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Busting the Bill Gates myth

November 29, 2023 - 4:00pm

Bill Gates has long been held up as the shining example of a “good billionaire”. The story goes that, having amassed an eye-watering fortune with Microsoft in the ‘90s, Gates decided to take a step back from the rat race to take on a new role: that of the selfless philanthropist. Since then, he has — by his own estimation — helped save millions of lives across the world and changed the face of charity forever. A mythology built up around Gates; he became both the richest but also the most generous man on the planet, revolutionising education, public health and agriculture in the developing world. 

In his new book, “The Bill Gates Problem”, investigative journalist Tim Schwab turns this narrative on its head. Schwab has spent years digging into the Gates Foundation’s activities, and comes to far less flattering conclusions about the billionaire. Schwab lays bare an organisation that operates more like a corporation than a charity, one with a narrow and neoliberal agenda at its core that he argues undermines democracy and is a global “net-negative”. 

Schwab dialled in from Washington DC to talk to UnHerd’s Flo Read about his new book. It begins with demystifying the man himself. Schwab takes us back to the ‘90s when society had a more accurate understanding of Gates’s character. Gates is no reformed capitalist, according to Schwab, capitalism is all he knows: 

It’s easy to imagine that there are two Bill Gates. There’s the corporate titan, the bully who ran Microsoft. And then there’s the kind-hearted, soft-spoken philanthropist today at the head of the Gates Foundation…. He clearly is the exact same person who led Microsoft, and his philanthropic career makes a lot more sense if you understand him in that way.
- Tim Schwab

As far as Schwab is concerned, the billionaire-philanthropist continues to be driven by a quasi-God complex and an irrepressible belief in his own righteousness, regardless of expertise:

A man driven by hubris. He believes that he is right and righteous in everything he does; he’s the smartest guy in the room and a man born to lead… I don’t doubt that he’s well-meaning in the sense that he thinks he’s helping the world. But he’s helping the world the only way he knows how, which is by taking control.
- Tim Schwab

However, the fact remains undisputed in Schwab’s book that Bill Gates does donate huge sums of money to charity. It is difficult to fathom how the world would be better off were Gates to squirrel his billions away. In response to this, Schwab argues that Gates’s philanthropy should not be thought of as  “innocent, unimpeachable charity” but as an “exercise in political power”:  

The Gates Foundation and Bill Gates have become some of the most important influencers and shapers of a great many different public policies from public health to public education… Through philanthropy, he’s able to turn his vast wealth into political influence over the way the world works for the rest of us […] Bill Gates can quite literally plant his flag and claim dominion over an entire corner of public policy areas.
- Tim Schwab

Schwab is also concerned that the billionaire’s mindset makes him uniquely ill-equipped to “heal the world”. He is a techno-utopian with a perilously narrow vision when it comes to problem-solving. This was demonstrated in public health in developing countries: 

The vaccine market and pharmaceutical market is pretty similar to software markets[…] Vaccines are important. Vaccines are vital, vaccines save lives […] However, it’s a very narrow conception of public health. It’s a pharmaceutical-driven approach to public health. There are a lot of ways to save lives in public health. You can build clinics, you can train doctors, you can build roads that help people in distant villages get to clinics in urban areas.
- Tim Schwab

The solution to the Bill Gates problem, Schwab says, must be radical:

The long term political goal is to reorganise the economy and our tax code so that you prevent people from becoming this wealthy in the first place… I think the most aggressive [wealth tax suggested] would be taking 8% of a billionaires accumulated fortune every year, that would prevent someone like Bill Gates from becoming richer, but it wouldn’t actually diminish his existing fortune. So, no, unlike Bill Gates, I don’t have the confidence to  posit a solution to every problem and a competent answer to every question. But I do have, like Bill Gates, a sense of impatient optimism to believe that another world is possible.
- Tim Schwab

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Mike Downing
Mike Downing
4 months ago

Somebody else who wrote about Bilbo describes his charity as more like impact investment. And didn’t he make $23 billion out of his vaccine options, for products which look in retrospect pretty useless and with no decent safety data.

