Is It Something In the Air? Gates on Creative Capitalism

My last post on Bill Strickland noted that one man has started from a hard spot, risen, and lifted many on his way up. Now Bill Gates, privileged man, ruthless business man has seen the light and preaches creative capitalism. (It kind of reminds me of the scene in the Blues Brothers when the boys see the light and decide to reunite the band. Bill is less animated but may have a little more power).

Here is a short interview from the Wall Street JournalAnd here is the entire speech from Davos.

Now to be clear is there reason to question the world’s richest man who attained his position through a different philosophy? Sure. But he has new view. It is worth a listen. And yes let the pure market folks begin the parade of derision. Mr. Gates may be overstating the ideals and in some ways seems to be treading the corporate social responsibility ideas of the past. Still, he is not exactly an idiot. His new ideas rubbing against the market ideas with which he is I think familiar may yield new ways to bring about the creative capitalism he is trying to espouse. As I write this post Gates talks of MS’s philanthropy. It is hard to swallow. Many of the press stories about MS show it as purely driven to colonize the world. Gates says there is more to what MS does. Yet maybe as Google rises, Gates really wants to undercut it. Maybe he thinks he can do it with this move. Whatever the result, Mr. Gates is using Adam Smith, C.K. Prahalad, who wrote “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, and many other sources to inform his philosophy.

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5 Responses

  1. started the parade in a post a couple of days ago, in which it’s pointed out that most business people hate capitalism, because capitalism implies competitiion, which business people hate. Especially monopolists like Bill Gates. It’s worth considering the possibility that people like Gates support the mainstreaming of CSR is their expectation that a social norm (or, even better, legal rules) mandating “social responsibility” will create barriers to entry by potential competitors by raising costs.

  2. Deven says:

    Hmm. Steve, thanks for the points. In your post it seems you think I do not view some of Gates motives with the proper amount of suspicision. Yet the sentence right after your post’s quote states “As I write this post Gates talks of MS’s philanthropy. It is hard to swallow. Many of the press stories about MS show it as purely driven to colonize the world. Gates says there is more to what MS does. Yet maybe as Google rises, Gates really wants to undercut it. Maybe he thinks he can do it with this move.”

    In other words, yes, this whole thing could be a ruse. I just think it will be interesting to see where he goes with the ideas. If he is using the idea as you describe, I think the people he relies on may call him out. It may not matter but it could limit that motive. We’ll see.

  3. Bruce Boyden says:

    Ruses themselves can restrict behavior; e.g. by requiring that behavior that exposes the ruse not be open, which limits the sort of behaviors you can engage it.

  4. Deven says:

    Bruce, What’s the frequency Kenneth? Afraid you lost me.

  5. MS Bob says:

    “Still, he is not exactly an idiot”

    But, alas, he is an economic idiot.