Why is Bill Gates to the Left of Scottish Politics?

The world’s biggest billionaire is now to the Left of Scottish politics on climate change. Why is that?


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  1. GreatBigHoo says:

    “One reaction is … Socialism is a nice idea, but It will never work in practice”.

    It’s actually a really, really bad idea, that never works in practice. In fact, history shows us that Socialism has always been an absolute disaster in practice, providing nothing but wholesale all encompassing misery and suffering.

    “But the reality for me is that Capitalism is an idea that is failing the meet the challenges of the 21st Century”.

    The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, as scientists (you know, those clever people who are cleverer than you, Ms Boyd).

    “Socialism is the only answer that we’ve really got”

    Let’s consider the actual evidence from the 20th century, as opposed to your dogmatic babbling.

    Let’s consider an experiment from the 20th century. Take two countries on different parts of the globe. Say, one in Europe and one in Asia. Divide them in two around the same time and have state-regulated capitalism for one half and a totalitarian command economy for the other. Run them in parallel for 40-50 years and then see what the results look like in terms of economic prosperity.

    We could do it with say, Germany and North Korea?

    How did that work out?

    Yet you are seriously suggesting Socialism?

    (Bill Gates suggested) Massive state investment in Research and Development.”

    Sure – that and investment in (appropriate for the needs of business – not ‘media studies degrees) are the only way for states to compete.

    However, this can and should be done under state regulated capitalism – absolutely not under the vile Socialism.

    “A huge carbon tax”

    That is route one to forcing the populations of advanced western liberal economies to accept large scale reductions in their standard of living and wholesale redistribution of wealth from the wealthiest to the poorest globally. NO-ONE in the west is going to accept or vote for the loss of their priveliges or entitlements and for them to be handed over to the poorest in the developing world.

    No-one, no-one (except the nuttiest, inadequate Socialists who may well have nothing to lose) are going to vote for this (i.e. a few hundred people in, for example, Scotland)

    “The state is more effective at providing solutions to the world’s problems”

    Again, see all the evidence from the 20th century, which is completely to the contrary. The market and free trade is far more effective at providing solutions to the world’s problems, lifting millions out of absolute poverty etc.

    “Socialism is about saying let’s socialise the profits”.

    Socialism is about putting power and control over everything in the hands of an apparently benevolent dictator, with it all starting out as hearts and flowers. It very soon turns into an authoritarian, totalitarian nightmare, where before you know it you are reading a list of increasingly petty rules about what ‘papers’ you have to carry before leaving the house.

    “Let’s use the profits for … ”

    You mean, let’s seize the profits to be used for (insert totalitarian dogma here)

    “the 99% of us”

    Oh fuck off.

    Though of course, the real point of this article is:

    Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me!!!

    1. GuitarG says:

      Yet another person who doesn’t know the different between.




      Some might say that’s evidence our education system is broken.

    2. Robin Stevenson says:

      I’m really not sure what your beef is with Cat GBH? How would you expect “Anyone” to present their Vlog,… behind a curtain perhaps? She is merely making her point, whether you agree or not, instead of some rabid attack, playing the man rather than the ball, probably best to focus on the issues Cat raises, personally I agree on principle with what she has to say, but I also believe that there has to be a balance of both socialism and capitalism…There you go, and I didn’t even have to attack the messenger to put my point across….easy. 🙂

    3. muttley79 says:

      Oh dear this poster appears to be very similar to Corporatist Hell, or whatever he called himself originally. He was always very angry. I suspect it is the same individual who keeps on changing his name.

    4. Heidstaethefire says:

      Is Hoo another word for arse?

  2. Jane wilson says:

    You put that so well. Thankyou

  3. Thomas Ward says:

    The comments by Bill Gates about climate change are very interesting and powerful. But climate change is a long term, fundamental issue that affects the entire planet. To jump from there, to saying that only socialism can deal with all of the issues that we face, is a huge and unjustified intellectual leap.

