Posts Tagged ‘Bill Gates’

Hearing the message of a despised messenger

I spent more than 20 years in high tech marketing before recently moving my career in a different direction. I never thought I’d be in the position of defending Bill Gates, who for most of his years at Microsoft has been widely despised for his ruthlessly competitive leadership style.

I am quite certain many in and out of high tech are uttering something like “yeah, right” having learned of Gates’ speech before the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland calling for “creative capitalism.” Gates has been creative all along — as in always finding ways to put his competitors out of business.

That’s the old Gates. The new Gates is the extraordinary, soon to be full-time philanthropist. And that’s who was speaking yesterday.

“We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well…I like to call this idea creative capitalism.”

Call it whatever you like, Bill, but it’s about time people of your stature use a platform such as the World Economic Forum to urge big business, in particular, to attend to the needs of the neediest.

We can kill the messenger, but his message must be heard:

“I am an optimist…But I am an impatient optimist. The world is getting better, but it’s not getting better fast enough, and it’s not getting better for everyone.”

Now consider for a moment how free market apologists construe the words of the world’s most successful capitalist of our time. Here’s Larry Kudlow, CNBC and National Review, spouting off:

Don’t you just love it? A guy without a college degree who invented a new technology process in his garage that literally changed the entire world, a guy who took advantage of all the great opportunities that a free and capitalist society has to offer and got filthy rich in the process, is now trashing capitalism and telling us it doesn’t work. What chutzpah…

So I just have to smile when billionaires like Bill Gates and George Soros turn cold shoulders to the blessings capitalism bestows. Or when their buddy, Warren Buffett, broadcasts the importance of hiking tax rates on successful earners and investors.

Look fellas, the command-and-control, state-run economics experiment was tried. It was called the Soviet Union. If you hadn’t noticed, it was a miserable failure.

Is that what Bill was doing, trashing capitalism and urging Communist state-run economics? Is that what the putative richest man in the world meant yesterday when he said, as the AP reports, “business must work with governments and nonprofit groups to stem global poverty and spur more technological innovation for those left behind”?

Thanks for clearing everything up, Mr. Kudlow. I always suspected business leaders who join the struggle to eradicate poverty are nothing more than closeted Communists. I mean why take personal action when you can just let the free market fix everything.