Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
softwareNerd

Bill Gates becomes a Philanthropist

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I agree with BD. Aid to Africa does more harm than good. African countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape.

Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati said:

Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

Link to full article

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The commie-leaning "Mother Jones" published an article critical of  the investments made by the Gates Foundation. Not only does Gates give away his money while praising altruism, but the ideologues of altruism criticize him for it. It's a good lesson, showing that he will never, ever be one of them. Serves him right really.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not that I'll ever find myself in Bill Gates situation, but I believe he understood the game from the start. Our society is saturated with altruistic opinion, and self-appointed guardians of justice pointing their hypocritical finders at anyone with a significant sum of money, unless that successful person is in sports or entertainment. As I recall, Bill Gates was accused in one interview, as he had accented the heights of wealth and power, of not contributing to charity. His answer was one to the affect that his contribution would be "maximized" when the time had come. He was true to his word. But it doesn't matter how true he was or what he said. It's never enough. I don't believe he made any contributions to any political campaigns either. If I'm wrong about this, please forgive me; I am open to correction. This may have something to do with his problems with the US Department of Justice, and other organization.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have long failed to understand why O'ists seem to have a tendency to laud Bill Gates. From my perspective as, an O'ist since 1961, a computer science professional since 1969, and the son of a capitalist who started ran and sold three businesses, I have always found him to be a poor example at best, and reprehensible at worst. 

 

 None of that is to imply the man is not highly intelligent. Nor do I fail to understand that he understood one key principle in economics of the software industry, both well enough, and far enough before anyone else, to assure his and his firm's ascendancy in the American market place.

 

However, his behavior, his words, and his legacy are all of one moral stance, a looter, not at all similar to a moral O'ist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He built an entire industry almost singlehandedly with his own vision and acumen. I've read accounts of him being highly intelligent and shrewd in person. Most Objectivists correctly acknowledge those things while at the same time criticizing him for later betraying the principles which originally made him great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have long failed to understand why O'ists seem to have a tendency to laud Bill Gates. From my perspective as, an O'ist since 1961, a computer science professional since 1969, and the son of a capitalist who started ran and sold three businesses, I have always found him to be a poor example at best, and reprehensible at worst.

Have you created anything I'm using right now to talk to you?

None of that is to imply the man is not highly intelligent. Nor do I fail to understand that he understood one key principle in economics of the software industry, both well enough, and far enough before anyone else, to assure his and his firm's ascendancy in the American market place.

 

However, his behavior, his words, and his legacy are all of one moral stance, a looter, not at all similar to a moral O'ist.

I don't care about anything you mentioned. Not his intelligence, not his words, not his behavior, not his legacy or supposed moral stance, not the way he spends his money, not even his firm's "ascendancy in the American market place". Words are cheap, especially the kind that just repeat something someone else already said, his money is his to spend, his moral stance, short of being a criminal (which he isn't), is his business not mine.

The only thing I care about is what his firm created that I find of value. That's the reason why I regard him highly, nothing else. That's the only reason I have to care about any stranger.

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He built an entire industry almost singlehandedly with his own vision and acumen. I've read accounts of him being highly intelligent and shrewd in person. Most Objectivists correctly acknowledge those things while at the same time criticizing him for later betraying the principles which originally made him great.

 

The "principles which made him great" was an absolute dedication to extreme, immediate pragmatism. In a young industry filled with visionaries who wanted to make great and interesting things while they made a lot of money, Bill Gates ran circles around them by focusing exclusively on the latter. Most people are proud of their own craft, and have pride in what they do. Some, like Gates, only have pride in how much money they make and see those others as easy fodder.

 

You can't be against defecation and still be in favor of life--it's a natural result of a body's function. In the same way you can't be against Bill Gates and everything he represents qua capitalism.

 

But his existence is unpleasant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you created anything I'm using right now to talk to you?

I don't care about anything you mentioned. Not his intelligence, not his words, not his behavior, not his legacy or supposed moral stance, not the way he spends his money, not even his firm's "ascendancy in the American market place". Words are cheap, especially the kind that just repeat something someone else already said, his money is his to spend, his moral stance, short of being a criminal (which he isn't), is his business not mine.

The only thing I care about is what his firm created that I find of value. That's the reason why I regard him highly, nothing else. That's the only reason I have to care about any stranger.

