Bill Gates promotes the teaching of Marxist dialectics in school? Is this some sort of joke? Well, yes and no. It is not true, of course, that Bill Gates has ever publicly called for the economic policies of Karl Marx to be taught in schools. At least not as far I know. But recently the poster boy for capitalist exploitation and excess made a public statement that illustrates just why the theories of Karl Marx should be taught in public schools in America. (Of course, I have no hope that Marxist theory will ever be taught in Christian schools, despite the fact that socialist economics has far more in common with the manner in which Jesus Christ is portrayed in the Bible than anything approaching free enterprise based on private ownership.)
Recently, Bill Gates appeared on the PBS talk show The Charlie Rose Show, along with his wife Melinda and superbillionaire Warren Buffett. Much ado was being made over Buffett’s decision to part with tens of billions of dollars as he approaches the end of his life. This money will go to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for use in the treatment of infectious diseases that are lucky enough not to affect rich people as well as poor. The money, in essence, is theoretically directed toward annihilating the death rate among the nation’s poor by attacking diseases that aren’t receiving the billions of dollars available from governmental or high-profile charity foundations.
Understand that I do applaud that idea. I have nothing against Buffett or Gates spending their huge billions to help out the planet’s poorest inhabitants. I do have some problems with people who don’t understand it’s just as much a public relations stunt meant to leave a good taste in the minds of people when Buffett passes on within the next decade. But enough about that; this is supposed to be about Gates and Marx.
To use the names Bill Gates and Karl Marx in the same sentence and not do it in a way that makes them diametrically opposed has probably never been accomplished. But I state here and now that Bill Gates-specifically a statement made by Gates-should be considered the foremost lesson in why Marxist economics needs to be taught to schoolchildren starting right now.
Bill Gates at one point during the interview with Charlie Rose confessed that he was surprised to learn that not all medical needs receive the benefits of research. During his own ascension to philanthropist Gates has come to learn that certain diseases get a lot more money for research than others. Do you understand Gates was saying? He was saying that he-the single richest person on the planet today, possibly ever-was not aware that market conditions determine which diseases receive funding. It’s not as if Gates was born fabulously wealthy and therefore was never in touch with reality-like the President-he spent a good portion of his life in relatively normal economic circumstances. He was a smart student. And yet he never learned that diseases that affect mostly people who live in poorer circumstances aren’t earmarked for the same kind of funding that diseases that affect wealthier people along with the poor.
As an example, lets take Aids. Obviously, Aids affects both rich and poor alike. Now let’s take cholera. You have to live within a certain kind of lower economic level to contract cholera. Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury weren’t ever going to contract cholera. Magic Johnson wasn’t ever going to contract it either. When rich and poor people alike contract a disease, pharmaceutical companies can make up their losses in selling to poor people by also selling to rich people. When their medicine is only going to be sold to people who cannot afford it, where’s the incentive?
How old is Bill Gates? In his forties? Fifties? And only now, in 2006, did he come to learn that medical research is determined by the relations of production. If you can’t make a profit by curing a disease that mainly affects people in Third World countries, then why bother? How could he have not have known that?
Bill Gates has proven that it’s time for America to finally throw off its shackles of fear over Marxism and educate the people on how this system they consider so perfect really works. We keep hearing that gas prices are rising strictly as a result of natural supply and demand. Natural supply and demand doesn’t create staggering increases in profit that Exxon and the other oil companies earned last year. If gas prices were merely reflecting a natural fluctuation in supply and demand, then shouldn’t oil company profits also reflect a natural rise in line with the same supply and demand. Yet last year Exxon reported the biggest profit in American corporate history.
Bill Gates, if he is to be believed, was completely ignorant of how economics works; he apparently thought that if there is a demand, there will be a rush to meet it with a supply of products. After all, that’s how the system works right? No, that’s not how it works. Supply and demand is not what drives the American economy. Creating a demand that a company can supply with high priced products is much closer to how our system operates. Stoking that demand with identical products and yearly updates keeps the engine humming. A worldwide demand for nutritional food and adequate clothing and shelter exists; where is the supply? To the best of my knowledge, there was never any great demand for ugly little dolls supposedly born beneath a cabbage, nor was there any universal outcry for shoddily constructed baby animals stuffed with beans. Yet hundreds of millions paid outrageous sums of money to collect these things, while billions of people went hungry every night.
Bill Gates became famous, as well as infamous, by becoming a billionaire despite never actually having an original idea; the accidental billionaire. In keeping with that history, he may just become famous for introducing the anti-capitalist ideas of Karl Marx into American schoolrooms. After all, if a billionaire is totally ignorant of the way the American economic system works, why should we expect anything different from a third grader?