Bill Gates On Creative Capitalism: Why We Need To Listen

On January 25, 2008, in Business, Community, Goodwill, International, Motivation, by Black Fives Foundation

Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland calls for “creative capitalism,” the use of market forces to address the needs of the poor.

Bill Gates is giving an important speech today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Gates is calling for “creative capitalism” that will use market forces to address the needs of the poor.

I agree with Gates and his ideas, and I disagree with the Wall Street Journal’s criticism of his ideas.

First check this:

The Journal says “Bill Gates Calls For Kinder Capitalism” and characterizes Gates’ view as “a revision of capitalism.”

But it’s not a “revision” he’s after. He wants capitalism to come back to it’s original roots.

To its credit, the Journal includes that Gates will quote Adam Smith, whose 1759 book, The Wealth of Nations, is the blueprint for capital markets. But he’ll go further, quoting Smith’s prior essay, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which argues that it’s human nature for man to take interest “in the fortune of others.”

Don’t you just love Bill Gates?! Wow! He knows how to MAKE HISTORY NOW!

These writings are like scripture for economists, and Gates is correct to go back to that source.

The Journal also gives a nod to Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh, who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his theories about how micro-loans to the poor can eradicate poverty.

In Creating a World Without Poverty, Yunus says free market capitalism is “a half-developed structure” because of its “failure to capture the essence of what it is to be human.” Rather than being one-dimensionally focused on profit, he says, humans are “excitingly multi-dimensional.”

Man strives for something higher.

Man must give.

“Which is why,” Yunus says, “tycoons from Andrew Carnegie to the Rockefellers to Bill Gates have ultimately turned away from the game of profit to focus on higher objectives.”

So Yunus is going to the vault too. He too is making history now! (By the way, Yunus is a good sport, judging from his recent appearance on The Colbert Report.)

Yunus agrees with Gates and Adam Smith and Rockefeller and Carnegie.

Which means they all agree with Think and Grow Rich author Napoleon Hill (see my earlier post), who insisted that “giving” is a prerequisite for success and wealth.

Why? Because when we give, we prove that we believe the universe is abundant. When we believe that, then it becomes true.

12th Street Colored Y.M.C.A.

The 12th Street Colored Y.M.C.A. in Washington, D.C., made in 1910 possible through giving.

Successful people know that there isn’t a better feeling than that which comes from giving. It’s a well-kept secret that that’s the real reward of becoming rich (after the toys, of course).

Julius Rosenwald knew that. He’s mentioned in Hill’s book as one of the industrialists who truly understood “Carnegie’s secret.”

In 1911, Rosenwald, the new chairman of Sears, Roebuck, and Co., created an unprecedented challenge grant program through which he pledged $25,000 toward the construction of new Y.M.C.A.s in African American communities if those neighborhoods could raise $75,000 on their own.

In all, 25 Colored Y.M.C.A.s were built in 23 American cities with Rosenwald’s matching grant program, including the Twelfth Street Colored Y.M.C.A. in Washington, D.C., the Wabash Avenue Y.M.C.A. on the South Side of Chicago, the Christian Street Y in South Philadelphia, and the Carlton Avenue Y in Brooklyn.

This was a major breakthrough in the evolution of black basketball, giving early African American teams and players a place to play and hone their skills.

These people — Gates, Rosenwald, Yunus, Carnegie, Smith — they all agree, don’t they?

They share something in common — a definite major purpose– don’t they?

I’ve written about this before, particularly as it relates to the self-destruction of seemingly successful people (black athletes, in my example).

What is Bill Gates doing “through” his work?

What are you doing “through” your work?

And remember, Gates is talking about poverty everywhere, including the poverty that exists in our own mentality sometimes.

Giving isn’t a revision of capitalism, it’s an integral part of capitalism. The Wall Street Journal missed this essential point.

But you didn’t and I didn’t!

That’s why we’re making history now!

9 Responses to Bill Gates On Creative Capitalism: Why We Need To Listen

  1. Christina says:

    Hey Claude,

    I so appreciate your insight. I agree, it’s key that we understand the power of giving and an oversight by the WSJ.

