ULTRA-RICH 

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The ultra-rich group is today an issue of public interest, because people are getting aware about the wealth the group controls. People are getting aware that the group’s source of wealth should be known, because identifying the source helps identify the method of amassing such wealth within such short time. Identifying the source also helps expose source of people’s misery and suffering, poverty and exploitation.

One member of this group is Bill Gates. His private life has recently come into public. But that part may be ignored. But the private side of life that acts with public life comes into discussion, because there the private life impacts public life. These expose the super-rich, the characteristics of the group. These expose the lifestyle the super-rich live with, the character of philanthropy they spread around the world, and the values they uphold.

News outlets have recently carried many reports on Bill gates. One of such reports is by Business Insider: “Bill Gates crafted a public image as a likable, nerdy do-gooder. Office affairs, ‘uncomfortable’ workplace behavior, and Epstein ties reveal cracks in his facade.” (Mon, May 17, 2021) The report by Cheryl Teh said:

“For decades, Bill Gates has crafted the public persona of a nerdy but pleasant philanthropist. In contrast with the likes of Tesla’s Elon Musk and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Gates was likable, relatable, nonthreatening.

“Gates continued to cultivate this personality – pledging to give away half his wealth through The Giving Pledge and investing heavily in healthcare and addressing the climate crisis through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – as his money multiplied.

“But new reports about the tech founder in the wake of his pending divorce from his wife of 27 years offer a less flattering picture of the man. Reports from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal indicate Gates, at times, treated the workplace like a pickup spot, making advances toward women who worked for him.

“Several employees told The Times he engaged in “clumsy” and “questionable” workplace behavior. They also said he could be “dismissive” of his wife and overly “dominant” in Gates Foundation meetings, even though the organization was working on several women’s-empowerment initiatives.”

An ‘uncomfortable’ workplace

The report said:

“The idea that Gates viewed the workplace as a trawling ground for dates may not come as a surprise, considering the origins of his marriage. Gates met and began dating Melinda French in 1987 after she took a job as a marketing manager at Microsoft.

“They met at a work dinner at a conference, and Gates was smitten. He used connections his mother had at Duke University (French’s alma mater) to look into French’s background, and then, after she repeatedly rebuffed him, finally went on a date. She left the company in 1996, two years after they got married, to focus on raising a family.

“For years, their origin story was positioned as a meet-cute, despite the uneven power dynamics.

“But that was before the latest reports.

“The Wall Street Journal on Sunday reported that Microsoft’s board hired a law firm to investigate Gates in 2019 over claims he began an affair with a company employee in 2000 – just six years after his wedding.

“Unnamed sources told The Journal that the woman in question was an engineer who worked at the company. She was said to have alleged in a letter that she had an affair with Gates for years. The company confirmed the investigation, while a Gates representative acknowledged the affair.

“‘Microsoft received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000,’ a Microsoft representative told The Journal.

“‘A committee of the Board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who raised the concern,’ the person added.

“A representative for Gates told The Journal that Gates’ stepping down from the board in 2020 had nothing to do with the investigation.

“‘There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably,’ the representative said, adding that he had ‘expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier.’

“But the revelation of this affair was complemented with reporting from The New York Times, which cited unnamed sources as saying that Gates tried to pursue several women who worked for him.

“Employees described two occasions in which they said Gates propositioned women who worked for him. Six current and former employees told the paper that the advances were not predatory but created an odd workplace dynamic.”

“One of these instances was said to have happened in 2006, when he apparently emailed a female Microsoft employee to ask her out to dinner after a presentation.

“‘If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened,’ Gates wrote, according to an email that was read to Times journalists.

“Several years later, Gates was said to have pursued a woman who was traveling with him on a trip for the Gates Foundation. The woman, who spoke with The Times anonymously, said she laughed it off but felt uncomfortable.

“It’s tough to say to what extent Gates’ behavior created a permissive attitude toward sexual misconduct at Microsoft. But a 2019 Quartz article revealed stories from multiple women who said they experienced sexual harassment at the organization.

“The women’s accounts were aired in an email thread that included CEO Satya Nadella and the company’s chief legal officer, Brad Smith, as recipients and included allegations of sexist quips made on work trips and one female employee being asked to sit on a coworker’s lap during a meeting.