Well Nicky, if you are using a Microsoft platform for this interchange then no, I have not 'created' anything you are using to talk right now. I am on a Unix platform. On this side I admin the whole stack, and do have bits of my own code enabling this conversation. But that is not the point.

 

We agree in essence then on everything, his money is his to use as he sees fit, and I have no call to nor do I desire to affect Mr Gates in any way. My only exception would be our evaluation of the value of the product(s) of Microsoft. I have no desire to ignite software religious wars on a philosophical forum, so suffice it to say my opinions of Microsoft derive from fifty plus years as a computer science professional. They are based in code review, objective performance tests, real world utilization, and dealing with the consequences of using Microsoft products in both large and small shops over a thirty year period. I stand by those opinions and am willing to discuss them only if you are willing to discuss facts and be civil.

 

My point here is simply that from an objectivist ethical point of view, Mr Gates and the company he founded, both leave a great deal to be desired should an O'ist want to use them as a model for behavior.

 

BTW perjury is criminal. Have you read the transcript of Mr Gates testimony during Microsoft v DOJ? Better yet have you watched the video?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "principles which made him great" was an absolute dedication to extreme, immediate pragmatism. In a young industry filled with visionaries who wanted to make great and interesting things while they made a lot of money, Bill Gates ran circles around them by focusing exclusively on the latter. Most people are proud of their own craft, and have pride in what they do. Some, like Gates, only have pride in how much money they make and see those others as easy fodder.

 

You can't be against defecation and still be in favor of life--it's a natural result of a body's function. In the same way you can't be against Bill Gates and everything he represents qua capitalism.

 

But his existence is unpleasant.

Bill Gates is NOT representative of Capitalism qua capitalism. He is representative of capitalism as practiced in the USA in the latter half of the twentieth century. Capitalism is an UNKNOWN ideal. The result of his existence is unpleasant, he himself is quite personable when he wants to be. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He built an entire industry almost singlehandedly with his own vision and acumen. I've read accounts of him being highly intelligent and shrewd in person. Most Objectivists correctly acknowledge those things while at the same time criticizing him for later betraying the principles which originally made him great.

May I suggest the industry he had such a powerful impact on would have done quite nicely without him. There were thousands of us laboring to bring compute power to the masses, and the one unique contribution of Mr Gates, while both brilliant and shrewd, did not 'define' the industry. I have never denigrated his intelligence, nor his business acumen, nor the power of the juggernaut of Redmond. I suggest ONLY that as an O'ist model he is lacking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bill Gates is NOT representative of Capitalism qua capitalism. He is representative of capitalism as practiced in the USA in the latter half of the twentieth century. Capitalism is an UNKNOWN ideal. The result of his existence is unpleasant, he himself is quite personable when he wants to be. 

 

I can't think of any "perfect" future capitalism in which things like Bill Gates wouldn't happen. That would be Capitalism the UNIMAGINABLE Ideal :-).

 

While any company with revenues north of a $billion these days has inevitably used the government in some form or another, MSFT had been pretty clean. There might be a 100 page debate somewhere on this site about the ideal IP laws and what that might have done to MSFT, but it's its certainly debatable.

 

Bill Gates might have been just about everything Howard Roark was not, but every possible free market one might ever imagine very much gives rise to him and his ilk.

 

Anyhow, my point about him being "unpleasant" was not about his personality (of which I haven't the faintest clue). What is unpleasant is the entire phenomenon of Bill Gates. We might wish that didn't happen in the same way we'd wish our dogs wouldn't slobber, but you take the bad with the good. Bill Gates is the bad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We agree in essence then on everything, his money is his to use as he sees fit, and I have no call to nor do I desire to affect Mr Gates in any way. My only exception would be our evaluation of the value of the product(s) of Microsoft. I have no desire to ignite software religious wars on a philosophical forum, so suffice it to say my opinions of Microsoft derive from fifty plus years as a computer science professional. They are based in code review, objective performance tests, real world utilization, and dealing with the consequences of using Microsoft products in both large and small shops over a thirty year period. I stand by those opinions and am willing to discuss them only if you are willing to discuss facts and be civil.

I have heard every possible critique of Microsoft's products there is, already. So I'm not really interested in another rundown.