He’s already planning for the next ‘inevitable’ pandemic and he’s got the WHO in his pocket so we should be very concerned about him.

Also he had a frequent-flyer pass to Epstein Island.

Carlos Danger
CD
Carlos Danger
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Good points, but there is no evidence that Bill Gates ever went to Jeffrey Epstein’s private island.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
4 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

If anyone knows of any evidence that Bill Gates went to Jeffrey Epstein’s private island, I’d like to see it.

Daniel Pennell
DP
Daniel Pennell
4 months ago

I’ve always thought that Bill Gates was an overrated slime ball.

His entire career was based on one astute observation, good luck, and extortion.

The astute observation was that the software and the OS were more important than the box it ran on. He suckered a naive IBM executive into allowing him to license DOS.

He did not write DOS, he did not fund or oversee the development of DOS, he bought it for chump change off another naive guy that actually developed it.

Sure, he used the money to build off of DOS to get Windows, but that was chasing Apple and Steve Jobs. Then, he built it in such a way that you had to upgrade at a high cost regularly. Support at MS has always been awful. In other words, he put out the IBM compatible, licensed to be cheaper than the Apple and incompatible with Apple files, then dominated the business and personal PC market. He did this with the desktop and he did it with the servers then with databases and Office. The only way the racket stopped growing was that Oracle came along to challenge the databases, Linux to challenge the OS, Lotus to challenge Office. Finally, when everything was finally forced to go to the web, he had to concede to interoperability, particularly when the Mac, iPhone and iPad took off.

He always came across as an arrogant geek that was not that talented, not in the Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Elon Musk model. And, he always came across as kinda creepy, the nerd nobody wanted to know until he got wealthy.

Then, off to Epstein’s island on the Lolita express. Not a coincidence that his wife left him right after that.

The man is a psychopathic pedophile in my view and nobody like that should have the kind of power that he does.

Cal RW
Cal RW
4 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Pennell

The story I heard was that IBM was behind in the PC market and knew they had to do something quickly to compete in the emerging personal home computer market. They quickly put together an IBM PC using existing components kludged together – they did not have time to design a unique custom IBM PC. They called their new PC an “open architecture” design. One of their biggest challenges was to find an off-the-shelf operating system. They dispatched a team to the San Francisco Bay Area to get a licensed version of CP/M. The designer of CP/M did not want to waste his time with IBM. He told them that a small company up in Seattle had a version of his CP/M software and suggested he go see them. They next flew up to Seattle to talk to this company (Microsoft). I think the Microsoft team was about five or so employees at the time. All except Gates wanted to ignore the IBM offer to use their software as the IBM PC operating system. They were afraid that their new little company would be swallowed up by the IBM behemoth. After a day or two, Bill Gates overruled his staff and took a risk of working with IBM. Microsoft eventually outgrew IBM (software vs hardware). People can throw second and third tier criticisms at Gates, but in my view he played his hand as good as it gets. In listening to the interview with Tim Schwab, I found him to be more opposed to the concept of billionaires using their money to influence policy than specifically addressing Bill Gates misdeeds. Perhaps the book would provide more specifics, but you would think he could have made a more compelling case during the interview.

Last edited 4 months ago by Cal RW
Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
4 months ago
Reply to  Cal RW

You got the gist of the history correct, but I have a few quibbles.
First, the IBM PC architecture was well designed by the team at Boca Raton. It was no kludge. Its open architecture provides a model of how to design a new product.
Second, Microsoft was founded in 1975 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. By the time it moved back to Washington in 1979 it had 13 employees. By the time the agreement was signed with IBM it had 40 employees.
The MS-DOS deal was a big deal for Microsoft, but I don’t think it made the company. They had a lot of irons in the fire and Bill Gates was and is an apex predator like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk. He would have built the company anyway, I’m sure.

