Bill Gates marks the elite in 2019.
Gates is at the center of the conversation about Big Tech, Big Money and Big Philanthropy – all of which are becoming increasingly unpopular among Americans who care about personal wealth as a small group of leaders of technical company has gathered. But on Wednesday during an appearance at the New York Times & # 39; Dealbook Conference, the world's second richest person tried to offer a defense of billionaires in a time of massive income inequality.
Gates had to grapple with thorny questions about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, whether the Gates Foundation should be as powerful as it is, and how he anticipates a possible Elizabeth Warren presidency.
Here are some of the most interesting things Gates discussed:
Bill Gates is open to paying more in taxes, but not also much more
Gates is different from other billionaires. But not also different. His net worth exceeds $ 1
But Gates is concerned about proposals such as Elizabeth Wear's landmark wealth tax plan, which would estimate a tax rate of 3 percent for every dollar over $ 1 billion in net worth. He says American innovation could be at "risk" if taxes are too high.
"I've paid over $ 10 billion in taxes. I've paid more than anyone in taxes. If I had to pay $ 20 billion, that's fine. But when you say I have to pay $ 100 billion, it starts I have to do a little math about what I have left, "Gates said, and finally added that he was" just kidding. "
" I would like someone to find a midway approach, "Gates said.
Bill Gates says he would have chosen Warren's more "professional" candidate against Trump
Warren may well have been the Democratic nominee, and Gates appeared to be wrestling with what he would do if that ended the case. Gates did not hide his displeasure with Trump, but he also showed some disapproval for Warren on Wednesday.
"I'm not sure how open-minded she is," Gates said when asked if he wanted to meet Warren, "Or she would even be willing to settle down with someone who has large amounts of money. "
Asked who he would back in a hypothetical election between Warren and Donald Trump, Gates suggested, but did not directly say It would be Warren, saying he had voted in favor of the one who showed the "more professional approach" to the presidency, even though he disagrees with them.
"I hope the more professional candidate is an elective candidate."  Bill Gates states that political giving – not philanthropy – is the problem
Some critics believe billionaires should not be allowed to put their money into foundations and receive tax deductions for this philanthropic release – and claim they are depriving the US government income for social services. Gates said some gifts to foundations could be "more taxed."
But Gates, whose foundation spends about $ 5 billion a year, defended Big Philanthropy against its critics, who claim it is a second-rate way to solve the country's problems, after government.
“Should riches pay more in taxes? The answer is yes. For whatever money they have left, I think philanthropy is a good thing. That 2 percent of the economy plays a role that neither the private sector nor the government is capable of doing, ”Gates said. "If you create a company that is extremely valuable, you should at least part of it be able to have it – a little for consumption, and hopefully the balance to do philanthropic things."
Gates said the behavior he would try to avoid would be enormous political gifts. In his view, they are undemocratic.
“I choose not to participate in major political donations. Sometimes it can feel tempting to do it, ”Gates said. "But I just don't want to grab the giant megaphone."
Bill Gates laments that he legitimized Jeffrey Epstein
Gates offered a complete apology for his meetings with Jeffrey Epstein following Epstein's conviction on child abuse charges, which was exposed to reporting by the New York Times.
Gates said he acknowledged that his time with Epstein helped legitimize him by welcoming him into the mainstream of high society. He said he was motivated by a desire to save human life with more resources.
"I made a mistake in my judgment that I believed that these discussions would literally cause billions of dollars to go to global health. It turned out to be a bad judgment. It was a mirror image, "Gates said. “And I gave him an advantage of the association. So I made a double mistake there. "
Bill Gates worries about legitimizing other corrupt billionaires in the future
Unfortunately, Gates worries that an Epstein-like situation might happen again and that he could" legitimize "other billionaires through the Giving Pledge, which is Gates and Warren Buffett's efforts to convince the world's billionaires to commit to donating half their money to charity.
Only 10 percent of the world's billionaires have signed it, and the pledge has especially struggled to attract wealthy members from outside the United States. Gates said it is "difficult" to recruit billionaires in some countries because his staff is poorly equipped to assess whether their wealth was created with corrupt funds.
"I feel bad. We will probably at some point accept someone in the Giving Pledge, and it will turn out that their wealth is an undeniable fortune," Gates said. "If you really want to get there and get more people drawn into philanthropy, there is a risk that you will make a mistake. "