In the interview below, Bill Gates says, “I’m a believer in more progressive taxation,” but it’s not clear he’s doing much politically to “tune it to achieve more equality,” as he advocates below.

In fact, Gates’ home state, Washington has the most regressive tax system in the country. People with lower income pay the most in taxes, much more in fact than moderate to upper incomes.

Washington the most regressive tax structure - ITEP

To me, it’s seemed that Gates has made a broader public relations push recently to keep himself in the public eye. He’s frequently seen in pop media and social media in a variety of settings. I’ve suspected it has to do with his desire not to be eclipsed by the rise of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

But, I have specifically not heard Gates speaking and leading for a more fair tax system in our state. If he wants to outshine Bezos, showing leadership on tax reform in Washington state and America would be an excellent next step.

Seattle and King County’s One Night Homeless Count revealed 12,112 homeless people around Seattle, third highest in the nation. And progressive taxation would do a lot to find permanent shelter for everyone here.

Limiting the Popular Culture’s Conversation on Capitalism

Giridharadas was critiquing Gates at a broader level as a member of the billionaire class who are trying to limit the scope of reforms the media and government a platform for. I agree with him.

The kinds of policies he advocates for here are fine. But there are reasons people-friendly policies like this don’t pass. Because Gates’s fellow plutocrats have, as a class, captured power, have commandeered the discourse about what kinds of change are legitimate.

Anand Giridharadas

This is one of the reasons I’m so excited to see the elevation of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren in the media, in Congress and in the upcoming presidential race. They’re expanding the conversation.

Microsoft’s Multi-Billion Dollar Tax Dodge

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Microsoft with Gates at the helm dodged billions in Washington State taxes mostly through its influence in the state legislature. The state made a political and legal calculation not to sue Microsoft for its Nevada tax dodge.

Where are Washington’s K-12 dollars? Just ask Microsoft shareholders tells this story.

Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest. Check out Portland Wild, a visual map-driven guide to Portland's public art, its Heritage Trees and its Little Free Libraries.

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