Why do people hate Bill Gates?

November 19, 2019 • 10:15 am

The answer to the title question, in these days of polarization, is “Because he’s a billionaire”. With Democratic candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren making political capital by demonizing the very rich, this effect has spilled over onto philanthropists, most notably one of the world’s greatest philanthropists, Bill Gates. Along with his wife Melinda, Gates gives away billions of dollars to good causes through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (the Foundation’s website is here).

According to Wikipedia, the Gates couple are the second most generous philanthropists in the U.S.—after Warren Buffett. Over its history, their Foundation (henceforth GF) has given away $45.5 billion, almost half of Gates’s total wealth.  And they give to causes I like: they’re international, not focused on the U.S., and the money goes to projects that really save lives—curing malaria and infectious disease, getting people access to reproductive services and clean water, improving agriculture, and so on (see list below).

I was thus a bit nonplussed when someone called my attention to a tweet by Massimo Pigliucci, with whom I’ve squabbled several times in the past. Those squabbles have been mostly over scientism and the “demarcation problem”, or trying to fix a boundary between science and non-science. Pigliucci hates my view that plumbers, mechanics and the like practice “science broadly construed” when they use empirical methods to diagnose and fix problems. Frankly, I can’t be arsed to argue the point, since these people use the same empirical strategies as do scientists. It’s a semantic issue, really, with no practical consequences that I can see.

At any rate, here’s Massimo’s tweet, which links to a conservative Daily Wire article reporting Gates’s criticisms of Warren’s proposed wealth tax, as well as his unwillingness to make political declarations about whom he’d vote for in the next Presidential election.

And so, although almost never engage in Twitter disputes, I responded:

And then Massimo shot back, citing the GF’s work on charter schools (Note about the tweet just below: my content is “not shown” on some people’s Twitter sites because in the past I’ve posted “objectionable” material like Jesus and Mo cartoons. Even the most innocuous things are hidden unless you click the “show media” button.)

I gave up at this point, as a Twitter war is the last thing I want; they’re almost completely useless.

But yes, a democratic society, in principle, shouldn’t have to rely on the charity of billionaires. Still, poor Massimo is missing the point with his “kool-aid” remark. As a philanthropist whose interests are helping the most deprived on the planet, Gates wants his money to go to people in poor countries, not to be sucked up by the U.S. government for missiles, border walls, or other dubious projects.

As for Gates’s “attempts to undermine public education,” I know the GF promotes charter schools, and I have mixed feelings about that, but on balance who can argue that Gates has been a bad influence on the world and should be “despised”? Only a splenetic Pecksniff like Pigliucci.

And who can argue that, given that Gates has pledged to give away most of his fortune, and is already doing so, that he might propose that he can put it to better use than the government grabbing it a large amount of money that could be used for better purposes?

I’m not arguing that richer people shouldn’t pay more taxes, for they should. I’m arguing that the demonization of Bill Gates on the basis of a couple of things he said is unwarranted—a sign of the “eat the rich” sentiment that has enveloped many progressive Democrats.

And that is what Matt Johnson argues in this new article in Quillette (click on screenshot).

Johnson is identified in the piece as a writer for places like Stanford Social Innovation Review, the BulwarkEditor & PublisherAreo MagazineArc DigitalSplice TodayForbes, and the Kansas City Star. It adds that “he was formerly the opinion page editor at the Topeka Capital-Journal.”

First, Johnson recaps what most people can easily find out about the GF:

 Between 1994 and 2018, Bill and Melinda Gates personally donated $36 billion to the foundation, which has issued more than $50 billion in total grant payments since its inception.

A glimpse of what that money has accomplished: The Gates Foundation was a founding partner of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), pledging a five-year commitment of $750 million which launched the program in 1999. Since 2000, Gavi has immunized more than 760 million children to protect them from rotavirus, meningitis, polio, measles, and many other deadly diseases. The World Health Organization and UNICEF estimate that Gavi has saved 13 million lives since its inception. After providing the seed money for Gavi, the Gates Foundation continued to support the program with billions of dollars—$4 billion to date, and $1.5 billion between 2016 and 2020 alone, around one-fifth of all donations. And this is just one of the programs the foundation supports—in 2018, it spent more than $4.3 billion on global health and development. When Singer credited Bill and Melinda Gates with saving several million lives, it was almost certainly an understatement.

Then Johnson takes on writer and journalist Anand Giridharadas, who goes after Gates in a video I can’t see, but also in an interview:

But the mask, according to Giridharadas, has finally slipped. He cites an interview at the New York Times DealBook Conference in which Gates argued that Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax is too extreme: “I’ve paid over $10 billion in taxes. I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes. If I’d had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine. But when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.” Giridharadas quoted this portion of the interview and then observed: “When you start to come after his wealth, even Bill Gates gets cagey.” Neither Giridharadas nor the Mediaite article he cited bothered to report the lighthearted tenor of these remarks, or that Gates immediately followed them by admitting, “I’m just kidding.”

I haven’t seen a single report before this one that Gates’s remarks were lighthearted or especially that he said, “I’m just kidding.”

The Presidential-candidate issue was mentioned by MyNorthwest.com, which noted that Gates refused to commit to saying which candidate he favored in 2020 if the election were between Warren and Drumpf:

At a New York Times conference, when asked who he would choose between Senator Elizabeth Warren and Trump, the Microsoft didn’t want to commit and said he’d vote for the more professional candidate, leaving his decision open to interpretation.

That puzzled me at first, but I think Johnson’s explanation below is correct, especially given the data I show after the quote:

. . . Finally, Gates specifically said he isn’t interested in making “political declarations,” about which he has every reason to be wary.

The Gates Foundation works closely with U.S. foreign aid agencies. Would it really make sense for Gates to openly antagonize a vindictive president who’s already deeply hostile to foreign aid spending? The Trump administration tried to cut State Department and USAID funding by 28 percent in 2017, which would have meant dramatic cuts in global health and humanitarian assistance.

In fact, as OpenSecrets.org notes, contributions from the GF to politically affiliated recipients go overwhelmingly to Democrats:

Here are the numbers for the GF, with the lowest percentage ever given to Democrats in one year being 65% in 2019, but 96%-100% in eight out of the 11 years reported!

This is what I’d expect given Gates’s generally liberal views. Do people really think he would vote for Trump? I think the hypothesis that he doesn’t want to rile up an irascible President is a decent one.

Further, money diverted from Gates’s assets for taxes will go to the U.S. government, which means U.S. projects, which in turn means largely for defense (about 22% of Americans’ taxable income goes to the Department of Defense). Gates want his bucks to be used where they have the biggest bang: in poor countries:

There’s a good reason why Bill and Melinda Gates focus on international programs to alleviate poverty and control infectious diseases: That’s where their fortune can do the most good. There are still 736 million people living on less than $1.90 per day, while half the planet lives on less than $5.50 per day. Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organization, “In 2018 an estimated 6.2 million children and adolescents under the age of 15 years died, mostly from preventable causes. Of these deaths, 5.3 million occurred in the first five years, with almost half of these in the first month of life.”

Aren’t Warren, Sanders, Giridharadas, and members of the New York Times editorial board supposed to care about inequality? Or do they only care about inequality in the richest country in human history?

Apparently so! Look, there are lots of rich people who sit on huge amounts of wealth and don’t give much of it away, retaining far more than they need to sustain even a hugely lavish lifestyle. But Bill and Melinda Gates are not among them. If you want to demonize somebody, there are lots of obscenely rich people who do all they can to keep their wealth. And you might want to go after Gates because you don’t like what he did when founding Microsoft. But what you shouldn’t go after him for is his unwillingness to commit to a Presidential candidate right now.

Even the abstemious and charitable philosopher Peter Singer defended Gates when speaking against the motion “It is immoral to be a billionaire” at a Oxford Union debate. Johnson reports Singer’s words:

“If you vote for this motion, you are condemning all people who are billionaires … You’re saying that Bill and Melinda Gates are immoral, despite the fact that they set up the Gates Foundation,” an organization which has “undoubtedly already saved several million lives.”

It’s strange that Pigluicci “despises” Bill Gates, a man whose presence in the world has saved and improved innumerable lives. And isn’t that a good way to measure the value of someone’s existence? But Pigliucci, who spends his days making a career out of the futile task of staking out the borders of science, seems unable to recognize a net good when he sees it. That’s odd for a philosopher, isn’t it?

For those of you who want to pile onto Bill Gates in the comments—and feel free to do so—ask yourself if you’ve done even a thousandth as much for the planet as has Gates.

300 thoughts on “Why do people hate Bill Gates?

  1. I don’t think Liz and Bernie have so much “demonized” the rich as called for them to kick in their fair share.

    That this constitutes “class warfare” against “job creators” is a standard right-wing counterattack defending fat-cat tax cuts.

    1. I agree. Restoring our tax structure even to the Clinton era would not dilute billionaires’ lifestyles one bit. It’s not hate; it is simply asking them to pay their share.

      1. What if I think they contribute enough to society by having created a business? What exactly do you mean by fair share, other than “more”?

          1. If it’s a legitimate business expense, you should be able to deduct it. Even so, if eliminated, then you would be satisfied?

            It’s not so much a “right wing” point as a principle on which the country was founded – individual liberty. Are you convinced the Feds do only what is truly useful, defensible under our constitution and via the most efficient manner possible? Then why demand more money from citizens, even if they have some extra?

            1. I take it those questions are rhetorical, just like this one: If the Feds don’t do anything useful, why not repeal the 16th amendment and let the rich make their sole contribution to society by creating businesses?

              There are reasonable arguments to be had about the apportionment of the US tax burden — personally, I think too much of it is borne by the middle classes and working poor, a problem exacerbated by the 2017 tax cuts — but this isn’t that discussion, or the place to have it.

              1. You may have missed my point. Simply, unless you believe that the government only uses our money for absolutely necessary things, permitted by the legal framework under which we live and uses it efficiently, we have no business asking citizens of any level of income to pony up more. And I’m never going to get an answer on what’s fair, I’m sure. Like CCR says, “the only answer is more, more.”

              2. Oh, I got your point. And I’m not sure Creedence helps your case:

                Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
                Lord, don’t they help themselves, no
                But when the taxman comes to the door
                Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yeah

                It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no millionaire’s son, no
                It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one, no

        1. I think “more” is indeed the right answer. It’s been “less” for at least 38 years now and this has not worked well for anyone in the USA except the top 5%, who have reaped all the economic growth of the last 30+ years.



          I’m a middle-class professional. I’ve been so for 35 years. The Trump/GOP tax law of 2017 was the biggest tax increase in my life.

  2. I know people who think Gates is trying to control the world with his vaccine program. Yes, he’s evil for vaccinating people. He wants them to die (or something). People are fricking idiots and our species is doomed.

    1. Oh yes, let me add to your feeling that the world is doomed. I saw an article online that had pictures of Ancient Roman buildings juxtaposed with artistic renditions of the buildings as they would have appeared in the past when they were used. These included the Colosseum, the Circus Maximus, various views of the Roman Forum, etc. Two comments stood out for me:

      1) As an Italian, I can tell you that these photos are fake.

      2) This looks photoshopped – would there be the exact same sky now as then?

      At least the second one did apply some critical thinking for nothing the similar sky but all that is wiped away when she actually thought that people in AD 70 took pictures of the Colosseum.

      1. Well, stupidity is something we have to live with. Remember, about half of all humans are below average in intelligence. That’s why, in the US, some of the founding fathers were cringing and crossing their fingers when they signed on to Jeffersonian democracy. Some of the smartest people in the world, and that would include most Nobel prize winners in maths and physics for example, do a lot to counterbalance the stupidity. It seems there is an ocean of idiots out there. We should be glad that the supply of geniuses seems continuous, if relatively few in number.

  3. I too admire Bill and Melinda Gates for their philanthropy and other reasons. But like many others, they are flawed heroes. Bill and Melinda are ruthless business people.

