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Yes, But Does He Deserve It?

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Yes, But Does He Deserve It?

Examination of Life’s Gifts vs. Achievements

By Timothy Welton Cavanaugh

Bill Gates is unquestionably one of the richest men in the world.  As the founder and president of the mega-software developer Microsoft Mr. Gates has found himself at the helm of American and even world business developments on many occasions.  His ideas via Microsoft’s numerous software products have given rise to the revolutionary information conduit we call the internet which has helped shape the modern world as we know it.

In addition to, or more likely as a result of, his wealth Mr. Gates has power, prestige and a presence felt by all who have been near him.  Nobody in their right mind would disagree that Mr. Gates is a very successful individual.  The question is did he earn his success and therefore does he deserve it?

Bill has had numerous advantages in his life that have led to his unprecedented professional success.  At the simplest level Bill was lucky enough to be born in an economically developed country.  In addition he wasn’t born mentally retarded, physically disabled or horribly disfigured.  Those facts certainly didn’t hurt his chances at success but for the purposes of this essay I’ll limit advantages to just those possessed over the average person.

To begin with Bill Gates is a man.  Not as opposed to another species but as opposed to being a women.  As hard as we in America and other progressive countries around the world have tried to rectify gender inequity the fact is women still have less advantage in traditional power based institutions, to include business, then men.  So, Mr. Gates started his rise to corporate power with a built-in advantage over approximately half his potential rivals.  In fact Bill has had this advantage since he was born and earlier in our history, in Bills youth, that advantage was even more pronounced then it is today.

Mr. Gates is also a Caucasian.  I know this comes as no surprise to you but the reality is we live in a white-male dominated society so the fact of Mr. Gates’ light-skinned persuasion has played a substantial role in his success throughout his lifetime.  Not a guarantee of prosperity in any respects mind you but certainly a foot in the door for opportunities that other, darker skinned candidates did not have the luxury of.

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Bill Gates was born into money.  Again, that is by no means a guarantee of professional success, a quick look at the misguided, poorly reasoned decisions of the world elite youth will tell you that.  But, in Bill’s case it did allow him to go to prestigious private schools culminating in a college career at Harvard.  Certainly access to that level of resources and education had an impact on his intellectual and creative development.  Also, it gave Bill access to his parent’s contacts which when he was starting Microsoft, a very original and highly unlikely success story of a business, must have been invaluable.

Bill’s father was a prominent attorney in Seattle.  Bill’s mother was, in addition to being a regent at the University of Washington, a board member of First Interstate Bank and Pacific Northwest Bell and a Chairwoman for United Way International.  It’s not a bad idea to be well connected to the legal and business communities when starting a new venture.  And of course access to the education community at the regent level certainly didn’t hurt Microsoft’s chances at positioning itself as a developer of new education tools.

Well, is that it?  Are those the only advantages Mr. Gates has had that have given him a boost to the top of the American business elite pile?  Those are certainly the most pronounced but what about things like divine gifts, opportunities of chance or just being in the right place at the tight time?

Bill owes where he is today to the possession of one very valuable asset, his mind.  Bill Gates built his software empire using his intelligence and creativity in the arena of computer technology.  He developed these interests and pursued this knowledge from as early as thirteen years old.  Certainly at that age he wasn’t thinking about sales and marketing strategies or building a business empire he was just satisfying his youthfully curiosity.  Bill Gates’ curiosity, intellect and aptitude for computer technology are all divine gifts.  Not to say that he doesn’t deserve credit for developing these gifts but even his desire to develop them is a reflection of his personality, another gift from God.

It may sound like I’m just trying to discount the man’s success as nothing more then serendipity.  Bill certainly deserves the fruits of his labor but the advantages he was blessed with have affected is life results to an incalculable degree and it is for that fact that one must question weather any person truly deserves whatever success in life they achieve.

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There are plenty of individuals that did not have Bills built in advantages but made better of themselves then the average man.  Take the NBA star Kobe Bryant.  Kobe was not blessed with being born into the advantaged race in America (white) nor was he born into substantial money but he certainly did fine for himself regardless of those chance setbacks.  In fact Kobe’s wealth and celebrity well surpass most men’s wildest imaginations.

But Kobe was still blessed with some goods.  Again, to start off with he was born a man which in the business of professional athletics makes all the difference in the world.  He was also born with incredible physical talent and a body that allows him to use that talent to play a game that earns him that wealth and celebrity.  In addition, Kobe Bryant was born in a country and in a time that allows him to take advantage of his God given talent for playing the game of Basketball to earn his very comfortable living.

Imagine all the athletes that came before Kobe Bryant, black and white, arguably just as talented and charismatic but that did not have the opportunity he has had just because the mass marketing of sporting events wasn’t a reality yet and therefore professional athletics did not exist.

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My name is Timothy Cavanaugh and I am an independent writer specializing in political, environmental and social justice issues. I regularly submit op-eds to various newspapers and blogs and I enjoy debating my positions with others when I get the (more...)

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