Bill Gates: ‘Private Sector is Inept’. Socialism needed to stop climate change

Bill Gates in South Park


OK, Microsoft founder and tech billionaire Bill Gates didn’t come to the conclusion in the second part of the headline. But, in an extraordinary recent interview in The Atlantic he came close when admitting that the private sector could not solve climate change and that radical government-led action was required.

The private sector can’t do it because there is no money to be made, or at least not enough money.

“There’s no fortune to be made. Even if you have a new energy source that costs the same as today’s and emits no CO2, it will be uncertain compared with what’s tried-and-true and already operating at unbelievable scale and has gotten through all the regulatory problems,” Gates said. “Without a substantial carbon tax, there’s no incentive for innovators or plant buyers to switch.”

He argued that the government needs to lead the process to tackle climate change effectively. More significantly he argued that the state was the best organisation to do so because the private sector was “in general inept.”

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“Since World War II, U.S.-government R&D has defined the state of the art in almost every area,” Gates said. “The private sector is, in general, inept.”

“When I first got into this I thought, ‘How well does the Department of Energy spend its R&D budget?’ And I was worried: ‘Gosh, if I’m going to be saying it should double its budget, if it turns out it’s not very well spent, how am I going to feel about that?’” Gates told The Atlantic. “But as I’ve really dug into it, the DARPA money is very well spent, and the basic-science money is very well spent. The government has these ‘Centers of Excellence.’ They should have twice as many of those things, and those things should get about four times as much money as they do.”

The state had demonstrated its capacity and effectiveness in earlier technological advances, including computing and the internet Gates explained:

“In the case of the digital technologies, the path back to government R&D is a bit more complex, because nowadays most of the R&D has moved to the private sector. But the original Internet comes from the government, the original chip-foundry stuff comes from the government—and even today there’s some government money taking on some of the more advanced things and making sure the universities have the knowledge base that maintains that lead. So I’d say the overall record for the United States on government R&D is very, very good.”

Gates thinks that if the government invests enough money on a mutiple of technological possibilities the solutions can be found. In his view, private enterprises like his would then apply those technologies because the profit would be guaranteed.

I wonder why we need to take all the risk and then hand all the benefit over to a billionaire class to further enrich their power and control. It makes much more sense to me if publicly accountable and democratically controlled institution does the whole job.


  1. The government could hand the technology to a private firm with some form of licencing arrangement for which an annual fee could payable.

  2. The Die is Cast

    ” Alea iacta est (“The die is cast”) is a Latin phrase attributed by Suetonius (as iacta alea est [ˈjakta ˈaːlea est]) to Julius Caesar on January 10, 49 BC as he led his army across the River Rubicon in Northern Italy. With this step, he entered Italy at the head of his army in defiance of the Senate and began his long civil war against Pompey and the Optimates. The phrase is still used today in Italy (Il dado è tratto), Spain (La suerte está echada), French speaking countries (Les dés sont jetés), Brazil (A sorte está lançada), Greece (Ο κύβος ερρίφθη), The Netherlands (De teerling is geworpen) and Poland (Kości zostały rzucone) to mean that events have passed a point of no return, that something, whatever it is, will inevitably happen. ”

    We crossed the Rubicon long ago on Climate Change. No human power or organisation will stop its inevitable progression.

    • Then we must cross the Delaware.

      Some people think it’s cheaper to rent geniuse. It’s not, it just hollows out the middle class of ideas.

      • Seems to me the Delawares got ripped off successively and had to keep moving on…despite aiding the Americans in the revolutionary war…

        Nope…you just cant trust any body including Gates…his theory being flawed and only bolstering up the neo liberal grab for a monopoly on wealth holding.

        • What would the founding fathers of America think about all this. They essentially went to war to prevent cartels and unfair taxes. Now all there hard work has been undone.

          It use to be the Democrats arguing for slavery. Oh how times have changed.

          • They own paper wealth. It’s all paper. Look into the FED vaults, any vault, all you will find is belly button lint.

            Because you can’t tapper a ponzi schem

    • Kevin Moore says:

      ” ‘Prepared on behalf of Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP, by Kevin Lister, BSc, MBA, MSc, 29th May 2015
      Climate change briefing paper’

      ‘The safe limit to avoid runaway climate change is below 350ppm. This level was exceeded in 1986.’

      James Hansen sounded the alarm in 1988, and was ignored.

      Maintaining Ponzi economics in the short term was deemed more important to bought-and-paid-for politicians than maintaining habitat for humans (or much else).

      Climate negotiations 1997 = fail.

      Climate negotiations 2007 = fail.

      Maintaining Ponzi economics in the short term is still deemed more important to bought-and-paid-for politicians than maintaining habitat for humans (or much else), even if it were possible to do anything to mitigate climate catastrophe.

      Climate negotiations 2017 = fail.

      It is unlikely there will be any climate negotiations in 2027.

      Nature does not negotiate. Nature just follows the laws of chemistry and physics. And the laws of chemistry and physics are not negotiable. ”

    • I agree he has no credibility nor does the funded $cientists in climategate scandal.
      I’d flush media releases from Bill Gates (& the eugenic foundation).
      What a bunch of carbon zombie stooges, in a recession trying to get society to agree to the additional costs of Carbon taxes and Wall st Carbon trading.
      Which of course does not change the climate but will increases poverty and give the .01% invested in this Carbon scam more wealth .
      What a weak play ignoring all the geoengineering, methane bursts,weather modification(weaponization) and outrageous lies about” Man made” Co2 emissions causing global warming of “2%”.