      1. I like the fact that he has a conscience. But the additonal fact that Gates caused the world’s computers to be held to ransom every time they were turned on (ask literally any computer nerd what they think of Windows compared to free OSs) means that he deserves only two cheers. But, I’ll give him those.

        1. I get it. I’ve heard this complaint for decades and it’s true; as an OS, Windows is suboptimal. But I’ve also learned that 99% of people don’t give a fat rat’s ass that it is.

          1. 99% of people don’t know anything else so they just accept the bugs as features. (This would apply to any widely-distributed default operating system, but Windows came pre-installed on their PC so…)

            They may gripe about things that don’t work but they don’t know enough to be sure that it isn’t something they’ve done wrong. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they don’t have enough knowledge or confidence to go looking for alternatives. So long as it (kinda) works, they adopt the philosophy of ‘don’t rock the boat’.


          2. I prefer Windows to Mac OS.

            I really (really) don’t want Steve Jobs telling me, in minute detail, how to do my work. Telling me I can’t have arrow keys or delete key; can’t have right button or scroll wheel on my mouse etc., etc.

            (Anyone, not you EdwardM): Please provide an example of an optimal OS.

            What “computer geeks” want is clearly not what the general electronic device consuming public want (that should be obvious).

              1. Exactly — there ain’t any!

                Whenever someone says this is the best X, my response is always: The best for what (purpose)?

                Tool for job. A machine-language editor might be great for a computer geek but useless for almost anyone else.

                I can’t stand Mac OS. But many love it. (I used to! I was a first-gen Mac user, big-time! Remember those (YUGE) 40MB desk-top external HDs?!)

                For me, the cross-over was Win 95. After that, I saw no advantage (for me) in the Mac OS after that. And everyone I interacted with, at home and at work, by that time was on Windows.

                People like to disparage Windows because it has its issues (as do ALL systems) and it is ubiquitous.

              2. Nah. I think it’s personal preference and what you’re used to. I’ve met many people who hate Mac OS because it doesn’t work exactly like Windows. Guess what, it’s because it’s not Windows. So hard core Windows users who are used to knowing exactly how to work the Windows OS, are lost in Mac OS because it works differently. However, the Linux crowd find MacOS a bit more familiar. They aren’e flummoxed by mounting drives when you install software for example.

                Similarly, people just like stuff better. It’s why we have all kinds of cars, and gloves, and computers. Personally, I shifted to Mac OS in 2001 and don’t want to go back to Windows. I simply prefer it.

            1. You can have all those things on a Mac. I’m typing on a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard and using a Logitech thumb trackball mouse with my MacBook Air which is booked up to an HP and an LG monitor (that I found at work because we all scrounge here).

              1. Yes, of course you can add functionality. It was necessary because others led the way on this stuff (like Mac/Apple led the way with GUI, window-driven UI).

        2. I’m a computer nerd and I think Windows is perfectly fine. For most people, it’s a better choice than the Free alternatives.

          Bill Gates had some really questionable policies when he ran Microsoft (in the sense of providing open access rather than good business sense) but also he and Paul Allen created the first BASIC for a microcomputer and a version of it served as the introduction to computing to me and other computer nerds of my generation.

          1. I’m a computer nerd and I do NOT think Windows is perfectly fine. [Omit about 10,000 reasons].

            While Gates and Allen may have created the first Basic for a micro, there were plenty of others. Gates and Allen’s version (which I assume was near identical with the version on early PC’s) was okay, not the worst, not the best.

            No one person or company is responsible for the rise of the PC; if Microsoft had never existed there were plenty of other systems that would have filled the marketplace. I think more credit is due to IBM, even if inadvertently, for making the PC architecture ‘open’.


            1. What do you mean by “early PCs”? Do you mean “early IBM PCs” The history of personal computing starts years before the IBM PC.

              The fact that Allen and Gates were first to port a high level language to a microcomputer is important. Disregarding their contribution because “other people would have done it” is like disregarding Darwin because “other people would have discovered the Theory of Evolution”. The fact that Allen and Gates were first is important because their choice of BASIC as the language was hugely influential. Their success also put them in a position to supply a BASIC interpreter to IBM which in turn led to the opportunity to sell MS-DOS to IBM.

              Talking of Windows (which is an umbrella term covering three different architectures and a number of different versions within each), all operating systems have faults. Those of Windows are not as bad as many people think, and, like it or not, Windows is the OS that brought computing to the mainstream.

              1. When I said ‘early PC’s’ I was referring to Basic as implemented on the IBM PCXT. I assume that’s the version that Gates and Allen wrote and which I’m describing as ‘okay’.

                I won’t get into a fight about the deficiencies of various iterations of Windows, which could rage on forever.


              2. The first microcomputer was the MITS Altair 8800 from around 1974. It’s that computer that Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote their first BASIC interpreter for. They did it, incidentally, without access to an actual Altair. They first wrote an emulator that ran on the Harvard PDP-10 and the first time the BASIC ran on its intended hardware was when they took it to MITS to demo it.

                Microsoft went on to dominate the market for computer languages on microcomputers. Their version of BASIC appeared on machines made by all of the “big three” – Commodore, Apple and Tandy. Microsoft BASIC is what got Bill Gates in front of IBM when they were designing their PC and it gave him the opportunity to sell them an operating system he bought from a local Seattle company. That operating system is MS-DOS.

    1. Non-ruthless people in business generally fail. (I’m not saying all do; but generally. And most of the rest eventually sell out to the big boys or are forced to do so. Check out the recent examples.)

  4. I used to volunteer for an anti-poverty organisation called Results. The Bill Gates foundation gave them money and gradually took over. The management, which was organized bottom up, was replaced by a bunch of business-type hacks who started doing things top down. Everybody hated their guts and volunteers left in droves.

    The trouble with charitable billionaires:


  5. People hate Bill Gates because he’s rich yet nerdy. It’s interesting that people adored Steve Jobs who was rich and didn’t contribute to society like Bill Gates but he was also hip and cool so it was okay.

    I really think it boils down to this.

    1. There may be a bit of the nerd hate going on, but I don’t think that’s where much of this comes from. Anyone paying attention in the 80s and 90s witnessed some brutal business tactics and he has been long reviled for them. In a sense I see his philanthropy as a kind of atonement, though I don’t think that is how he sees it. I think he genuinely wants to do some good. So, like our host, I think that on balance, Gates is fine human being. Warts and all.

    2. Oh, I detest Jobs much more than Gates. If ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ means ‘you give us money, suckers, and we will control everything you do on your device’ then that was Jobs.

      Windows was bad in many ways, (worse a couple of decades ago when M$ was trying to control everything), but now in terms of control-freakery Apple is by far the worst.


      1. My recent experience with Apple:

        The pushed OS 12.4.1 (aka the suicide SW) to my trusty iphone 6. It died within 2 days,m after running flawlessly for 4+ years.

        I went to the Apple Store and, after waiting in their chaotic, noisy, uncomfortable, annoying store for some time, finally spoke to a 20-ish technician person.

        They looked at my phone and (after raising their eyebrows at the advanced age of my –6 (I expected them to call over their colleagues to look at the artifact)) said that I had dropped it in water. My phone had never been wetted at any time. It had been dropped exactly three times, none of which caused any damage; and the most recent of which had been months before.

        They pointed to a small anomaly on the back-facing camera lens aperture in the screen and said, “that tells me it has been in water.”

        I told them never water and they sneered at me (is that part of the training?). Said they would not attempt any repair on it. Said they did not have any SW tools for this phone (are you effing kidding me? you call yourself a technician?). But … “we could be progressive and upgrade to a new phone!”

        I shit you not, direct quote.

        I told them (sorry Dumplin’ but you are simply worthless), maybe it was time for a different brand of phone and left.

        A little research showed that the artifact in the camera was a slipped foam spacer: A known issue with iphone 6 since at least 2015 and covered by warranty. I took a photo of this using a microscope at work and copied some Apple documentation on this issue from the internet.

        My intent was to take it the Apple Store and shown them that they had lied to me; but after talking on the phone (not my iphone, needless to say) to a senior tech (I asked for a manager — forget about that! Apparently they don’t have them — surprise!), and getting the same line of BS, even after I pointed out that I had been lied to, I decided it was not worth my time. Never again, Apple!

        (A la Colonel Kurtz:) The arrogance, the arrogance!

        So, I simply explain and spread this experience as much as I can.

  6. I propose someone begin a “secular sainthood” award to be given to persons/people who are alive and do great humanitarian work. This of course would counteract the silly sainthoods of the Catholic church (Mother Theresa). And the first to receive that award would be Bill and Melinda Gates. (Even though I’m guessing an award like this already exists I love the term “secular sainthood”.)

  7. A civil, moral, voluntary society SHOULD rely on voluntary contributions. Gates has done more than multiple world governments combined. The moral is the chosen not the forced by threat. Gates chose to do what he does and does it by his own judgement without advice from corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. Only mystical statist see this as evil. They assume all wealth is stolen and that average humans are incapable of making proper choices. Gates should only be applauded for doing what he sees fit. I also applaud innovators and creators who craate values that enable humans to flourish whether or not they contribute to charity. Gates is greater than jesus, allah, gandhi, mother Theresa etc. or any other god, prophet or proclaimed mystical do-gooder.

  8. Bill Gates is a nerd made good. What is more hateable than that?

    Also, from Pigliucci’s remark on charter schools, Gates has not toed the liberal line on charter schools. The authoritarian left hates stuff like that.

  9. Massimo’s tweet suggests he has swallowed the Kool-Aid of the current “Cancel Culture.”

    You’ve done some incredible things for humanity? Doesn’t matter, I’ve found a flaw in your character. You are to be DESPISED. Consider yourself publicly cancelled!

    As Jerry said, very strange, all-or-nothing reaction for a philosopher.

    1. …although you could also argue than many philosophers seize on a single idea and make a career out of promulgating and defending it. In my opinion many ‘political’ philosphers provide the best (worst) examples of a one-eyed view of life.

  10. I have never been a fan of the piecemeal, aesthetically uninnovative amalgamation that is Microsoft, nor the lunacy of people who think giants like Gates or Bezos or Zuckerbergs are geniuses. That being said I am a huge fan of philanthropy. And people who cannot see how much, in particular, Gates has done for my species are really deluded.

    Here is a worthwhile read for those not certain that philanthropy competes well with governments:


    Should billionaires be taxed more? Yes. Should they be scorned unfairly when it’s clear they are attempting to solve some problems? No.

  11. There are many shallow people on this earth, too many to count. Certainly many of them are not fans of Bill Gates for some reason or another so it makes them feel good to go on line and submit their gripes. I am just as interested in ignoring them.

  12. If I’m reading this poll correctly, Gates still ranks as one of the most admired people in the US. I think this is a relatively unique phenomenon in America (although I’m just guessing about attitudes in other countries, I could be wrong,) where billionaires are often somewhat beloved pop culture figures. I think it’s worth thinking about why that is – often these are people who have built tremendously valuable services that the average person can’t imagine singlehandedly creating (the average person could likely, for example, see themselves starting a small business – creating Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc., much less so, even though these are extremely valuable companies to many people.) In addition, they are often involved in huge philanthropies. Combined with the fact that unions do not always have the best track record at producing good outcomes in this country (I know that’s a controversial statement, but after growing up in a heavily unionized state and later moving to a right to work state, that’s my impression,) I question how popular ‘eat the rich’ style policies actually are among the average voter.

  13. I cannot speak to the amorphous hatred that seems to target Bill Gates, but I can comment on the poor regard directed his way by many who have dealt with him as a business leader. Gates has willfully engaged in anti-competitive practices and monopolistic behavior. Through these actions he amassed a fortune while destroying the livelihoods of many others. Now, with fortune in hand, he sets priorities for action through his foundation. In many respects, he operates as a feudal lord who is beneficent but ruthless.

