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T-post Tom
05-30-2010, 03:10 PM
Anyone see B.Gates's interview on CNN today? I admire his intelligence and business acumen, but was taken aback by some of his comments. I guess he isn't big on nationalism or the interests of the American working class. He talked about equalizing the world wealth in regards to the USA only having 5% of the population but so much more wealth. Is it me, or does that seem ironic coming from a guy who's reportedly worth $53,000,000,000.00?

Mr. Gates seemed very keen on the success of China & India to produce goods with cheap labor. He also talked about their advances in IT, R&D and education in glowing terms as to how it improved the global economy. (He did not mention MicroSoft's need for new and growing markets or inexpensive labor.)

He also went on about about reducing U.S. health coverage and eliminating some of the specialists in the medical field because they run up the cost of healthcare. He said some procedures should be paid for out of the patient's pocket, even if it would prolong their life.

He delivered his remarks very carefully and adroitly. Very subtle. Maybe I'm the only one, but I thought his perspectives were a little disturbing.

Silock
05-30-2010, 10:57 PM
It's easy to say things like that when you never have to worry about money.

cdcox
05-31-2010, 12:24 AM
Yeah, I saw it. My takes on the interview.

Anyone see B.Gates's interview on CNN today? I admire his intelligence and business acumen, but was taken aback by some of his comments. I guess he isn't big on nationalism or the interests of the American working class.

I'm not big on nationalism either. I don't think Americans are inherently better than people who live in other countries. I think I could live happily in other countries. I think the American working class has to expect to compete with working people in other countries. I don't think of our standard of living as a birthright. For many years American workers were higher paid that in most any other country in the world. The reason American workers could demand more was that their productivity was higher due to American innovations. That innovation gap is closing, which is was a major theme of Gates' interview. The increased competition has already severely hurt the wages of the American working class. I don't wish that to happen, but it is just a reality of the world today.


He talked about equalizing the world wealth in regards to the USA only having 5% of the population but so much more wealth. Is it me, or does that seem ironic coming from a guy who's reportedly worth $53,000,000,000.00?

That wasn't really his point during that segment at all. He was saying that in the past the US has produced the vast majority of the world's innovation. And that in the future the the amount of innovation produced by the US will probably decrease as other countries start being more innovative. And that it would be good for the US if a Korean corporation invented a new Alzheimer's drug. Or if a Chinese company developed a technology for renewable energy. Americans could still benefit from those technologies, even if they weren't invented here.

He did say that as innovation became more evenly distributed so would material wealth. But he mentioned two caveats. One is that there are not enough resources on the planet for everyone to have the same standard of living that is currently enjoyed in the US and humans would have to become much more efficient in our use of resources for that to occur. Second, he indicated that it would take until 2050 for China (by far the fastest growing economy in the world) to catch up to the US standard of living even if they continued on their current rate of growth until then. It will be a very long time until the per capita standard of living in the rest of the world matches the US standard of living.

Seeing how his wealth came from innovation, I don't think his statements (which centered on how innovation was going to become more evenly distributed in the world) were at all inconsistent with his own personal wealth. He wasn't advocating world socialism at all.




He also went on about about reducing U.S. health coverage and eliminating some of the specialists in the medical field because they run up the cost of healthcare. He said some procedures should be paid for out of the patient's pocket, even if it would prolong their life.



Again he was really just pointing out reality. Pre-Obama-care health care costs were out of control. I believe 1/6 of our GDP goes to health care. That kind of growth in costs is just not sustainable. I have relatively good insurance and I know costs were going up and prescription benefits were going down. Obama-care does relatively little to address costs. They will probably continue to go up until everyone agrees that we have to do something.

The two examples he gave of paying for procedures out-of-pocket were a knee replacement operation to an 83-year-old and proton treatment to extend life for a couple of months for a cancer patient. If you are making tough choices about what to cover and what not to cover, most people are going to agree those are on the chopping block. The reality is that within 10 to 15 years, we will absolutely be forced into doing something major about health care costs.


He delivered his remarks very carefully and adroitly. Very subtle. Maybe I'm the only one, but I thought his perspectives were a little disturbing.


I think his perceptions of what the future holds were spot on. It is a little disturbing because it is a change from what we are used to. But the subjects that he commented on are basically extrapolations of trends that are already on going (energy issues, global competitiveness, the increasing participation in other countries in innovation, and non-sustainable rising health care costs). If our country (or less nationalistically, world) is going to successfully navigate these challenges, we are going to have to deal with the issues in ways other than being mad at the people who are breaking the news to us and blaming our political enemies.

cdcox
05-31-2010, 12:30 AM
By the way, this was on Fareed Zakaria's Global Public Square. I think it is about the most thoughtful hour on television. Here is today's episode. Gates' interview is the first 20 min or so.


