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Gates' father was politically active during his college years working on the liberal/left in the cause of protecting the jobs of fellow traveling and Stalinist professors at the University of Washington. So there is a family history on the left there. His mother was a long time "public servant"/good government type working on the board of the University of Washington. Gates himself has given boatloads of money to the University. So his mentality has never been that simply of a "capitalist", he's long supported elite government institutions designed to advance the public good.

On Gates left / "progressive" mentality, I'd suggest it's not a new thing, it's a family thing.

I was about to post a similar idea about Gates, but I didn't know about the history. It is quite plausible that Gates himself doesn't understand how liberty was able to give him those millions so that he can donate them.

It is ironic that Andrew Mellon did the same thing, opening the National Gallery. He of all people, being hunted down by FDR, should know that government does little better than the private citizen and capitalist.

I believe Gates is doing this in his own self interest, his own idea of what his legacy should be; not a mean old capitalist that only used and abused his customers. There are very few business men like the Kochs who understand why in the short run government interference is bad in the long run. That is truly a rarity, Gates is merely the norm.

I'm not as shocked with Gates as I am with Warren Buffet. Gates is an inventor and has run his own company well, but does that mean he understands the operations of the entire market well.

Far more frightening in my opinion is Buffet who was in the business of moving large amounts of capital around and interacting with the economy amongst many companies on a broader level. Further with allocating his large resources amongst different companies, he must have easily seen what a great effect on employment and welfare is created with his investment decisions.

The language of the debate is against us from the start since the left practically "own" capitalism as a term of abuse. What if we talk more about the liberal order or the market order, with a three-legged stool of policies (1) a raft of freedoms (including free trade, (2) the rule of law (including property rights) and (3) a moral framework incuding things like honesty, compassion, civility, community service and enterprise? The point has to be made that the left does not own compassion and concern for the poor and the weak, and we think that we can find better ways to help them.
We also need to make the point that markets are not a giant abstract force that bears down on people, they just happen whenever people get together to buy, sell and swap things.

For my response to the Sage of Omaha, click on my name, scroll down to the table of contents, and click on VI, Mad Dog Economics.

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