    Combining his business behavior with his philanthropy targeting his own priorities, reveals a fundamentally undemocratic autocrat. Yes, we can appreciate the good works he supports but we should not blind ourselves to the illegal (yes, the courts ruled against some of his monopolistic practices) actions that enable him to support those good works.

    1. And what was Microsoft’s monstrous crime? It bundled Internet Explorer with Windows. That would be laughable today. Practically everything in the tech world is bundled. Apple has always bundled its products. So does “don’t be evil” Google. Tesla bundles its software with the car.

      The fact is, Microsoft was too successful so its competitors employed the government to help them. This was a gross misuse of anti-trust policy which is meant to protect consumers, not industry rivals.

      1. I encourage you to delve into the various legal proceedings surrounding the litany of questionable practices Microsoft employed under Gates’ leadership to intimidate, punish and manipulate both retail and commercial supply chains for operating systems. The bundling of IE with windows was a minor blip in comparison to the catalog of abuses which eventually led to anti-trust actions.

      2. No it’s more than that. For example, read this email he wrote in 1998

        From: Bill Gates

        Sent: Saturday, December 5 1998

        To: Bob Muglia, Jon DeVann, Steven Sinofsky

        Subject : Office rendering

        One thing we have got to change in our strategy – allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of
        the most destructive things we could do to the company.

        We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities.

        Anything else is suicide for our platform. This is a case where Office has to avoid doing something to destroy Windows.

        I would be glad to explain at a greater length.

        Likewise this love of DAV in Office/Exchange is a huge problem. I would also like to make sure people understand this as well.

        He’s explicitly telling his staff to make it difficult for other software to read Office documents and to make it hard to interface with Microsoft Exchange.

        There are many examples of anti competitive practices indulged in by Microsoft when Gates was in charge.

        1. Gates’ focus on proprietary technology would have been a bad business decision in this case. He should have seen that restricting the capabilities of Office and Exchange in this way would hurt, not help, adoption. But his memo does not suggest any wrong doing. No company has an obligation to make its products compatible. Most products we buy are proprietary and non-compatible with competing products. Can you use Toyota parts in your BMW?

          1. It doesn’t seem to have been a bad business decision. It and other similar decisions made Gates and other Microsoft shareholders very rich.

            I don’t have a BMW, I have an Audi. However, I don’t have to put special Audi fuel in it or put special Audi tyres on it or even replace other parts with special Audi parts as long as I can find a supplier that makes them to the same spec. My car even has a standard data port that runs a standard protocol for getting diagnostic information out.

            1. I think there’s an apples vs. oranges problem with this.

              Also a thing to consider is product lifetime vis á vis consumer expectation : one consumer might want the latest greatest product, while others look long term, such that, e.g. the formulation of fuel commonly available is no longer perfectly appropriate for the vehicle. Computing consumables don’t seem at all parallel with that.

              I think your point is that manufacturers penalize themselves by hard-wiring consumables to be purchased through the manufacturer themselves. But I think there must be reasons they want nothing to do with such consumables.

          2. I have a BMW. I can buy a whole range of genuine BMW or third-party parts for it from suppliers on the Net.

            Similarly my desktop will accept a wide variety of interchangeable components which have been deliberately designed to be compatible.

            Even more relevant, good software products use defined compatible standards for their (our!) data.


  14. Imagine if, instead of creating the GF, Gates gave the same amount of money to the federal government. Does anyone really think his $20 billion would have done as much good?

    Smart billionaires can use a few billion dollars to change the world in specific ways that governments do not.

  15. If all the billionaires followed the lead of Bill Gates, the world would be a better place. You can of course argue that it would be even better if Gates did such and such, and complain that he doesn’t, but he is way better than most billionaires when it comes to civic duty.

    1. We could do with a few more like him in the UK. Yes, there are some who give a bit of their dosh away; but not nearly enough.

  16. I see no reason to hate someone just because they are rich, any more than to hate them because they are black or female or gay. Everyone should be judged according to what they do, not what they are. It’s very convenient to despise and villify the rich, especially when you want their money. I do not viewing being rich as a crime. Frankly, it’s his money, and he can do what he likes with it.

  17. … splenetic Pecksniff like Pigliucci.

    Nice use of consonance and assonance, boss.

    And an accurate characterization to boot.

  18. Massimo Pigliucci’s argument reminded me of John Cleese stating in The Life of Brian as the head of a terrorist group, after admitting all of the things the Romans had done for them like roads, education, etc., “But what have they done for us lately!”

  19. All well put. I can see a bit why people reacted negatively to Bill Gates’ comment about being heavily taxed. But if he said essentially the same thing while pointing out that he would not want to see all that money go into our bloated military spending, the border wall, and so on, then the reaction could have been far more favorable.

  20. That a leading philanthropist feels the need to temper his words for fear that a thin-skinned and vindictive US president might retaliate by cutting back on crucial foreign humanitarian assistance is just … beyond pitiful.

      1. Even if you are working with a PC crowd and are forced to put a picture or table into a word document? And then try to find which page it ended up on later?

        If I had an answer to Jerry’s original question it would be essentially “because word is so bad”

        1. Echoed.

          My biggest gripe with Word was all the automagic formatting stuff that was on-by-default. So if you had to insert a paragraph into an existing document all sorts of unexpected things would happen. I used to spend ages tracking down and killing all the auto-formatting just to get it under control.

          (And yes, if the document was going to be written into a contract the clause numbering was significant).


          1. Microsoft seems to arbitrarily change the menus and dialog boxes with each new edition, so everybody’s productivity drops until they familiarize themselves with the new layout, only to have the whole process repeat itself in another few years.

      2. I’ll go along with the first part. But when my wife changed to Mac, I’ve started cursing it. (Avoid anything on one which starts with a small “i”.) I’m a Linux man myself.

        1. What distribution do you use? I used macOS myself but, in the course of my work I frequently have to use Linux. While the command line is fine, I don’t think there is a single graphical environment that doesn’t wind me up in the way other people say they are wound up by Windows or macOS.

          1. Do you get to choose the Linux distro and/or the desktop you use, or are you stuck with someone else’s chosen setup? If the latter, then I can understand how you might not like it, someone else’s preferences are always annoying.

            If you get to choose, you should be able to find one you like or that you can easily configure to suit you.

            I run Debian (mostly), I don’t like the look of the current default Gnome desktop at all, so I run the LXDE desktop with a number of tweaks. When I do a version upgrade of Debian it generally does a good job of preserving all my settings.


            1. Do you get to choose the Linux distro and/or the desktop you use, or are you stuck with someone else’s chosen setup?

              For work it is generally Centos or RHL. When I need a distro for my own purposes, I tend to go with the XFCE version of Ubuntu as being semi not irritating.

              If you get to choose, you should be able to find one you like or that you can easily configure to suit you.

              This is actually the root of the problem of Linux I think. Linux is not an operating system, it is a kernel that is used by a number of operating systems which are all different from each other in various subtle and often annoying ways.

              When I log in to a computer running macOS I know exactly how it will behave and where everything is. The same is true of Windows within each major version. If I used Linux on my main machine, I would get used to it and probably be fine. However, if I then go to a random other Linux machine, it’ll be totally different to what I am used to.

              1. Hmm, xfce and LXDE are quite similar.

                I run (Debian) Linux on my own server and laptops, so I’m not faced with using someone else’s setup. Though I’ve also used Linux Mint and Antix occasionally, recently. But I find all of these are near-enough similar – no more different than (most) successive versions of Windows, for example. MacOS I have no idea about.

                I’ve got LXDE set up to (more or less) resemble WinXP (with a few improvements). IMO the ‘best’ version of Windows – when we got upgraded to Win 7 at work, the first thing I did was Google how to set it to ‘legacy’ mode. Then I was happy.

                Some time later I bought a new laptop for my father and set out to install a piece of software for him. It had Windows 8 installed. After a couple of hours of utter frustration – and I have never come closer to throwing a computer out of a window! – I just gave up. If I couldn’t work it my father certainly couldn’t. It went back to the supplier.


              2. ^^^this is why I tried just using what Ubuntu has by default and only changing things if it is essential – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” plus “will I live without it?”. Answer for me : yes. Geek cred : down the toilet.

              3. Windows 2000 was the best version of Windows IMO. WindowsXP is Windows 2000 with a more cartoony UI and support for games. Windows 8 was a serious misstep, although, if you weren’t used to previous version, it was probably OK.

          2. Kubuntu 18.04 on my desktop PC, KDE Neon on my Laptop. The latter are the latest KDE packages on top of the last LTS of Ubuntu.

            I switched from Gnome to KDE in 2010 when Gnome 2 was replaced by Gnome 3 overall, and by Unity in Ubuntu. The Gnome 2 fork MATE matured too late to leave my new home KDE, with which I’m happy ever since. Linux’ mighty command shell is but a singly keystroke away thanks to Yakuake, of course. 🙂

      3. Please see my comment on Diana’s thread at 7.

        Apple? Never again!

        And: Every time I try to figure out how to make any program do what I want it to on my wife’s Mac, I pull my hair out.

        A chaqun son gout.

        1. So you’re claiming Apple’s software is no good based on a hardware fault and a bad customer service experience.

          The majority of mobile phone companies do not provide software updates for their phones when they are 4+ years old.

          1. As I sit here angry about how Word expects you to add page numbers and gave up on having it the way I wanted….and I actually like Word when I’m not absolutely hating it.

          2. Not at all. I was explaining my experience with the arrogance of Apple. And when I tell that story, many, many people nod their heads: They’ve had similar experiences. The word that almost always comes up when I’ve been in discussions about the Apple Store is: Arrogance.

            What they (the Apple staff) exude is the polar opposite of customer service.

            As I said, they call themselves technicians (as opposed to sales people) and they don’t have SW tools for something that is ONLY 4 years old (FFS)? 4 years is not old for a well-designed piece of HW. (I used to help maintain airplanes that were over 40 years old and had flown >60,000 flights: And they “ran like tops”. And there were manuals on how to maintain them.)

            I also have a problem with them pushing suicide SW to my phone. That should be illegal.

            I don’t expect the cell phone service to do that (I do find it a convenience that they sell the HW). But I do expect the hardware supplier to do so, especially since they have retail outlets and claim to have “technicians” and to be a “genius bar” (guffaw!). FFS they make you make an appointment to be serviced in their retail outlet — and then make you wait a half hour past your appointment time (every time I’ve been there — never again).

            I have little experience with Mac OS software except on my wife’s computers and I don’t like it. But that is almost certainly, purely, because I am unfamiliar with it. (I don’t know where to find the functions I want to use. I find the layout of the functions within the menus clunky or illogical. But hey, Apple invented the command key (AFAIK) and I love that functionality.)

            I used the very first version of the Mac and loved it (and many subsequent versions). I was Mac all the way until Win 95.

            All this said, and I intend to give Apple Inc as little of my money as I possibly can, I ended up assimilating with the Borg and got an iPhone 11 (which i do like, once I got used to the new OS and gestures). It was simply the path of least resistance with regard to my notes and stored data (very little; but vital). Now I am backing up everything to other platforms to prevent being in a similar situation in future.

            1. Here you are denying my assertion and then you go on to complain about Apple’s customer service at length.

              Your phone died soon after a software update. Well correlation is not causation. The two events may be related but they probably aren’t since, if it was a general problem with iPhone 6 and that version of iOS, we’d have heard about it and you probably would have been given a free replacement.

              I’m sorry, but your phone was more than four years old and it broke. You also had a bad experience with one particular Apple store and I’m sorry about that too. I, on the other hand have been in Genius bars to get phones repaired (in all cases, because I dropped them) on three occasions and have always received prompt and courteous service.

              I wouldn’t blame you for buying a phone from a different manufacturer but most of them don’t provide software updates for four year old phones at all. And most of them run some version of Android and I have severe trust issues with Google.