“‘This thread has pulled the scab off a festering wound. The collective anger and frustration is palpable. A wide audience is now listening. And you know what? I’m good with that,’ one employee wrote in the email chain verified by Quartz.”

A questionable money manager and Epstein links

It added:

“Earlier this month, The Journal reported that French Gates had been considering a divorce since 2019 after she became upset over Gates’ willingness to meet with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

“Gates first met Epstein in 2011, three years after Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution, and the two spent time at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse more than once – which was said to have enraged French Gates.

“Gates said after Epstein’s death that meeting him was ‘an error in judgment.’ In a 2019 statement seen by the Financial Times, Gates said he had ‘entertained Epstein’s ideas related to philanthropy’ but had given Epstein ‘an undeserved platform.’

“The Times also reported that Gates’ money manager, Michael Larson, was accused by a woman who worked in a bike shop partially owned by Larson of making unwanted sexual advances toward her.

“The Times said Larson and the woman settled the matter in 2018, where she reportedly agreed to sign a nondisclosure agreement for an undisclosed sum.

“But French Gates is said to have wanted an independent investigation into Larson.

“Larson, who runs Cascade Investment, a firm that handles the couple’s multibillion-dollar investment portfolio, has worked for Gates for 30 years.

“Gates has not spoken publicly about the newest reporting, but a spokeswoman for him, Bridgitt Arnold, has pushed back.

“‘It is extremely disappointing that there have been so many untruths published about the cause, the circumstances, and the timeline of Bill Gates’ divorce,’ she told The Times. ‘The rumors and speculation surrounding Gates’ divorce are becoming increasingly absurd, and it’s unfortunate that people who have little to no knowledge of the situation are being characterized as “sources.”’

Another report by Refinery29 – “Apparently, Bill Gates Has A History Of Being Very Inappropriate With Women At Work” – by Danielle Campoamor (Mon, May 17, 2021) said:

“On Sunday, The New York Times published a report detailing billionaire Bill Gates’s ‘questionable behavior’ in and outside the workplace, providing some possible insight into his sudden divorce from Melinda French Gates. From Gates’s relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to a confirmed extramarital affair, it appears that Melinda may have had multiple reasons to end the couple’s 27-year marriage. Despite this, both tweeted statements saying that parting ways was a mutual decision. ‘After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,’ read a joint statement on May 3.

“But these new details of the billionaire’s relationship with women — specifically women he employed — tell a different story. According to The Times, Melinda most recently grew upset with Gates’ relationship with Epstein — a friendship that began in 2011. Both Epstein and Gates spent time together on multiple occasions, including taking flights on Epstein’s private jet and attending parties, dinners, and meetings at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse, often in the company of ‘young and attractive women.’ When the two men’s friendship became public in 2019, Melinda is said to have grown ‘unhappy’ and, at that time, hired divorce lawyers to start the process of dividing the marital assets.

“But the problems within the couple’s marriage, allegedly as a result of Gates’ behavior, existed long before 2019. In 2000, Gates entered into an extramarital affair with a Microsoft employee. And on more than one occasion, Gates is said to have pursued inappropriate relationships with other employees and subordinates.

“One such alleged incident occurred in 2006 when Gates attended a presentation by a woman Microsoft employee. Immediately following the presentation, Gates reportedly ‘emailed the woman to ask her out to dinner,’ according to The Times. ‘If it makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened,’ Gates is said to have included in the same email.

“In a separate trip, which is said to have occurred a few years later, Gates stood behind another woman employee during a cocktail party and said, ‘I want to see you. Will you have dinner with me?’ At least six current or former employees claim Gates made their work environment ‘uncomfortable.’

“In 2019, Microsoft’s board of directors opened an investigation into Gates’ 2000 affair, and a year later Gates stepped down from the board. ‘There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably,’ Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Gates, told The Times, which was included in the same report. ‘Gates’s decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter.’

“The report also alleges that Melinda took issue with how Gates handled a 2018 sexual harassment allegation against his money manager, Michael Larson, of over 30 years. Larson was accused of sexually harassing a manager of a bike shop that Gates’ venture capital firm, Rally Capital, had a vested interest in. After the alleged victim’s attempts to handle the matter personally proved unsuccessful, she sent a letter to the Gateses, under the oversight of a lawyer, asking for help. Gates then supposedly moved to settle the matter ‘confidentially,’ and the woman signed a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for an undisclosed payment. Larson continued, and remains, at his job. Melinda reportedly ‘wasn’t satisfied’ with Gates’ decision.

