Andrew Leonard sums it up.
Bill Gates feels businesses should seek profitable ways to improve "the poor". Lee Scott of Walmart wants to support international trade, address climate change and water shortages, and more.
I read the WSJ interview with Gates, and he comes across as a bit of a rube. On the other hand, he's a rather powerful rube. I'm glad he's trying. One day he may even take a look at the roots of American poverty, and the nature of disability in a post-industrial world.
The Walmart manifesto is odder; I think Scott may have OD'd on Ayn Rand. Still, no complaints from me.
It's likely coincidence, or a passing reaction to the bursting of our latest financial bubble. We can hope, however, that this is something better than charitable feelings.
We can hope this is the start of enlightened self-interest. If the wealthy and the powerful recognize that our world, physical and virtual, is much more fragile than it's seemed these past forty years, then we can start to make real progress towards "enlightenment 2.0".