Friday, January 25, 2008

Billionaires Biting the Hand That Fed Them

Lawrence Kudlow has an excellent article about some anti-capitalism comments made by Bill Gates. He also points out that George Soros and Warren Buffett have also been anti-capitalism in their rhetoric. Which only makes me wonder why it is that these billionaires are complaining about the very system that made them billionaires. One could by cynical and suggest that they are just saying, "Now that I've got mine, screw everyone else." Or one could suggest they are being more insidious than that and are coming out against capitalism because capitalism is the best way for competition to come along and threaten their ongoing moneymaking. Any laws that are essentially anti-capitalist would work to preserve the status quo and protect the current crop of billionaires from competition. At least, that's been the outcome most of the time in history when interventionist laws have been passed. Bill Gates has been laughing all the way to the bank ever since the Clinton administration went after Microsoft on anti-trust violations. The result of the feds going after Microsoft was a stock market crash that eliminated half of Gates' competition. The debt incurred by those companies foolish enough to have brought the suit against Microsoft finished bankrupting most of them. It hurt Microsoft for a few months, but over the years, the company has more than made the money back -- and all without any real competition. The feds took care of all of that for them.

I find it suspicious that those who have made billions, once they have made their billions, suddenly gain such wisdom about what is best for everyone else. It's not the same formula the worked for them, of course, but something else. Something that, historically, has squandered the wealth of those nations wise enough to have had mostly free markets at one time. If Bill Gates and Warren Buffett want to give their money away, that's their business. It's their money. Personally, I think their money would be better spent opening businesses in the very countries they want to help. Or, just as helpful, they should use their money to get property rights protections in the poorest countries so it will be possible for people to open and keep their own businesses. But using that money to campaign against the only system known to man to have ever produced the kind of wealth as free markets in open societies with rule of law and protection of property rights have produced is about the worst use of that money one can imagine.
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