When I talk to a critic who was also his competitor, I'm more interested in such a critic addressing the other side: why has he not crushed Microsoft with a superior product? Why has Microsoft won, despite all its faults?

You say that the industry would've been just fine without Bill Gates. In other words, the world didn't really need Bill Gates. If that's true, why did it rely on him so much? More importantly, why didn't the world rely on others, like yourself, just as much?

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suggest ONLY that as an O'ist model he is lacking.

Who *does* live up to Objectivist ideals these days? Bill Gates should not be condemned by Objectivists using the very industry he had such a huge hand in creating. That's absurd.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "principles which made him great" was an absolute dedication to extreme, immediate pragmatism. In a young industry filled with visionaries who wanted to make great and interesting things while they made a lot of money, Bill Gates ran circles around them by focusing exclusively on the latter. Most people are proud of their own craft, and have pride in what they do. Some, like Gates, only have pride in how much money they make and see those others as easy fodder.

While there isn't necessarily a dichotomy here, doesn't it ring alarms in your head to denounce someone for trying to make money? Especially someone who made *so much* money? I suppose all the people who bought his products should also be condemned?

And I'm sure you're aware of the necessary acute focus on a pragmatic response to business operations, in addition to and not in place of good business principles, in any company, especially brand new companies in brand new industries.

Also, "innovation" isn't just new products or new ideas. It's also fixing new ideas, in a million ways.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't think of any "perfect" future capitalism in which things like Bill Gates wouldn't happen. That would be Capitalism the UNIMAGINABLE Ideal :-).

 

While any company with revenues north of a $billion these days has inevitably used the government in some form or another, MSFT had been pretty clean. There might be a 100 page debate somewhere on this site about the ideal IP laws and what that might have done to MSFT, but it's its certainly debatable.

 

Bill Gates might have been just about everything Howard Roark was not, but every possible free market one might ever imagine very much gives rise to him and his ilk.

 

Anyhow, my point about him being "unpleasant" was not about his personality (of which I haven't the faintest clue). What is unpleasant is the entire phenomenon of Bill Gates. We might wish that didn't happen in the same way we'd wish our dogs wouldn't slobber, but you take the bad with the good. Bill Gates is the bad.

Interesting thought, but I can imagine a "perfect" future capitalist that would not need to keep things like Bill Gates from happening. Such a "perfect" system would however, give victims of business malfeasance some hope of reasonable recourse for their injury.

 

I agree, strictly from the viewpoint of leveraging government power for profitability, MSFT never really tried that approach. Moreover the whole IP debate, does as you say, have a complexity that invites debate. Reasonable observers can and do have differing opinions. Additionally I would suggest that it would be hard to describe a market system that, a priori, tried to prevent the rise of unethical tradesmen, as free. Once unethical behavior is detected however, it behoves a moral system to offer recourse to the victims.

 

Where I would caution you is the blanket characterization of Mr. Gates as 'bad'. As with any individual whose total impact has been multiplied to such an enormous scale, both the good and the bad are amplified. We all have our virtues and our vices. Like you I have had periods where Mr. Gates vices gave me a really bad attitude toward him, but the damage is done, and I honestly think very little additional harm will be forthcoming from MSFT.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Who *does* live up to Objectivist ideals these days? Bill Gates should not be condemned by Objectivists using the very industry he had such a huge hand in creating. That's absurd.

Good question. No one.  The guys at SUN came as close as anyone I know of. But even there...

Your statement sounds reasonable, though I can imagine an O'ist who could object on moral grounds, but tolerate MSFT for pragmatic reasons.

 

I my self agree with you to the point, that I compute in a Microsoft free environment, and I tolerate the MSFT influence in the server space for similar pragmatic reasons. I do blacklist IIS servers as I become aware of them, however. This forum is hosted by 1&1 and I am familiar with their stack. They indulge MSFT centric customers as one must in that market, but their admins are talented at keeping objectionable MSFT behaviour in check.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For anyone who criticizes Bill Gates for DOS and for Windows, on the grounds that technically-superior products were already possible at the time those were sold, I have this question: do you criticize Henry Ford for the Model-T? Do you criticize McDonald's for their sandwiches? If not, why not?

Edited by softwareNerd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have heard every possible critique of Microsoft's products there is, already. So I'm not really interested in another rundown.