Last edited 4 months ago by Carlos Danger
Anders Wallin
Anders Wallin
4 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Pennell

Having been working in the sw industry since IBM AT with a 4 yr brake for studying Computer Technology in the later 80’s I lived through all described above. And one thing. He is a geek. As well as the son of a lawyer. And well, that’s a combination that do not sway off into any idealistic mumbojumbo but that takes the reality as it is. Noone ever said he was nice as a competitor on the personal computer market. He did what he did to grow his company and noone can say he did it poorly.
Unfortunately, I am not a geek, my life would have been much happier if I had been, but I have been around geeks since even before the term existed, in managerial roles and the like(My interests in the humanities are nothing that was considered a job in the type of neighborhood I grew up in), But I know how geeks work and everything I have read on Bill Gates suggests you are right in calling him one.
Now, in the interview, the question trying to be evaded all the time was like “can it be done better, what he do”. And well there was no “yes”. He did not fulfil some of the more revolutionary progesses he maybe suggested, but nothing really said that could have been done better.
The biggest objection was that his money makes him powerful to seek an agenda of charity in a very powerful way. And the objection was to the core that charity should be a democratic venture, at least as I heard it.
And thats very interesting in a philosophic way. Philosophers from Plato to Popper has pondered on this and the answer seem to be that a democracy is least bad when bad. But as Plato(or rather Socrates) points out – there might be instances were other kinds of government is better (But democracy wins because tyranny of a bad prince is catastrophical). And well, it seems like Gates run what he do pretty efficiently.
Now, to take that one step further, the argument that the billionaires should be taxed harder ie, there shouldnt be as many billionaires is well in line with a philosophy like the ones suggested by advocates of democracy. I have nothing against that.
But the “case study” of Gates, well the interview gave no indication of him performing poorly in the field of charity.
It would also, be interesting to see the sources proving him to be a pedophile or a psychopath. He is most probably however a geek,and people that goes lets say in a humanities way ot thinking will probably have a hard time to figure out the geek. The geek is a person that want to do things right and is pretty optimistic of his or her chances to accomplish that. That might not be what the world needs at large but nothing here convinced me Gates does what he do bad But sure, Tax bilionaries! But again – without those geeks noone would be here, there would not have been anything like UnHerd existing..

Last edited 4 months ago by Anders Wallin
UnHerd Reader
DD
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

So basically, Bill Gates does good, but not as good as if the government took his (and other billionaires’) money and decided what to do with it.

Because governments have such a great track record of investing money efficiently? Because traditional government foreign aid has been so effective?

I thought the article was fairly interesting until it turned into yet another pro-socialism piece. Just another intellectual who believes that his peers in politics know better than the big bad capitalist.

Last edited 4 months ago by UnHerd Reader
Anders Wallin
Anders Wallin
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The interview never said the governments does better.

Marek Nowicki
Marek Nowicki
4 months ago

Mr Schwab’s diagnosis is correct but his proposed treatment is wrong. It was tried before and is called communism. What didn’t work during covid etc is the check and balances system in our democracy. The only solution IMHO is to introduce terms limits for ALL ELECTED officialsand AND periodical competitive reappointment system for goverment and government funded positions above certain level…

Last edited 4 months ago by Marek Nowicki
David Jennings
David Jennings
4 months ago
Reply to  Marek Nowicki

While I have sympathy for the position that an entrenched political class is corrosive to democracy, the situation with Bill Gates points out the weakness of term limits as a solution. If the elected political class is kept weak with constant turnover, then it is those who remain (bureaucrats and unelected political operatives such as Gates) who aggregate political power unhindered by opposing elected politicians (no strong check and balance) and become a permanent political class. And of course the unelected cannot be thrown out via an election.
We properly express concern about lobbyists and others who exert political influence without transparency or accountability, yet term limits on elected officials does not solve this. Indeed, elected office becomes a training ground for those who seek the power shielded from public scrutiny.

Klive Roland
KR
Klive Roland
4 months ago
Reply to  Marek Nowicki

Exactly. What does democracy even mean when the rich can subvert it through lobbying?

Anders Wallin
Anders Wallin
4 months ago
Reply to  Klive Roland

In all democracies ever people born in communities rich on social and cultural capital have had strong voices. And they will always have. No matter if the young person decides to go left or right in search of meaning or life fulfilness instead of a job job for wages.

