“We don’t yet have all the tools we need to stop the novel coronavirus and safely re-open the economy. But they are on the horizon,” says William Henry Gates III, holding forth on the search for a COVID-19 vaccine and testing.
From behind the ramparts of a $100 billion fortune, Gates argues for the continuation of his country’s medically induced coma.
Can this ruthless monopolist kiss off already?
The public has lost trust in actual infectious disease experts. The camera-addicted late septuagenarian, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and his team of experts have failed to model COVID-19 so spectacularly, and advised politicians so poorly, that the United States has no accurate data on deaths or the number of infected.
Must a weary America be inflicted with Gates’ cosplay as the nation’s top fake expert?
Every moment that our governments, federal and state, continue to impede the commercial and civic life of the nation, rendering us, from top to bottom, insolvent in the process. Meanwhile, the poorest and most vulnerable Americans—children—suffer as their present and future lives are irreparably impaired.
Gates has never been poor, but I suppose he was a child once. Does he understand that children who are not in school and whose fathers and mothers are unemployed suffer hunger, stagnation, and sometimes even abuse? Did he miss that the premise of federal funding of early schooling as well as of the idea that all Americans should finish high school and as many as possible go to college is that education is absolutely vital to the health of the young and the country?
There are now 30 million unemployed in this country, and double or triple that number of children who are not receiving their schooling, who are not being cared for properly, who are sinking in debt, and who are deeply puzzled by it. They are, however, not too puzzled to see that the senior generation does not view the activity of the young to be essential.
Gates, 65, is not famous for his credentials—he has no college degree—but for the most successful monopoly since Standard Oil. Part “natural” and part “artificial” monopoly, Microsoft’s power originated in a simple fact: in commercial applications, if everyone is using the same operating system and software compatible with it, training and data sharing efficiencies drive demand to one source. A wrinkle in patent protection law, Microsoft’s value flowed from the triumph of standardization over new ideas. Gates’s aggressive defense and careful management of Microsoft’s monopoly made him a very wealthy man.
In the tradition of American wealth, Gates had a wrestling match with God over rich men, camels, and heaven. Switch-hitting from predatory commerce to soul searching, in an interview 2014, Gates offered this empty gibberish:
The moral systems of religion, I think, are super important. . . . I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that’s kind of a religious belief. I mean, it’s at least a moral belief.
This barely formed ethos paid a call when Gates and his wife founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. Bill and Melinda—one senses a folksy relationship with mammon—gave generously, funding the foundation to the tune of nearly $40 billion.
The foundation has since paid in billions to health programs abroad, focusing on AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and measles in Africa. One is compelled to observe, however, that stroking checks for vaccines in Africa does not endow one with an understanding of epidemiology. It is just that, when it is your money, it feels that way.
Are you a doctor? No, but I slept at the Gates Foundation last night. It’s funny when you are selling Holiday Inn.
It’s not funny when you are a morally vacuous plutocrat selling out a nation’s way of life from the safety of a 65,000 square-foot mansion and a pile of money that, laid end-to-end in $500 bills, would reach the moon and back.
Gates lacks the barest beginnings of wisdom with respect to infectious disease. On the subject of morality, Gates speaks as though he were in the fifth grade.
The fifth grade seems to be the point of his arrested development, when Gates obsessively engaged in the science of disinfecting code. Code is a deterministic labyrinth of instructions and data. There are no chance events, only bugs, like bad stitches in a sweater which you can’t see (but if they snag!). You search out and eliminate the bugs, and then you deploy the software.
A pandemic is not like a code or a monopoly, and it is a profoundly moral matter. Gates naïvely may suppose a pandemic is a code problem, because part of a virus is a genetic code. He may think it is a monopoly problem, because the virus is a competitor to be shut down.
Bad analogy, Bill.
A viral pandemic is not a labyrinth of instructions but a field of uncertainties, some of which will never become certain. They are chances, and chances upon chances. Evolution and the biochemical processes, for all the knowledge of modern science, are barely understood. Epigenetics. Mutations. Transposable elements. Methylation. There are unpredictable behaviors of the virus and its victims.
Good policy requires the evaluation of these uncertainties and the tradeoffs in context of greater national goals, some of which are worth dying for, such as the protection and development of children and the future ground of the happiness of posterity.
Here is a better analogy, Bill.
The long-term suspension of the commercial and civic life of the United States is analogous to surrendering to an overwhelming evil enemy. This is not AIDS in Africa but parley with the Nazi menace, burdening the young with a tyranny “made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”
Good people make difficult choices. They gamble for the fruits of a good life, now and for their children. Like our Pilgrim forefathers, we risk, possibly all, to live as free people for the sake of posterity, or we utterly, thoroughly disgrace ourselves.
So go on, Bill Gates. Get lost.