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Bill Gates, you will be assimilated

For some reason, the decision by Bill Gates to become an honorary British knight makes me sad. Has the founder of Microsoft finally, and completely, sold out to the “establishment”? Has his bruising encounter with the looters, whoops, I meant U.S. Justice Dept and EU Commission made him yearn for a respectable, quieter life?

Somehow, I cannot see Steve Jobs wanting a gong.

72 comments to Bill Gates, you will be assimilated

  • Hank Scorpio

    I think Steve Jobs’ ego won’t allow him to accept anything beyond the title of God King of the Universe.

  • I think Gates knew it would have been rude for him to turn it down. Thus it didn’t really matter whether he wanted it or not.

  • Luniversal

    Bill Gates as fearless, inventive, iconoclastic rebel? When was that? When he was in diapers?

    Gates was staked by a wealthy daddy. He got rich hooking up with IBM, and stayed rich by bludgeoning the competition using every dirty monopolistic trick in the Beltway lobbyist’s book. A century ago, in a more robust age when capitalism was taken seriously, Microsoft would have been taken apart like Standard Oil, with Teddy Roosevelt cheering the trustbusters on. Its survival intact is a tribute to the statist takeover of business since the Gilded Age.

    Gates is the Howard Hughes of infotech, without the sex appeal. Scorsese should make a hagiographic biopic of Bill called “The Calculator”.

  • ernest young

    Luniversal,

    Wow! – just look at all that hate and envy….

  • J

    ernest young,

    Yeah, but he’s right.

    The fact that Windows 3.11 became a widely deployed OS while OS2, NeXT and so on didn’t, is hardly a testament ot the infallability of market forces.

    See also IBM in the era that proceeded it.

    But, more interestingly, look at the the home computer craze that happened in between, when there was genuine competition, and we got truly great computers such as the Commodore Amiga and the Amstrad PCW.

    When you look at the penetration of 8-bit machines in the 1980′s in Europe, the claim that MS ‘brought computers to the masses’ if pretty wierd, frankly.

    All that said, he deserve an award for his impressive feat of building a vast company in such a short space of time, but it’s hard to argue that this was the best way for the industry to turn out. At best, he can be credited with destroying IBM’s monopoly, and making IBM the rather good comany it is today.

  • veryretired

    I think Steven Den Beste has it about right, but even more, most Americans think it’s kind of neat to be knighted, or get some ribbon from the French, or the Nobel Prize, etc.

    I can understand that someone from Britain might be very tired of the Royals, and all the folderal, esp. Bonnie Prince Charlie—kind of a pathetic life for a grown man isn’t it?, waiting around for your mother to die—but for a midwestern farm kid, it’s all kind of neat.

    Besides, one of the penalties of success is having to spend countless hours with utterly boring and clueless people like politicians, royals, and other assorted big shots making chitchat. I have been spared all that by living a life of anonimity and modest accomplishment.

    My spare time was very well spent coaching and /or spectating at my kids baseball, soccer, and hockey games. I even got an award one season as the most loud mouthed parent. Good as a knighthood, for me.

  • Random Wanderer

    Rude? Oh my. If that is Gate’s only reason, he must be a very weak person.

    All he has to do is refuse and it would set the royal family in its place. Sales in England be damned, let monarchy die.

  • “I can understand that someone from Britain might be very tired of the Royals, and all the folderal, esp. Bonnie Prince Charlie—kind of a pathetic life for a grown man isn’t it?, waiting around for your mother to die—but for a midwestern farm kid, it’s all kind of neat.”

    What happened to the good old days when Americans thought the idea of any human being claiming special status over others quaint at best, offensive and dangerous at worst?

  • Verity

    I’m baffled about why Bill Gates would be offered a gong, unless Toneboy’s looking for a big contribution. Oh, surely not!!! I could understand Margaret Thatcher offering a gong to Caspar Weinberg because the US was our true ally when Reagan and Thatcher brought down the USSR. But Bill Gates? What service has he performed for Britain?

    As to why he’s accepting it (although undeserved), well, what other new experience awaits him? I mean, it’s something different.

    Very Retired, Prince Charles is not Bonnie Prince Charlie. The Bonnie Prince was a Scot. Nothing to do with these people.

  • ernest young

    J,

    The Amstrad, – you must be joking, even the BBC Apricot was better that that piece of junk…

    MS did homogenise the OS environment and by doing so, enabled the PC industry to expand at a phenominal rate. So BG pulled a few strokes – but then so did everyone else, that was the nature of computing in the 70′s, everyone shared ideas, and if someone made some money, then good luck to them. All this bitterness over MS’s success is no more than sour grapes.

    Sure MS and most of its products are far from perfect, but they did give the computer industry a much needed shake up.

    If you care to study what actually happened with IBM and the whole PC computer affair, you would see that BG’s success was more due to IBM’s negligence than to BG’s ‘smarts’. IBM offered the writing of an OS to several other companies before offering it to a somewhat reluctant MS. They did what no one else was capable of, or inclined to do, – no one wanted to ‘get into bed’ with IBM.

