Bill Gates shrugs off government inaction

Gridlock and dysfunction in Washington won’t have a major effect on innovation throughout the country, according to Bill Gates.

“There’s a lot of innovation that isn’t dependent on Washington doing anything,” the Microsoft co-founder said at an event sponsored by the Atlantic on Wednesday. “It’d be great to fund basic research and energy more than we do… but a lot of the things that will really improve the world fortunately aren’t dependent on Washington doing something different.

“There are things like ‘Are we properly defended against nuclear weapons and biological weapons in the hands of terrorists?’” he added.

“That’s the role of government and if government can’t adapt to a new threat model then the country will pay the price for it. Fortunately, there aren’t that many things government needs to adapt to, but there are some things the government needs to adapt to.”

Gates did, however, bemoan the politicized nature of discussions on Capitol Hill, where negotiations over the budget, tax code or healthcare spending “get into ‘I want more government’ [versus] ‘I want less government.’”

The “debate doesn’t necessarily contribute to excellence in government," he said.

At the event, Gates rejected the idea that innovation has slowed down in any way.

“Innovation is moving at a scarily fast pace and its fantastic,” he said.

Gates also advocated for the aid and education work that he is a part of at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Advancements in medicine, technology and global growth have had tremendous effects on the condition of poor people around the world, he said.

“At any level of wealth, pick a dollar a day, $2 a day, $3 a day, you’d rather be alive today than 30 years ago,” Gates said. “You’re going to live a lot longer.”