              1. I share some details:

                I have an iPhone 6 (A1549) bought new. The OS (updated to the final version about a month ago) reports the battery needs replacement- “Service”. The OS has been applying special power management because of the battery age from maybe a year ago (wild guess). If the power management is disabled, the phone can crash if you do a “simple” thing like go to the camera.

                The screen is cracked too, but it works.

              2. If your battery requires service, the phone will throttle down to try to keep working. If you’re going to keep it, it’s worth replacing the battery and screen and you can do it yourself without too much hardship but Apple can do the replacement as well. Usually the battery is the cheaper. I’m not sure what screen replacements go for these days.

              3. Yeah, I too have had really good experience in Apple Stores so far. I gave my iPhone 6 to my dad 2 years ago but just as I was setting it up, I noticed it had a swollen battery. The phone was way out of warranty so I expected to hear that I’d have to pay full price for a replacement battery, which I was willing to do. However, they told me they’d replace the old iPhone 6 with a refurb one (which is essentially a new phone since it has a new battery & a new case & screen) for the cost of the battery which was $50. So I thought that was pretty good. Mind you, it was partly lucky timing on my part because there was a big kerfuffle about Apple and batteries at that time so Apple probably just said to all staff – replace the phone and be done with it. They easily could have told me to get lost but they didn’t. The recognize bad press is hurtful to them.

                The last time I engaged their services is when I spilled water all over my brand new MacBook Air and had water damage all over the screen. I figured it was a $700 replacement and went in there sad. But I had Apple Care and it covered it with me paying $150 only. Previously, water damage wasn’t covered under Apple Care. I’ve also had my current phone’s battery replaced under warranty with no issues and the service was same day.

                I do hate waiting in there though. I’ve actually complained on review forms that the seats are horribly uncomfortable. However, I always book an appointment because I’d hate to try to get in otherwise.

              4. Well, I don’t want to fight with you; and I think I have made my thoughts pretty clear. And generally agree with you (large picture agree with your posts). I think I addressed the the SW question (maybe not?). I’ll just say this: Milage will vary.

                The: Diana’s comments on batteries: During the kerfuffle on iPhone 5/6 (I think) batteries a couple of years ago, I did the $30 battery replacement — and the new battery wasn’t as good as the original one. But I write this off to the inherently wide performance distribution of batteries.

                Cheers! 😀

              5. Batteries are a mystery to me and I think it does come down to bad QA. Some last for years and have good healthy others totally crap out early. I used to have the same weirdness with hard drives ans still do to a certain extent.

  21. I may not be thrilled with Bill Gates’ business management or practices, but I applaud his magnanimity in directing much of the wealth he has gained thereby to extremely important charitable efforts throughout the world that benefit humanity. Numerous other millionaires have directed their wealth to getting Trump elected and, thereby, have been given positions in his cabinet. I recently read that up to 30% of such positions normally have gone to such people in the past, but 50% have been given such posts under Trump. And some of them, like DeVos, has been donating millions to him for years.

    In re Steve Jobs: there were elements of his management style and behavior that also was
    not considered people friendly. I can’t recall how many suits may have been directed against him in comparison to those directed at Gates. Although, in general, I think Jobs was more successful in getting better products made.

    Bezos, Musk, Zuckerberg and other such wealthy folk do not seem to be devoting as much of their wealth to the kinds of issues Gates is. Two out of three of them have personal goals related to space flight and potential commercial ventures related to that.

  22. Gates Derangement Syndrome is one example of the opposition to private philanthropy that regularly erupts on the authoritarian Left. The underlying principle is resentment of any power to effect public good that is NOT made by specialists like the Special Advisor to the President on Diversity and Equity at Oberlin College, or the head of the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela, or the Peoples’ Commissariat for Education in the old USSR.

    That said, there also remains some resentment of BG for the anti-competitive practices of the company he founded, and for forcing us all to use MicroSoft Word, rather than any of several much superior word processors. I resented this myself for years. However, I became reconciled to the Gates Foundation when its philanthropy funded a University building that brought a public toilet closer to my office.

  23. As a programmer, I disliked Bill Gates for all the crappy software he’s pushed into the world. But his philanthropy partially makes up for that.

  24. I do not know how many people hate Bill Gates. It is not uncommon to see on the internet people claiming to speak for many when they actually just speak for themselves or just a small group. But, there is a larger question here. Should obscenely rich people (who may or may not have gained their wealth by ethical means) be arbiters of how their funds should be expended to promote good causes? Or, through significantly higher taxes on the extremely wealthy, should a presumably democratic government determine how those funds should be expended? If one believes the answer to the first question is “yes” then another question arises: why shouldn’t the entire budget be determined by the rich, who presumably have greater wisdom as to the needs of the “people?” This view at its base is semi-oligarchical and inherently undemocratic. Yes, governments make mistakes and waste lots of money. Still, in an imperfect world, this is better than have major decisions made by a small group of unelected rich people.

    1. My reason for laughing at this is only because of what we are in the middle of at the current time. An elected president extorting a foreign government to benefit himself. Possibly withholding foreign aid to a nation desperate to avoid Russian takeover. Maybe we should just pick one very rich billionaire and let him spend the money wisely without help from anyone.

    2. In “the best of all possible worlds” a truly Democratic government would determine how funds should be distributed without coercion from the wealthy. Despite our beliefs “that all men are created equal”, our country has always been lead and directed by the interests of the propertied and wealthy classes, not the rest of us.

      The wealthy in our government (and those using their wealth to influence U.S. government decisions) are protecting oil elements of the Middle East, the coal, oil, gas, nuclear interests of the U.S. and elsewhere, preventing U.S. aid funds from being used for birth control anywhere thereby increasing AIDS/HIV and promoting population growth. Am I happy with this? NO!

        1. 🙂 the lead bothered me but since I screw up on here so often, I didn’t want to say anything. I’ve been seeing a lot of “lead” when “led” is meant all over the place lately. However, I am homophonophobic so kettle – pot.

  25. I agree—both with your admiration for Bill Gates and with the reasons you suggest for why people hate him. To these I would add that 1) Gates falls into the broad category of things liberals get virtue points for hating, such as Amazon and Walmart and 2) people naturally associate Gates with Microsoft, a company that is anathema to millions of Mac users, despite the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that they all use Word rather than Pages. The near-religious antipathy between users of Mac and Windows operating systems was captured by Umberto Eco in his essay “Mac is Catholic, Dos is Protestant”(1994). It’s well-known, of course, but here are some excerpts worth repeating:

    Insufficient consideration has been given to the new underground religious war which is modifying the modern world. It’s an old idea of mine, but I find that whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me.

    The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ‘ratio studiorum’ of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach–if not the Kingdom of Heaven–the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

    DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revellers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

    1. It may be well known; but it wasn’t to me before now. Thanks for the ref: the excerpt you quote is pretty good by itself!

    2. Not directed at you, just riffing, it cracks me up when people criticize MS for intentionally working to make their proprietary stuff hard to fiddle with and incompatible with other peoples’ stuff. Nobody has done those things better than Apple.

      1. Microsoft has lost many more court cases than Apple has in the areas of antitrust and anti-competition. Microsoft intentionally making Windows 3.1 incompatible with DR DOS was particularly disgusting to those in the software industry – they couldn’t compete on quality so they resorted to dirty tricks.

    3. This War Between Mac Catholics and Microsoft Proddies has been going on for over Thirty Years now. When do we get our Peace of Westphalia? 🙂

      1. I think GNU/Linux users were the ones who objected strongest to Microsoft – and Apple too, I guess. But I think there was something particular to MS that was worse – perhaps someone can correct that suggestion.

        1. The Linux crowd was always hailing the “Year of the Linux Desktop” but it never arrived because the players couldn’t cooperate and they really didn’t understand the desktop market. Many seemed to think a command prompt and X-Windows was all anyone ever needed. I had to laugh when people asked about a Graphical User Interface, to which the response was that there were four or five available and one just had to pick their favorite.

          1. What’s laughable about that? You can go with the default – which has been carefully worked out – or you can choose your preferred alternative. I don’t find it laughable to give the user a choice.

            Heck, even Microsoft realised that not everyone wants to be tied to whatever-it-is-MS-has-dictated-they-use-this-time-round (doesn’t Windows still offer an option to use the ‘classic’ desktop?)

            (FWIW, I’m using LXDE on Debian, configured to look quite like Windows XP as it happens, the nearest to a non-sucky Windows that MS made.)


            1. It was a choice that the market didn’t care about. Only a computer nerd would want to learn about a bunch of GUIs and pick one based on some esoteric criteria. A software guy like me might care but not someone who just wanted to point, click, and type to make documents or jockey spreadsheets.

              Developers of applications that were supposed to work with all the GUIs had it even worse. It divided an already small market, relative to Windows, into tiny islands that sank, never to be seen again. It was absolutely stupid. A classic tragedy of the commons.

              1. You mean, unlike developers for Windows who were faced periodically with the Microsoft “Here’s the new Windows, quite different from the old Windows” diktat? Something MS allegedly did deliberately, with the intention that their own apps (which had been developed with the new version in mind) would have an advantage while the competing software compnies tried to catch up?

                Your statement is nonsense.

                Funnily enough, I have a whole system full of applications that work with any Linux desktop I care to install. The secret is in standards – something Microsoft was notorious for breaking.


              2. Linux works ok now but it lost any chance of playing with the big boys on the desktop decades ago.

                Microsoft didn’t used to embrace standards but they do now. They’ve changed with the times and that’s why they are doing so well.

        2. Because Microsoft had no real competition in the late 90s and early 2000s, they tended to through things at a walk to see what sticks. They also tended to realize sub par software that over time became very good but everyone suffered through those days of buying that stuff. And then the licence model. An onerous, confusing licence model. And software, because Microsoft is mostly a software company (Apple is mostly a hardware company), that couldn’t possibly work on all those different PCs, which was more a bad situation than a fault of MS. It made for a bad user experience.

          Plus for Christ sake, Ballmer who threw chairs like a wrestler in the WWE.

            1. Haha yes “at a wall”. I was using my iPad and it was being a real asshole with autocorrect. I think this is how the singularity will start.

          1. Oh I see yeah the first through should be threw. I think I was thinking about through the wall. This is how my homonyms happen. I think of something related and write the wrong thing. Either that or it was a mess up with autocorrect. I think I read stuff but I think I type it fast enough that it changes is after I read it and I can’t see well enough to notice.

        3. As a longterm Linux user –
          in the past, Microsoft was seen as the major threat because of their constant war against all competition – which included Linux on the PC. Apple wasn’t a factor since it only ran on their own machines (and remember Apple was almost extinct until phones came along).

          Philosophically, Open Source (including Linux of course) tries to be ‘open’ to the user. Windows, though far from ‘open’, is far less closed than Apple, which tries to lock everything down.


  26. Abhorrence of charter schools is an orthodoxy of the left, a litmus test these days. Nonetheless, on the left in Washington State, there are quite a few people–me included– who believe that charter schools can be laboratories for innovation and that they can be done in a way that protects worker rights (ie unionized) and that advances racial and class equality (ie by tailoring selection processes and curriculum to serve kids who aren’t well served by the traditional schooling). –Just to say Gates isn’t alone in that.

    1. I don’t believe that charter schools is an inherently bad idea. I don’t see any reason at all that they couldn’t be done well. I also know that there are excellent charter schools to be found in the US.

      However there are huge problems with charter schools in the US right now. Liars, cheaters and stealers have gamed the system to such an extent that right now it is fair to say that its primary purpose is to rob the public coffers. People that support charter schools should, and I know many do, support tearing down the current federal and state level regulatory systems and replacing them with something that will actually work to enable the quality schools we all want while preventing the poor quality schools created for the sole purpose of suckling as much as possible from the public teat for as little effort as possible. Right now the latter category is far too well representative of what can be expected at a charter school in the US. Right now the way to champion charter schools is to support tearing down and replacing the current corrupt system.

