Financial Times interviews with Bill Gates

He discusses the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and states his position on government intervention and initiatives.

Gates describes himself as a natural optimist. But he admits that the fight with the US government seriously challenged his belief that the best outcome would always prevail. With a typically generalising sweep across history, he declares that governments have “worked pretty well on balance in playing their role to improve the human condition” and that in the US since 1776, “the government’s played an absolutely central role and something wonderful has happened”. But that doesn’t settle his unease.

“The closer you get to it and see how the sausage is made, the more you go, oh my God! These guys don’t even actually know the budget. It makes you think: can complex, technocratically deep things – like running a healthcare system properly in the US in terms of impact and cost – can that get done? It hangs in the balance.”

Gates view reminds me of the one that id Software’s John Carmack wrote about years ago, even saying “I am an optimist on almost all fronts.”

Just like Gates.

“Every life has equal value”

Gates decided vaccinating the world’s disadvantaged is a cost-effective, simple way to help the very poor.

“You get more bang for your buck.”

Why not be the guy who cures cancer instead?

“The motto of the foundation is that every life has equal value. There are more people dying of malaria than any specific cancer. When you die of malaria aged three it’s different from being in your seventies, when you might die of a heart attack or you might die of cancer. And the world is putting massive amounts into cancer, so my wealth would have had a meaningless impact on that.”

This section reminds me of what happens in October when breast cancer is on everybody’s brain. Lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer, but breast cancer gets more attention.1

Anyway, this whole article is good.


  1. This SFgate.com article from 2006 discusses the politics of lung cancer.