    CP/m and DOS

    Verity, surely BG has more merit than most of the recent recipients, such as Elton ‘Kiss my Ring’ John, and that plagiarising excuse for a Beatle, McCartney, or indeed any of the other entertainment industry ‘lovies’ who have received the present day equivalent of ‘The Black Spot’.

  • Julian Taylor

    BBC “Mr Gates, what did you and The Queen talk about”, BG “err, she asked me about computers”.

    I think he got off too lightly, if the Prince Phillip had been there he’d have handed his laptop over to Gates and said, “while you’re here fix this bloody Service Pack 2 would you?”. By the way he can’t call himself Sir William, Sir Bill or anything else unless he is in the UK. In the US he can refer to himself formally as William Gates III KBE.

  • Doug Collins

    Any true American, who understands the principles on which his country was founded, would politely decline such an honor. I have not been an admirer of Gates, but even so I thought better of him than this.

  • Any true American, who understands the principles on which his country was founded, would politely decline such an honor.

    It’s OK, we’re not going to make him pay tax or anything…

  • Verity

    Ernest Young – actually, I don’t think any of them has any merit. Elton John, Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard – gag-o-rama. Isn’t Mick Jagger a sir, now? Well, maybe he’s satisfied at last.

    I do think that Caspar Weinberg deserved the honour because we were true allies with America in bringing down the USSR (only to have another one spring up on our doorstep).

  • Actually, I’ve always wanted to be a Dame.

  • Julian Morrison

    It annoys me too. Not because I have any especial respect for B.G. (I consider his products ill-made and his primary skill to be marketing) but it annoys me regardless to see a money-maker kowtowing to a money-taker.

  • Verity

    Julian Morrison – “it annoys me regardless to see a money-maker kowtowing to a money-taker.” Quite so. But has Bill Gates really kowtowed to Tony Bliar? I’d need to see the evidence.

  • Random Wanderer,
    You have to understand that the Queen or the royal family do not select those chosen for honours,the government,the opposition and civil sevice advisors do,Liz merely says “Arise Sir Ratbag”.At knocking on eighty the Queen probably would rather be having a nap.
    The current lot seem to be part of Tony Balony’s devaluation of British institutions,plus the fact that Tone is a star fucker of immense proportions who lays claim to owning a guitar.
    I would go along with the proposition that Tone is after something from Gates,bearing in mind that there is an election coming up. He probably wants the software for the Karl Rove victory machine.

  • Random Wanderer

    The main point I’m attempting to communicate is Bill Gates doesn’t risk an awful lot by telling English politicians or royalty to screw off.

    Bill Gates now has the power to put many politicians in their place, but he’s not that kind of person (regrettably).

  • Chris Goodman

    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was created in 2000 to improve “equity in global health and learning”.

    Bill Gates has donated nearly $26 billion to the foundation.

    The foundation set up a £139 million scholarship scheme three years ago to attract the brightest students to Cambridge University.

    It has also invested millions of dollars in research for an Aids vaccine.

  • Verity

    Chris Goodman – and your point is?

    Gongs are for people who have served Britain. You say Gates has served some tranzi notion of “equity in global health and learning”. What the hell does that mean? Please explain, but not in too much lefty boilerplate. In fact, skip it.

    You say: “The foundation set up a £139 million scholarship scheme three years ago to attract the brightest students to Cambridge University.” Gosh, thanks, Bill, but for around 500 years, the brightest students have been – actually – attracted to Cambridge and Oxford without your help!

    Fab, though! But the brightest students will not get in to Cambridge University! Gordon Brown has decreed that children who can barely read or write, but who have been encouraged by insanely inflated grades, will get into Cambridge University (shortly to be re-titled The Remedial Breathing Institute) and the really brightest Brits will be learning at the US Ivy Leagues – or other fine institutes of learning like Condi’s alma mater.

    Even if it could possibly work with the table tipped against it, Bill Gates’s measely £139m is a bat squirt out of his fortune. It’s derisory. For this he’s getting a gong? Hmmm ….

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Remedial Breathing Institute…bwahahahahahaha!

  • I'm suffering for my art

    I suppose Roman Abromavich is next on the list? For services to innovative privatisation, I presume?

  • ernest young

    Random Wanderer,

    The main point I’m attempting to communicate is Bill Gates doesn’t risk an awful lot by telling English politicians or royalty to screw off.

    Why should he? I am sure he sees TB in a quite different light to you. For a start, he hasn’t suffered from TB’s delusions of grandeur, and secondly, unlike you, he is probably quite a mild mannered chap…

    Verity,

    Gongs are for people who have served Britain

    Or anyone in the Commonwealth, and under TB’s global view, that probably includes everyone else. Watch out for Sir Kofi Annan, that will really set you afire…..

    I really can’t see why you are so hateful towards all and sundry, BG has done you no harm at all, and yet you don’t have good word to say about him. He is trying to do something positive with his Foundation, for whatever reason he or his wife thinks is right, that you haven’t the grace to to admit even that small fact seems rather churlish. It is his cash, after all, it’s not as though he has embezzled it from the UN or the EU is it? Somehow we never hear of those types donating large chunks of lucre to worthy causes, now do we?