    It is short-sighted to think that what we do, even the smallest thing, positive or negative, doesn’t impact the world. It is a universal law. Imagine if every business, organization or foundation functioned on the premise that unless we help others succeed, we don’t succeed. (Not to plug our business, but that is one aspect that we have grown to really appreciate).

    I love that you continue to remind us of our role in all this.

  2. Claude says:

    Thanks Christina, the issue is as much a function of mentality as anything else, if not more. Of course conditions play a role, but if you listen carefully to Yunus here (humor aside) you can see that people want to change their lives and all they need is a chance. Too often, we get those chances and opportunities laid before us here in our own back yard and don’t or won’t take advantage of them due to the mentality or lack of exposure. So I like Gates for sharing and exposing people to the way he’s thinking.

  3. Rosenwald also offered matching grants to help build or improve 5,500 Black schools in the segregated South, until his death in 1915. The schools had to be chosen by Booker T. Washington’s agents, their communities raise half the money themselves. The Sears president’s photo thus graced the wall of many a “Black” schoolroom.

  4. Cassandra says:

    Hey Claude,

    Thank you for bringing such an important article and topic to our consciousness. It is said that being poor is a sin, particularly in a society of capitalism. It is ones responsibility to acquire wealth and then share it as did Andrew Carnegie and now Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. I feel extremely grateful that the forefront of benificiaries of capitalism are conscious, living now, giving now, and in touch with the human spirit! Oprah is also in mix, as are others. As I think… may I grow rich…. remain conscious… and regularly experience the best feelings of life…. giving!!!

  5. Claude says:

    Bijan, thanks for that reminder. He also built the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Coincidentally, he was born in Springfield, Illinois in a house across the street from where Lincoln had once lived. Rosenwald was known to say, “Treat people fairly and honestly and generously and their response will be fair and honest and generous.” A straight up dude.

    Cassandra, thanks. “It is said that being poor is a sin …” Wow. We have to be careful with that. On the one hand, poverty is often a condition forced upon people. On the other hand, “poor” is so often a state of mind. I’m hoping you mean the latter. That is, often, people with the least have the most to give and offer everything? Conversely, you ever notice how some people who seemingly have everything have the least to offer and offer the least?

  6. Claire says:

    As far as poor being a sin, being wealthy also can be sinful, depending on how one manages that wealth.

    With regard to giving, it’s not just that sharing our abundance with others increases our own abundance – that would be true for anyone that has more than anyone else, even if that person is poor. It is that those who are wealthy indeed have a DUTY and responsibility to give of their wealth in the furtherance of good for others and society. This is the point made by Carnegie in his famous essay The Gospel of Wealth – the expectation is higher for those who are wealthy. He argued in addition to giving wealth away when alive, the wealthy should not leave their wealth to their family members. It should be left in trusts or granted to causes. Leaving wealth to family leaves those family members weak, irresponsible and without an appreciation for honest capitalism or an understanding of the duty and reward of philanthropy. For those who keep their wealth to themselves, Carnegie wrote, “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.”

    I think one reason that Gates seems like such a phenomenon now is that as a society we have digressed from the Carnegie ideal. Perhaps our digression as a society makes us more sinful in this regard than not, which is why Gates seems like a saint. I agree with Claude’s original point that Gates is not asking for something new, he’s asking for something old, something ancient actually. He could also call it “conscious capitalism” or “moral capitalism” or a number of other things. The point is, strive for wealth, and then share it generously and wisely, consciously and conscientiously. There are many people not as famous and not as wealthy as Gates who share their wealth. Gates’ prominence, however, allows him to be a model for helping us return to a state of grace.

  7. Claude says:

    Hey Claire, there are a lot of Carnegie-haters, the same as Gates-haters. Meanwhile, would you say that the term “wealth” as you use it (via Carnegie) can be applied to inner as well as outer wealth? In other words, if you have a big heart and a lot of love to give (and nothing else, for example) then you are bound to give it? Either that or you can’t help it anyway, right?

  8. Claire says:

    I focused on financial wealth because that was the topic of the WSJ article and also the topic of Carnegie’s essay; but the same applies for all things that we have in abudance.

    As far as Carnegie-haters and Gates-haters, they sound like sour apples to me – very green sour apples!

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