  4. Sandy says:

    You’re right Thomas, that logic is flawed. However, what is true is that our current system (capitalism, neo-liberalism, however you label it) has singularly failed to deal with climate change over the past 20+ years. How many more chances do we have to give it before we try something else?

  5. Roger says:

    Currently there are no free markets. All are controlled by tax and other regulations. Consider our basic requirements of shelter, food and transport:

    The housing market is tightly controlled by planning regulations. I can’t just buy a field and build a home on it but if I am lucky enough to own a home I can make as much money as I like by property speculation (swapping my home) without paying any capital gains tax. If I earned the same money by the sweat of my brow I’d be taxed heavily. This is not a free market it is bad social control of an economy to favour the rich.

    Food production is heavily controlled. There are agricultural subsidies and tax breaks notionally to help protect the long term production of resources but leading to perverse incentives like environmental destruction. e.g. If you buy a forest tomorrow you pay hardly any tax on the increase in value of the timber (and no inheritance tax) but if you work in that forest you pay tax and national insurance on the money you earn. The state therefore favours forest owners over forest workers. This is state control of the economy. In a free market, with a level playing field people would be taxed the same no matter how they earned their money.

    The roads are socially owned and maintained. Even the motorways, which could all be toll roads, are socially owned and maintained. Tax on vehicles isn’t directly proportional to use of resources. This is one reason why road haulage has taken over from rail freight so much and why it is so cheap to get an intercity bus rather than a train. Again state control of a market. Think about a £1 billion new bridge across the Forth which will be free to use because it is “good for the economy” or should that be “good for the people”. No free market but state control of where people will live and work and how they will travel.

    Other than in totally dysfunctional states (Somalia?) there is no such thing as a free market. We all live in socialist states of some kind. We just have a veneer of capitalism over the top to maintain a disparity of wealth and power.

    The question is not socialism vs capitalism it is about how we run socialist state in a more equitable way so that we still allow some level of economic enterprise.

    Personally I look on it like this. I’d like to travel on a state owned and (possibly) state run railway because it is a natural monopoly but I’m happy to have competition between the people who sell me my lunch at the station because it isn’t naturally a monopoly. The railway could be using a plethora of independent business to supply its needs. I’d like a state owned water company but would prefer a choice of which freelance plumber I get in to fit a new bath.

    As usual it is polarisation of debate into socialism vs capitalism which is the problem. Neither exit in reality!

    1. Ian Kirkwood says:

      Where the state is landlord (Hong Kong, Singapore) revenue is ‘rent’ and other taxes low. Hence the thriving, competitive and levelled nature of their economies. Per capita earnings are twice those of the UK. In such places land speculation is quoshed and public services generously funded from socially created value that crystalises in land.
      A state does not have to be landlord to accomplish this. It just has to collect the rental value (Annual Ground Rent – AGR) as proposed by the Georgist Scottish Land Revenue Group. http://www.slrg.scot
      It’s a conservative (small c) idea as it proposes returning to the way Britain was funded prior to aristocratic privatisation of the public purse.

  6. Paul says:


    Beware geeks bearing gifts…

    In a slightly pro-Microsoft manner you mention Apple selling products that were effectively invented by the state/other people but the same can be said for Microsoft’s products, both companies are exceptionally good at dressing up other people’s ideas and calling them their own – it is probably their primary talent.

    I hope you are aware that in his retirement Mr Gates is supporting companies such as Monsanto under the guise of being charitable to Africa. Personally I think activity is as bad for the Earth as if he were to throw his weight behind Exxon or some other hideous chud of a greed driven organisation that this planet is unfortunately littered with.

    Being ‘charitable’ to Africa looks like a noble cause for Gates but in supporting and therefore no doubt accelerating the development of patented GM crops it’s likely the human race will not only find itself fighting horrific climate change effects in the future but also starving while fighting corporate lawsuits if we dare to grow our own food the old fashioned way.