      1. “Right now the way to champion charter schools is to support tearing down and replacing the current corrupt system.”

        But therein lies the problem; ensuring that the charter school system is not corrupt might require so much entanglement with the government that it may be little different than the public system we have. It’s a tough nut.

        1. That is not to suggest I support keeping the corruption in place. That was unclear. I just mean it’s a lot harder thing to do than it might seem.

      2. Private schools have been with us forever. I have to say that I don’t know the difference between private schools and charter schools. But, I can say that I don’t want government funds taken from public education to support charter schools. And, I especially don’t want government funding supporting private or charter religious schools.

        In addition, I would like to see better controls over home schooling which varies from state to state. Some home schooled kids are fortunate enough to receive excellent educations from their parents. Others know very little and can hardly read. (Not to say that this doesn’t happen in public schools also.)

        1. Charter schools are public schools that are run by a company instead of the government. Outsourcing basically. The “charter” is granted by either a county or state public school district. Charter schools do not cost money to attend and are supposed to operate as non-profits. They are supposed to meet standards set by the public school district that grants their charter, but there are all sorts of gaming that occurs. Some charter schools are excellent but many are scams.

          I tend to agree with you though I am not 100% against charter schools in principle. However, it seems to me that a better solution to improve education would be to focus resources on improving regular public schools. The idea of charter schools is to improve education but that has not happened. In some specific cases of course charter schools outperform the local regular public schools, but in other specific cases they are worse. In many cases much worse.

          Meanwhile, corruption is rampant. While most, though not all, charter schools are non-profit a common scheme is a front company that is non-profit that passes all of the government funds to other for-profit companies. There is big money interests in charter schools spending big money lobbying to game the system and this has been going on from the very beginning.

            1. Oh yes, that is the norm. Charter schools do not have nearly as stringent requirements to maintain as regular public schools and oversight ranges from ok to just about nonexistent. Of course it varies regionally.

        2. Here’s a for example.

          My wife is a public school teacher in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

          Her school (is legally required to; and does) provides the special education services for the neighboring, (very) long-standing (and famous), Catholic-church-based private school, that charges tuition that is higher that the in-state tuition for the University of Minnesota (in the same city).

          The special-ed kids from this private school troop one block to the public school to receive their (very expensive — check the staff-student ratios!) services from the public dime.

          Minnesota started the charter school thing. And, while agreeing that it could be done (and undoubtedly sometimes is done) well; the fact is that they underperform versus the (much maligned; but actually most successful social program ever invented) public schools.

          Most of the charter schools popping up these days are ethnically or religiously centered. And they have lower academic standards. Lowering them in favor of “making the students feel more comfortable.” Anyone who thinks this will help those students succeed in the world is deluded.

          1. Thank you both for informing me. What little I knew about private vs. charter schools made them seem almost the same, if not siblings. And, both seemed to compete for funding with public schools. Which never seems to have enough money. Even if public schools work hard to maintain teaching portions of the budget, maintenance of school buildings, etc., deteriorate. And budgets can’t keep up with population changes when some schools need to be closed and others built elsewhere.

            As to Minnesota public schools, what I have seen of them gives me the impression that they are superior to most public schools.

            My education in public schools was eons ago in California when they were among the best in the nation, before Prop 5. I attended one of the best community colleges in the country in the Bay Area. Courses were available there that weren’t available at any subsequent Oregon university I attended, and many of the courses were superior.

            I don’t object to private or charter schools for individuals with particular beliefs or preferences. But, I object strenuously to their siphoning off funding from public schools. Those who don’t want their kids to attend public schools should pay full boat for that preference.

            1. “I don’t object to private or charter schools for individuals with particular beliefs or preferences. But, I object strenuously to their siphoning off funding from public schools. Those who don’t want their kids to attend public schools should pay full boat for that preference.”

              These are my thoughts as well. 🙂

              Prop 13, after a few years, took CA schools from top 5% in the USA to bottom 5%. As the odious Dr. Phil would say, how did that work out for you?

              MN schools are excellent and the district we live is. I graduated 40 years ago from the same HS my son currently attends and it is still superb (nationally).

              Of course this does not come by accident and for free. Our district just approved our school levy (10-year plan levy) by 60% to <40%. 🙂

              1. Sorry. I gave the wrong Prop. number. 13 is correct.

                We left California for Oregon shortly before Prop. 13 passed. My kids were in Palo Alto schools in CA which were excellent. In Oregon, we lived first in Salem and my kids lost about half of their formerly available curriculum there. Later, we moved to the small rural town of Lebanon, and they lost even more. For example, Calculus was still available at Lebanon High School when my oldest child was there. My second child was able to take it, but by then Calculus and another math class were taught by the same teacher in the same room at the same time. By the time my third child wanted to take Calculus, it wasn’t formally available and she arranged to be tutored by her Chemistry teacher.

                At that stage, all students had a rigid set of competencies they were supposed to meet. A student couldn’t take tests to prove they’d already gained that competency. Seat time was required. I could have taken my third child to the local community college, but my husband and I were both working and couldn’t
                arrange it.

                My kids made excellent grades in Palo Alto and Salem. That changed for the two older ones in Lebanon.

  27. Talking of FAT CATS ,my Cat Callie has lost half a Kg in a month ,if she goes on like this there will be nothing left of her .

    Anyway ,back to Gold plated Gates ,are his workers at Microsoft paid well ,is the software produced in America or China ?

    Agreed that he has a say in how his money is spent in his foundation ,he would not get a say if he gave it to the govt .

  28. Talking of FAT CATS ,my Cat Callie has lost half a Kg in a month ,if she goes on like this there will be nothing left of her .

    Anyway ,back to Gold plated Gates ,are his workers at Microsoft paid well ,is the software produced in America or China ?

    Agreed that he has a say in how his money is spent in his foundation ,he would not get a say if he gave it to the govt .

  29. “Because he’s a billionaire” seems a good enough reason to me. Billionaires should not exist. No one “earns” a billion dollars, and no one needs a billion dollars.

    “given that Gates has pledged to give away most of his fortune, and is already doing so,”
    And yet, he keeps getting richer. Odd how this “giving away his fortune” works…

    1. Why should billionaires not exist? And by providing services people willingly pay for, thank you Amazon, how do they not ‘earn’ their money. I think you need to give reasons.

      I voluntarily began contributing to Bill Gates’ wealth when I switched from my elderly Apple IIe to MS-Dos and shortly afterwards to Windows, rather than pay a whole lot more for a Mac.

      I can no longer recall why I switched from Word Perfect to Word, but if I need to replace my ancient laptop, I will almost certainly voluntarily abandon MS Office in favour of Office Libre which is good enough for my needs.

      1. “Why should billionaires not exist?”
        Because no one “earns” that amount of money. And the fact that someone can amass that amount of wealth, while millions live in poverty, is obscene.

        1. Why do you think no one “earns” that amount of money? As but just one example, say a hedge fund manager strikes a deal to keep 15% of profits with a group of private investors and is successful for many years. Did he not earn it? If not, why not?

          And why does the accumulation of “that amount of wealth” have anything do with poverty?

          1. “And why does the accumulation of “that amount of wealth” have anything do with poverty?”

            It’s the standard leftist zero-sum fallacy, i.e. a misguided belief that there’s only a fixed amount of wealth in the world, and if somebody has more of it, it can only be at the expense of someone else. Unfortunately this delusion is depressingly popular now, perhaps because it fosters the belief that we can solve all social problems if we just take all the rich peoples’ money off them. Jeremy Corbyn is the prime exponent of this idea in the UK just now.

            1. The corollary is that if we took all the wealth and distributed it evenly, the world would be a much better place. What they conveniently ignore is that if the wealth is distributed evenly, a very much smaller amount would be available. We need to seek equal opportunities, not equal outcomes. That said, I see no reason for CEO pay to be as high as it is. Those “winners” are not really so much better than everyone else.

              1. So, you’re saying there’s the same amount of wealth in the world there was in, what, 1890? 1917?

                Seems to me that the people who work for MS get paid by MS, do they not? That’s how they feed themselves, pay their rent or mortgage, pay for their kids’ educations. How exactly would they be better off is MS suddenly ceased to exist?

                Seems to me that the people who buy MS products do so because they enhance their life in some way, do they not? How exactly would they be better off is MS suddenly ceased to exist?

                Exactly who is being robbed by MS?

                (I agree that the income tax rate for the rich should be higher. But your logic is not holding together here.)

              2. I have to add that I know a few people who have worked for MS and it’s one of the best companies to work for. I’ve visited their local campus a few times as well and their employees are exactly the kind of people I love working with: innovative, engaged, smart. They have excellent leadership programs and they pay well. I just can’t see this as exploitation. I’d be pretty happy working for them and probably would if I lived closer to their campus.

              3. This is a straw man argument. Wealth has increased, but only a few people got most of it, and not because they “earned” it, not in any meaningful sense of the term. Wealth has increased, but so has inequality.

              4. I don’t understand how it’s a straw man argument

                It might be a weak argument, and it might be me, but I don’t see a straw man.

          2. Someone working 80 hours per week and earning 5000 dollars an hour would need almost 50 years to get to 1 billion (and Bill Gates has more than 100). This shows how ridiculous it is to claim anyone can earn that amount of money.
            Bill Gates could end homelessness in America and still be a multi-billionaire. I’d say this has a lot to do with poverty.

            1. But work has no intrinsic value in itself. It’s what you produce with that work. Bill Gates produced stuff that people want and is therefore valuable.

              Furthermore most of Bill Gates’ wealth comes from owning stuff (Microsoft stock) that has gained value over the years through his efforts and those of his employees (who have also benefited through salary and share options). It seems to me that, while it is not earned in the sense you mean, it is also not necessarily undeserved.

              1. All employees presumably had something like stock options on something of an equitable scale.

                It’s also about risk – everyone risks their money. If the company does great, risk is rewarded. If someone didn’t invest, and the company does great, that’s their loss.

            2. So, don’t reward people for being successful? I’m sure that will work perfectly with human psychology.

              Or should you be appointed as “the decider” on what is the “right amount” for people’s compensation? (I think we ran that experiment from 1917 to 1989. I rode a bicycle across the former East Germany in 1992. The results were pretty clear.)

        2. I agree billionaires ‘should’ not exist. But they do, and not all of their fortunes are ill-gotten. And when they do I’d rather have one like Mr Gates who pumps back a lot of his fortune into the good causes.
          Mr Gates gives back to society, especially to those that heed it most. Kudos to him.
          Jerry is right here, immo.

          1. Let’s say conditions changed so billionaires didn’t exist – who in the population would then be the grossly over-enriched, and in what way?

            If pathologies are unavoidable for any system, how do we know billionaires are the worst of all pathologies?

            Though it’s easy to hear denigration of the rich, I never hear an assurance that a different system will never produce new pathologies that have to be remedied.

            1. Many moons ago, as a student, I was taught that if all the wealth in the world was redistributed equitably, that it wouldn’t be very long before there was wealth imbalance again.

              There are numerous ways other than money to hold some people down and others up. Cultural inequities. Job inequities. Wage inequities. Racial/color inequities. Religious inequities. Etc.

          2. Of course, BG is a good billionaire. I’m worried too about those who are not…the baddies…like The Donald and the Koch brothers. They are actively working to destroy the planet. How can that be justified?

    2. The Labour Party’s shadow chancellor here in the UK, John McDonnell, made an election campaign speech on the subject of billionaires today. He claims that someone on the national minimum wage would need to work for 69,000 years to earn £1 billion, and that it would take a newly qualified nurse working for the NHS 50,000 years to earn that amount. I’m no fan of McDonnell, but I personally find it hard to disagree with his description of this situation as “obscene”. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/18/john-mcdonnell-to-attack-100bn-tax-giveaway-to-uks-billionaires

  30. Excellent points, especially that at present, the US government is too invested in “defense” (wars, etc).

    I disagree though with conflating criticism of billionaires, charity, and Sanders or Warren. Unless they singled someone out, I think they say that something is not right that billionaires own incomprehensible sums of money, while others barely get by with several jobs. I take this mean that there’s a problem with the system and taxes, not about whether Bill Gates or some other individual is a bad person. Taxation of the super rich is historically low, which Trump made worse.