    The problems of entry Oxbridge are none of his doing are they? and I imagine that many very worthy people have similarly donated to those instituitions.

    George Bush and Bill Gates, two names to conjure with, – and two names that seem to raise the hackles of the iliterate Left, and the uneducated Right.

    As I said earlier – so much envy, and so much hate….

    The Kinnock chair of creative accounting sounds plausible, as does the Thatcher chair of destructive dogma…

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Luniversal, your sneering at Gates for having rich parents is a pretty wretched line of criticism. Plenty of folk with rich parents have screwed up their good fortune. What is so bad about having a good start in life anyway, it is what you make of it that counts. Envy is one of the most contemptible and destructive of emotions. It does you no credit to display such a quality so baldly.

    I am not blanket defender of BG’s business methods or achievements, but it seems to me that building a firm of the size of Microsoft required more than just pure luck. Also, having read a bit about the anti-trust case against him, I believe he was more sinned against than sinning. Oh, and forget the nonsense about Standard Oil and the robber baron myths about the 19th century. Much of the cliches about the people of the time, like Rockefeller, Carnegie et al, are nonsense.

    To read more about the failings of anti-trust and critiques of it by modern economists, look at this:

    (Link)

  • Dale Amon

    Aw, when I saw the title I thought it meant we had brought Bill over to the light side: Linux and Open Source. He’s going to have to work with ‘us’ some day… our juggernaut is pretty unstoppable at this point.

    As to the the Knighthood thing… I don’t understand the problem. He certainly has accomplished a great deal, and as a capitalist (albiet one of currently small means) I respect the fact he made billions. I would very much like to do the same.

    Those Microsoft billions, in the guise of Paul Allen, are also helping open the space frontier to us of the hoi polloi.

    And back to the British Royals… can anyone who knows the UK truly say this place has been better run by Labour and Tory governments than, say, King Henry VIII or Queen Elizabeth I? Kings are much less effective at stealing than Parliaments, although they may have a few other downsides if they get that divinity notion in their heads…

    And besides which, Sir Dale, Dame Adriana, Sir Perry… have a certain ring don’t you think?
    ;-)

  • Andrew Duffin

    veryretired: A man after my own heart! I too have been expelled from the occasional hockey rink for no more than “encouraging” the boys too loudly…

  • A Pedant

    Very Retired, Prince Charles is not Bonnie Prince Charlie. The Bonnie Prince was a Scot. Nothing to do with these people.

    I’m baffled about why Bill Gates would be offered a gong, unless Toneboy’s looking for a big contribution.

    Verity, Toneboy is not Tony Blair. Toneboy was a 1980′s computer magazine promoting games for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. Nothing to do with these people.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Suffering,
    How dare you make fun of Roman Abramovitch here? Don’t you know one of the contributors here is a big fan of CSKM Chelsea*?

    *CSKM, of course, standing for “Centralny Sportivny Klub Mafii”.

  • Verity

    Ernest – Actually, your accusation against me wasn’t fair. I wasn’t decrying Bill Gates. Chris Goodman brought some foolish-sounding foundation to the table as though bringing on an unanswerable winning point. Its goals are “equity in global health and learning” or something. It is also going to help the brightest students apply to Cambridge – as though the brightest people in Britain, the Commonwealth and much of the world have not been applying to get in to Cambridge for centuries. I felt the presentation of this foundation as some winning point was weak.

    As it happens, knowing nothing about software, I don’t harbour the same dislike for Bill Gates that many software specialists people do. As a capitalist, I am in awe of what he has accomplished and admire him for it. I also admire that he gives huge wadges away where he deems it will do the most good. (This does not include encouraging clever people to apply to Cambridge, though. That is just plain silly.)

    I’ve also been called weak in the head for admiring George Bush and claiming he is highly intelligent in the face of people sneering ‘cowboy’ (the left is nothing if not terminally trite) and, for some reason ‘monkey’. I also think he is very attractive as a man.

    All that said, Ernest, gongs are not a branch of the Nobel Prize, no matter the grandiosity of Toneboy’s aspirations. They’re for Brits and citizens of the Commonwealth and I do not see that Bill Gates has done any outstanding service for Britain (and just to cover myself, I am equally certain that he has not claimed to have done any). This gong reeks of corruption and Mr Gates would have been well advised to decline.

    A Pedant – Toneboy and Tony Blair are one and the same. I christened him Toneboy after Delboy because he is cut from the same cloth and is in the same line of business. I have no idea about 1980s computer magazines.

  • Giles

    Would Howard Huges have deserved a gong? I’d say so since he opened up transatlantic air routes which then ultimately benefited britain,

    Similarly Gates developed internationally compatable software, which again has benefited Britain. And I think his contribution to recent improvements in productivity are right up there with the 19th century inventors and tycoons. He deserves a gong.

