Bill Gates on Creative Capitalism

The Wall Street Journal has published an excellent article about Bill Gates and the work he’s starting to focus on after his full-time job at Microsoft has finished. He’s promoting the concept of “Creative Capitalism”, which involves not only the pursuit of profits, but also improving the lives of others. In discussing this article on the private Mobius discussion list, I shared my views in response to a post by Jeff Kirvin about the way Wall Street and public companies work.

“I remain convinced that when a company goes public, it sells its soul to the investors and hands it’s brain to the board of directors – it can no longer do what it wants, pursue it’s own vision, or run a “just enough profit” style of company that encourages fair treatment of employees (with profit sharing, fair wages, and other elements found in responsible corporate behaviour). I have tremendous respect and admiration for companies such as Kingston that do not go public. I wish more companies were kept private.

I’m a believer in capitalism, but always tempered by compassion and generosity – things that seem foreign to most public companies who (necessarily so, sadly) need to be focused on the non-stop, quarter after quarter growth. Yet as an investor with mutual funds myself, it’s not like I can excuse myself from wanting ever-increasing profits either. We live in a screwed up world, that’s for sure.”

In the span of my lifetime, I fully expect Bill Gates to accomplish more for the world’s poor than anyone else in the past 100 years – I’ve always admired him as a computer geek, but the past couple of years I’ve come to admire him even more as a human being. I think this quote says a great deal about what drives Gates (in response to William Easterly’s comments about how the money sent to Africa over the past few decades has done nothing to raise the economic status of the region):

“”I don’t promise that when a kid lives it will cause a GNP increase,” he quipped. “I think life has value.”

On the opposite end of the quote spectrum, you have this assclown.