    1. I hope this is what they mean. But saying “free everything” is probably not the best way to present their ideas.

      (Trump’s “tax cut” was the biggest tax increase of my life (I’m in my late 50s).)

    1. In this case it is poorly placed, but the term does have its uses. There was a book, which appears to have sunk without a trace, called “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” by Thomas Frank that pretty much sums up the kool-aid drinking nature of party affiliations of many of the American rural poor and working class.

      In this instance, the phrase is apt. There are many more.

    2. Especially when, as far as I know, the term derives from the mass suicide (or perhaps part mass murder, part mass suicide) at Jonestown in British Guiana may years ago.

      1. Yes, the victims were brain-washed. When you accuse someone of “drinking the kool-aid” you are saying they are brain-washed. That should be used sparingly, IMO. PCC is anything but brain-washed.

      2. Actually, many sources have confirmed that it wasn’t Kool-Aid that the members of the People’s Temple in Jonestown drank but a rival brand named Flavor Aid, made by Jel-Sert. You can fact-check it.

        1. They didn’t want the Kool-Aid man crashing through their walls and witnessing all the painful convulsions.

  31. It is not immoral to be a billionaire.

    It IS immoral for a society to allow billionaires so long as there is poverty.

    On Gates deserving to be despised: You are right. Pigliucci is wrong.

    On science broadly construed: Your semantics preference is useful. Pigliucci’s semantics preference is useless.

    On billionaires’ taxes: Warren is right. Gates is wrong, by his own previously stated political philosophy.

    When people argued that we can not trust the government with the power to unlock people’s I-Phones, Gates took the government’s side arguing that we need to fix government so that we CAN trust them to unlock our I-Phones. This is the same counter to the argument that we can not trust the government to do the right thing with our tax dollars. If Gates were philosophically consistent he would say that we need to fix government so that we CAN trust them to do the right thing with our tax dollars.

  32. From CNN today, it seems Gates is also investing in technology that might help us crack our fossil fuel addiction. If it’s an investment I guess he may make (a lot of) money. Do I care? If it contributes to a habitable planet for our descendants, no.


  33. I understand why some people feel negatively toward Bill Gates. I don’t share that point of view, but I do think I know where it comes from.

    BTW, I’ve followed Bill Gates for his entire professional career. I owned an Altair Computer when BG and Paul Allen were creating their Basic implementation on it. I was also implementing a C compiler on CPM-based personal computers when Microsoft was doing the same. Later, I licensed my company’s main product to Microsoft for use with Microsoft Office. I only met BG briefly at a reception so my knowledge is not based on any one-on-one relationship.

    I recently watched the IQ^2 Debate “Is Capitalism a Blessing”. I highly recommend it.


    One of the debaters mentioned Bill Gates and I echo their sentiment, but don’t agree with it. They felt that although BG gave a lot of money to good causes and takes an active role in them, he still gets to decide how the money is spent and it is not a democratic process. I think people resent that about Gates. They kind of think of Gates somewhat as they regard Exxon, say, spending millions on laudable causes just for PR purposes. They see this as a threat to their wealth redistribution message.

    1. You just reminded me of something I would say, especially after reading all this gas about Bill Gates. On his worst day at Microsoft he would not come close to the oil and gas industry that has run the country for the past 100 years plus. Anyone who would think this does not know much. For the most part people are ignorant of our oil and gas industry. Take a read on a new book just out by the name of Blowout. It just might wake up the woke.

      1. Absolutely! Good point. Not to mention the pharma, insurance, health care markets. Tech companies were always way more transparent.

        Still, we should fix all of them. The problem, as I see it, is not the players but the government which sets the rules of engagement. The most abuse by far is not done by breaking the rules but playing within them. It’s the rules that need to change.

  34. Despite his flaws, Bill Gates is a better human being than other billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg. Bezos in particular is a plague on humanity. He’s made his fortune by crushing his competitors, treating warehouse workers like slaves, and allowing copyright infringement to flourish unchecked on Amazon. Zuckerberg, on the other hand, has raked in billions by collecting personal data from Facebook users and snooping on their web-browsing habits. Ditto for Sergey Brin and Larry Page. From a moral standpoint, there’s no way that Bill Gates is worse than this collection of robber barons.

  35. To bring things around full circle, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are also in favor of cutting military spending, especially on expenditures such as bombers that are never used.

  36. Hate is the answer.

    Gill GAtes only gives that much money to charitybecause he knows he is hated, and by so many.

    If anything, we should hate him more.

        1. I suspect that the more he gives, the less people hate him, because of his good deeds.

          But if we want him to keep giving, we have to keep the hate alive.

          Focus, people !

  37. I think the people who “hate Bill Gates” actually just hate capitalism. Gates is a successful capitalist which makes him a symbol of capitalism, and easy to hate by such people. Along with every other successful capitalist.

    1. Believe me, at least in my personal case, but I suspect it is the rule, it’s the Microsoft products, nothing else.

      I do not know anything about most of the other billionnaires and I never think about them.

      1. Really, Damien? You hate Bill Gates because you hate Microsoft products? I doubt he is anything to do with contemporary MS products. Shouldn’t you be hating Satya Nadella?

            1. Damien just *told* you his reason for disliking Bill Gates – Gates’s role in pushing Microsoft software on consumers. Whether it’s a grudge or not, it is related to software and not to capitalism.


              1. I know what he told me, thank you. I just find it strange that anyone would hate someone because you don’t like a product. If your Prius breaks down, do you hate Kiichiro Toyoda?

              2. As it happens I hate Priuses, they’re complete crap to drive, IMO. *IF* Toyota was busy manipulating the market so you could only buy a Prius, and *IF* this was being actively directed by Toyoda personally, *then* I would hate him. But these circumstances don’t exist and are unlikely to ever apply in the automotive world, since cars don’t have to inter-operate, just avoid each other.


            2. I’ve read Stallman and Raymond, and I like to think I understand them. But if their kind of software is so good, why isn’t the whole world preferring it? I really worked hard to keep using pine, then alpine, but gave up! I don’t even think pine/alpine would have been their kind of software anyway…

              Emacs is a different story.

              1. “if their kind of software is so good, why isn’t the whole world preferring it?”
                I think you need to better define ‘their kind of software’. Do you mean just ‘GNU’ applications, or do you mean ‘open source’ in general?

                I agree that Stallman is a lot more ‘purist’ than most of the Linux world.

                Anyway, I should point out that every one of the top 500 supercomputers now uses some flavour of Linux. ( See top500.org )
                Android is based on Linux and is open source. So is Google’s Chrome OS.

                That’s a fair chunk of the world right there 🙂

                If you’re talking about just desktops, then I would say the reason Windows predominates is Microsoft’s marketing power (in getting Windows pre-installed), availability of software (there is a huge variety of apps available for Linux, but an even bigger range for Windows), legacy applications from when Windows was the ‘only desktop in town’, and many specialised apps are written only for Windows.

                But it seems even Microsoft is playing nice with open source now – e.g.


              2. Good points

                But still, there is a company selling it. Apple also took, AFAIK, a free kernel (BSD?) and now sells it. I thought Stallman – but not Raymond- was fundamentally against this.

                If we start carving up the software into all different licenses and such,….

                I think a confusing factor is how companies develop their “brand” – and FSF, GNU/Linux are not doing that, really. But this is far removed from the software itself.

              3. Part of the reason the whole world isn’t using Linux is it’s nature as Open Source. Now whenever I say this a bunch of people lose their shit on me because they think I’m suggesting open source low quality, which I’m not, so let me just say read the rest of what I’m about to say, which is factual, before freaking out and screeching at me.

                When I worked in Corporate IT, any use of open source software to be used in any application had to be approved by Legal. This is because the Open Source licence requires that you share your changes and commercial enterprises don’t want to share their innovations because this is how they make money. So, a Legal review was necessary.

                This may not explain the entire reason for the lack of full scale Linux adoption but it most likely makes up for some of it.

              4. Thyroid Planet – apparently Apple MacOS is free and open source (according to the Wikipedia page). Or parts of it are, anyway, I know nothing of Apple OS’s. Some of it may be their own proprietary code, or based on Unix licences. So long as they provide the source code to those parts of a work which are derived from open-source (GPL’d) code, that’s entirely legal. It is absolutely in accordance with the GPL licence to sell GPL’d software (Red Hat does, for one) so long as you provide the source code with it. Or to copy it, or to give away free copies.

                Diana – Oh, I agree with you. Legal paranoia in the corporate world. I came up against that with our IT department. NOT that they *ever* made any changes to any software, nor did they understand that it is perfectly within the GPL license to change software as much as you like for your own use and you never have to release the source code unless you give(/sell) the software to somebody else. I’m sure they were getting a healthy dose of FUD from Microsoft shills.
                But the other thing they were obsessed with was the bean-counter-pervasive idea that they had to *buy* software from somebody, that way if it didn’t work or it did something nasty, they could make the supplier fix it (seriously. Like they had never read a commercial software licence 🙂


              5. There are lot of reason for IT departments to be scared of open source software. It can be a big liability if you ever want to sell the company. The purchaser may found out that you don’t actually own your products much.

                There’s also the feeling that one can’t do better than free. Nowadays, IT departments are better at evaluating costs beyond initial acquisition.

              6. @Paul – that only applies to companies whose product is software. For any other company, whether a service industry or a utility (which I was in) or an airline or a manufacturer, it’s irrelevant what operating system it uses to keep track of its accounts or write its memos. And a vast number of companies whose products use imbedded processors use e.g. Linux precisely because it means they don’t have to write the whole operating system from scratch themselves.


              7. @infinite… Every company these days is pretty much a software company. Many products have been built from what started out as an internal project. Companies clearly like to own their stuff and open source can be an obstacle. This is true even for embedded software. That said, it is not the only concern and I don’t want to overstate my point.

  38. I only hate Gates when I have to re-learn some Windows task because it’s changed yet again. Otherwise, I have a lot of respect for a guy who tries to mirror Mr. Spock (at least in science). Personally, I’ve always hated Steve Jobs (and the weird worship of all thing Apple). He seemed like an arrogant bastard (RIP).

    1. Yeah, I agree. Jobs treated his daughter, his daughter’s mother, and his business partners inconsiderately. Unfortunately, founding a successful company seems to absolve people of all sin in America.

    2. He was an arrogant bastard (with everything those word carry). Brilliant; but an arrogant bastard.

      Which is NOT why I dislike Apple.

      Though I can still hear the echoes of Jobs rattling his chains …

  39. Curiously absent from all of these comments, is any mention of the fact that Bill Gates and Microsoft have immeasurably increased the productivity of office workers worldwide through their products. That Gates is worth billions and MS worthy nearly a trillion is testament to the fact that he/they created and bestowed MORE VALUE to us than that trillion. What lefties can’t fathom is that Gates’ billions are but a very, very small fraction of the value he and his company have created for the world. Elizabeth Warren and other anti-liberals should be sending him thanks for those contributions even if he had spent not a penny on philanthropy.

    1. Curiously absent from all of these comments, is any mention of the fact that Bill Gates and Microsoft have immeasurably increased the productivity of office workers worldwide through their products.

      That’s pure speculation. It’s entirely possible software would have been much more productive without Bill Gates’ influence on the industry.

      1. What’s more speculative: 1. that the value was created (as evidenced by his wealth and MSFT market cap, all via consensual transactions) or 2. that others might have done a better job (which is based on your say-so)?