Alex Colchester
AC
Alex Colchester
4 months ago

It’s no surprise that Unherd’s usual ‘red under the bed’ brigade, trash this clearly intelligent and measured author because he dares to suggest that the nosebleed extremes of capitalism are unhealthy. So many ‘useful capitalist idiots’ are terrified of an Orwellian 1984 future- the ultimate communistophobe’s onanistic pleasure. Instead, they should be fearing the far more prescient ‘Brave New World’. It is Huxley’s weirder but no less horrific future that we are barrelling towards, and these ‘helpful’ billionaires such as Gates, will be our smiling guides.

Last edited 4 months ago by Alex Colchester
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

In Huxley’s book it is intellectuals and technocrats who brought about the all-powerful World State with all its dehumanizing thirst for stability. Exactly the types of people and institutions the author suggests should get to make the decisions over individuals.
Bill Gates is in the crosshairs here, but neither he nor his foundation will be here forever. Billionaires come and go. There were Rockefeller, Ford and Carnegie, there’s Musk and Buffet. Say what you will about any of them, but having different people in different times with different views have this kind of money at their disposal is sure to lead to less oppression and fatal mistakes than handing it all to a centralized institution that has been growing ever more powerful over the last decades.

Alex Colchester
AC
Alex Colchester
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It’s a fair retort, but I think you underestimate how the billionaire elite increasingly setup and use the technocrats as their willing lapdogs and surround them with ancillary services in the form of endless NGO’s, Think tanks and lobbyists. Government formed in the image of a corporation.
The point you are missing is that current billionaires are not confined to a single industry as were their peers of yore (keeping to their lanes whether it was steel, railroads or banking). This modern tentacle-like insinuation into all corners of life is what makes todays billionaires far more insidious and dangerous. Couple their breadth of industrial capability with a technological and information revolution (soon to be harnessed to an Ai explosion) and you have the makings of a control methodology that the most violent dictators can only dream about.
My overarching point is that Western citizens have been conditioned to be so terrified of the ‘boot forever stomping into their face’, that they will vehemently support any capitalist excess and in doing so be ever more subsumed by the comforting embrace of the digital ‘soma’ handed out by our newly minted corporate overlords

Last edited 4 months ago by Alex Colchester
marjan m
MM
marjan m
4 months ago

I am sure that the political and financial influence Bill Gates, and his foundation, have over policy are a big problem.
Banning billionaires through taxation however is not the solution. Neither is trying to look at this through a decolonisation or socialism prism. (The likely result would be that a large amount of cash will be then transferred to an already converted administration that will then get used to even higher public spending which of course will be funded by regular taxpayers.)
In antitrust law we have rules that apply to monopolists and cartels. In the EU we have rules banning State Aid. Those (imperfect) rules are aimed at avoiding a distortion of competition by private or public actors, and are underpinned by a belief (we used to have) that the best business idea will win out on merit and that competition is healthy as it challenges the status quo.
We used to set a lot of store by checks and balances and a healthy suspicion of too much power in the hands of too few.
We have been fools to let go off that belief, but yet we have.
In a way we are now all believers in Mao’s Great Leap Forward, even if we don’t agree on the shape of that Leap or who is the next Mao in the West. Too often do I hear the call for “strong leadership”, the merit of “expert-opinion” and the deplorableness of the masses.
Some are growing weary of diversity in demographic terms, but an engineering-, MBA- and “change is good” mind-set has a stultifying vision effect all of its own. And there I completely agree with Tim Schwab. The size of shadows cast by the unintended consequences of big-plan goal-oriented thinking are correlated with the scale of their execution. The myopic and bull-headed drive to net-zero, or zero-Covid are two very good examples of plans being agreed and actioned without much regard for their unintended and devastating consequences. Their results are playing out it in real-time. And although the estimated market size of green and pharma industry is booming and set to grow even further (meaning some of us will reap at least some financial benefits), this is obviously not the result of the free flow of an innovation-market place reacting to a current thing, but an opportunistic exploitation of taxpayers and consumers for a “higher goal” that resides somewhere in the future and financial profit that is very much realised today.
It is time for a revisiting of checks and balances and we are already starting to question (though not enough) the short-comings of “goal-oriented thinking” . As surveillance of individuals has increased many-fold, it is probably time to start looking more closely into the monopolies that influence policy and start questioning the cartel-like effects of stake-holder politics, especially when those stake-holders are openly and not-so openly wielding as much power and influence as for example Bill Gates.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

Greater transparency and stricter regulations of NGOs would solve any perceived or actual problems associated with orgs like the Gates foundation.

