Bill Gates, the Microsoft wunderkind, thinks big and what’s he’s doing now is no different. But this time, there may be an unanticipated downside, and he may be blinded by his own liberal naïveté
Gates is developing a cozy relationship with the communist regime in China to develop a new kind of nuclear reactor through TerraPower, a Washington state-based company, founded and funded by Gates.
TerraPower is developing a 4-G (fourth generation) reactor called a “traveling wave reactor.” It’s smaller and after the initial startup, it uses depleted uranium as fuel. The company says the reactors can run for centuries without refueling.
Speaking to China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, Gates said, “The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste. In addition, “They require no human action to remain safe at all times.”
Gates says that over the next five years, as much as a billion dollars will be put into research and development.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Gates says there’s no Chinese deal yet, and TerraPower is also talking to other countries including India, Russia, France, Korea and Japan.
Regardless, Sun Qin, general manager of the China National Nuclear Corporation, told Chinese media that Gates is working with them on reactor research and development.
Ah, me … what to believe.
Bill Gates is so successful and rich that he sees himself as a world guru able to solve myriad problems of health, energy, education and other problems of civilization.
Actually, he could be the “world poster boy” of the 1 percent, which would make him a
“bad guy,” except that he’s responsible for the technology the 99 percent adore – so he gets a pass.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation enables Gates and his wife to expand their philanthropic interests and spread their money worldwide, focusing on solving international problems. Since Gates left Microsoft, they’ve also got the time to do it.
This nuclear power venture sounds like something one-world, liberal, idealists would embrace.
It makes me wonder, though: Why wouldn’t he get involved in the same effort in his own country, which could use such technology to lessen dependence on foreign oil?
Since the new reactor is supposed to be clean, safe and less vulnerable to acts of nature, why not develop it here?
Considering that the new jobs are needed in the U.S., why not do it here?
Considering there’s an effort to get us into cleaner electricity production, why not do it here?
Indeed, why not?
Is it because he wants to tap into Chinese money, or he thinks that China is the country of the future, or that he thinks he can make a world name for himself by such a deal?
It’s probably all of the above. But what will he do if the détente with China sours in the future? After all, China has our debt, much of our manufacturing, has a massive military and is planning for war.
What will Bill do then?
It wouldn’t be the first time geopolitical changes caught people of free countries in the net of deals with tyrants.
Seventy years ago, in a surprise move, the Japanese attacked our military installations at Pearl Harbor.
The devastation shook the country and stirred a deadly resolve to fight back, retaliate and end the goal of the Japanese to control the Pacific.
The United States declared war on Japan and then had to respond to the declaration of war against our country by Germany and Italy. We found ourselves fighting a world war on two major fronts.
Patriotism was key, and the goal was victory. It wasn’t easy, and it was costly in human lives, casualties and dollars.
Most people then, and especially now, since we are woefully ignorant of history, didn’t realize that many U.S. and allied companies involved in the war effort were also doing business with the Nazi regime.
The interest, sympathy and business dealings of American and European businessmen with the fascist regimes of Hitler, Franco and Mussolini in the years after World War I is known now. The names of some of those involved might surprise you: Ford, Lindbergh, Mellon, Rockefeller, Kennedy, Hearst, Dulles, Bush.
Many banking systems in Switzerland and other European countries, as well as the United States, dealt with the fascist regimes.
Companies dealing with metals, chemicals, fuel, technology and heavy manufacturing were also involved. Many allied companies had facilities in Germany, which were converted by Hitler to production for his regime.
In retrospect, it may be abhorrent, but the reality is clear: Wars cannot be fought without manufacturing and money, and people will always fill the need – regardless of politics.
Now we face China’s growing strength – and the real possibility of it challenging the U.S. on several levels, including open war.
Is Bill Gates ignorant of this? Does he care? Or perhaps he’s above all of that and sees only the “do good” aspect of spreading his money around and taking his share of Chinese contributions.
Would it be rude to question whose side he’s on?
It’ll take time for the details of the TerraPower deal to be sorted out, but I found one aspect ironic.
Bill Gates was in China speaking to science and technology people, touting his company, hoping to enlist Chinese cooperation and, no doubt, big bucks to foster success.
But, the BBC says the real reason Gates was in China was to talk about a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project to identify and fund research to alleviate poverty.
Sure, Bill, and the TerraPower project was just an afterthought.