  • Verity

    Giles, Howard Hughes would not have “deserved” a gong because he was not an outstanding Brit and nor did he perform a service, except tangentially, to Britain. You might as well say that every tea producer in Sri Lanka and the Himalayas deserves a gong because tea gives benefit to Brits who drink it.

    At least Elton John, Mick Jagger, Sean Connery et al brought hundreds of millions of pounds into the country between them. Giving knighthoods to foreign businessmen whose products happen to be used by Brits, among hundreds of millions of others, is a devaluation – intentional, I am certain – of our honours system.

    Paul Getty, who resided in Britain, got a gong, but that was for his genuine services to cricket.

    The people who advise Mr Gates should have consulted some British experts who are not affiliated with the Labour Party regarding the wisdom of accepting this “honour”, especially in light of the fact that his own government proscribes the acceptance by American citizens of foreign titles. It cheapens the honour and it makes Mr Gates look vain and silly, which he most assuredly is not.

  • Tim Sturm

    J: The fact that Windows 3.11 became a widely deployed OS while OS2, NeXT and so on didn’t, is hardly a testament ot the infallability of market forces.

    Without market forces there wouldn’t have been any of these things. You’d still be using an abacus.

    Luniversal: A century ago, in a more robust age when capitalism was taken seriously, Microsoft would have been taken apart like Standard Oil, with Teddy Roosevelt cheering the trustbusters on..

    What has “trustbusting” got to with capitalism (apart from being antithetical to it)?

  • Pete_London

    Do we all understand now that only Brits can pick up the gongs?

    This one smells fishy. Labour government’s, even Blair’s, aren’t in the habit of handing out honourary Knighthoods to American, capitalist billionaires. Gates and Blair recently shared the platform at Davos. Did Gates sign up to some part of Blair’s unholy agenda? ‘Bought and paid for’ is a phrase that springs to mind.

  • Verity

    Pete_London – I think this reeks. I didn’t realise until I read your post that they’d shared a platform. Well, well.

    Mr Gates would be wise to change his mind, diplomatically citing American law, and steer well clear of this.

  • Chris Goodman

    If you look into the history of Cambridge University, you will discover that it has relied heavily upon donations from the wealthy. This is hardly a unique situation. If you find out about the benefactors – whether they are monarchs, aristocrats, ecclesiastics, crown servants, industrialists or financiers – you often come across criticism of the way in which they made their fortune. Sometimes this criticism is justified; sometimes the criticism amounts to little more than envy.

    From what I know about Bill Gates is certainly true that he has been a ruthless businessman. Be that as it as it may, it is not uncommon for wealthy people to seek to divert some of their fortune into charitable foundations – particularly in health and education.

    Verity may find that ‘equity in global health and learning’ is a ‘tranzi’ notion justified with ‘lefty boilerplate’ but what these words mean is relatively clear i.e. charitable support of the less fortunate.

    Now you may disagree with his charitable spending, but as I am sure you will be the first to appreciate, it is his money.

    As for the issue of whether or not people should accept honours, if Bill Gates accepts an honour, that is fine, and if he declines an honour, that is equally fine. It is his choice.

    With regard to the matter of whether or not somebody who is not a British or Commonwealth citizen should be offered an honour, as a British citizen I am happy to endorse the awarding of a honour to Bill Gates. In my opinion the fact that he has set up a fund that gives promising students from around the world scholarships that go towards the not inconsiderable cost of studying at Cambridge University, generally regarded as one of the finest universities on the planet, is in itself a sufficient justification for such an honour.

  • Verity

    Chris Goodman – All universities rely heavily on donations from rich people. What’s new? If Mr Gates wants to give £139m to Cambridge, that’s his business whether his people cloak it in Tranzine or in straightforward English. I found the phraseology rather fanciful. Why not just say he was funding a grant programme?

    Bill Gates has not performed any service to Britain whatsoever. Funding some overseas students to go to Cambridge is not a service to Britain. He has done nothing for the rules to be changed on his behalf, other than strike a deal with Toneboy and I think he will later regret it.

    You say: “as a British citizen I am happy to endorse the awarding of a honour to Bill Gates.” Well, as a British citizen, I am not.

    Our honour system has parameters and I am sorry to see it degraded by being a quid pro quo for foreign businessmen to get an “honour” in return for donations. It is specifically for British or Commonwealth citizens who have accomplished something extraordinary and added lustre to Britain or the Commonwealth. Apart from his bung, which is very tiny by Microsoft standards, he’s done nothing to enhance Britain in the eyes of the world.

    Although I don’t go along with the idiot savant theory of Gates, he does seem (to a total outsider) to be a straightforward, uncomplicated man. Unlike Lakshmi Mittal, for example, he certainly doesn’t need Blair to make any phone calls for him. Most world leaders – and everyone else – would put Blair on hold in order to take a call from Bill Gates. So this is very mysterious from Bill Gates’s point of view. From Tone’s point of view, he wants a political donation. And he wants to be seen swanking around with Bill Gates

  • Luniversal wrote:

    “A century ago, in a more robust age when capitalism was taken seriously, Microsoft would have been taken apart like Standard Oil, with Teddy Roosevelt cheering the trustbusters on.”