When I talk to a critic who was also his competitor, I'm more interested in such a critic addressing the other side: why has he not crushed Microsoft with a superior product? Why has Microsoft won, despite all its faults?

You say that the industry would've been just fine without Bill Gates. In other words, the world didn't really need Bill Gates. If that's true, why did it rely on him so much? More importantly, why didn't the world rely on others, like yourself, just as much?

When I first read your response Nicky, I thought you were joking. Then the follow on material showed me you were serious, so I will deal with your opener later.

 

First, I must assert that you misquote me. I never said "his products have no value". Such an assertion is clearly untrue. The value of a piece of executable code is it's ability to satisfy some need, or set of needs, computer users may have. People who voluntarily pay their hard earned money for MSFT software clearly find value in it.

 

You then go on to assume I at some point I was in 'direct competition' with Bill Gates. That to is just not the case. Consumer software for personal computers never attracted my attention professionally. The 'tech revolution' was a candy store for me, and I 'competed' in multiple areas, all quite profitably. Before Mr. Gates came on the scene I had been assimilated by the 'military industrial complex' and before 'Windows' was a viable product, I was busy producing the code that allowed so-called 'smart bombs' to fly down the exhaust stack of a designated target. By the time I chose to abandon the MIC, and return to 'private industry', I chose the telecom industry for market trend reasons. Seven years before Gates and the MSFT crew discovered they needed to 'compete' relative to the internet, we built out the infrastructure the nascent internet needed to explode into public consciousness, why would I care to 'compete' with someone lagging my focus by a decade?

 

Again you assume I consider Mr. Gates my inferior. I do not. I consider him a younger contemporary in the computer business who happens to be very successful financially. Some of his friends I hold in high enough esteem to personally be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. My ONLY point is that from an O'ist ethical point of view Mr. Gates, does not, has not, and unfortunately may never, measure up to even the most modest of standards. 

 

You noted my assertion the industry would have done fine without the Gates factor, and asked, why did it wind up using so much MSFT product (relying on him). Good question. In several posts I have alluded to the one stroke of brilliance that assured the success of MSFT, and that is Mr. Gates saw, understood, and figured out how to take advantage of a market phenomenon I call "The demand stickiness of familiarity in software". I use that phrase to denote the preference all computer users have for the software with which, they are familiar. Learning how to use new software in the twentieth century, was often a chore. That fact seriously skews the demand for any given software product among all those already familiar with it's behavior. Bill is the world champion at turning that concept into cash. I tip my hat.

 

Now for the think before you speak department:

You say, "I have heard every possible critique of Microsoft's products there is, already. So I'm not really interested in another rundown."

Oh, Really!?!

I offer civil conversation about facts and you reply in essence, 'don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up'. Did no one ever teach you the old saw about the similarity between a mind and a parachute? Both are ONLY useful when they are open.

 

Then you begin a sentence with, "If your ambition was to beat those who are your inferiors (as it should be)". 

My my, enjoy playing the bully do you?  

Frankly I have no such desire. My inferiors get along fine with a little help from me when I am so inclined, and the rest of the time they are pretty much on their own. When I compete it is largely in-class, and I have run in some impressive classes. Did not always win, but my losses were more instructive than the wins. And I always played by O'ist ethics.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Again you assume I consider Mr. Gates my inferior. I do not. I consider him a younger contemporary in the computer business who happens to be very successful financially. Some of his friends I hold in high enough esteem to personally be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I'm gonna stop reading now. You declare that you don't consider him your inferior, but in the next sentence you imply that you don't hold him in much esteem (as you do "some of his friends"). You have also made it abundantly clear that you do hold yourself in high esteem (don't take this the wrong way: from what you wrote about your career, you're right to hold yourself in high esteem - just not higher than Bill Gates).

So you do consider him your inferior, but you won't admit it straight up, because it's not a position you can actually defend.

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For anyone who criticizes Bill Gates for DOS and for Windows, on the grounds that technically-superior products were already possible at the time those were sold, I have this question: do you criticize Henry Ford for the Model-T? Do you criticize McDonald's for their sandwiches? If not, why not?

Not just already possible, already available. People did not chose them either because they were already familiar with a similar MS product or when that was not the case, they were unaware or unconvinced the alternative product was superior. Anyway, some alternatives were not...