“So far, a spokesperson for Bill Gates has denied any relationship beyond philanthropy with Epstein and also denied his alleged behavior as the cause of couple’s divorce.

“‘It is extremely disappointing that there have been so many untruths published about the cause, the circumstances, and the timeline of Bill Gates’s divorce,’ Arnold told The Times. ‘The rumors and speculation surrounding Gates’s divorce are becoming increasingly absurd, and it’s unfortunate that people who have little to no knowledge of the situation are being characterized as “sources.”’

“Meanwhile, Melinda has refrained from speaking publicly about the circumstances of her divorce since tweeting their joint statement. In court documents filed in Seattle, Melinda’s reason for divorce was that the marriage is ‘irretrievably broken.’

It is property

Property determines a lot. Among the rich, property is one of the major factors that determine relations.

A Business Insider report – “Melinda French Gates reportedly hired trust and estate lawyers in her divorce from Bill Gates, an ‘unusual’ move signaling that she could tweak their 3 kids’ $10 million inheritance” – by Katie Canales (Tue, May 18, 2021) said:

“Melinda French Gates named trust and estate lawyers in her filing for divorce from Bill Gates, according to a new report from Page Six.

“The divorce lawyer Robert Cohen, who’s with the firm Cohen Clair Lans Greifer Thorpe & Rottenstreich, is representing French Gates in the divorce. The firm has also represented former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Ivana Trump, former President Donald Trump’s first wife, Page Six said. French Gates also listed the estate-planning attorney Loretta Ippolito and Bruce Birenboim with the firm Paul Weiss in her filings.

“Ippolito advises clients on ‘complex estate planning issues,’ according to her profile on the Paul Weiss website, including domestic trust planning and the ‘disposition of appreciated property.’

“Trust and estate-planning lawyers typically help you plan how to leave your assets to beneficiaries upon your death.

“Experts told Page Six that it was ‘most unusual for trust and estate lawyers’ names to be listed on a divorce filing’ and that the move could mean French Gates may want to change the amount of money that their kids inherit.

“French Gates and Gates have three children together, including one who is a nationally ranked equestrian show jumper. Gates has said their children will inherit $10 million each and the rest of the couple’s $130 billion fortune will go to charity.

“Representatives for French Gates and Gates did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.”

The report said:

“The divorce lawyer Harriet Newman Cohen told Page Six that French Gates’ move could also signal a sense of empowerment as she attempts to lay claim to her portion of the vast Gates fortune.

French Gates and Gates announced on May 3 they were ending their 27-year marriage, which stunned those in the technology and philanthropic worlds.

“Reports have since surfaced detailing how French Gates started talking with divorce lawyers in 2019 after news became public of her husband’s ties with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Gates and Epstein met multiple times between 2011 and 2014, according to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker.

“Gates said in 2019 that he had indeed met the financier but did not have ‘any business relationship or friendship with him.’”

The lifestyle of the super-rich is not centered on in their life. Their surroundings and their associates also impact public life.

A Business Insider report – “Meet Michael Larson, the man who has managed Bill Gates’ fortune for decades and was reportedly accused of sexual harassment in 2017” – by Kelsey Vlamis (Mon, May 17, 2021) said:

“Michael Larson has for decades managed Bill Gates’ fortune, which is worth nearly $130 billion.

“Larson runs Gates’ secretive investment company, Cascade Investment, and manages Gates’ personal wealth and that of his charitable foundation. Gates hired him almost 30 years ago, when the Microsoft cofounder’s net worth was closer to $5 billion.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Larson had become a point of contention between Gates and his wife, Melinda French Gates, after he was accused of sexual harassment in 2017.

“The Times reported that a lawyer sent the Gateses a letter alleging that Larson had been sexually harassing a woman who managed a bike shop. The shop was partially owned by Rally Capital, a firm that Cascade had invested in.