    Is it just me, or does anyone else see the contradiction?

  • I’m a bit confused. Is there a law that says knighthoods aren’t supposed to be awarded to foreigners which is being ignored in this case? Or is that the preference of some commenters but not actually a law?

    Gates isn’t the first American to be knighted. The last one I remember hearing about before him was Rudy Giuliani, who’s certainly far less deserving of any sort of honor than Bill Gates.

  • ernest young

    Good grief Pete,

    You are sounding just as nutty as those lefties at Moveon…. anymore conspiracy theories?

    Chris,

    Bill Gates is no more ruthless than any other businessman in the tech sector. The pattern of a small group developing an idea and then selling it off to the highest bidder has been the predominant modus operandi for years – it is the only way that the ‘developer’ can cash in on his idea, and the only way the ‘Big Guy’ can keep ahead of his competitors.

    They all do it – from IBM and Cisco, to Sun, Oracle , Symantec, et al. You name a company and it is either looking for a buyer, or looking for a company with a new idea.

    Ask Perry if his Blog Company is for sale, I bet it is – for the right price….

    To the ‘small fry’ it is a bonanza, to the ‘big fish’, it is just another profit centre…

  • Verity

    Ken Hagler – No. It’s not just you. I caught it too.

    Are you absolutely sure Giuliani was knighted? I don’t think so. For what reason would Anthony B. Liar knight a successful Republican?

    Caspar Weinberg was knighted for the part he played in the heroic partnership of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher when they brought down the Soviet Union. And I can’t imagine anyone saying he did not deserve the honour.

    Jean Paul Getty III was knighted, but I think he had given up his American citizenship and become a British citizen. (Not sure.) But in any event, he had put a tranche of his fortune into the service of British cricket, so again, he had served the British people and deserved recognition – whether he’d relinquished his US citizenship of not.

    But Bill Gates? For what?

    Ken, someone knowledgeable will doubtless write in and tell us the parameters for gongs, but I am certain that they are for outstanding service to Britain or the Commonwealth.

  • ernest young

    Verity,

    TB is beyond thinking in Commonwealth terms – he thinks ‘globally’, you know – World Government and alll that jazz, just like his buddy – Bill Clinton, up for Sec. Gen. of the UN.

    Now how is that for the core of a good conspiracy theory….?

    This is all a storm in a teacup, the whole honours system has been so demeaned that it is means even less than an Oscar award…..

  • Verity

    Well, Ernest, Tony should “think globally, act locally” to use another stream of the meaningless lefty jargon to which he is so devoted. Or maybe it’s “think locally, act globally”.

    Honours used to be dished out for services to the King or Queen in medieval times, then services to the Crown, meaning the country. Now it’s for services to Tony. In this, as in so much else, he is a pale echo of best friend Bill. Bill and Hillary used to use the White House as a B&B for wealthy Chinese who made large, probably illegal, donations to the Democratic Party. For this they got to sleep in Lincoln’s bedroom.

  • Chris Goodman

    Verity asserts “All universities rely heavily on donations from rich people. What’s new?”

    Well quite. Which is why I said that the reliance of Cambridge University on wealthy benefactors is hardly unique. Does repeating what I have just said move the debate on very far?

    Verity asserts that “If Mr Gates wants to give £139 million to Cambridge” that is his business. Well quite. Again, I am not sure what repetition of what I have just said is achieving.

    Verity asserts, “Why not just say he was funding a grant programme?” An equally good description, possibly better, is scholarship. This is perhaps why they are called Bill Gates Scholarships.

    Verity asserts that as a British citizen she is not happy about Bill Gates being awarded a knighthood. Be that as it may, his funding for scholarships to Cambridge is sufficient justification for the knighthood.

    I was pleased that Casper Weinberg was awarded a knighthood, so I cannot agree that Americans should be denied the opportunity of accepting such an honour. If Bill Gates donation was to a political party your misgivings might be justified, but your point seems to be that he degrades the honours system by being awarded a knighthood for his charitable work – in particular his research foundation and funding for scholarships at Cambridge University.

    Although he has provided a mere $210 million of funding, I think you will find it is a win/win situation of helping promising students and researchers to become part of one of the finest universities in the world, and helping that institution retain its importance as one of the worlds leading centres of academic excellence. That the university is in Britain means that as well as being a contribution to international learning, it is also a contribution to British academic life.

  • Verity

    Sorry, Chris Goodman, but I do not think that every stray American billionaire – or British or Ozzie billionaire (I don’t think there are any Canadian billionaires, and Indian billionaires use their money to buy citizenship and steel mills using Tone as the middle man) – merits a knighthood. People shouldn’t be getting knighthoods for donating money to charity for god’s sake! This isn’t “service” to the country. I find it all a little too NuLabe and Swedish. Tony Blair is intentionally diminishing the worth of our honour’s system because he doesn’t like it. That it’s part of our national heritage is all the more reason for him to involve himself in wrecking it.

