Bill Gates’ Billions Blocking Him From Enlightenment
Citizen Microsoft, Seattle Weekly Cover
Last week, Bill Gates called on political leaders to accelerate innovation. “But innovation starts with government support for the research labs and universities working on new insights,” he said. “The public sector’s investments unlock the private sector’s ingenuity.” His goals are admirable: sustainable energy, curing diseases and a world-class education for all. But his privilege as the wealthiest man in the world keeps him blinded to reality and his own hypocrisy, something he’s made incredibly obvious these past few weeks.
Before I explain, let me say Bill Gates changed my life. Working for Microsoft in the ’90s made me a multi-millionaire. This wealth has given me a level of privilege and independence that has allowed me to write with an independent voice, to pursue my activism vocally without consequence and even to more ably afford life-preserving brain surgery. I only met him a handful of times but one of my favorite memories was a twenty-person meeting where he asked me, “What!! Do you think I’m stupid?” The room went quiet because privilege and authority is intimidating.
But Gates’ privilege blinds him to how things work for real people and his own role in the actual barriers between where we are and the innovation he seeks. Bill, you’re not stupid but there’s a lot you don’t understand and it’s holding you back from becoming a truly enlightened leader.