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George and Bill

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Two of the greatest villains of recent years for many people would be George Bush and Bill Gates: Bush because of his extreme political conservatism and because he started two wars, and Gates because he created a company which has held back the computer industry for years and which regularly uses dirty business tactics.

Of course there are many people who would disagree with these two appraisals but in the past I have never been much of a fan of either of those two famous figures. But now, although I still can’t forgive either of them for their obvious and significant transgressions, I have a more moderate attitude to them.

I recently listened to some commentary and interviews about Bush’s book which was recently released. His behaviour does seem to make sense when understood in the context of his own belief system and world view. So he really can’t be accused of being evil, just misguided.

For example, he has a point that it might be justifiable to use torture to extract information which results in the prevention of terrorist activities which potentially lead to to the death of innocent civilians. Maybe the end does justify the means. Certainly Bush seems to think so in some cases although I don’t know whether he would support the idea in general.

A similar idea applies to Gates. I personally have never seen a Microsoft product I like and I think, despite its propaganda to the contrary, Microsoft has had more to do with suppressing innovation rather than encouraging it, but I do have to admire Gates’ attitude since he left Microsoft.

Bill and his wife Melinda were the subject of a TV current affairs program I watched last night and it showed them giving away billions. And he’s not just throwing it at high profile or popular causes – he’s really thinking about where the money will be most useful. I admit I am impressed. Again I have to temper this praise with the observation that he never really deserved the wealth he now has.

It’s so easy to stereotype people and judge them based on one aspect of their personality or on one action with which you might or might not agree, but the world is always more complex than that and there is good and bad in everyone. So there’s hope for every person and organisation – who knows, one day Microsoft might even make a good product!

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