  • Yes, Giuliani definitely was knighted. Here’s the story from the BBC. Sorry, I know the BBC is anathema here, but I don’t know the local equivalent of Fox News.

    Perhaps Blair had a soft spot in his heart for Giuliani given his history as a Feral Persecutor, excuse me, Federal Prosecutor in New York, imprisoning capitalists. That’s what makes a “successful Republican” these days. Robert Taft has been dead for a long time.

  • Doug Collins

    Verity wrote:
    “Caspar Weinberg was knighted for the part he played in the heroic partnership of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher when they brought down the Soviet Union. And I can’t imagine anyone saying he did not deserve the honour”

    Chris Goodman wrote:
    “Verity asserts that as a British citizen she is not happy about Bill Gates being awarded a knighthood. Be that as it may, his funding for scholarships to Cambridge is sufficient justification for the knighthood.”

    I think you are both missing at least one point. A knight is an aristocrat, albeit a minor one. Bill Gates is an American. Caspar Weinberger is an American. The basic founding document of our republic begins: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal….” I.E: There can be no American aristocrats, minor or otherwise.

    If the Queen wants to knight a Russian, or a French or Turk or Prussian, fine. But not an American. If Weinberger had been awarded a medal or been given a cask of old Scotch for his accomplishments that would have been great, he deserved it. He should have declined the Knighthood however. Perhaps Gates doesn’t know any better. Or care.

  • Doug Collins

    Furthermore, because the honor is necessarily meaningless for an American, to accept it is to be at least somewhat ungracious, even disrespectful, to Britain and her institutions.

  • Chris Goodman

    Verity,

    A knighthood for charity work is a very familiar part of the British honours system.

    This is perfectly sensible. It encourages the wealthy to get involved in charitable work.

    Doug Collins,

    The claim that there are no aristocrats in the USA is a conceit. Bill Gates is clearly a member of a wealthy elite – which translated into the medieval language of the European honours system [the translation is not a perfect one of course] is equivalent to being an aristocrat.

    If Bill Gates wants to accept a knighthood from the Queen, if you believe in a free society, he should not be prevented from accepting it. Yes? Maybe you think he ought to ask your permission first?

  • Actually it’s perfectly okay under US law (Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution) for an American to accept a knighthood as long as he doesn’t hold public office. Even if he did he could accept as long as Congress approved.

    In any case, knighthood doesn’t mean what it did in the middle ages. In fact, as far as I know, it doesn’t mean anything except as an honor–knights don’t get to vote in the House of Lords, do they?

    The closest equivalent I can think of to a medieval knighthood would be to make an American a police officer. LA County Sherriff Lee Baca used to do that for big campaign contributors, until a couple of them were arrested.

  • Doug Collins

    There is a difference between a member of a wealthy elite and an aristocrat. They do not translate at all. Were I an Englishman, I would feel bound to make various gestures of respect to members of the aristocracy. Even as an Englishman, I would not feel any need to make them to someone who was merely wealthy or even powerful – for example, a prosperous pimp.

    And no, Bill Gates does not require my permission. He is free to make an ass of himself and to demonstrate his lack of concern for, or comprehension of, our principles. And I am free to form an appropriate opinion of him.

  • Verity

    Chris Goodman said: “A knighthood for charity work is a very familiar part of the British honours system.”

    Sighs. Yes. Charity WORK. Selfless work in the service of others. Giving hours out of one’s life to help others, sometimes at great inconvenience to oneself. Not for handing over an amount of money – $129m – that has its equivalent value to him of perhaps a centime to us. That deserves nothing but a “thank you” and a special toast of thanks at the next dinner and his name put up on some scroll of honour somewhere in Cambridge. And maybe letters of crawling gratitude from the foreign students who benefitted from his grant. But a British title? I think not!

    Ken Hagler, interesting. Giuliani is another man I like very much (I should say, whose public personna I like very much; I’ve never met him), but as smart and brave as he is, he most assuredly doesn’t deserve to be honoured for his services to to us, because he hasn’t performed any.

    Doug Collins: “If the Queen wants to knight a Russian, or a French or Turk or Prussian, fine. But not an American. If Weinberger had been awarded a medal or been given a cask of old Scotch for his accomplishments that would have been great, he deserved it. He should have declined the Knighthood however.”

    I sincerely hope Weinberger got a cask of whisky out of it!! I think his case is entirely different, because he worked so closely with Margaret Thatcher for so many years that he may not have felt he could decline the honour with grace. Because in those days, it was a tremendous honour. He’s never used the title. But I think he accepted it in the service of the alliance. But the Queen doesn’t “want” to knight anyone. She goes on the advice of her prime minister.

    Of course, Tony Flyboy has cheapened it, as he cheapens everything he touches. He buys his way into the company of famous people by giving out British honours. So they’ll like him. The classic nerd. He makes Bill Gates look like Cary Grant.

  • Denise W

    This is all news to me. I didn’t know an American could be knighted.

  • ernest young

    Doug,

    Likewise, we of you. ==

    Were I an Englishman, I would feel bound to make various gestures of respect to members of the aristocracy.

