Knocking on holier than thou Gates
Who is Bill Gates?
Bill Gates is holier than thou (a bias to feel above average in terms of being caring, charitable and kind toward others), because his public appeals to generosity are congruent with his investment into promoting the lives of others. All right, how does he see himself?
Did Bill Gates maybe lie a little bit in his closing statement at TedTalks, which was an echo of his opening statement? Didn't he lie, because he denied the world a potential to battle deseases with sufficient effort, and to provide a desirable level of education to its children?
Well no he didn't lie, because he acknowledged upfront that he is optimistic, because the world without him has achieved amazing things: a strong reduction in child mortality, and an increase in the average lifespan.
Well he did lie, because here is an accomplished man, a man who emerged from the private sector, who did more for the world than any charity could claim, who competed in exchange for wealth, and who now continues to compete in exchange for wealth. The difference between the wealth he now pursues, and the wealth he amassed, is that the latter is a moral stature expressing his value to the world. The businessman Gates is the cause enabling him to be the holier-than-thou Gates. His cause is not selfless, but an expression of his success.
That's why I think he lies when he claims that his ability cannot be found in the private sector. His own was found there! He counts himself among the creed of brilliant minds, not among the marketplace that rewarded his brilliance. His own action, in his words, is not the result of the system that allowed his brilliance to emerge. Read his statements and judge for yourself:
There are some very important problems that don't get worked on naturally, that is, the market does not drive the scientists, the communicators, the thinkers, the governments, to do the right things. And only by paying attention to these things, and by having brilliant people who care, and draw other people in, can we make as much progress as we need to.
I'm optimistic, I think people are beginning to recognize how important this is and it really can make a difference for millions of lives if we get it right. Well, I only have time to frame those 2 problems. There are a lot more problems like that.... The skill sets required to tackle these things are very broad. The system doesn't naturally make it happen. Governments don't naturally pick these things in the right way. The private sector doesn't naturally put its resources into these things. So it's going to take brilliant people like you to study these things, get other people involved, and your helping to come up with solutions.
His words remind me of the concept of negative externalities. Yes, there are important things in life undersupplied by the market, but he himself is living proof that that must not be the case! He himself, the product of the marketplace, is naturally tackling a problem he denies others the ability to tackle. The brilliant people he wants to encourage cannot be brilliant unless their shining light is framed by the night sky of the marketplace. His mind made him brilliant not without the freedom of the American dream. The private sector does tackle important problems - naturally.
Is Bill Gates doing the right thing for the wrong reason? No, but he is not above the market, he is rooted in it.