8 Takeaways From Bill Gates' AMA: Banning Billionaires, His Friendship With Warren Buffett, and Why He Is Buying So Much Farmland The Microsoft co-founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation opened up to Reddit once again.
Bill Gates took to Reddit this week for his 11th Ask Me Anything (AMA), and over the course of the session, he answered questions about climate change, the ethics of being an extremely rich person, and some of the conspiracy theories revolving around his business practices.
Here are some of the highlights:
On his farmland acquisitions and billionaire wealth:
I own less than 1/4000 of the farmland in the U.S. I have invested in these farms to make them more productive and create more jobs. There isn't some grand scheme involved - in fact, all these decisions are made by a professional investment team.
In terms of the very rich, I think they should pay a lot more in taxes and they should give away their wealth over time. It has been very fulfilling for me and is my full-time job.
On how to create an economy that's beneficial for the masses:
I am surprised taxes have not been increased more. For example, capital gains rates could be the same as ordinary income rates. I know things are tough for a lot of people.
It's important to keep in mind life in poor countries is difficult right now. There are parts of the world where over 10% of the kids die before 5 and over 30% have malnutrition so their brains and bodies don't fully develop.
Climate will slow down the progress we make on improving the human condition, but I still believe we can avoid a terrible outcome. The pace of innovation is really picking up even though we won't make the current timelines or avoid going over 1.5.
On whether or not a billionaire can be "ethical":
Being rich can easily make you out of touch. The incentive to create new companies is still a good thing I think. Even if taxes go up I still wouldn't ban anyone from being worth a billion but that is just one opinion. I have been very lucky.
Related: 10 Surprising Facts About Bill Gates
On his focus on healthcare and vaccines:
When I saw that kids were dying who could be saved for less than $1000 per life I knew that had to be the top priority for my giving back. There was almost no one funding work on diseases like malaria which was killing over a million kids a year then. We have made progress but it is still 400k and we are committed to get it to zero eventually.
On his favorite movie and TV shows from the past year:
"White Lotus" Season 2 was quite good if I can say that. Congratulations to Jennifer Coolidge on her Golden Globe. The Bernie Madoff special was also good. Tehran was suspenseful. The latest Avatar was good. My favorite entertainment experience recently was a Chris Rock/Dave Chappelle event.
On his longtime friendship with fellow bridge player Warren Buffett and his relationship with Berkshire Hathaway.
I had dinner with Warren on Sunday and he is doing well at age 93! He is incredibly wise. I am no longer on the board of Berkshire, but he still shares a lot of advice with me and his generosity to all the Foundations he gives to including the Gates Foundation is incredible.
We still play some bridge but not as much as we used to. He got me hooked on bridge, and I play with some of his friends including some tournaments.
On his favorite band:
My favorite bands include U2 - I loved Bono's recent book, and he is a good friend.