Retired billionaire Bill Gates sat for an interview with columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin at the The New York Times DealBook Conference on Wednesday. During the interview, Gates said he was all for more progressive taxation of wealth in our society and believed that more “transparency” was needed to expose how large companies and individuals are able to protect wealth from taxation. But for all of his lip service to the concept of more “progressive” taxation policies, Gates didn’t want to endorse anything resembling a progressive tax policy.
BILL GATES: You know, I’ve paid over $10 billion in taxes, you know I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes. But you know, I’m glad to, you know have paid them, if I had had to pay $20 billion it’s fine, you know? But, you know, when you say I should pay $100 billion, okay, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over. Sorry, I’m just kidding. So you really want the incentive system to be there and you can go a long ways without threatening that.
Fine. That’s his opinion. Most people don’t exactly agree with his opinions because most people haven’t seen any of the benefits from the “incentive system” that the rich keep arguing will disappear if they are taxed. However, when Sorkin followed that up by asking if Gates had spoken to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (he hasn’t) and whether or not he would want to sit down to talk with one of the leading Democratic politicians in the country about her taxation plan, Gates was sort of shitty about it.
GATES: You know I’m not sure how open minded she is. Or if she would be willing to sit down with somebody who has large amounts of money.
Because she has a plan for that, Sen. Warren called Gates’ bluff on Twitter.
I’m always happy to meet with people, even if we have different views.@BillGates, if we get the chance, I’d love to explain exactly how much you’d pay under my wealth tax. (I promise it’s not $100 billion.)
I'm always happy to meet with people, even if we have different views. @BillGates, if we get the chance, I'd love to explain exactly how much you'd pay under my wealth tax. (I promise it's not $100 billion.) https://t.co/m6G20hDNaV
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 7, 2019
Gates replied because his mentions probably went through the roof.
I greatly respect your commitment to finding ways to address wealth inequality and poverty at home. While we may disagree about some of the ways to get there, we certainly agree we need a lot of smart people committed to finding the path forward.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) November 7, 2019
Here’s an important note. Billionaires and financial “gurus” calling out Sen. Warren’s tax or Sen. Bernie Sanders’ assertion that there should be no billionaires need to realize one thing: There are a few billion of us and just a couple thousand of you guys—and it’s almost all guys. No one has ever earned a billion dollars. The only person that would be worth a billion dollars is the person who cures childhood cancer, ends world hunger, or does away with poverty. And I will bet you all that I might ever “earn” in this life that that person would not want nor would they accept a billion dollars worth of anything for that work.
Fun fact about Bill Gates and capitalism. Decades ago he retired and began giving all his money away. He’s famous for that. Today he’s worth more money than the day he stopped working. Neat trick.
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) November 7, 2019
If being heavily taxed on hundreds of millions of dollars is going to sap your hunger to build businesses and still be wealthier than most everybody else, then there is a fear inside of you that no amount of money will ever quell.