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
4 months ago

The rule seems to be clear: billionaire playing with his overflow money in left wing causes (and and in so doing adding who knows how much more to his billions) is a philanthropist – Gates, Soros … – billionaire playing with his overflow money in right wing causes (and in so doing adding who knows how much more to his billions) is just a billionaire – Musk, Koch … 

Roberto Sussman
Roberto Sussman
4 months ago

Billionaire funded philanthropies should not be scrapped nor contained, but subjected to scrutiny and accountability, just as private corporations and governments. Currently, neither Gates’ nor others’ philanthropies (Mike Bloomberg) face scrutiny and accountability. Thus, when interfering and controlling key public policy on health, energy or other issues (specially in low/middle income countries), they are acting like self appointed global sheriffs or vigilantes imposing their law, which even if well intended is unacceptable. In fact, there are examples when their unilateral interventions have produced more harm than good. Billionaire philanthropic foundations are large corporations, not dissimilar in structure to the pharmaceutics, food, tobacco, oil industries. Thus, being funded by them is a HUGE conflict of interest, which is seldom declared, weighed and countered. Bill Gates is not the only potencialy damaging billionaire engaged in philanthropy to “save the world”, don’t forget Mike Bloomberg, who is an authoritarian simpleton with a god complex, far more opaque than Gates.

Last edited 4 months ago by Roberto Sussman
Mustard Clementine
MC
Mustard Clementine
4 months ago

Not exactly a fan of Bill Gates, or billionaires in general, or anything – but this is pretty shallow analysis (and also quite boring, really; too trite to just be fun to watch for being kooky, even).

Nancy Kmaxim
Nancy Kmaxim
4 months ago

The gist of this interesting interview seems to be that the alternative to Bill Gates is a much longer standing power structure , which advocates for increasing funding for an already over monetized government. Providing more funds to a government which is intent on choosing winners and losers in the game of life based on immutable characteristics seems dangerous. This seems like a topic which deserves more exploration.

Derrick Milton
Derrick Milton
4 months ago

The question was asked – “don’t we need these egotistical billionaires for the sake of innovation?”* On the rare occasion that billionaires have been particularly innovative, their accomplishments in this regard usually predated their extreme wealth – Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg, Gates. For most billionaires, their talent lies in profitably distributing other people’s brilliant ideas – Musk, Edison, Pfizer (the long road toward mRNA vaccines, for instance, began in the late 80’s and had nothing to do with Pfizer), etc. Extreme wealth is not responsible for innovation; it may actually be an impediment to innovation. Contrary to the nay sayers in the comments below, I thought this was a fair and worthwhile discussion. I am grateful for UnHerd; there are few outlets that give voice to such varied viewpoints in our polarized world. I didn’t agree with everything Schwab said, but he raised a lot of valid points. As a clearly smart fellow I suspect even Schwab doesn’t agree with everything he said. *(Apologies for approximating the quote.)

Last edited 4 months ago by Derrick Milton
Nardo Flopsey
Nardo Flopsey
4 months ago

Why is it that so many who write scathing critiques of power hungry oligarchs seem certain that the inequities of civilization could be corrected if only people like themselves were in control?

I recall Bernie Sanders insisting for years that millionaires should not exist, until he became one by writing a popular book about the failures of capitalism. Now it’s billionaires who should not exist, naturally. How about people who earn a comfy living by typing on their laptops, whilst others must labor in roofing or other sweat equity trades?

I raise a glass to Flo Read for doing her best to defend the system by which all of us have benefited tremendously, albeit some more than others, as is the case in any human society. It never seems to occur to Tim Schwab that imposing limits on private power which sound wonderful to academics like himself might contain the seeds for other kinds of repression by our elected leaders, as such proposals always do.

