Bill Gates, whose private fortune was planted and sown in the garden called Capitalism — the particular brand of America’s economy, dontcha know — just came out swinging about President Donald Trump’s “America first” mantra.
The billionaire, it appears, doesn’t agree. He thinks Trump’s signature saying manifests in part by unfairly cutting into foreign aid budgets, and he believes that the true way to greatness is paved with more and larger taxpayer handouts. At least, for others — at least, now that he’s made his.
“I don’t agree with the America first rhetoric,” Gates said, during a Q&A at Politico, reported by The Hill. “We have made the world a stable, more richer place and I think that’s good just from a pure humanitarian point of view.”
Fair enough. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. But the remark begs this question: If Gates hadn’t grown in an America first type of country, where individual talent is seen as lucrative for the individual, not the state, how motivated would he really have been to pursue his individual dreams?
“[Gates’] road to riches began when he was a tech-obsessed 13-year-old student at Lakeside School in Seattle, Washington,” CNBC wrote.
That right there would’ve led a country like China to siphon off Gates into a course of study that would’ve benefited the government — not self. But here in America?
It was foster, foster, foster — let us foster the boy’s talents and motivate him to shine.
“As Gates recalled in a 2005 speech,” CNBC went on, “the schools ‘mothers’ club came up with the money to buy a telescope that connected over the phone lines with a GE time-sharing computer. That machine effectively changed his life.”
It ultimately led to his friendship with Paul Allen, a fellow techie who would later partner with Gates to found Microsoft.
Yes indeed, that’s America at work — the talent of an individual, combined with the fostering of that talent, leading to great achievements on the backs of the free nature of this society and the free market atmosphere of this country.
That’s an America First attitude in motion.
It’s not a story of how taxpayer dole-outs fostered his individual achievement.
Don’t bite the hand that feeds, is the line that comes to mind.
It’s one thing if Gates wants to take his hard-earned money and distribute it, by his own free will, around the world to foster success in others. It’s another thing entirely if he wants American taxpayers to dig deeper to give more handouts overseas — and, along the way, discredit entirely the notions and ideals that are part of the whole America First public relations package. One’s charity, the other’s forced.
Careful now; it’s the America First mentality that leads to the American achievements and successes, that lead to the amounts of money that can be afforded for foreign aid in the first place. Remove that, remove that attitude and innovative and independent spirit, and you remove the money as well.
And that could very well leave Gates, with his bank account of millions, in the lonely position of picking up the tab.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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