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patteeu
05-31-2010, 09:36 AM
I'm not big on nationalism either. I don't think Americans are inherently better than people who live in other countries. I think I could live happily in other countries. I think the American working class has to expect to compete with working people in other countries. I don't think of our standard of living as a birthright. For many years American workers were higher paid that in most any other country in the world. The reason American workers could demand more was that their productivity was higher due to American innovations. That innovation gap is closing, which is was a major theme of Gates' interview. The increased competition has already severely hurt the wages of the American working class. I don't wish that to happen, but it is just a reality of the world today.

Do you think US culture is inherently better than Burmese culture or Taliban culture or North Korean culture? Nationalism isn't like racial supremacy. Unlike race, there are significant and meaningful differences between nations that are worthy of being compared and judged.

For example, do you value freedom of speech or the American system of government or would you be just as happy living in a repressive society led by a dictator who doesn't tolerate dissent?

I don't see a big reason to think of Canadian culture or German culture as inferior (in the way that I see Saudi Arabian culture as inferior) and I might even find some elements of Canadian or German culture superior to ours, but I'm not ready to completely adopt their systems over ours either.

Nationalism is about protecting the family and the family's way of doing things from corrupting influence or threats from the outside. We can certainly (but selectively) embrace good ideas from the outside, but we shouldn't ignore the fact that we're family and as a family we have people who share our values to rely on in a broader world that doesn't always share those same values.

cdcox
05-31-2010, 10:57 AM
Patteeu, I think it is important to distinguish between what is inherently better and what is a preference. I believe representative forms of government are inherently better than non-representative ones. It is difficult to say that food, music, or art of one culture is inherently better than another.

I think South Korea would make a good point of comparison. South Korea has a representative form of government, a high standard of living, their people have a reasonable degree of freedom (I admit to not knowing a lot of particulars), they are highly educated, have strong traditions and very close family ties. I don't think the culture of the US is inherently better, even though I strongly prefer our culture over theirs. I would much rather live in the US than live in the US than in South Korea.

Does this mean I am going to buy a Ford over a Hyundai because Ford is an American company? No, I will evaluate each car and select the best one for me.

Do I think Americans have a right to a higher standard of living vis-a-vis the fact they are American? No. If we want to have a high standard of living, we must compete for it by having high levels of education and innovation and by working hard as a people. I think that on average, the world would be a much better place without nationalistic economic practices.

As far as protecting "the family's way of doing things," I'm not sure if you mean the literal family or the nation as a family. Assuming the former (since I reject the latter), I think that is ridiculous. There are so many bad influences already in this country that I would need to protect my family from that worrying about influences from people from other countries is way down my list. And I'm not sure what you mean by "way of doing things". If my daughter wants to marry a Muslim and adopt his culture, I won't understand that and won't be happy about it. But it is her life and not something I can't control. Trying to control it by keeping others out of the country makes it appear that you perceive your own ideas and values as weak and not up to the competition.

If you mean USA as a family, I pretty much reject that notion as a reality. You'd have to convince me otherwise.

I express my culture and values by living my life. My personal culture does not need to be preserved. The US culture from this time will be preserved, at least in a historical sense. I'm confident that that the valuable aspects of my culture will be passed down and what isn't so valuable will be replaced by things that are of more value to the people living their lives in the future. That's good enough for me.

T-post Tom
05-31-2010, 09:05 PM
That wasn't really his point during that segment at all. He was saying that in the past the US has produced the vast majority of the world's innovation. And that in the future the the amount of innovation produced by the US will probably decrease as other countries start being more innovative. And that it would be good for the US if a Korean corporation invented a new Alzheimer's drug. Or if a Chinese company developed a technology for renewable energy. Americans could still benefit from those technologies, even if they weren't invented here.

He did say that as innovation became more evenly distributed so would material wealth. But he mentioned two caveats. One is that there are not enough resources on the planet for everyone to have the same standard of living that is currently enjoyed in the US and humans would have to become much more efficient in our use of resources for that to occur. Second, he indicated that it would take until 2050 for China (by far the fastest growing economy in the world) to catch up to the US standard of living even if they continued on their current rate of growth until then. It will be a very long time until the per capita standard of living in the rest of the world matches the US standard of living.

Seeing how his wealth came from innovation, I don't think his statements (which centered on how innovation was going to become more evenly distributed in the world) were at all inconsistent with his own personal wealth. He wasn't advocating world socialism at all.

Nice response. But I think there's more going on here than you acknowledge. But we're all entitled to our opinions. Seriously, eliminating proton therapy for 83 year olds getting knee replacements is nothing but a red herring. Makes for a good soundbyte, as he deftly slipped in that that we have too many specialists in the medical field. Oh really, Mr. G? So glad that you've determined that for us. And what's next on your agenda? No open heart surgery for anyone over 60? No kidney dialysis for anyone over 65? Sure, why not?

It appears to me that Mr. MS is floating trial balloons for the agenda of today's global corporations. Lowered expectations for the working class of America seems to be a constant theme in his crowd. JMHO.