When we think of Bill Gates, it is Microsoft that immediately comes to our minds. The billionare’s face is undoubtedly linked to his best-known and most successful company. But there are other, lesser-known facets about the tycoon. For example, his active interest in farming, which has led him to acquire more than 268,984 acres of land. Or, also, his close relationship with the World Economic Forum, an organization that watches over, among other things, the disappearance of private property.
According to an interesting article in Libre Mercado, “the founder of Microsoft and fourth richest person in the world, Bill Gates, has become the largest owner of agricultural land in the United States.”
The Land Report, specialized in the agricultural area, reported that the businessman has, in total, about 268,984 acres of highly productive land divided in a total of 19 states.
Just to have an idea, an acre is between 0.4 and 0.5 hectares. One hectare, or roughly two acres, is equivalent to one and a half soccer fields.
The five states (four plus the capital, actually) where Bill Gates owns the most property are: Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres), Arizona (25,750 acres), Nebraska (20,588 acres) and Washington (16,097 acres).
Bill Gates’ method of investing in land is a bit shady, but nothing out of the ordinary. Because he is such a wealthy businessman – the fourth richest person in the world – his investments require rigorous secrecy and an important low profile so that his interests do not become expensive.
Do this exercise: if you have a property of about 100 acres, valued at, say, $100,000, and Bill Gates -or any billionaire- wants to buy it, what will you do or imagine most people would do? He’ll probably ask for three times as much of his valuation.
Bill Gates avoids that in order to save money and make his investments easier. “The land is formally owned by Cascade Investments, the investment vehicle through which Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have diversified their fortune since the 1990s,” the Libre Mercado article explains. “The agricultural estates are only a small part of Cascade’s total investments, which include significant stakes in hotel chains, automobile marketers and recycling, machinery and railroad companies, to name a few.”
“In building his agricultural empire Gates has acted with remarkable discretion. The Land Report produces an annual report on the nation’s 100 largest landowners, but this is the first time Gates has appeared in it.” According to Eric O’Keefe, editor of the publication, “Cascade has been in the business of buying farmland for more than a decade. We only became aware of the number and size of his holdings last year.”
Why is that? Because of what was explained above. Cascade, in its largest transaction, “paid in 2017 more than $500 million for 61 lots of land belonging to an investment fund.” This sale was done so discreetly that, according to O’Keefe, “it was arguably in secret. There was no public announcement or notice in the business press.” The identity of the buyer was confirmed a year later.
Then, in 2018, an uncool company, Angelina Plantation, paid the sum of $171 million for 14,332 acres of fertile land in Washington for corn and wheat crops. The company had only a couple of employees and grossed just $300,000 annually.
“The details of the transaction were reported in the press, but it wasn’t until some time later that it became known that the owner of Angelina Plantation, and thus the actual buyer, was Bill Gates.”
The situation is somewhat murky, but not out of the ordinary, as Charlie Rankin, a farmer and rancher with a small property in North Carolina, explains Rankin is a critic of Gates for his disingenuousness in his charitable works. In addition to his properties, he has a YouTube channel focused on farming and ranching.
While Cascade Investments, so far, has declined to explain what use they will put the acquired properties to, O’Keefe confirms that it is crop production. “Virtually all of Bill Gates’ land was already dedicated to it when Cascade acquired it.”
Bill Gates, a billionaire against private ownership
Beyond the innovations and diversification of Bill Gates’ businesses, ranging from farming and agricultural projects, meat and artificial food; and his most recent project (that implies “covering” the sun), the tycoon has close relations with the World Economic Forum.
“The World Economic Forum (WEF) organizes events of great media impact in which political, economic, social and intellectual leaders of the highest level participate. The most important of them is held once a year for four days in the Swiss town of Davos,” reads Libre Mercado.
The article emphasizes that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation finances WEF initiatives through direct donations to the Fund itself, and through different related projects, many of which arise in Davos. At the same time, Bill Gates is one of the regular figures at Davos, where he has participated since 1995.
“The WEF considers the Foundation a ‘strategic partner’ and offers its online platforms and events as a regular loudspeaker for Gates’ views,” the article remarks.
But the denunciation of Libre Mercado is not because Gates and the Forum are allies, but because of the organization’s ideals, which are precisely against private property and economic freedoms.
“An article published by the Forum in November 2016 described the world of 2030 a seemingly utopian society where all basic needs are covered and you can order delivery of any product in a matter of minutes. No one owns cars because public transportation is faster and more organized,” the explanation reads. “You don’t pay rent for housing, which other people use when you don’t need it. Food is also free and nobody keeps kitchen utensils at home because it is more convenient to receive them at home when they are going to be used.”
Basically, the World Economic Forum advocates for a completely “egalitarian” society where all human beings live in harmony with a quality of life equal to the rest. You don’t have to worry about material things, money or property; food is for free, you don’t have to go out to get it because they bring it to your home, housing is free and everything is completely dominated by a few organizers clearly.
Anyone would say that this is very similar to a society described by Karl Marx himself, of a communist nature, where the social classes are equal, and they would be right.
“In this new Jauja Land, work does not exist. It has been replaced by ‘time to think, create and develop.’ It is not even necessary to go shopping, ‘the algorithm does it for me.’ This is how the author of the text, Ida Auken, former Danish environment minister and member of two WEF working groups, expresses herself,” Libre Mercado describes.
“I don’t own any property. I have no car. I have no house. I have no appliances and no clothes. It may seem strange to you, but in this city it makes sense,” the Dane stresses with sharp enthusiasm, for in such a society, property would not exist and, without it, neither would freedom.
And what about our private life, would only material property not exist in this utopian society? Not according to Auken: “I have no real privacy. I can’t go anywhere without it being recorded. Everything I do, think and dream is recorded.” It’s as if the idea was taken from the eternally quoted 1984. And how would this new life be? “On the whole, it’s a good life.”
The forum, likewise, cures itself of all evil by clarifying that Auken’s opinion is hers and not necessarily shared by them. But there are more articles, and videos.
Libre Mercado writes: “those same ideas are repeated in other articles of the same institution, and especially in a video that went viral recently, where a young man with a radiant smile was seen next to the phrase “You will have nothing, and you will be happy.” The video generated a great deal of rejection on Twitter and the Fund deleted it from that network, but so far it remains on its Facebook page.”
The World Economic Forum seems to despise the misnamed “neoliberalism”, and uses it to explain how global problems stem from the free market “and fiscal austerity.” Basically, the WEF says that public money, coming from taxes, must be spent to cover needs. A very fancy way of asking for subsidies.
And what is a good cure for evil neoliberalism? According to the WEF, or the articles they allow on their platform, Marxism.
So, while Bill Gates enjoys the fourth largest fortune in the world, one of its allied organizations openly promotes the idea of a communist society, anti-capitalist, against private property and unequivocally distant from economic and social freedoms.