For instance, in America it was hard not to notice that what followed directly on the heels of the 2021 announcement of massive rounds of funding for the IRS to pursue wealthy tax evaders, was the announcement that every independent jobber would have to start reporting app payments which totalled over $600 annually. Of course there was a temporary reprieve due to COVID, so the wretched masses wouldn’t notice the disparity between all the “tax the rich” rhetoric and the usual fleecing of the middle class.

There is no egalitarian utopia, just endless power struggles between private and public sector strivers. I happen to think we’re all better off living with the excesses of wealthy faux philanthropists than the less charitable ambitions of politicians who purport to protect the public, by limiting the aspirations of the oligarchy. But who limits the power of those in government, who constantly imagine more intrusive roles for themselves in the lives of others? There’s no escaping human grasping.

Peter B
PB
Peter B
4 months ago

Unconvincing (having just watched the whole video). Tim Schwab talks a lot, but simply provides no factual evidence to back up his claims that the Bill Gates Foundation has done more harm than good. He seems like yet another of those people who judge things on a purely tribal basis – carrying on from his claim that Microsoft software wasn’t good to damning all the other works of Bill Gates.
For an investigative journalist, I’d expect some actual facts to back up abn argument. As it is, it’s simply opinion.
The reality is that MS Windows won out because there wasn’t anything better. And yes, I hated it too at the time. If Tim Schwab wants things done better, what is he actually doing about it ?
There are people who get off their backsides and get things done (however imperfectly). And commentators.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Maybe read the book before you come down so hard.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

You are making a judgment after watching a whole video? That might be a little hasty. I haven’t read Tim Schwab’s book (but I will), so I don’t know what evidence he produces.
But I have read some compelling books about the failures of Gatesian philanthropy due to what the New York Times called “elite intellectual arrogance”.
Here’s a sampling:
No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy, by Linsey McGoey
The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty, by Nina Monk
The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, by William Easterly
Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa, by Dambisa Moyo
The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, by William Easterly
All these books point out the problems with these kind of development efforts. They weaken already weak governments in the countries they aid instead of strengthening them. Highly paid experts fly in, throw their weight around from luxury hotels in megacities, and fly out. The aid they bring is not sustained, so it’s like applying a glob of fertilizer at the start of a growing season and expecting that to produce a strong plant. Or injecting a sick man with a stimulant to get him out of bed when he’s not strong enough to handle the strain.
I only met Bill Gates once over 25 years ago, and that briefly. But I’ve followed his career. He is a gifted man who has contributed a lot to the computer industry. But I agree that he is not the man some (including him) make him out to be. He’s smaller.
I like the approach of the Center for Global Development, founded by Ed Scott. Not as big a splash, but definitely doing more good than harm. They follow the harsh truth Thomas Sowell pointed out, that there are no solutions, only tradeoffs.

Last edited 4 months ago by Carlos Danger
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

Ya. I tuned out when the guy asked if we should have billionaires.

Waffles
W
Waffles
4 months ago

“Bill Gates can quite literally plant his flag and claim dominion over an entire corner of public policy areas.”

Except you can’t LITERALLY plant a flag in a concept.

Nic Cowper
Nic Cowper
4 months ago

{hate piece} A man that couldn’t even make an effective operating system for PCs, thinks he can apply an OS to human kind. Gates is a sad deluded paranoid with way too much influence. Every sci-fi i have ever watched has him in it as the baddie. Will we never learn? Ancient wisdom has always told us: shit floats. Time to listen and act – restore democracy to elected representatives and dislodge the floater in the ubend now!

Klive Roland
Klive Roland
4 months ago

Wouldn’t a wealth tax simply result in billionaires fleeing to tax havens from where they could exercise their dark arts unmolested?

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
4 months ago
Reply to  Klive Roland

Perhaps. But fleeing the United States to a tax haven does not go unpunished. You get zapped on your way out.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago

Schwab seems to have a weak poorly argued case about Bill Gates, with the possible exception that he wants a swingeing wealth tax – obviously governments would do a better job…..!

