�before�’Wealth�of�Nations,'”�Mr.�Gates�said,� flipping� through� a� copy� of� Adam� Smith’s� 1759� book,� “The� Theory� of� Moral� Sentiments.”� It� argues� that� humans� gain� pleasure� from� taking� an� interest� in� the� “fortunes� of� others.”� Mr.� Gates� will� quote� from� that� book�in�his�speech�today.�

Talk� of� “moral� sentiments”� may� seem� surprising� from� a� man� whose� competitive� drive� is� so� fierce� that� it� drew�legal�challenges�from�antitrust�authorities.�But�Mr.�Gates�said�his�thinking�about�capitalism�has�been� evolving� for� years.� He� outlined� part� of� his� evolution� from�software�titan�to�philanthropist�in�a�speech�last� June� to� Harvard’s� graduating� class,� recounting� how� when� he� left� Harvard� in� 1975� he� knew� little� of� the� inequities� in� the� world.� A� range� of� experiences� including� trips� to� Africa� and� India� have� helped� raise� that� awareness.�

In� the� Harvard� speech,� Mr.� Gates� floated� the� idea� of� “creative� capitalism.”� But� at� the� time� he� had� only� a� “fuzzy”�sense�of�what�he�meant.�To�clarify�his�thinking,�he�decided�to�prepare�the�Davos�speech.�

On�Jan.�1,�following�a�family�vacation,�Mr.�Gates�boarded�a�commercial�flight�in�Auckland,�New�Zealand,� and�during�the�21-hour,�two-layover�journey�back�to�Seattle�he�started�writing�his�speech.�

The�Sword�Swallower� He�drew�from�influences�ranging�from�the�leading�thinkers�on�capitalism�and�a�sword-swallowing�Swedish� health�expert�to�Norman�Borlaug,�the�plant�pathologist�who�won�the�1970�Nobel�Peace�Prize�for�his�role�in� the�Green�Revolution�that�boosted�food�production.�A�long�talk�with�his�wife,�Melinda,�in�the�first�week�of� January�also�helped�shape�the�speech,�said�Mr.�Gates.�

In�setting�up�his�foundation�in�2000,�Mr.�Gates�understood�that�widespread�criticism�existed�of�programs�to� help� the� poor.� U.S.� aid� had� often� been� motivated� by� broader� Cold� War� goals� and� often� had� failed� to� advance� living� conditions� for� the� world’s� poor.� Successful� programs,� such� as� the� Green� Revolution,� were� overshadowed�by�growing�awareness�of�their�negative�side�effects�on�the�environment�and�local�cultures.�

Meanwhile,�companies�including�Microsoft�had�donated�huge�amounts�of�cash�and�products�to�developing� countries�without�seeking�to�create�sustainable�growth.�Free�Microsoft�software�in�some�countries�spawned� broad�usage�of�computers,�while�in�”other�places�you�announce�a�big�free�software�grant,�come�back�a�few� years�later,�nothing,”�Mr.�Gates�said.�

His�growing�awareness�of�such�limits�sparked�new�ideas�on�how�businesses�could�approach�poor�countries.� At�a�dinner�near�Seattle�in�2004,�Mr.�Gates�met�one�of�the�leading�thinkers�on�that�front,�C.K.�Prahalad,�a� University� of� Michigan� professor� who� had� written� “The� Fortune� at� the� Bottom� of� the� Pyramid.”� In� that� article�and�a�subsequent�book�by�the�same�title,�Mr.�Prahalad�proposed�that�the�world’s�four�billion�poorest� people�represented�a�huge�market�for�companies�willing�to�try.�

Other� books� influencing� Mr.� Gates� included� “The� Mystery� of� Capital”� and� “Good� Capitalism,� Bad� Capitalism� and� the� Economics� of� Growth� and� Prosperity”� and� “The� Bottom� Billion.”� This� reading� helped� inform� Mr.� Gates’s� belief� that� leading� companies� should� find� ways� to� sell� to� and� work� with� the� poorest.� “You�have�people�who�are�inciting�companies�to�say,�’Look,�this�is�a�lot�of�people,'”�Mr.�Gates�said.�

Mr.� Gates� in� his� speech� will� note� several� programs� that� “stretch� the� reach� of� market� forces,”� including� a� World�Health�Organization�venture�with�an�Indian�vaccine�maker�to�sell�a�meningitis�vaccine�in�Africa�for�

� 4�

far� less� than� existing� vaccines.� He� will� also� highlight� a� new� program� designed� to� give� African� coffee� farmers� better� access� to� coffee� buyers� in� rich� counties.� “We� don’t� need� some� dramatic� big� new� tax� or� requirement,”�Mr.�Gates�said�in�the�interview.�”What� we�need�is�the�recognition�of�the�creativity� here�that� some�of�the�leaders�are�exercising.”�

To� a� degree,� Mr.� Gates’s� speech� is� an� answer� to� critics� of� rich-country� efforts� to� help� the� poor.� One� perennial�critic�is�Mr.�Easterly,�the�New� York�University� professor,� whose� 2006�book,�”The� White� Man’s� Burden,”� found� little� evidence� of� benefit� from� the� $2.3� trillion� given� in� foreign� aid� over� the� past� five� decades.�

