Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bill Gates As Bond Villain

Bill Gates responds to criticism that he's making money off the Common Core:

“This is about giving money away,” he said of his support for the standards. “This is philanthropy. This is trying to make sure students have the kind of opportunity I had . . . and it’s almost outrageous to say otherwise, in my view.

Sure this is about giving money away - and getting an agenda promoted in return

Gates gets a couple things out of his philanthropy:

He gets to call the shots on a whole host of issues - from education policy to global warming response to disease eradication policy.

Gates claimed in today's Post article that he wants "competition" in the R and D efforts around education policy - but it's pretty clear from his past at Microsoft and the present at the Gates Foundation that what Gates likes most is stifling competition and making sure he's the only one strong enough to have any affect on either the computer business or philanthropic efforts.

Which is the second thing Gates gets out of his philanthropy - ego aggrandizement.

This guy's got a messianic complex and he truly believes he's got the answers to the world's problems if people would just let him provide the funding for the R & D to figure out how to make public education better, to mitigate environmental problems, to tackle disease and pestilence around the world.

It never occurs to him that maybe he's wrong about things, never occurs to him that maybe somebody other than him (or one of his funded shill groups) might have a better way to go about things.

In a lot of ways, Gates is like a Bond villain from the 60's - certain of his own brilliance and genius, hell bent on controlling the world and proving his genius and brilliance to us all.

I'll say this for him:

Gates is a genius at one thing - he's a genius at ruthlessly pushing for what he wants, either in the computer software business or the philanthropic world and convincing enough of the public that he's not just another egoist trying to have his way on everything.

But that's been changing, as people on both the right and left start to view Gates's philanthropic monopoly in education policy, environmental causes, disease eradication and other areas with either suspicion or outright hostility because that monopoly pushes out any other solution other than a Gates-funded one.

Jay Greene noted this problem in the Washington Post piece:

Jay P. Greene, head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, says the Gates Foundation’s overall dominance in education policy has subtly muffled dissent.
“Really rich guys can come up with ideas that they think are great, but there is a danger that everyone will tell them they’re great, even if they’re not,” Greene said.

Let's assume that Gates is being honest with us, that he's really not trying to make more dough off the CCSS and its ancillary reforms (a dubious assumption, as he seems to be worth more every year even as he claims he wants to give away all his money before he dies.)

Even if it's true that Gates is spending billions on education policy out of the goodness of his heart and his desire to do some good, the other two things that Gates gets out of his philanthropy - assuaging his own ego and getting to call the shots on nearly everything - are quite problematic.

It is beyond the time to start questioning the so-called "good" that philanthropy does - Gates obviously still thinks it's a decent enough defense because he runs to use it when he's pressed over the CCSS.

But as men like Gates and Michael Bloomberg run around the world using their billions to buy the policies they want in their pet issues, it is becoming clearer and clearer that "philanthropy" is no longer a public good.

There's no difference than a Bond villain wanting to own the world and run it his way or Bill Gates wanting to fund solutions to every problem and make sure that whatever gets tried is a Gates-promoted solution.

Behind both the Bond villain and Bill Gates is a fevered ego in need of control - and it's time to dump some water on that fevered ego and cool it just a bit.


  1. Bill Gates understood one thing before anyone else did: the "box" on your desk matters less than the software running it. He had that insight and it allowed him to brilliantly leverage an inferior product into the industry standard.

    Bravo, sir -- that is a once in a generation idea.

    But it doesn't translate to an ability to have the same insight about all things. CCSS has been rushed to this point in the hope that it would become the "industry standard" and everyone would have to accept that we have to use it. But this is not consumer electronics -- this is our national commons and bypassing every single stakeholder with an address outside of Washington, D.C. may have been expedient, but it is fatal.

    1. That's a great analogy - CCSS as an inferior product like Windows that nonetheless becomes the "industry standard" through Gates' business acumen and ruthlessness.

  2. It is all about Bill Gates. Bill Gates has a highly egocentric, toxic personality. Bill Gates wants to share his toxic world view with the whole world. Whether it is GMO s, Common Core curriculum, predatory monopolistic pricing,or crappy Windows 8, it all about Bill Gates. Bill, you own the world and we are just living here for your profit statement. Bill Gates is a whiny, arrogant elitist with a highly narcissistic world view. Bill, why don't you hire folks to become part of the Bill and Melinda Gates admiration society.? Isn't that what you really want?

    1. Some of his environmental experiments are worrisome as well. Many on the right talk about the chem trails and white streaks in the sky. The Guardian (itself funded by Gates) has reported that Gates has out money into "cloud whitening" in order to mitigate the problems of global warming. Like his small school initiative and the CCSS mess, this sounds like another untested, un-piloted grand scheme from Gates that has disaster written all over it.

  3. Michael FiorilloJune 8, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    He is lying, pure and simple. He may be lying to himself, in addition to us, but he's lying all the same.

    After all, what is "venture philanthropy" if not targeted investment with mandated, quantifiable "returns?" He and others from the New School Venture Fund are quite explicit about this this model of so-called philanthropy.

    Gates is a businessman, and he knows that in order to make money, you must spend money.

    1. I agree with you, Michael. I think he's lying too - although like you said, I think he's lying to himself a bit. I'm sure he thinks he's a good guy, he's just doing this out of the goodness of his hart, etc. This is not a guy who's spent any time in self-examination. That's easy to see from his public persona. So I'm sure it's easy for him to lie to himself. But in the end, it all comes down to his ego. As with Bloomberg, Gates has this need to control everything and everybody.