“The letter requested help from the Gateses in addressing the situation with Larson and threatened legal action if they didn’t. Sources told The Times that the woman reached a settlement in 2018, signing a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for a payment.

“French Gates hired a law firm to investigate the woman’s claims and the culture at Cascade, and Larson was placed on leave. The outcome of the investigation was not clear, but Larson kept his job, The Times said.

“Insider could not reach Larson. A spokesman declined to comment to The Times.

“The Times report also described sources as saying Gates had pursued female employees and been dismissive of French Gates in work meetings at Microsoft. The high-profile couple announced earlier this month that they would separate after 27 years of marriage.”

The man who makes Bill Gates richer

The report said:

The Wall Street Journal profiled Larson in 2014, summarizing his job as to ‘make Bill Gates richer.’

“In February of that year, Gates held a celebration at his mansion near Seattle in honor of Larson, who at that point had been working for Gates for 20 years.

“‘Melinda and I are free to pursue our vision of a healthier and better-educated world because of what Michael has done,’ Gates said, according to The Journal.

“He told the guests – who were asked to wear platinum or pink, Larson’s favorite color – that Larson had his ‘complete trust and faith,’ sources told the newspaper.

“Larson, 61, has worked for Gates through Cascade since 1994. He is the chief investment officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gates’ personal investment portfolio.

“He grew up in North Dakota and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and received an MBA from the University of Chicago, Fortune reported in 1999.

“Gates’ assets and Larson’s investment strategy have largely been kept under wraps, but sources told The Journal that Cascade had produced consistent gains for Gates, with a compound annual return of 11% from 1995 to 2014.

“Sources also told The Journal that Gates and Larson mostly had a professional relationship and that they rarely interacted socially.

“Gates has spent much of his wealth on his charitable foundation, as well as on his $125 million estate in Washington, a luxury-car collection, and a private plane.”

Not a Single Incident

A Quartz report – “Top of Form

Bottom of Form

This isn’t the first time Bill Gates has damaged his reputation” – by Sarah Todd (Tue, May 18, 2021) said:

“Bill Gates’ impending divorce from Melinda French Gates has prompted an airing of the Microsoft co-founder’s dirty laundry. Over the past few weeks, The Daily Beast offered more details about Gates’ relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and his soon-to-be former wife’s discomfort with it. The New York Times reported on Gates’ alleged habit of coming onto women who worked for him, which “at times created an uncomfortable workplace environment.” And the Wall Street Journal found that Gates resigned from the Microsoft board in 2020 as the board was conducting an investigation into whether he had an inappropriate relationship starting years earlier with a Microsoft engineer. (Gates’ spokesperson acknowledged the affair, but claimed that it was unrelated to his stepping down.)

“There may be more revelations to come. Already, headlines are claiming that Gates’ “likable, nerdy do-gooder” image is falling apart.

“But it is worth remembering that the tech titan wasn’t always known as a cozy-sweater-wearing, book-recommending mensch. While in recent years Gates was largely associated with his philanthropic work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in the 1990s, popular opinion held that he was a greedy, monopolistic copycat.”

Bill Gates: Monopoly man

The report said:

“Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen, and dropped out of Harvard to focus on the business. By 1987, at age 31, he was the world’s youngest billionaire.

“With Microsoft’s stratospheric success and Gates’ growing riches came increased scrutiny. As NPR notes, by the late 1990s, “many techies saw Gates as the embodiment of corporate evil.”

“Mac enthusiasts, for example, saw Gates and Microsoft as the antithesis of the free-spirited, idealistic Apple. A 1997 story in Time magazine noted that Gates was regarded among Mac enthusiasts as a ‘dweeb Darth Vader, the billionaire bad guy who usurped the idea of the Macintosh’s friendly point-and-click operating system for his now dominant Microsoft Windows.’

“But it wasn’t just acolytes of Steve Jobs who were concerned by Microsoft’s dominance in the computing world. In an oral history of the US Department of Justice’s 1998 antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, Jon Mittelhauser, a founding engineer of Microsoft competitor-turned-roadkill Netscape, tells The Ringer:

“There was this long history of the first word processor that got traction was WordPerfect, and it got killed by Microsoft Word. And the first spreadsheet was Lotus and it pretty much got killed by Microsoft Excel. Any company that was successful that was doing software basically had two options — one was Microsoft copied what you did and did it better and got a business, [or] two was you got bought by Microsoft. They were the 800-pound gorilla.

