Bill Gates

This long attack on the unfairness of progressive taxation from the Hoover Institution by Kip Hagopian usefully embodies a lot of right-wing delusions about income inequality. It argues that a person's income is determined by three things: America’s free enterprise system provides an environment in which the substantial majority of its citizens can realize their fullest earnings potential.

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The childish panic that has swept the policy establishment over the past few weeks over the Wikileaks revelations themselves will soon subside.

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At what point do the moral claims we in the rich world make for our actions in the poor world stop being just relatively harmless, feel-good stories to which government officials turn when they need to enlist the support of legislatures, and to which activists resort in order mobilize constituencies, and start becoming cognitive stumbling blocks to actually getting the poor the aid they need in ways that serve their interests rather than our own? The way the major private philanthropies, above all the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, now hype their own programs should come as no surprise.

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Just Friends

The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World By David Kirkpatrick (Simon & Schuster, 372 pp., $26) Facebook is a phenomenon. Its founder and principal owner and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, is another phenomenon. The rise of these linked phenomena is well narrated in The Facebook Effect, written by an experienced technology journalist who seems to have been given total access to everyone connected with the company, including Zuckerberg. The book is not entirely uncritical, but it is apparent that Kirkpatrick is awed by the twin phenomena.

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So as President Obama convenes senators for a come-to-Jesus moment this morning on energy and climate legislation it looks like Senate proponents of an economy-wide cap-and-trade climate bill are preparing to settle for a narrower emissions cap in the electric power sector. Yet another concession to lawmakers' skittishness about pricing carbon, the scaled-back approach will not please the absolutist but it does have the virtue of realism. It always seemed a bit of a fantasy that a comprehensive carbon pricing scheme could reach 60 votes in the Senate this year.

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For Barack Obama’s inauguration, Washington Dulles International Airport had to close a runway to accommodate private jet traffic. According to aviati

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Matthew Yglesias scorns the notion of building a double wall on the Mexican border to reduce illegal immigration: My colleague Andrea Nill notes that this is a fairly costly endeavor: U.S.

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Last Friday, Bill Gates was at the TED Conference in Long Beach and told the audience that climate change was the world's most vexing problem, but that it would take "energy miracles" for the world to zero out its carbon emissions by mid-century. What sorts of miracles? He suggested that we'd need radical new technologies that barely exist right now, like a "traveling wave reactor" that would turn spent uranium into electricity.

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Last year, the Atlantic Monthly's Megan McArdle explained that she opposed comprehensive health care reform because the push to reduce the cost of health care spending would inevitably constrain medical innovation: Why don't you tell some person who has a terminal condition that sorry, we can't afford to find a cure for their disease?  There are no particularly happy choices here.  The way I look at it, one hundred percent of the population is going to die of something that we can't currently cure, but might in the future . . .

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So now Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire, has weighed in, capping a week in which Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Energy Secretary Steven Chu did, too. Their timely warning: Congress--and the nation--are stiffing energy innovation research and need to get serious as the year’s budget struggles near. Gates’ remarks are the most noteworthy--and pointed.

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