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Nostradamus I'm not. Most of my past tech-industry predictions have fallen flat: Sun Microsystems didn't buy Apple, Apple hasn't acquired Motorola, and OS/2 never beat out Windows. But here's one prognostication you can take to the bank: Sometime after he retires from Microsoft, when being a world-class philanthropist begins to get a wee bit boring, Bill Gates will run for public office.
Nostradamus I'm not. Most of my past tech-industry predictions have fallen flat: Sun Microsystems didn't buy Apple, Apple hasn't acquired Motorola, and OS/2 never beat out Windows. But here's one prognostication you can take to the bank: Sometime after he retires from Microsoft, when being a world-class philanthropist begins to get a wee bit boring, Bill Gates will run for public office.And he'll win.
Think about it: Bill Gates as a senator from Washington state makes sense. It'd be the perfect capper to a great career, because it would complete his transformation from a technocrat focused on making better things to iconic personage concerned with making the world a better place.
What better way for Gates to cement his legacy than to use the bully pulpit afforded by Senate? He'd have a perfect pipeline to the general public, through which to talk about his pet causes -- AIDS prevention, the development of better child vaccines, and education.
While one typically associates Gates' focus for the first two items with the Third World -- AIDS and vaccines fall under the rubric of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Health initiative -- education is a huge domestic priority.
The stated objective of the Gates Foundation's U.S. Education program is "for all students -- regardless of race or family income -- to graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college, career, and life. All students, all schools, everywhere."
The program is also working to expand access to college, which is great. Every child who's capable should have the opportunity to graduate from an institution of higher learning -- an opportunity, incidentally, that Gates had but decided to pass up when he dropped out of Harvard to work on his startup, Microsoft.
My longtime suspicions that Gates might be eyeing a post-retirement political career were aroused last week when he spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. There, Gates expounded on his big idea of "creative capitalism," that businesses could do right by the poor without sacrificing their own needs (to make money, I guess).
Since the success of this proposition is nonobvious, it sounds like a challenge that requires a politician's touch to shape into a movement. Whether Gates does this as a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian (the tag often pinned on him by observers), or an Independent (my guess) is really irrelevant.
Hey, everyone's talking about "change" this political season. Here's a guy who's a bona fide change agent.
Remember, you read it here first. Bill Gates for Senate. His friend Bono will be so proud.
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