Watch Bill Gates play “How much does the world suck?”

Originally published at:


It’s about knowing how life can get better.

Roger That!


Microsoft needed a visionary like this man.

Imagine if he’d been in charge: Windows could have been a much better product.


And yet so many people actively work to make things worse.


Don’t look at the elephant’s trunk!

(thanks to @Purplecat)

The part that goes into negative income growth (around 80%) is where the poor in developed countries are. and it has only become worse in the ten years since 2008. It is hard to see a world that is getting better when your local community is getting worse. Reducing extreme poverty is a good thing, but ignoring working class poverty is not good for anybody.

It looks like Bill Gates knows it is a problem.

In Atlanta, we met a single mom who told us a heartbreaking story about how she had just been evicted from her apartment for missing a rent payment while in the hospital with her newborn son. We had coffee with a few residents of an apartment complex in one of the city’s low-income neighborhoods. They showed us mold growing on the walls and ceiling of one of their homes. They told us they routinely hide their children under a bed or in the bathtub because of the sound of gunfire.

It would be an understatement to say the people we met in Atlanta faced big challenges. But they were also incredibly resilient. At a Boys and Girls Club, we met a man who uses his own money to buy lunch for the kids. We talked with former prison inmates who are now holding down jobs and raising families.

What we saw on this trip reinforced the importance of education, because it is ultimately about helping low-income students and students of color get the same opportunities as everyone else. The visit also made us think through other ways we could help people get out of poverty. The issues of economic mobility in America are deeply intertwined: education, employment, race, housing, mental health, incarceration, substance abuse. We haven’t decided how what we’ve been learning might affect our giving, but it has certainly had an effect on us. We will share more about our approach when we have settled on a strategy.


He’s right, though. Overall, things are a whole lot better for a LOT of people world wide. Death from the violence of war is way down. We have enough food to feed everyone (though no the proper distribution.) I know The Gates Foundation has been doing a lot of work combating Malaria which is still a killer in parts of the world.

Yes, we still have a long way to go. It is no where near perfect. But it is a better time to be alive now than any other time in history.



A number of years back, a wealthy acquaintance flying back home from overseas with his family ran into Gates and his family doing the same in first class. After chatting for a bit he asked Gates why he wouldn’t just fly the family in a private jet. Gates told him that, while he could and did fly private, he flew commercial because he didn’t want his children thinking that private jets were a normal way for people to travel. I wish more ultra-wealthy Americans set that kind of example for their kids.

[ETA: obviously flying first class isn’t a big sacrifice. With his attitude, I’m sure Gates made it clear to his kids that it isn’t a normal way to travel, either]


Unless you live in the United States…

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He could bring in a real “people person” like Steve Ballmer for employee relations and visioneering. Then some magic might happen to really get that phone line of products in shape.

Well-off YouTuber asks world’s second richest man how much the world sucks. Mind you I’m sure they’re both perfectly nice people, but the irony is so thick you could float lead on it.

Maybe the creation of 4chan and the more bilious subreddits has functioned as a honeypot on which sociopaths while away their unfortunate existences.


How so? Which time in America did more people have it better?

I say this acknowledging that we have a lot of problems in a lot of areas and things are by no means perfect.

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Wage growth hasn’t kept pace with the mean cost of living in the US. Savings have shrunk while personal debt has skyrocketed. Banks are massively overleveraged (though this has gotten somewhat better since the Great Recession, it remains above historical levels). The Boomer population is well into what used to be retirement age but largely still has to work simply to afford a modicum of the healthcare required in old age, and many are still unable to get adequate care. The childbearing age population is reproducing at historic lows and social security, already running a massive deficit, is going the way of the dodo.

The reality is that most of the reduction in extreme poverty (which is a relative concept) has taken place in developing and middle-income nations. Americans are still way better off than many, though not all, but most American’s living conditions and financial security are trending sharply downwards.


Social Security is perfectly healthy, for now, and if we had the political will to raise the wage cap, it would be healthy pretty much forever. The people who are saying SS is bankrupt have always been the ones who want to destroy it. The nice people in Washington are again working on ways to give the trust fund to Wall Street.


I don’t disagree with anything you said, but when did we have it better?

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It still has to be funded though, yes? Does SS transfer as much money, adjusting for inflation, from working Americans to retirement age Americans as it previously did? Have the qualifications for payout benefits become more restrictive?

And most of all, do you think the current administration or GOP controlled Congress has any interest in keeping it going?

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I’m not sure what you mean by better. Most Americans used to be able to avoid or minimize unsecured floating debt, own property, retire at 65 and get adequate healthcare. Aren’t those better conditions?


The fact that we’ve made so much progress in other areas makes the fact that American society has become less willing by choice to share the benefits equitably* especially galling.

[* relatively speaking: it was never all that equitable in the U.S., but from 1946 to 1999 there was still a strong and large middle class that wasn’t under constant assault by the “securitise ALL the things!” greedpig crowd]


Granted, @Boundegar’s point I think is that tax revenue can always be allocated for entitlement benefits, and this is of course true. My point is threefold.

Republicans want to defund all entitlements and the only thing keeping them, for now, from killing them is Democratic opposition and the fact that their demographics are, for now, reliant on older voters who tend to vote Republican. As soon as the political electricity is turned off to that third rail, the Republics will rip it out faster than you can say Gult’s Gulch.

Entitlements only work if working Americans have enough income to tax, which is why wage stagnation despite overall economic growth augers really badly for SS and other benefits. As you say, the middle-class is shrinking, and the poor cannot fund a growing retired population or elder healthcare. It’s pretty grimly ironic that the Republicans scaremonger about Dems wanting to toss grandma in the recycler when it’s the Republicans that would be more than happy to let her perish homeless on the street.

And finally, reproduction is going down, which is great for the environment but in combination with reduced revenue means less money to keep grandma alive.

And I’m sorry, but with all respect to @Boundegar, these problems are quite real and a direct consequence of growing wealth inequality in the US. I don’t want to destroy SS, I want to save it, and the only way we do that is with wage growth, a tax plan that isn’t a giant gift for the rich, and putting an end to tax evasion.


I’m optimistic that Donald Trump could drop dead any day.


It’s a trade off. Yeah, I could afford my healthcare in 1950, but my Doctor Smoked and my kid could get polio. You weren’t a white straight male? Good luck getting simple respect in society. Oh and the whole “we are all going to die by a Russian Nuclear bomb” thing to keep you up at night.

Like I said, things aren’t all roses now. We have a lot of areas we can approve on. As someone with a chronic condition that I am forced to see a Dr ever month just for a script refill - and the mother fuckers have the gall to charge me $100 for a piss test because - I don’t know why. The Opiate crisis makes me a potential dope fiend potentially? Wait - where was I… oh yes… as someone with a chronic health condition, I am intimately aware of how bad our healthcare system is. It is to the point that I have to begrudgingly admit the private system has failed and something like the Canadian system should be adopted. 5 years ago me is rolling in his grave.