Mr.� Gates� said� he� hated� the� book.� His� feelings� surfaced� in� January� 2007� during� a� Davos� panel� discussion� with�Mr.�Easterly,�Liberian�President�Ellen�Johnson�Sirleaf�and�then-World�Bank�chief�Paul�Wolfowitz.�To� a� packed� room� of� Davos� attendees,� Mr.� Easterly� noted� that� all� the� aid� given� to� Africa� over� the� years� has� failed�to� stimulate�economic� growth�on�the�continent.�Mr.� Gates,� his� voice�rising,� snapped�back�that�there� are� measures�of�success�other�than�economic�growth�–�such�as�rising�literacy�rates�or�lives�saved�through� smallpox� vaccines.� “I� don’t� promise� that� when� a� kid� lives� it� will� cause� a� GNP� increase,”� he� quipped.� “I� think�life�has�value.”�

Brushing� off� Mr.� Gates’s� comments,� Mr.� Easterly� responds,� “The� vested� interests� in� aid� are� so� powerful� they�resist�change�and�they�ignore�criticism.�It�is�so�good�to�try�to�help�the�poor�but�there�is�this�feeling�that� [philanthropists]�should�be�immune�from�criticism.”�

Belief�in�Technology� A� core� belief� of� Mr.� Gates� is� that� technology� can� erase� problems� that� seem� intractable.� That� belief� was� deepened,� Mr.� Gates� says,� by� his� study� of� Julian� Simon,� a� now-deceased� business� professor� who� argued� that�increases�in�wealth�and�technology�would�offset�shortages�in�energy,�food�and�other�global�resources.�

� 5�

Pacing� in� his� office� last� week,� Mr.� Gates� retold� the� story� of� a� famous� $10,000� wager� between� Mr.� Simon� and� Paul� Ehrlich,� a� Stanford� University� professor� who� predicted� that� human� population� growth� would� outstrip�the�earth’s�resources.�Mr.�Simon�bet�that�even�as�a�growing�population�increased�demand�for�metals� such� as� tin� and� copper,� the� price� of� those� metals� would� fall� within� the� decade� ending� in� 1990.� Mr.� Simon� won�the�bet.�”He�cremated�the�guy,”�says�Mr.�Gates.�Mr.�Ehrlich’s�administrator�at�Stanford�University�said� he�was�out�of�the�country�and�couldn’t�comment�on�the�wager.�

In�early�2006,�Mr.�Gates�found�further�evidence�of�an�improving�world�in�the�online�video�of�Hans�Rosling,� a�Swedish�professor�of�international�health.�In�the�video,�Prof.�Rosling�used�an�enormous�animated�graph�to� show�that�in�the�previous�four�decades�life�expectancy�and�family�size�in�developing�countries�had�come�to� approach�the�levels�of�developed�countries.�

The� video� so� inspired� Mr.� Gates� that� he� bought� dozens� of� copies� of� Prof.� Rosling’s� textbook� on� global� health.�Watching�Prof.�Rosling’s�most�recent�video�last�year,�Mr.�Gates�saw�the�professor�end�his�talk�about� improving�global�health�by�swallowing�a�Swedish�army�bayonet,�”to�prove�that�the�seemingly�impossible�is� possible,”�the�professor�said.�

The� influence� of� such� optimists� will� be� woven� into� Mr.� Gates’s� comments� today.� “In� the� coming� decades� we�will�have�astonishing�new�abilities�to�diagnose�illness,�heal�disease,�educate�the�world’s�children,�create� opportunities�for�the�poor�and�harness�the�world’s�brightest�minds�to�solve�our�most�difficult�problems,”�he� will�say.�

Describing�himself�as�an�”impatient�optimist,”�Mr.�Gates�said�he�will�ask�each�of�his�Davos�listeners�to�take� up�a�”creative�capitalism”�project�in�the�coming�year.�

And�he�vows�to�keep�prodding�them.�”I�definitely�see,�once�I’m�full�time�at�the�foundation,�reaching�out�to� various�industries�–�going�to�cellphone�companies,�banks�and�more�pharma�companies�–�and�talking�about� how…they�can�do�these�things,”�he�said.�

Write�to�Robert�A.�Guth�at�rob.guth@wsj.com 7 �

The�article�reviews�some�of�the�key�controversies�surrounding�the�role�and�obligation�of�big�business�in� combating�global�poverty�(global�corporate�social�responsibility).�While�Gates�and�Prahalad�believe�that� helping� the� poor� is� compatible� with� the� profit� imperative,� many� others� remain� skeptical.� The� article� is� thus�an�excellent�springboard�for�discussion�of�social�responsibilities�of�large�corporations.�

QUESTIONS:��

� 1.)�What�kind�of�”research”�has�Bill�Gates�carried�out�about�the�nature�of�global�poverty?�What�sources�of� information�did�he�draw�on�in�preparing�his�speech�for�Davos?� � 2.)�What�is�his�basic�analysis?�What�does�he�consider�the�cause�of�such�poverty�to�be,�and�what�solution� does�he�recommend?� � 3.)�What�views�by�other�experts�run�contrary�to�Gates’�ideas?�For�example,�why�do�some�experts�consider� the�bottom�of�the�pyramid�to�be�inherently�unprofitable?�What�other�criticisms�might�one�make�of�Gates’� proposal?� � 4.)�Finally,�what�is�your�view?�Does�the�fight�against�poverty�require�a�reorientation�of�corporate� capitalism?�Or�does�it�depend�largely�upon�efforts�undertaken�outside�the�realm�of�profit?�

mailto:rob.guth@wsj.com

  • Bill Gates Issues Call For Kinder Capitalism

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