        1. Not all the transactions are consensual. If you buy a PC today, it will almost certainly come with a copy of Windows installed, for which you have to pay (i.e. it’s bundled in the price). I don’t know if it is still true today, but there was a time when, if you didn’t want to use Windows, you couldn’t get the money back with the majority of manufacturers.

          There was even some evidence that Microsoft was putting pressure on manufacturers to make this happen.

          1. If you buy a dell desktop you can choose your operating system—Windows 10, Linux or Chrome. And the price varies with the OS you choose. I expect it is the same with other PC retailers.

      2. I completely agree with the sentence “It’s entirely possible software would have been much more productive without Bill Gates’ influence on the industry.”.

        Software induced productivity increase was bound to happen. It could have happened with better software and it could have been more.

        1. OF COURSE, it’s entirely possible that it could have been. Yet, it’s also entirely possible that it wouldn’t have been. And for this you hold Gates responsible instead of all the software developers that did not produce better software? Interesting.

          Maybe he did a really good job for the time. So much so that billions of people voluntarily traded billions of their own dollars, yen, rupees and koruna for his products. Sounds like a win to me. What’s so wrong with that?

        2. I agree with this in general though it is completely hypothetical to imagine such “better software”. Many of the products touted by the anti-Microsoft crowd were complete garbage compared to Microsoft’s products. They weren’t flawless by any means, just better than all the others in their category.

      3. I completely agree with the sentence “It’s entirely possible software would have been much more productive without Bill Gates’ influence on the industry.”

        Software induced productivity increase was bound to happen. It could have happened with products of a bette quality than Microsoft’s. It would likely have been more.

      4. I agree that comparing what-if scenarios is not a productive activity. However, I do think Microsoft makes good products in general. Most of the negative sentiment about their products always seemed to me to either people generally bitching about the software they spend so many hours using or griping by competitors.

        About the only thing that Microsoft has ever been guilty of, IMHO, is aggressive marketing practices. For example, they definitely deserve derision and penalties for their attempt to smother web browser competition.

        1. It was beyond “aggressive” marketing practices, it was illegal. The way they beat down DR DOS (a superior product, IMO) was particularly disgusting. Eventually, MS paid 280 million for that dirty deed, but the damage was done.

          It’s a common story in America: massive company smashes smaller competitor with underhanded actions.

          1. Perhaps, but recall that MS was a really small fish in 1985, Amazon didn’t exist at all until 1996 and are giving Walmart (1962) a real run for their money, etc.. So it’s it perhaps more true that innovation displaces established incumbents at least as often?

            Sears? Woolworth? Chrysler? IBM? Bueller?

            1. recall that MS was a really small fish in 1985

              The event in question was in the early 90s, and MS was very dominant in the PC world at that time.

            2. Microsoft was never an innovator. They purchased QDOS from Seattle Computer Products and called it MS-DOS, they copied the desktop (Windows) concept from Mac OS, and in possibly their most anticompetitive move ever destroyed Netscape by bundling their atrocious Explorer browser — among many other abuses. They were notoriously late to grasp the importance of the Internet and of smart phones.

              1. Microsoft was never an innovator.

                Yes, that’s another thing that irked people about MS, that they could become so dominant without innovating. (I give them credit for MS Word, though. That was one of their few impressive pieces of software.)

              2. I recall the late 90s/early 2000s Simpson’s episode where MS buys out Homer’s business by breaking all his stuff.

      1. Why do you say he did not create that value? Is organizing a workforce not an enabling process that allows for that value creation? Does that have no value? And why do you say his workers were exploited? So many unfounded assertions!

        1. I think BG certainly deserves much credit for the company he built and their products. He was a very hands-on manager. Sure, his workers also contributed but he definitely deserves praise for his company and product leadership.

          1. Irrelevant anecdote: It’s true that billg was a very hands-on manager. He not only managed things at the level of product design or marketing or business strategy, but personally reviewed code-level architectures and API designs.

            It’s a little-known fact that although Bill looks like a friendly guy (and probably is), people were understandably apprehensive about having to submit to a billg review. You could gauge how positively he thought about your design based on the number of “fuck”s that came out of his mouth during the review. There were always some, but you’d hope it wouldn’t get too far into the double digits…

            1. Sure but that’s actually a good thing. If his judgements were often harsh and people still queued up to work for him, then his judgements were also deemed fair. He had their respect.

              Microsoft did their share of innovation but their greatest strengths were knowing what the mass market was looking for and good engineering.

      2. I’m not feeling charitable (pun intended).
        Are all your posts on other issues also the same.
        Just post once, and then forever refer to that post as ‘see above’.
        Capitalism, exploitation, opium of the masses, wealth, poverty, obscene…
        We get it…now tell us in your own words, without hate, what you really think.
        (It’s early here in Melbourne, and I haven’t had my wake-up coffee. So I’m grumpy. I probably agree with much of Daniele’s philosophies…but am just angered/bored/insulted/wearied by the simplistic superficial binary non-arguments…)
        Also, apologies if this is too personal. To balance the ledger, I’m as uninteresting and unintelligent as an evangelical christian discussing the non-existence of animal souls.
        Further apologies to all evangelical christians…
        …and animals…
        Ah, espresso with a nice crema…now I love everyone.

    2. Curiously absent from all of these comments, is any mention of the fact that Bill Gates and Microsoft have immeasurably increased the productivity of office workers worldwide through their products. That Gates is worth billions and MS worthy nearly a trillion is testament to the fact that he/they created and bestowed MORE VALUE to us than that trillion. What lefties can’t fathom is that Gates’ billions are but a very, very small fraction of the value he and his company have created for the world. Elizabeth Warren and other anti-liberals should be sending him thanks for those contributions even if he had spent not a penny on philanthropy.

      I think it comes down to how much a person believes, intuitively, in the politics of Animal Farm vs. the possibility of an egalitarian utopia. Not to say it’s a stark dichotomy, I think it’s likely a spectrum of intuitions.

      I tend to think that someone will inevitably rise to the top and, that being the case, we are far better off as a society if those people are tech nerds who create useful products as opposed to kleptocratic thugs or warlords or even just swollen beuqacratic institutions. (And for those who would say someone like Gates is a kleptocratic thug, I would say, look at the big picture of the world and what labels like that mean in many places. Bundling products is a far cry from owning the police and having your enemies killed.) That may seem like an obvious point but I think it sometimes gets lost when politics simply center around who has money, and not the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of them having that money. Can we say that someone like Bill Gates absolutely earned his money in terms of sheer value produced? I think that’s too ethereal and hypothetical to really quantify. Can we say that it is far better for the richest people in a society to have earned that money by creating something new and selling it on the free market than via nepotism, corruption, force, or so many of the other ways that wealth historically accumulates? I think the answer to that is yes.

  40. In the first place, very few people “hate” Bill Gates, as very few people actually know Bill Gates well enough to formulate an opinion.

    Bill Gates is a symbol, and his “haters” hate what that symbol represents.

    No matter how well you are paid for your time, wages are inherently limited by the amount of time you can work.

    The wealth that Gates has acquired could never be assembled simply by wage labor, it is the result of something else, specifically a private monopoly. No doubt Gates was very clever and very lucky and worked very hard, but at the end of the day, he is a monopolist operating a toll booth that everyone who owns a PC has to pay off if they want to pass through.

    Why do people “hate” monopolists? Perhaps because they recognize that they are being ripped off by virtue of a structural feature of certain markets. We can invert it, once it was recognized that Microsoft was going to be running a singular toll booth that every PC would have to pay to pass through, the Government could have nationalized it or regulated it like a utility and Mr. Gates would not be so wealthy today.

    On the other end, philanthropy is a way to tax shelter money. Sure, it is supposed to do some good, but you can look at all the Koch money which has just been used essentially to lobby and propagandize people to support politics that helps the Koch’s business. You have monopolists, vulture capitalists and the rest making obscene fortunes, and then using philanthropy to avoid taxes and influence politics to favor monopolists and corporate liquidators.

    As far as what happens when a narrow elite swells with the ranks of monopolists, liquidators, and junk bond traders, while the masses experience a decline in wages, life expectancy, the quality of public services and a degraded standard of living, just look at what happened to all the greedy elites in Venezuela. People may “hate” Bill Gates, but if the American leadership doesn’t step it up, there really aren’t going to like it when we get our Chavez or our Castro or our Lenin.

    If we continue on the mindless roll out of neo-liberalism, thirty years from now, Trump will look like a moderate.

  41. So if Pigliucci were chosen for a generous endowed professorship established by Gates, would he turn it down because he hates Gates?

    I don’t know why some people hate Gates, but it sure is their problem, not mine.

  42. I don’t hate Bill Gates now, though (as a long-time Linux user) I certainly had ample reason to hate him in the past when Micro$oft was resorting to every dirty trick in the book to attack the competition. Currently Microsoft seems to have reformed somewhat and besides, Gates is longer identical with Microsoft.

    (Currently I dislike the Apple philosophy far more).

    I will certainly give him credit for his philanthropy, which he doesn’t have to do, while at the same time pointing out that he is in a position to do so only through questionable business practices in the past – his mega-millions were made by a form of extortion from captive Windows users. But that was then, this is now.


  43. I disliked MS & Windows for my entire professional career, and vastly prefer Apple products because they are better. Nonetheless, Bill (& Melinda) Gates is not only the most generous philanthropist, but the most effective. He has applied his business skills and intellect to ensure that his money is accomplishing goals that he thinks are worthwhile. Well done to Bill & Melinda!

  44. Several additional thoughts:

    1. Paul Allen, partner of Bill Gates, also has been philanthropic, although, perhaps, not at the level of Bill Gates. Why is he not hated also?

    2. Why is Steve Wozniak not tarred like Steve Jobs?

    3. How many of you are old enough to have been around when giant IBM computers were the only ones available? How many of you were self taught in computer processing because there were no schools, no standards, no personal computers yet? How many of you remember the many different personal computers that came and went (I have an old Compaq I can sell you)? How many of you remember having to use programming language to process anything on personal computers?

    I haven’t read a history of these events, but my husband was a programmer, systems analyst and manager from the IBM 60s into the 80s – 90s. I observed all that. Despite all the people and issues we find fault with, we are much better off now, regardless of how the wealth has been distributed.

    1. I’ll try and answer some of those.

      With Microsoft, Bill Gates was much more prominent than Paul Allen, therefore Gates took much more of the flak for Microsoft’s misdeeds (in the way of trying to destroy the competition).

      With Jobs and Woz, Woz had the image of being the techy geek. Jobs was the visionary who drove the company in his chosen direction – and often that direction was the wrong one. Woz was identified with the Apple II line, which was the original foundation of the company, while Jobs went off on his more publicised but near-disastrous Mac line.

      In answer to 3, yes. My preferred home computer was a BBC Model B and its successors up to the A5000. At work (I’m an engineer) I recall the tedium of trying to get documents printed out on the payroll department’s mainframe printer via a remote terminal in batch mode. When we finally got a IBM PCXT with a dot-matrix printer attached, I wrote and printed out a few pages as a trial, proved it worked, logged into the hated mainframe terminal, selected ‘change password’, closed my eyes and banged a few keys at random, thus locking myself out of the mainframe forever. 🙂


    2. >> 2. Why is Steve Wozniak not tarred like Steve Jobs?

      I’ve often said that Steve Jobs’ greatest talent was being best friends with a genius.

    3. Some people in Seattle hate Bill Allen. He’s done his arrogance dance in some places.

      But he, like Woz, was not the front man.

      Woz wasn’t an arrogant bastard like Jobs. Both were brilliant (Jobs certainly was).

      3. My first computer experience was on a YUGE teletype with a 300-baud (yes, 300, not 3K or 300K) modem that you stuck a rotary phone handset into. It had 1-inch paper punch-tape for recording your programs.

      My first computer class at university, we used punch cards. Actually all my uni classes until about senior year.