    • Interesting that climate-change deniers point to Lomborg as some kind of “authority” on this problem. He’s not. He’s not a climatologist nor a scientist.

      He works for the Copenhagen Business School as an adjunct professor. According to his ‘bio’ at Wikipedia;

      Lomborg lectured in statistics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus as an assistant professor (1994–1996) and associate professor (1997–2005). He left the university in February 2005 and in May of that year became an adjunct professor in Policy-making, Scientific Knowledge and the Role of Experts at the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School.[7]

      Early in his career, his professional areas of interest lay in the simulation of strategies in collective action dilemmas, simulation of party behavior in proportional voting systems, and the use of surveys in public administration. In 1996, Lomborg’s paper, “Nucleus and Shield: Evolution of Social Structure in the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma”, was published in the academic journal, American Sociological Review.[8]


      So the guy is as much an expert of climate as I am on quantum mechanics.

      Hmmm, funny thing, I seem to recall someone else (another climate change denier) last year (?) some months ago (?) who tried using Lomborg as an authoritative source here on TDB…

      • Furthermore, according to ‘The Guardian’, three years aho;

        Lomborg, working through the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, of which he is director, has been highly critical of proposals to tackle climate change. While accepting that climate change is happening, he argues that current policies for reducing emissions are not only failing but are a waste of money as well. Instead of trying to cut emissions we should focus on adaptation…


        ‘Adaptation’, huh? How should we adapt in Auckland, Wellington, Chjristchurch, Dunedin, and every other coastal town when sealevels rise, I wonder? Evolve gills overnight?

        Bloody idiot. He’s condemning every major coastal city on this planet to a watery doom, if humans are stupid enough to follow his views.

  3. Bill Gates and Prince Charles is the best climate advocates we have at the moment. They are talking to the 1%, that’s as good as it gets.

    • All good but maybe the need to be explaining to the 1% they and their corporations also need to pay their fair share of taxes so they can afford this research.

      • There are plenty of political science reports out there that say 70% of kiwis are happy to pay more taxes for a deeper choice.

        Right now if you want to travel to work, the markets offer you two choices, Toyota or Kia. The markets don’t offer pub
        It transport as an option.

        So we can vote for all we like. But we will never get it, those deeper choices because because the markets don’t offer those solutions.

        The only solutions is if we talk more with each other

        • I think if you asked a group of 1%er (you will find the 70% mainly made up of ‘average/ middle class kiwis – people who don’t socialize with the Walton family or Oprah type class of money) these figures would steeply dive. Middle/working class wages are dropping while 1% incomes are rising. Those who have social access to this moneyed tier need to advocate to the social sphere they inhabit: if govt does the best work and there are some who’s wealth is such that it is not worth them bending down to pick up a $1000, they need to contribute more as they have the ability to.

          • I’m not worried about income inequality as much as absolute poverty and climate change. In the sense that as long as we establish a base that people can survive in a semi-comfortable existence, then inequality is not really to be worried about.

            On the other hand we also have seen that the rich are trying to lower the living standards of the poor such that inequality must be addressed as part of wider climate change solutions. If the 1% can’t abide the poor having a sustainable quality of life, then I cannot abide them being taxed less than 90% of all income sources. Everytime someone advocates reducing benefits for the poor, I’m going to advocate raising taxes on the rich, and the sensible should do the same.

  4. Ah ? Isn’t that what NZ/ Aotearoa is ( was ) best known for ? We, the people, via the taxes we paid, built a first-world country, for us to all feel safe and secure within, to travel about on and live comfortably and happily knowing we’d never go hungry, homeless or die of preventably poor health while not being exploited, thus worked to death by greedy, conniving lunatics?

    And then along came the likes of roger douglas. He emerged from Labour like a parasite hatching and simply took that which was ours and gave it to the lunatics to squander for their personal wealth creation?

    It doesn’t take a bill gates to tell me what went wrong and is getting worse. I know this stuff.

    What I want is a group of stout and erstwhile fellows and gentle women to find roger douglas and politely ask him for our stuff and things back and the names and addresses of those privateers who now live millionaire ( and billionaire ) lives while I have to read about 305 thousand hungry little Kiwi kids?

    I mean ? Is that too much to ask ?

    ” Political scientists and economists who’ve undertaken peer-reviewed research into policy outcomes have concluded that all over the world, and at every level of government, wealth inequality is correlated with corrupt policy-making in which politicians create laws and regulations that favor the rich at the expense of the wider public. ”

    I.e. Public risk / private profit. I.e. Theft. It’s not computer science Bill.

    • Very little of this is accurately reported by the media and investigative journalists, the media is controlled by the 1% percenters.

      Nicky Harger has tried to expose this sort of thing and has been hounded by the Police under the direction of the Government?

  5. +1 He argued that the government needs to lead the process to tackle climate change effectively. More significantly he argued that the state was the best organisation to do so because the private sector was “in general inept.”

  6. The lesson the Bill Gates seems to have learnt is the same one in The Entrepreneurial State by Mariana Mazzucato. The simple fact of the matter is that it has always been the government that has driven innovation. The private sector has then come along and got rich on that innovation and skips paying their taxes.

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