What do you say to people who argue that America’s best days are behind us?
That’s almost laughable. The only definition by which America’s best days are behind it is on a purely relative basis. That is, in 1946, when we made up about six percent of humanity, but we dominated everything. But America’s way better today than it’s ever been. Say you’re a woman in America, would you go back 50 years? Say you’re gay in America, would you go back 50 years? Say you’re sick in America, do you want to go back 50 years? I mean, who are we kidding?
Our modern lifestyle is not a political creation. Before 1700, everybody was poor as hell. Life was short and brutish. It wasn’t because we didn’t have good politicians; we had some really good politicians. But then we started inventing – electricity, steam engines, microprocessors, understanding genetics and medicine and things like that. Yes, stability and education are important – I’m not taking anything away from that – but innovation is the real driver of progress.
Gates holds plenty of positions that I don’t necessarily share, but his big-picture attitude makes it a thought-provoking interview. (“Solar is much, much harder than people think it is. When the sun shines, electricity is going to be worth zero, so all the money will be reserved for the guy who brings you power when there’s no wind and no sun.”) The whole thing is worth a read.
Warning: at the end he seems to say he and Microsoft helped make the Mac successful (by supplying Word and Excel). Don’t let that spoil the rest.