We are witnessing the unraveling of one of the great pretensions of our age.
All along, we were told that these billionaires really cared about equality and justice above all. Bill Gates was trotted out as the example of choice when others behaved more dubiously.
But when you start to come after his wealth, even Bill Gates gets cagey.
Then there’s this stunning moment.
Gates refuses to reject a vote for Trump if Warren, with her wealth-taxing impulse, is running opposite him.
Gates actually says he would need to think about which of the two is more professional.
We need to unpack how astonishing this is.
First of all, when critics like me argue that philanthropy is no substitute for taxation and a fairer set of social arrangements, billionaires like Gates fire back: Yes, I support higher taxes. But we don’t have them now, so I need to do this philanthropy.
Now here come two out of the top three candidates with major proposals to take away a big share of Gates’s wealth in order to build a more equitable society. And now that the prospect is real, not only isn’t he excited about it, he mulls voting for a white nationalist to stop it.
This is a guy who does stuff for Africa all day every day. Malaria nets up the wazoo. But he will contemplate voting for a president who speaks of those places as “shithole countries” because he doesn’t favor a wealth tax?
This is a guy who does work to empower women and girls. But a violent, predatory misogynist isn’t a dealbreaker for him in a president — because Warren’s wealth tax is higher than he deems right?
This is a game-changing moment for this conversation. Because if we can’t even trust Bill Gates to put his desire for a better world above his self-preservational plute drive, then who on planet earth can we trust?
One by one, these plutes are revealing themselves. And here even the most generous one by many measures is vacillating on the clearest moral choice of our time. He is open to voting for a racist, misogynist, lawbreaking tyrant because he dislikes a wealth tax.
And now think of this.
This is the same mind making big decisions about Common Core and your kids’ public education. About health priorities for entire societies. About pandemic preparedness. How do we trust these solutions once the mask slips and we see the paramount need?
“There is no circumstance under which I could ever vote for Donald Trump“ is the only appropriate answer to this question.
Suggesting there is anything to “decide” here is appalling.
And to those of you who are claiming somehow that this was a sly endorsement of Warren, please pay attention to the tense here.
It’s the future tense. He is explicitly saying he would have to decide between them. And he isn’t sure who will have a more professional way.
“I will weigh.”
Like, that choice isn’t a done deal for him. He needs to think about it.
This is a very, very big problem.
Here’s the basic thing: If the jury is still out for you on which of these two people is more professional, your definition of professional clearly isn’t being of sound mind, etc.
Your definition of professional would seem to be instead about policy choices, and your interests.
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