“The view of Gates as a smash-and-grab tech titan was captured in the 1998 Simpsons episode “Da Bus,” in which Gates appears with a choppy bowl haircut to tell Homer that he’s buying out his online business rather than risk competing with him. Homer is thrilled at the prospect of a windfall, but instead Gates’ henchman set about destroying Homer’s office. “I didn’t get rich by writing a lot of checks,” Gates says cheerfully.

“That same year, Gates was memorably hit in the face with a cream pie in Brussels. ‘He could have been a utopist, but he prefers being the lackey of the establishment,’ his prankster assailant claimed. ‘The attack against him is symbolic, it’s against hierarchical power itself.’

Gates flubs his Congressional testimony

The Quartz report said:

“The culmination of the Microsoft antitrust concerns was a Congressional hearing in 1998. Gates notoriously flubbed his testimony, coming off as smug and arrogant in his deposition and bickering over the definition of words like ‘concerned.’

“‘He looked bad, there’s no question. He didn’t look truthful. He looked calculating, and I think that probably both damaged Microsoft’s public image and influenced’ the judge in the antitrust case, DOJ antitrust acting assistant attorney general Doug Melamed told The Ringer. Gates himself later told the New Yorker that he ‘regretted “taunting” regulators.’

“Federal district judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered that Microsoft be split into two in 2000, but the decision was ultimately overturned on appeal, and Microsoft lost its dominance anyway as new behemoths like Google began their ascent.”

Gates’ reputation as an office bully

It said:

“Reports of Gates’ behavior as a young boss and colleague were frequently unflattering. ‘He’s a brilliant businessman,’ New Yorker writer Ken Auletta, who wrote the book World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies, said in a 2001 PBS News Hour interview. But Auletta went on to paint a portrait of Gates as an immature tyrant:

“[I]n many ways he is a child. He is asocial. And he behaved, he behaves like a child sometimes does when they’re upset. They have a tantrum. He has tantrums.

“Some of Gates’ colleagues also have portrayed him as a hot-tempered bully prone to swearing in meetings and berating employees in so-called ‘flame mails,’ late-night messages containing lines like ‘This is the stupidest piece of code ever written.’ Gates would go to the company parking lot on weekends to see who’d come into work—‘I knew everyone’s license plates so I could look out in the parking lot and see, when did people come in, when were they leaving,’ he admitted in a BBC Radio 4 interview on the program Desert Island Discs.

“According to Gates’ co-founder, he could be a schemer, too. In Allen’s 2011 memoir The Idea Man, Allen writes that while he was recovering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he overheard Gates talking with Microsoft’s then-business manager Steve Ballmer. Gates was complaining about Allen’s lack of productivity and wanted to dilute Allen’s equity in the company. ‘I helped start the company and was still an active member of management, though limited by my illness, and now my partner and my colleague were scheming to rip me off,’ Allen recalls. (He and Gates reconciled before Allen’s death in 2018.)”

Gates’ golden years

The report said:

“Gates rebranded himself in the post-DOJ lawsuit years. He stepped down as Microsoft CEO in 2000 and increasingly devoted himself to philanthropy, winning accolades (including a 2005 Time magazine cover as a ‘Good Samaritan’ and Person of the Year) for his work on global public health and economic development. Auletta told the Times in 2014 that while the sheer size of Gates’ charitable donations indicated that he was motivated by more than improving his image, his efforts ‘became part of Microsoft’s PR effort to humanize Gates.’

Critics sometimes raised concerns about the foundation’s efficacy, focus, and outsize influence. But these were typically drowned out by positive press. The Giving Pledge, which Gates launched with Warren Buffet in 2010 in an effort to convince billionaires to donate at least half their wealth, further burnished Gates’ image as a philanthropist.

“Now it seems the shine is once again coming off Gates’ reputation. It’s a reminder of the ways that philanthropy can be used to deflect scrutiny — and the dangers of putting anyone, particularly extremely wealthy and powerful individuals — on a pedestal.

The reports, all from the mainstream media, tell a lot about the super-rich and their property. And these confirm what Marx and Engels discussed about the morality the capitalists practice.

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