We’ve always had wealthy philanthropists – Carnegie, the Rockefellers, etc. They should be held to account for their effectiveness and possible other motives, but recognition seems to be the main reward.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

We definitely need some mechanisms to push more donations from billionaires with fewer strings attached.
That or better yet a few sensible policies so we get fewer billionaires to begin with.
Mr. Gates has influence in too many different areas.

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
4 months ago

So, if you want to reform neo-liberal capitalism the obvious person to go after is Bill Gates who spends billions trying to help the world’s poor. Neo-liberal capitalists need not worry about the Left because people on the Left are really, really, I mean really dumb!

Steinar
Steinar
4 months ago

Why are you tarnishing the good brand of Unherd with this utter nonsense?

Robbie K
Robbie K
4 months ago
Reply to  Steinar

I agree, in the last year Unherd has visibly shifted to pandering to their right wing conspiratorial audience. It’s all starting to get a tedious circle jerk.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
4 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I think it just pays more to be right wing. It was the former editor of the Sun, David Yelland who said on an episode of the News Agents podcast who thinks you can get 10x more followers on twitter by being right wing rather than left. I wish he’d substantiated further, but it would explain the similar direction being taken by the Telegraph (which Unherd’s billionaire owner (let’s hear an interview on him?) wants to take over…)
https://uk-podcasts.co.uk/podcast/the-news-agents/the-sun-the-scandal-and-the-bbc

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Maybe it’s because the left dominates what remains of traditional media, which has largely abandoned its centrist business model, and people on the right are seeking out alternative sources of information.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You would need a purely cutural conception of ‘the left’ to make that view tenable and even then, with outlets like the Telegraph and Mail getting more and more behind illegal deportations of refugees that is a hard one to maintain.
As to a claim that the economic left dominates the media, you would genuinely do my blood pressure a great service if you could show me how that’s so.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Hmm. I didn’t think it was controversial to claim the traditional media is dominated by the left. The biggest media outlets in the U.S. are virtually all left – NYT, Post, CNN etc. The exception being Fox. In Canada, the biggest outlets are left -CBC, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail. The exception being the National Post. Britain IMO has the most diverse media landscape, but the BBC is left, the Guardian is left, the Times. I’m surprised you call the Mail right wing. It’s decidedly down the middle and actually uses preferred pronouns in its news, which can be very confusing. I have no idea what you mean by economic left dominates the media.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Well, I can’t comment on the US but it’s true that they have outlets that support the Democrats as well as the Republicans. You mention Fox as an exception, but it is also the biggest broadcaster.
By economic left I mean the sections of the left that actually want to improve the financial lot of ordinary people ie by reversing disastrous privatisation policies that have legalised the raiding of the public purse for private interests (neoliberalism), supporting trade unions, taking on the landed interests that stand in the way of making houses affordable (as Roger Scruton pointed out during his time as a housing commissioner for the govt) and lifting 4.2 million children out of poverty (many of whom are in working families because so many jobs now do not cover living costs etc). Anyone interested in doing something about that – e.g. Corbyn’s Labour – is entirely shunned and slandered by the press (that also includes the BBC and Guardian which was very critical of him, the former being far more so than of Johnson and yet it’s still called ‘left wing,’ despite the fact that many of labour 2019 policies would be seen as completely reasonable in much of western Europe).
As to whether or not an outlet uses people’s preferred pronouns, that seems such a non-issue to me it’s not even worth the breath expelled to enunciate it (just as – I imagine – it doesn’t mean too much to the average working family living in poverty whether some celebrity or other or is he, she or they).

Last edited 4 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Rob N
RN
Rob N
4 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Using preferred pronouns a non-issue? How can making language mean nothing be unimportant? It is like agreeing with a madman that 2 plus 2 makes five.

It is a major step on the descent into Hell.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
4 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

A step into hell that has almost zero impact on your life, a luxury complaint for people sitting on lots of equity with a nice pension (uk pensions now pay more than average wages) and so have nothing else to whinge about

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I think this is kinda convenient on your part. While you largely agree with Unherd content when it comes to issues you favour – the trans agenda and immigration, you call it pandering to conspiracy thinkers when the content opposes your favoured narratives, like net zero and lockdowns.