One-on-One with Bill Gates

GATES: I'm quite worried about the fiscal imbalances that we've got and what that might mean in terms of financial crisis ahead. I think we're a bit in unchartered territory. I'm not an expert myself but I definitely hope we go back to less of a trade deficit and less of a budget deficit.

JENNINGS: President, beg your pardon, Senator Frist said yesterday he didn't think there was enough public support in the country for the president's plan to have private security accounts in social security. Do you think the public support is there?

GATES: I think the issue of what type of returns you'll see there, how that will effect interest rates and things, I think there's some very complex issues there that the public in general has a hard time understanding. Partly, the specifics aren't in so that you're looking at in a very abstract way. People want to know, when they retire, will their benefits be as good as they've been in the past. And I think there's a lot of unanswered questions.

JENNINGS: What would you do if you were away for an entire day and you had no access to technology.

GATES: I would take a bag of books with me and have a fantastic day.

JENNINGS: So, you are not dependent on technology?

GATES: No, in fact when I go on vacation, I don't do e-mail when I'm off on vacation because that's my time to read. But, over the weekend, I do a lot of e-mail because I come up with new ideas and that's my chance to really write down my extensive thoughts about things that happened during the week.

JENNINGS: Do you talk to your public?

GATES: I'm not sure what you mean?

JENNINGS: Do you talk to the public on e-mail?

GATES: I don't get out in chat rooms all that much. I do put out broad letter to our customers about 3 or 4 times a year.

JENNINGS: How do you think you've changed in the last 10 or 15 years?

GATES: Well certainly having kids has been a fantastic thing for me. It's meant that I'm a little more balanced. In my 20s I worked massively, hardly took vacation at all. Now, I, with the help of my wife, I'm always making sure I've got a good balance of how I spend my time.

JENNINGS: And finally, though, it's completely out of order. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is astonishing. How do you choose what you're going to give money to?

GATES: Well the basic priority is what we're doing in world health and that's about saving lives. And so we look at what breakthroughs, what medicines can save lives. It's very clear that you can list those top 10 diseases that only exist in the developing world and say, OK, we've got to solve those. and so that's pretty easy. In education, which is our other area, we've chosen high schools. Saying that in fourth grade U.S. students are very competitive by 12th grade they're among the worst. So what is it that goes on there in terms of motivation or tracking or incentive systems and we hope to make a contribution in improving that.

JENNINGS: But you could have chosen other issues. Why were so intent in making a difference in communicable diseases?

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