    Worth noting the ever selfless Koch brothers have also been on American TV a few times claiming to be for the people while poisoning entire communities. Much like the governments around the world the super elite are past masters at saying one thing and doing the polar opposite.

    Socialism and Capitalism are both flawed ideas as long as human greed trumps the needs of this planet’s inhabitants. Unless Gates and people like him start acting in a truly transparent and selfless manner they should never be held up by the 99% as poster boys/girls of positive change – I’m not sure what the answer would be but then again the successor to Microsoft’s throne will likely be the inventor of robot overlords or just turn us all into grey gloop!

    Regardless, keep doing what you’re doing Cat.

  7. Jamie says:

    This is the same Bill Gates who bought all the vaccines that contain Mercury which were banned in Europe due to the proven correlation with infertility and many other serious health issues and then forced them on the Africans. Yeah, a really great guy.

    And about climate change, the climate of the Earth has went through massive climate changes throughout the history of the Earth, great ice ages, great warmings none of which caused by Humans. This one, there is strong evidence to suggest is being caused by the heating and cooling of that giant ball of fire in the sky called the sun, funny that.

    Furthermore, climate change and carbon footprint nonsense takes away attention from the more important damage that is being done by pollution. The DDT, mercury and other toxic waste dumped in the oceans polluting the fish that we eat. The toxic computer waste dumped by the West onto Africa that is causing devastation to the health of Ghana. The overuse of pesticides and heavy metals in agriculture that is now causing dangerous amounts of contaniments to be consumed daily by the global population.

    These are the real concerns. I personally am not scared by carbon, i need it to survive, Monsanto Round up and Mercury on the other hand, I am scared of.

    1. Roger says:

      Jamie could you just clarify. Are you saying that all the things that are going wrong with the world could be put right without us changing our current lifestyle (e.g. better waste management) and all the things that would involve changing our current way of life (e.g. reducing greenhouse gas emissions) are evil conspiracies?

      By “us” I of course mean British people not foreigners who may have to change their ways.

      I believe this is the most common heuristic for selective adoption of scientific results. It works for everything from weight loss and exercise to alcohol and bacon consumption.

  8. Alf Baird says:

    What Cat is advocating is not Socialism but Marxism.

    I am interesting in her idea of public sector ‘innovation’ in a business context. Any examples?

    It is surely not bigger government we need, but better government, particularly in terms of the need to better regulate big business and monopolies in Scotland (the latter mostly not owned by Scottish firms). I am reminded of an enlightened principle from elsewhere:

    “The state, with all its civil, security and military institutions, cannot continue to be the main source of employment, as this calls for a capacity beyond its reach and a mission that the state cannot sustain forever. The citizens have to understand that the private sector is the real source of employment in the long run.” http://www.manpower.gov.om/portal/En/HMMessage.aspx

    1. Broadbield says:

      Your quote in the last para is simply an assertion by whoever. The facts are that many (most?) innovations have been sponsored by the state, but the problem is the same as has happened with financial risk, the State provides the funds, takes the risks and private enterprises reap the profits and return little, if anything, to the state. See Marianna Mazzucato: The Entrepreneurial State…. She frequently cites the iPhone as a prime example.

      As for Mr Gates. How did he get so rich? How did Carnegie get so rich? Exemplary business and employee practices? I don’t think so. And his “philanthropy” is entirely under his control, not those whom he hopes to benefit. He reminds me of the pop stars who boozed, got drugged up, sexed up and the rest, while raking in millions in tax havens and in their dotage eat nothing but organic, drink only water and preach to the rest of us.

      Finally, Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything” is an excellent primer on the nexus between climate change and capitalism/neoliberalism.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        “The facts are that many (most?) innovations have been sponsored by the state”

        With respect, that statement seems to be “simply an assertion” by you. Business innovation is all around. University innovation tends to be limited/marginal in my view, with ‘sponsorship’ eaten up by high professorial salaries and cost of equipment and infrastructure. State-run organisations are politicized, bureaucratic, have little real incentive to innovate and hence are notoriously slow to change, far less innovate.

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