Bill Gates: Capitalism Has 'Systemic' Problems Government Should Address

By Nicholas Ballasy | November 10, 2010 | 2:49pm EST

Microsoft CEO, Bill Gates

( - The CEO and Chairman of Microsoft Bill Gates said that capitalism’s “systemic" problems are not doing enough for research and “the needs of the poorest.” 

“In general, the world underfunds research because the person who takes the risk of doing the research doesn’t capture the full benefit of having done it; and so you know, capitalism does amazing things but it has one systemic problem in terms of research -- that it won’t do enough,” Gates said at the mHealth summit in Washington on Tuesday.

Capitalism "has another systemic problem in that the needs of the poorest will not be prioritized the way they would if you put a more human-values-driven system in. Now, of course we have government that comes in and does its best to take, you know, the beauties of capitalism, which work for so many things and is so fantastic and whenever it can be used, it is better than government.”

Gates, the founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation continued, “Government comes in for things that the market doesn’t work well on. So, for example, the lack of funding at the basic research level, the U.S. is exemplary in putting $30 billion through the NIH; putting money through other science programs. Now, you know, I’m sure probably the people here want it to be even more but at least that gets done and then that gets coupled with the drug companies who take that and try to turn it into products. The Gates Foundation tries to take the diseases of the poorest and fulfill that role that the market driven signals aren’t going to.”

Gates also said that the Internet is a “great platform” to garner more research funding, adding that now is a “bad time for foreign aid” due to the economic crisis and nations cutting budgets.

“I hope that it [the federal government’s budget] doesn’t get cut here in the U.S. but I’d say that I’m quite concerned that it will be and so there’s not that much room to fund new things,” he said.

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