 

Well actually, I do. The model-T was mediocre engineering even for the time. But it's shortcomings became 'lovable quirks' as it's popularity grew. Please remember that Henry's contribution to the auto industry was not the cars that he built. It was the manufacturing methods.

 

And yes even McDonald's.  I have not eaten one of their sandwiches since the sign in front of store#4 in Cahokia, Ill rolled over to 500,000 sold. Hopefully you can tell that was a while back. "Acceptable mediocrity" is not my thing in hamburgers, particularly considering McDonald's documented nutritional failings. At least they are working on that last part. McDonald's innovation was not product, but marketing. Do you see a pattern?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm gonna stop reading now. You declare that you don't consider him your inferior, but in the next sentence you imply that you don't hold him in much esteem (as you do "some of his friends"). You have also made it abundantly clear that you do hold yourself in high esteem (don't take this the wrong way: from what you wrote about your career, you're right to hold yourself in high esteem - just not higher than Bill Gates).

So you do consider him your inferior, but you won't admit it straight up, because it's not a position you can actually defend.

Your responses sound more to me like you never started reading. I have no need to defend a position to someone whose mind is closed, and who seems to prefer being a bully.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[...]

 

Where I would caution you is the blanket characterization of Mr. Gates as 'bad'. As with any individual whose total impact has been multiplied to such an enormous scale, both the good and the bad are amplified. We all have our virtues and our vices. Like you I have had periods where Mr. Gates vices gave me a really bad attitude toward him, but the damage is done, and I honestly think very little additional harm will be forthcoming from MSFT.

 

 

Certainly. And none of this is to say that either he or MSFT hasn't done good and useful things. It's just an individual with no apparent integrity. As Steve Jobs once put it, the man has no taste. He does exactly what is necessary to make money, no more, no less. Sometimes that requires building a good product. Sometimes it doesn't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Certainly. And none of this is to say that either he or MSFT hasn't done good and useful things. It's just an individual with no apparent integrity. As Steve Jobs once put it, the man has no taste. He does exactly what is necessary to make money, no more, no less. Sometimes that requires building a good product. Sometimes it doesn't.

Indeed, from the lexicon of AR novels, he seems to have a "second handers" taste and a "second handers" integrity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your responses sound more to me like you never started reading. I have no need to defend a position to someone whose mind is closed, and who seems to prefer being a bully.

Do you feel bullied?

Not just already possible, already available. People did not chose them either because they were already familiar with a similar MS product or when that was not the case, they were unaware or unconvinced the alternative product was superior. Anyway, some alternatives were not...

 

Well actually, I do. The model-T was mediocre engineering even for the time. But it's shortcomings became 'lovable quirks' as it's popularity grew. Please remember that Henry's contribution to the auto industry was not the cars that he built. It was the manufacturing methods.

 

And yes even McDonald's.  I have not eaten one of their sandwiches since the sign in front of store#4 in Cahokia, Ill rolled over to 500,000 sold. Hopefully you can tell that was a while back. "Acceptable mediocrity" is not my thing in hamburgers, particularly considering McDonald's documented nutritional failings. At least they are working on that last part. McDonald's innovation was not product, but marketing. Do you see a pattern?

A pattern of rationalization? I think he does. Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have heard every possible critique of Microsoft's products there is, already. So I'm not really interested in another rundown.

When I talk to a critic who was also his competitor, I'm more interested in such a critic addressing the other side: why has he not crushed Microsoft with a superior product? Why has Microsoft won, despite all its faults?

You say that the industry would've been just fine without Bill Gates. In other words, the world didn't really need Bill Gates. If that's true, why did it rely on him so much? More importantly, why didn't the world rely on others, like yourself, just as much?

 

Bill Gates and Microsoft would essentially force (using that term in the narrow practical sense) their customers to not use competitor's products by threatening to cut them off or ruin them if they used certain customer's products.

 

They extended their monopoly in operating systems to office apps and then to other things. The superiority of DOS (which is what installed them with this power) was a business deal, not technical superiority--and relied heavily on the obvious incompetence of a major competitor.

 

All totally legal, even in an "ideal" system.

 

Not exactly the stuff of Atlas Shrugged heroes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×