    Well that shows just how little you know of the English, they are more likely to give the ‘two digit’ salute to someone who was pretentious enough to expect any special treatment for their accident of birth.

    In England, and I thought it was the same in America, – we bow to no man, which makes your servile remark all the more surprising.

    Just why would you feel the need to show any more respect to the drones in the hive than to the workers?

    Receiving an award, (an honour), has nothing to do with being an aristocrat. Aristocrats are the leftovers from a feudal system, and serve no practical purpose other than to provide a target for those, such as yourself, to suck-up to. Aristocracy is not earned, it is rather like being born with ginger hair, – it happens…

    This honours list thing is the civilian equivalent of giving the military medals, and covers everything from ‘just being there’, to actually doing something very brave.

    I guess BG’s award is in the same category as those doled out to time serving bureaucrats. I hope he gets a kick out of it, as they say “Little things please little minds”.

    Being extra bright doesn’t prevent the enjoyment of having your ego tickled…

  • ernest young

    Verity,

    Be fair, PM’s have been dishing out – and cheapening honours, – since Granpa was a lad. First it was cricketers, – the gentlemans sport, Sir Len Hutton, Sir Don Bradman etc. etc. so that was considered OK, then Harold Wilson started dishing out ribbons to the ‘entertainment’ industry.

    Sir Richard Attenborough, now that really started the rot, an award for getting the biggest subsidies, then sports stars, film stars, celebrities, – the list goes on and on, as I said earlier, an Oscar carries more kudos….

    The whole sorry bunch are a laughing stock, but Bill wasn’t to know that, was he?

  • Verity

    Ernest Young – I don’t want to be a crashing bore (yes, yes, I hear the eager cries of “Too late!”) but at least the cricketers and later footballers had done something for Britain. And Sir Cliff, Sir Elton, Sir Mick and Sir Sean and the whole gag-o-rama had brought hundreds of millions of pounds into the country. What has Bill Gates done for Britain (not what has he done for foreign students wishing to study in Britain)? What did Giuliani, WHO I ADMIRE IN HIS OWN CONTEXT, do for Britain?

    I liked your comment about Richard Attenborough. An award for getting the biggest subdsidies! Yes! That describes the whiney, no-talent British film industry.

  • Chris Goodman

    Verity,

    You remind me of those absurd Leftist historians who when teaching [if that is the right word] children about Medieval England refuse to talk about kings – except of course within the context of ‘peasants’ revolt – on the grounds that everybody counts for one, and nobody more than one. It may offend you that somebody who does nothing more strenuous than writing out a large cheque gets rewarded with a knighthood, but in the real world a donation of $210 million is of rather more significance than a centime. By the way, I do not see ‘foreign’ students writing crawling letters of gratitude to the Bill and Melinda Gates, I see them simply writing letters of gratitude.

  • Bill Gates gets a knighthood…bully for him. It would have been rude to turn it down. I am guessing the Labour government gave him one out of respect and admiration for hia company’s business tactics.

  • Pete_London

    Let’s just clear this up. Only Britons may be offered and receive a Knighthood. Foreign nationals may be offered and receive an honourary Knighthood. Bill Gates has received an honourary Knighthood. I don’t know if any official statement has yet been made but even if one were to the effect that the award is for writing a cheque to Cambridge University I simply don’t buy it. Arming universities with the means to remain independant of the Treasury is not something the government will reward. Gates on stage with Blair and Bono (oh for huge gas main explosion in Davos!) is an image which just won’t go away.

    earnest –

    You’re obviously someone who hasn’t yet learnt that Blair is the lowest, dirtiest, scummiest bastard to have ever occupied Downing Street. He never gives away something for nothing. Everything he touches becomes infected, as Bill Gates will no doubt discover one day.

  • Johnathan

    Peter_London, while I share your loathing of Phoney, I always felt that David Lloyd George, Harold Wilson and Ted Heath were hot contenders for Biggest Tosser in No. 10″ stakes.

    I cannot quite figure Verity making an issue about the Cambridge angle. I thought giving money to institutions of higher learning was something a lady like Verity would applaud.

    rgds

  • Verity

    Johnathan – You intuited right. I definitely approve of alumnae and any other so-inclined capitalists giving money to universities to fund scholarships for needy students. I think they should be acknowledged in the university newsletter, thanked in year-end speeches, have their names added to scrolls of benefactors and enjoy other acknowledgements within the university. This is between the giver and the university.

    What I do not think is the head of government should suddenly involve himself in this private transaction between Gates and Cambridge and dish out a national award on behalf of the British people.

    Tens of thousands of people donate large sums of money to universities every year – and thank god for them! – and it is a private transaction between two parties.

    What was Tony Blair doing inserting himself – using a national British honour to get in the door – in this private transaction? Ask yourselves: What?

    As Pete_London says above, this controlling authoritarian prime minister is not devoted to encouraging independence in any area of public life in Britain. Independence of academic institutions, by lessening their dependence on the public till, removes one of his key weapons for social engineering. It doesn’t add up.

