Bill Gates: Giant of Capitalism or Tool of the State?

Monday, June 30, 2008
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I think George Giles misses the mark with this piece about Bill Gates, giant of capitalism.

Capitalism? Bill Gates?

Bill Gates is no giant of capitalism. Bill Gates is a pc, socialistic do-gooder, and he set up his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation solely for the purpose of funding various policies and pet projects of the state. Gates gave in to the giants of envy who hate that he is so wealthy, and the foundation is his launching pad for funding socialist causes worldwide. The Gates foundation seems like nothing more than an outlet for his guilt attacks, due to his huge success and enduring prosperity. Search the Wikipedia article if you are not familiar with the causes funded by his foundation. A sampling from Wikipedia:

The Gates Millennium Scholars fund, according to its official website’s frequently asked questions section, only provides scholarships to African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Pacific Islander American or Hispanic American applicants. The program has been criticized for its exclusion of Caucasians. However, such programs are argued to be necessary to counteract the systemic racism and institutional racism that still exists in America.

Bill Gates, in fact, is a giant of entrepreneurialism, not capitalism – and therein lies a huge difference. Gates is super ambitious, and is superb at recognizing opportunity and knowing how to visualize success and manage risk. He set off Steve Ballmer to do his product positioning and run the business end of things.

There is a very distinct difference – especially to libertarians – between an entrepreneur and a “capitalist.” In fact, entrepreneurs can be (and often are) entirely communist, fascist, or Marxist, yet still seek out and carry on entrepreneurial activities that benefit consumers, because they are driven by the profit motive. John Mackey, as I recall, admitted to being somewhat unfriendly to the idea of capitalist economics before the success of his magnificent Whole Foods.

I can see why Mr. Giles would want to praise Gates – the man has been unfairly attacked by such adversaries as big government, corporatist competitors, and tech geeks (who despise the fact that Microsoft made Joe Blow a competent and independent computer user). Gates brought us something that changed all of our lives, because without Microsoft, we’d all be far worse off. Gates unleashed a world of technology that spoke the same language, and, like any great entrepreneur, he made it affordable and usable for the masses.

But Gates, politically, is a disaster. I remember when he spoke about “creative capitalism,” and he introduced the topic by noting that “we need to refine the system.” The “system” being that which needs to be planned and engineered by governments.

I like to call this new system creative capitalism – an approach where governments, businesses, and nonprofits work together to stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or gain recognition, doing work that eases the world’s inequities.

He goes on to praise the FDA and government intervention on all levels. He is openly in favor of government-forced equality through intervention and redistribution. That is the purpose of his foundation. He also once claimed that open source developers were “Communists,” and that the open source movement was not compatible with capitalism. He referred to open source software as “intellectual property Communism.” Steve Ballmer referred to Linux as a cancer. (And I post this on the glorious Mozilla browser. Internet Explorer is not an option.) Bill Gates absolutely does not understand capitalism, nor does he promote it, therefore he is no giant of that which he cannot comprehend.

I cherish Bill Gates the organizer, risk-taker, and entrepreneur, but in terms of his political philosophy, he’s a left-wing tool of the state.

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