Class Warfare Blog

August 14, 2013

One More Time!

Now that Bill Gates, through his foundation, has decided he knows exactly what is needed to remake public education (funding charter schools with no accountability to the public, funding the Common Core Curriculum, a national top-down curriculum forbidden by law, etc.), I want to say “I told you so.” Gates misguided efforts as an educational reformer are just part and parcel of a plutocratic system where the uber-rich get their say and you don’t. Here is part of a post from June 2010.

Bill Gates’ Ideas are Better than Yours
. . .
My main point here is that the Republican’s guiding principle that “taxpayers will spend their money more wisely than government” should apply to businesses, too. My example is Bill Gates. Bill Gates donated 100 billion (that’s Billion, not Million) dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which he runs with his wife. So, where did he get 100 billion dollars to donate? Everyone knows the story, so I won’t repeat it here. The point to be made is that Bill doesn’t need 100 billion dollars that he “earned” to live on. Not to pay his electrical bill, nor his cable bill, nor any other mundane expense. He has enough other money to cover his living expenses lavishly until he dies with some set aside for his kids. So the $100 billion dollars, well, he didn’t really need it.

He accumulated $100 billion dollars he didn’t need . . . how? (I know I am leading you by the hand, but stick with me, okay?) He generated $100 billion he did not need, even to be wealthy, by charging his customers more than he really needed to. If you bought a copy of Microsoft Windows ever (I have a copy of Windows 1.0 in my collection!), you were overcharged. Every copy ever sold was priced way too high. (Bill Gates isn’t the only person to make more money than he could possibly spend from Microsoft. Let’s see, there is Paul Allen, and. . . .) So, what are the consequences? The consequences are that Bill Gates’ ideas are better than yours. He has $100 billion dollars to invest in any idea he thinks is a good one. My ideas don’t count for much, because I don’t have money to invest in them and the task of finding investors is daunting—they all want to make money and Bill’s ideas, the ones he is investing in, aren’t to make money but to make the world a better place but then, so are many of mine.

For those of you who think I am picking on Bill and Melinda, because they are doing such good things for hungry people, for poor people, etc. I say, “So?” (Thanks, Dick Cheney!) According to the Republicans, you and I would do a better job of spending that money than Bill and Melinda are doing. The Gate’s programs are the equivalent of “do gooder” government programs that we also have had no say in supporting. Like the government, Bill and Microsoft took too much money out of our pockets to support programs that we had no say in. And many of these Gates Foundation programs are for people in other countries. Egad, they are the equivalent of foreign aid!

Okay, I will stop picking on Bill and Melinda, a nice if somewhat dorky couple. Let’s look at the dark side. Other “business persons” have accumulated way more money than they could possibly spend and they are using their funds for not so “positive” purposes. Rich conservatives have endowed Washington think tanks from which cushy jobs are offered to disgraced Republicans. Also from these think tanks much questionable “reports” and “research” flows.

Companies in the health insurance field paid $609,000 dollars a day for the first six months of 2009, trying to make sure that any health care reform that was drafted didn’t hurt their bottom lines. Could you scrape up $609,000? Could you scrape up another $609,000 for tomorrow? Where can you get such amounts of money? Where did they get such sums? This is money that was outside of the huge profits paid to shareholders and monies paid to cover overhead and to pay claims, mind you. Do you think, maybe, it was from charging way more for their services than they actually needed?

These are examples of individuals and companies accumulating such vast amounts of money that what they think counts for far more than any one, any hundred, or any million of us think. Our representatives in Congress vote with their corporate sponsors, no matter what their constituents think, and they aren’t even smart enough to cover that fact up.

Allowing huge piles of money to be in the hands of so few people and corporations is anti-democratic. In fact, disparity between the rich and the rest of us in income and property and total wealth are all at all-time highs. If this continues, there will be no democracy, no “one man, one vote.”

So, if you think I am some kind of closet socialist, coming out, think again. This country figured out how to keep the wealthy in line. A line that allowed them every luxury a mind could dream of, just not enough wealth to buy the Congress or small countries. If you want to see what America looks like in such a system, look at the 1960s. The changes of the New Deal and from the stresses of WWII under Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, given a little time to take effect through the 1950s, produced a balanced country where the rich were rich and the poor were poor but the rich didn’t run things entirely to their betterment. The middle class was large and robust and were the primary customers for American businesses, and if we could recreate such a balanced condition, business would boom (again) and poor people would be less poor and the middle class folks wouldn’t be huddling in fear of bankruptcy.

We did it before, we can do it again. Join the fight . . . or die poor.

 

6 Comments »

  1. In defense of capitalism – companies HAVE TO overcharge for their products, that’s the only reason they exist in the first place. And we have a choice whether we want their products enough to overpay for it. (Of course, that doesn’t work with things like health care, education, and most of what the government does already). We just need a progressive tax system (not what we have) to level the playing field.
    I agree that people who have a few billion dollars to throw around, would have a much easier time to get their ideas implemented. They also probably feel more entitled that their ideas are heard. But, if you had $100 billion, wouldn’t you try to fund the ideas you think are correct? I know I would. Now, where do I get $100 billion for both of us?….

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    Comment by List of X — August 14, 2013 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

    • Obviously, you need to provide for the growth of your company, overhead, etc. But Bill Gates and Paul Allen became multi-multi-billionaires out of * profits* after all overhead, R&D, new facilities, etc. had been taken out. I am all in favor of people making good money (some of my best friends are rich), but when individuals collect amounts of money so vast that they cannot spend on themselves and their families, they start getting ideas about what is good for the rest of us and they *are* (not will) buying the decision making process out from under us. We no longer make the decisions, they do. And Bill Gates is no more discerning than you or I and, I think, singularly unqualified to be an educational reformer. I don’t mind him working on hunger and disease, etc. but screwing up a whole generation’s educations?

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      Comment by stephenpruis — August 14, 2013 @ 9:52 pm | Reply

      • “Some of my friends are rich” I love this 🙂
        Yes, Gates is probably not more qualified to reform education than, say, brain surgery. Wasn’t he a college drop out, too?
        The thing with many high-tech businesses, like Microsoft, Apple, Pfizer – is that they have a very high overhead and very low production costs for each additional unit. The production cost for additional Windows CD is probably around $1, or $2 with the fancy packaging. So once the product gets past the break-even point (if it does), it brings in insane profit margins and more money than they can spend.

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        Comment by List of X — August 14, 2013 @ 10:08 pm | Reply

        • Hey, it’s true, I love hanging out with rich people. Have you ever read the book “The Millionaire Next Door”?

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          Comment by stephenpruis — August 15, 2013 @ 7:51 am | Reply

          • No, I haven’t. It’s just that a comment “some of my friends are rich people” from the author of Class Warfare blog sounds so much like the ever popular “some of my friends are black people”. 🙂

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            Comment by List of X — August 17, 2013 @ 8:16 am | Reply

            • You hit the nail on the head. It was a play on that phrase (. . . and I do like hanging out with rich people, which I have done twice in my life). And the point is that it isn’t rich people per se, it is people who think that because they are rich, they are special and can reshape the world the way they want to.

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              Comment by stephenpruis — August 21, 2013 @ 11:38 am | Reply


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