Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Gates and the wealth of nations

The world's richest man, Bill Gates, has been disgracing himself at the World Economic Forum in Davos by calling on Western nations to adopt a new, “creative capitalism.” Notes Alex Epstein at the Ayn Rand Institute, Gates complained that

under “pure capitalism . . . . the great advances in the world have often aggravated the inequities in the world. The least needy see the most improvement, and the most needy see the least . . .” Gates called for corporations and governments to devote far more time and money “doing work that eases the world's inequities.”

Gates appears wholly ignorant of the historic role of capitalism in moving people out of poverty.  To paraphrase PJ O'Rourke, the reason that some places prosper and thrive and others just plain suck is simple: some have capitalism and freedom, and some don't.  Epstein has a Memo to Gates: The Cause of Third-World Poverty Is Not Capitalism, But a Lack of Capitalism...

The West did not become wealthy at the Third World’s expense--we did not seize computers, houses, pharmaceuticals, and railroads from the Sahara. We created our wealth under capitalism, the system that liberates individuals to produce and trade without interference. And Third World countries could do the same if they adopted that system.

“The last 200 years have shown that wherever capitalism is adopted--from Singapore to the United States to Hong Kong to Australia--it enables its citizens to create wealth and prosper. Yet not one word of Gates’s speech calls for poor countries to change their anti-capitalist governments.

“No matter how many billions Bill Gates gives to poor nations, until he starts advocating universal capitalism instead of attacking it, he is acting as an enemy of prosperity in the undeveloped world.”


  1. Perhaps those billions would be better spent on a mercenary army with which to invade these countries and remove their dictatorships.

  2. Perhaps Africa would be better off if it had fewer mercenaries and "freedom fighters", not more of them.


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