Opinion | Bill Gates, I Implore You to Connect Some Dots – by Michael Tomasky – The New York Times

“So this column is not a brief for Ms. Warren’s wealth tax or for her candidacy — I don’t have a preferred candidate. Instead, I want to make a simple plea to the country’s billionaires: Multibillion-dollar fortunes are often called excessive and decadent. But here’s something they’re rarely called but ought to be: anti-democratic. These fortunes will destroy our democracy.

Why “anti-democratic”? Why would it matter to our democracy whether Jeff Bezos is worth $113 billion (his current figure) or $13 billion?

Because any democracy needs a robust and thriving middle class, and we have spent the last 30 or so years transferring trillions of dollars from the middle class to the people at the very top. Just one set of numbers, from the University of California, Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman: The 400 richest Americans — the top .00025 percent of the population — now own more of the country’s riches than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60 percent of wealth distribution. The 400’s share has tripled since the 1980s.

This is carnage, plain and simple. No democratic society can let that keep happening and expect to stay a democracy. It will produce a middle and working classes with no sense of security, and when people have no sense that the system is providing them with basic security, they’ll make some odd and desperate choices.

This is obviously not hypothetical. It’s happening. It’s what gave us Mr. Trump (well, that plus the campaign lies). It’s what made Britons vote Leave (well, that plus the campaign lies). It’s what has sparked protests from France to Chile to Lebanon, and it’s what is making the Chinese model — no democracy, but plenty of security — more attractive to a number of developing countries around the world than the American model. Our billionaires ought to ponder this.”

Bill Gates Takes On Climate Change With Nudges and a Powerful Rolodex – The New York Times

“Mr. Gates told Mr. Hollande that energy innovation needed to be a top agenda item at the climate change conference now taking place in this airport suburb outside Paris. For years, Mr. Gates had prodded governments to increase spending on research and development of clean technologies. He had sunk $1 billion of his own fortune into start-ups working on new kinds of batteries and nuclear reactors.“Honestly, I’ve been a bit surprised that the climate talks historically haven’t had R.&D. on the agenda in any way, shape or form,” Mr. Gates, 60, said in an interview last week on the sidelines of the summit meeting, which ends on Friday.Continue reading the main storyRelated Coverage Many investors, even those worried about the effects of climate change, haven’t changed their portfolios, says David Richardson, global head of marketing and client service for Impax Asset Management. Wealth Matters: Climate Change and Choosing Where to InvestDEC. 4, 2015 An oil refinery in Nasiriyah, Iraq. Some OPEC members have acknowledged that their economies need to diversify. Despite Climate Concerns, OPEC Plans to Keep Pumping Oil While It CanDEC. 4, 2015The June tête-à-tête helped accelerate a sequence of events that led to one of the biggest public-private partnerships to tackle climate change, unveiled at the conference. Mr. Gates, who made billions from Microsoft before remaking himself as a philanthropist, was a linchpin of the effort, acting as an envoy between the worlds of business and policy.His role in sealing the deal offers a peek into how the inner circles of governments and industry intersect. It also underscores how a handful of the world’s wealthiest people can stand with heads of state to spotlight a social, economic and policy issue on the global stage. For Mr. Gates, the world’s richest person and co-chairman of the biggest private foundation, it is another sign of how his vast foreign aid operation and status as a technology icon have turned him into a uniquely influential global diplomat.Mr. Gates was drawn into the effort after the June meeting with Mr. Hollande and separate discussions with White House staff members in the summer. Mr. Hollande and President Obama saw the tech mogul as a potential catalyst for achieving broad political and diplomatic goals at the climate conference. In particular, Mr. Gates’s renown in India as a tech founder and philanthropist gave the French and American governments a key emissary to get the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, on board with their climate goals.”

Source: Bill Gates Takes On Climate Change With Nudges and a Powerful Rolodex – The New York Times