Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bill Gates Just Endorsed Socialism, Sort Of: A Boost for Bernie Sanders?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bill Gates Just Endorsed Socialism, Sort Of: A Boost for Bernie Sanders?

Article excerpt

Bill Gates, the billionaire computer maven who owes his fortune to capitalism, recently made comments that appeared to endorse socialism - and it might be an inadvertent boon for Bernie Sanders.

In an interview with Atlantic that made headlines across the Internet, the former Microsoft CEO-turned philanthropist argued that "the private sector is in general inept" as a tool to manage climate change because "there's no fortune to be made," and that the only solution lies with government.

Governments, he said, must dramatically increase spending on research and development to combat climate change. Private companies should play a supporting role by paying the costs of rolling out those technologies.

"Yes, the government will be somewhat inept," Mr. Gates said. "But the private sector is in general inept. How many companies do venture capitalists invest in that go poorly? By far most of them."

To be sure, it was not a blanket condemnation of capitalism, nor a blanket endorsement of socialism. Still, in a country where socialism is seen by a generation of Americans as a negative, often associated with Communism and the Soviet Union, Gates' comments, combined with those of Vermont Senator Sanders, could open a new debate in America, and possibly signal a shift in American views toward capitalism and socialism.

After all, one of the wealthiest men in America just offered an endorsement for socialism, and one of the men who could become America's next president is a self-described socialist whose proposal to reduce wealth inequality is a central part of his platform.

That candidate, of course, is Sanders, who has repeatedly and proudly upheld his socialist views throughout his campaign.

Sanders supported the socialist Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s, honeymooned in the Soviet Union, told a Sunday news show he's not a capitalist, and, in the first Democratic presidential debate, praised the healthcare system in Denmark, which has been called one of the top 10 most socialist countries in the world (curiously, the list excludes the officially Marxist-Leninist states of Cuba, Vietnam, and Laos, although it includes China).

Throughout his surprisingly successful run, Sanders has made a moral argument against wealth inequality, and has campaigned for free college education, a national health-care program guaranteeing coverage for all people, a higher minimum wage, and higher taxes on the wealthy. …

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