      At my first “real” job, I ran a PDP 1170, where we communicated to it with teletypes, wrote in FORTRAN, and changed out the 1/2-inch mag tapes and (USA clothes-washer-sized) disc drives ourselves; and which took up about 1000 square feet of office space and had to be on an elevated floor for the cooling equipment and the cabling. The printer was green-bar paper, courier font only and you had better like it.

      At my job before my current employer, I was still communicating with an IBM mainframe using a terminal emulator on a Win XP PC.

      Yes, I am a dinosaur.

  45. “Gates want his bucks to be used where they have the biggest bang: in poor countries” – that would be ‘defense’ money then, if we look at recent US history!
    Anyway, he is twice the man the Jobs was…

  46. Bill also co-wrote a paper on the pancake problem.

    Still haven’t looked it up, but read about it in Simon Singh’s book.

    1. “More” is vague. They do pay more. They have a higher rate and pay that on higher income. The proportion of personal tax paid by the wealthy is at or near peak levels.

      Second, your lower tax chart is very misleading. Those who claim “more” point to high marginal rates earlier in the country’s history without mentioning that the top rate kicked in at today’s $3.8mn (as opposed to low hundred thousands today) and that much more was deductible back then: any number of homes or any and all real estate losses, interest on credit cards and auto loans, etc… The rich have seen their rates lowered but they pay a greater share than they did before. On net, as the rate fell, the deductions were slashed leaving the impact about neutral (that was the great tax bargain of the early 80s). Total tax as a share of GDP was about flat before and after those rate cuts.

      Regardless, why don’t we cut spending first, before demanding more of citizens’ incomes? Unless you think there is nothing that can be cut because the gov does only what it necessary, authorized by our constitution and perfectly efficiently. Isn’t $4.5 trillion dollars enough? It was only $2.8 trillion as recently as 2007.

  47. Bill Gates also helped develop products that literally changed the world and how everyone does everything. Who begrudges success? Microsoft’s products have created probably millions of jobs. And then he took that success and shared it globally. That sounds like a liberal ideal. Warren and Sanders just sound whiny and feeble.

    1. “Microsoft’s products have created probably millions of jobs.”

      I disagree. If Microsoft had never existed, there were plenty of other software companies with products just as good (and in some cases better) that would have filled the gap in the market. You might as well have said “General Motors products have created millions of jobs” – nope, Ford, Chrysler and American Motors would just have filled the gap, seamlessly.


        1. I didn’t resent Gates for being successful, I resented him for his company’s aggressively anti-competitive moves and for some of the glitches in their software. Remember at one point Microsoft virtually monopolised the desktop computing market.

          But the statement I disagree with is that Gates ‘helped change the world’. He played a part but so did thousands of others, and Microsoft were not the leaders in development of anything, really. As someone stated above, Gates and Allen wrote one of the first Basics for microcomputers. Say that’s worth a million dollars. The rest of his billions came from being a smart businessman, not a computer pioneer.


  48. As soon as we start talking about the morality of an individual we have stopped thinking. Instead we should ask what set of policy positions lead to the existence of individuals like this, what are the effects of those policies and are they desirable. There is a case to be made for not fawning over the wealthy because of their donations as that reduces you capacity for analysis. To replace the fawning with hate may be equally deluded but is typically a pose to counter the overwhelming deference.

  49. Charitable giving is something that most people do to some extent, though some much more than others We give money and sometimes assistance in kind to causes that we admire or believe in. This becomes ‘philanthropy’ when the giver is hugely wealthy and the size of the gifts involves more than a few zeroes on the cheque, although as a proportion of overall wealth it may be substantially less than the smaller donations made by Joe Shmoe.

    It is argued above by some that the philanthropic spending by smart millionaires is preferable to that by the government because it is better targeted and can do more good. That is somewhat contentious, surely? Some philanthropists certainly do target their money effectively and genuinely for the common good and I believe that much of the spending by the GF can be recognised as doing this but this is not the case for all philanthropy. A great deal is largely about self aggrandisement – getting a wing of this or that art gallery named after you for example with relatively little public benefit. Other philanthropic activity is about the giver pushing their particular political or religious agenda; on this blog it might be pertinent to mention the example of John Templeton for example. In science philanthropic funding comes with strings attached that are not necessarily beneficial to the advancement of knowledge – see here for a view on “Sugar-daddy science” http://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/09/problem-sugar-daddy-science/598231/

    Of course people should be allowed to donate to causes they believe in however rich they are and we have to accept that one person’s good cause may not be something we would support ourselves. However, I do not think that philanthropic activity should be taken as an argument as to why the very wealthy should not be expected to pay their share in taxes. It is certainly the case in the UK and I expect also true in the US that the ultra wealthy have for more opportunity to shield their wealth from the tax collector than less wealthy people and as a result end up paying a significantly smaller proportion of their earnings in tax than the poor and moderately well-off.

    Of course none of us agrees with everything that our governments spend money on and it is also true that government spending is not always efficient or effective. Exactly the same is true of philanthropic spending but the difference is that in a democratic society we have the opportunity to change our elected representatives if we believe they are spending our money poorly.

  50. There is also Gates’ role in the American adoption of Common Core, which has not heralded in the new age of scholastic achievement:


    Granted, the link is pretty far left, but I think all this stuff is in the public record if the MSM wanted to notice the conflicts of interest at work in corporate “philanthropy”.

    1. Therefore, we should take Gates’ money and give it to the governments who have made American K-12 the envy of the world. I’m sure government employees are as pure as the driven snow in their selfless drive to serve their fellow countrymen. I can’t think of any other reason presidential campaigns cost $1bn nowadays. Service has gotten so expensive.

      1. Hey, I didn’t say anything about “taking” Gates’ money at all.

        But since so much of this philanthropy ends up getting the public sector to buy products and services offered by the “philanthropists” main company, let’s just get rid of this tax loophole or severely restrict it.

        Gates has more money than God, he can spend it how he wants to, he just doesn’t need a tax shelter.

  51. I just happened to pick up from my pile and read today :

    More From Less :
    The surprising story of how we learned to prosper using fewer resources — and what happens next.
    by Andrew McAfee
    Scribner – an imprint of Simon and Schuster
    October 2019

    I mention it because the discussions frequently look at the relationship between capitalism and technology – two big themes in this thread.

    All I’d say is that the book is particularly interesting, especially if this thread is turning up interesting ideas.

  52. Considering one of his book titles was “Nonsense on Stilts”, Pigliucci has spent a lot of time pushing nonsense like “scientism” as if it was a thing. Those who can think clearly go into science or related fields. Those who can’t spend their lives promoting nonsense with an extensive, but ultimately meaningless vocabulary.

  53. At the end of the day, hating Gates is pretty silly.

    It’s like hating the fox for eating all the hens. A fox is going to be a fox.

    Rather, its the managers of the farm who take no action to defend the hens (lets call them the middle class) from the predatory foxes, while at the same time, doing everything in their power to protect the foxes from the hens. That’s a clear indication that the animal farm is headed for bankruptcy and liquidation.

    1. Notwithstanding the somewhat stretched fox-and-hens analogy (LOL), I agree with you. Its the rules of the capitalism game that need to be adjusted.

      People seem to assume that capitalism is a no-holds-barred, everything-goes battle between companies. First, there are laws that govern the battle. When they are broken, companies are penalized. The trial often comes too late and the penalties are weak but that brings me to my second point.

      There are many, many rules that companies must follow. These cover accounting, the stock markets, corporate fraud, privacy laws, consumer protections, union regulations, and many more areas. These all create the playing field on which companies compete. That’s where reform is needed. It makes no sense to beat up on companies or their officers with general threats about how evil they are.

      1. >> There are many, many rules that companies must follow.

        This complexity is one of the things that stacks the deck in favor of the big players who can afford the legal expertise to navigate and exploit said complexity.

        1. Yes, I agree, though the solution isn’t to get rid of all the rules but to simplify them.

          Actually, simplification is so important in every phase of our lives. One of the benefits of socialized medicine is not constantly having to worry about whether your insurance is still active and is going to cover your next illness. It can’t reduce complexity to zero but it can do a lot better than what we have now. Simplification should be much more of a goal for our politicians than it is.

          1. In the future, people will look back in amazement at how needlessly complicated we’ve made our lives in this era.

    1. Wow, Bill is quite out of touch with reality. Microsoft, as a company, simply didn’t have the talent to produce a successful phone OS while Gates was in charge. Their corporate DNA was missing the innovation gene.

      1. Aside from that, I think, with Windows 8, they tried to make a ‘one-size-fits-all’ OS that would work on everything from Windows Phones to desktops – and this can’t be done. What suits a mobile phone touchscreen (in terms of user interface) does not suit a big screen with a keyboard and mouse. I don’t try editing documents, running spreadsheets, or editing photos on my phone!

        Android is admittedly based on the Linux kernel, which seems to be able to run anything from a fridge to a supercomputer, but *nix is an inherently modular design (I think) and it’s what you run on top of the kernel that makes all the difference. Android can afford to optimise their UI for phones and pocket devices because they’re not aiming at the desktop.


        1. I don’t think it is impossible to make a single OS work on a wide range of devices. The problem is really with app developers. Many either don’t try to make their products work with all devices or they don’t do a good job of it.

          Besides a PC and a phone, I have a late model Google Chromebook. This is basically a laptop that runs the Chrome OS but it is also compatible with all Android apps. By “compatible”, I mean they install and run but few of them are optimized for a laptop and its relatively large screen. However, some apps work just fine because their makers have targeted such devices.

          A similar issue exists with Android Auto. This is Android running on a phone but using the car’s screen and buttons. Apps must be optimized (ie, programmed) to work well with that particular device configuration. Few app makers have done this, presumably because they don’t value their apps running on a car screen. Obviously this is the right choice for most apps as the Android Auto user still has their phone and shouldn’t be using the app while driving anyway.

          So it is possible, at least from a technical perspective. The problem is more a market share issue.

          1. Well it does depend to some extent how widely one interprets ‘OS’. As I noted about Linux, the same kernel can be made to run on a wide array of devices. If by ‘system’ you begin to include the user interface and applications, then I would say the task becomes practically impossible simply because what the user expects from a desktop with a full screen is fundamentally different from what s/he expects from a phone. In my opinion, of course.

            I acknowledge the existence of ‘crossover’ applications like Android Auto or Ubuntu Touch, but I think they’re inherently compromises.


            1. In general, apps that were designed to run on a certain class of devices do not run well on other classes of devices. Also, some apps fit more naturally in a particular device class. A classic example are drawing programs. While they can be made to work on a small screen, it will probably always be a compromise. There are also app categories, like maps, that can certainly take advantage of large screens but are most definitely workable on a small screen.

              As I said, for most apps it is a matter of how hard its developer works to adapt it to each device class. Some may even do the ultimate in device-specific customization by creating a separate app for each, though that involves compromise in a different direction.

  54. Another example is this interview (in German) with the former lord mayor of Munich, Christian Ude, about when the city’s administration moved from Windows to Linux. He was visited by Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates themselves (Ballmer even suspended his ski holidays), who tried to talk him out of it. Gates was baffled when Ude told him they didn’t want to be dependend on Microsoft anymore; it was “unbelieavable” and “ideology” to him.


  55. People resent that others might be successful by what they see as “right place right time”. They could have done that, or thought of that. It’s unfair that they weren’t the one that did. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. It’s envy, and whilst I’m not religious, it’s designated a sin for good reason. I find that people who hate others purely for their wealth are not worthy of my time.

  56. How dare you even suggest Bill Gates hatred is based on him being rich?! Bill Gates is a racist with a white savior complex, as his comments about Dambisa Moyo prove: https://www.humanosphere.org/basics/2013/05/dambisa-moyo-counter-attacks-bill-gates-critique-of-her-work-as-evil/

    JAC: I’ve truncated the rest of this post because it’s just an unhinged and personal rant about Bill Gates, including ad hominem attacks on his infidelity and his private jets.

    I suggest that Mr Jones find another website to post at.

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