Several noted economists are having a conversation about Bill Gates’ theory of philanthropy:

[The site] is a web experiment designed to produce a book — a collection of essays and commentary on capitalism, philanthropy and global development — to be edited by us and published by Simon and Schuster in the fall of 2008. The book takes as its starting point a speech Bill Gates delivered this January at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In it, he said that many of the world’s problems are too big for philanthropy—even on the scale of the Gates Foundation. And he said that the free-market capitalist system itself would have to solve them.

I’ve only gotten through two of the essays, but this is just a fantastic way to kill a few hours reading.