    As I said earlier, this not only reeks, but I think Bill Gates will regret having accepted an honour – albeit an honorary one – from this individual one day. Hopefully one day soon.

    As Pete_London rightly says, everything this prime minister touches becomes has a raging virulence and spreads instantly through the blood stream. Look what has happened to the police and education infected with this raging virus. Look at the health “service” where Brits are now adopting the African mode of seeking help from “the big man” in order to get anything done. They know the NHS is institutionally dishonest and that it uses their taxes to lie to them. So they bypass its huge, crippled bureaucracy, and they bypass their Blair’s Babe MP, and go straight to the head man. Blair. Reid. Whatever. And instead of passing it back down the line with a firm order to straighten this mess out, Blair, Reid, whatever clear their calendars and get personally involved. What a poisonous way to run a government!

    Yes, Ernest Young, there have been other tossers and bastards in No 10, that’s for sure. But the fawning air of malevolence that surrounds Blair is unique.

  • Luniversal

    Gates deserves some credit for foisting on the world an operating system so clunky and unstable, and manuals so useless, that a whole publishing industry sprang up guiding customers in the mysteries of Windows.

    Any interface with a button marked Start to be clicked when shutting down deserves a gong for user hostility.

  • ernest young

    You really are the King of all Loonies….

  • Dr Eric

    Chaps all, you are missing the point. This is a bit more of Phoney Tony’s cunning. You all know how our Tone [B-liar] just loves chummying up to the rich and powerful. [I'll refrain here from comment on the guy's likely [bi-]sexuality, because he’s entitled to it whatever it is, but it may be relevant.]

    About 2-3 years ago he was chummying up to Bill like nobody’s business and the outcome has been £multi-million worth of cheap software licences for the NHS and the entire UK public sector.

    So Bill is a good guy and this is our Tone’s way of saying thanks, but hey! Bill is no altruist and pretty clearly having a stranglehold on this enormous market gives him a lot of leverage both here and elsewhere. Might the NHS have gone for Linux-based solutions? Not any longer!

    I rest my case!

  • Verity

    Dr Eric – Interesting post, but I think not entirely correct. From what we, the public, know of Bill Gates, he would not seem to hunger for titles – even honorary ones. He doesn’t need to be recognised. He has all the recognition one man in one lifetime can take. As I said above, I’ll bet there is not one world leader (including Mr Bush) who would not put Tony Blair on hold in order to take a call from Bill Gates.

    Giving away the title is Toneboy’s idea, in the expectation that it will buy him and Imelda a social “in” with Gates.

    Meanwhile, if everything they say about Microsoft software programmes is true, we should rejoice. Sounds like another giant nail in the coffin of the NHS and the British public sector!

  • If you are going to equate accepting a knighthood to throwing in with “the looters,” then Gates is way behind Steve Jobs in that respect. Much of Jobs’ initial fortune was based on getting legislation passed that gave Apple favorable tax status for donating its gear to schools, or providing it at severely discounted prices, nevermind the fact that everyone knew this would leave school districts and the education establishment in general more pre-disposed to buy Apple gear later, at higher margins, due to the weight of their prior “investment” in the technology.

    Also, although Jobs himself probably wasn’t personally involved (as he was off “in exile,” running Next and Pixar at the time), Apple continued his tradition of using government muscle to create and/or gain access to “captive” markets by lobbying heavily for the Americans with Disabilities Act, at the same time they were building “Universal Access” (multiple I/O modes) into their products. While the goal of allowing more people to mitigate disability through the use of computers was laudable, the tactic of forcing vendors to offer suitable facilities or be ineligible to do business with the government and its contractors was right out of the “looter” playbook.

    For a guy who basks in an anti-establishment reputation, Jobs owes a lot of his success to government intervention. Hell, even Apple’s stock price got a boost when Microsoft invested in it, partly in response to government antitrust actions. It is arguable that Apple was saved as a company because Gates felt he had to keep a credible competitor in the game, in order to prevent Microsoft from being taken apart as a monopoly.

  • Johnathan

    Luniversal, if Microsoft products are so terrible, how come a rival system has not bashed it into atoms then? Don’t say it is because of a monopoly. Gates does not force people to buy his products by force in what is still, by any standards, a ferociously competitive field. The rise of Linux is testimony to that.

  • Nicole

    man you guys are ALL dumb. grow up and get a life … like why do you even care about bill gates? let him live his own life.

  • Bill Gates

    All people are idiots. I, er, ah, Bill Gates is a living God!! Bow down to me, ah him or death shall come to you when he controls the World and punishes all the unbelievers. Resistance is futile

  • Bill Gates

    All people are idiots. I, er, ah, Bill Gates is a living God!! Bow down to me, ah him or death shall come to you when he controls the World and punishes all the unbelievers. Resistance is futile

  • Bill Gates

    All people are idiots. I, er, ah, Bill Gates is a living God!! Bow down to me, ah him or death shall come to you when he controls the World and punishes all the unbelievers. Resistance is futile