One-on-One with Bill Gates

GATES: Well I could say that every time I go to China I am amazed by the level of energy and activity there. And you know its like super charged capitalism where they're creating new jobs and they are being very efficient. And you know that's daunting. It's a challenge to the rest of the world that we got this great opportunity that they're going to build good products, but we all have to become more efficient to work at that level as well.

JENNINGS: Should we be worried that China will best the United States before long?

GATES: Well in the area of economic activity, no one bests anyone. As their people are more college educated and creating inexpensive products. That's just a great thing for our consumers. It does mean that the companies here need to think about selling to China. About how they work with partners there. And measuring their efficiency against the best in the world which in my business will be the leaders in China.

JENNINGS: Is the U.S. as competitive as it needs to be?

GATES: I think we need to renew our competitiveness.

JENNINGS: How do we do that?

GATES: Well we need to look at particularly our education system. I'm very passionate about the fact that our high schools are not doing the job they should do. They were really invented for an era where really not every one needed to get a good college education to get the jobs of the future, and so I think we need to start there. I think we need to look at some of the efficiencies in our medical care, legal system, but education would be at the top of my list in keeping the U.S. at the forefront, where it clearly is today.

JENNINGS: You are constantly giving money to different causes. I wonder if your money creates a sense of urgency that you would like it to create in terms of other people's interest and commitment.

GATES: Well we often will give in partnership with other people. For example these grants for new high schools that work in a different way. We've had many people come along and help out with that. Of course there we need to work with the government. The vast amount of funds for education will always come from the government. Likewise in world health we have been able to draw people in and really show that you can make a big difference and save lives and improve outcomes and there is no inefficiency in this like sometimes the image in foreign aid feels like, well where does it go?

JENNINGS: Are you saying that private enterprise, private money, is more efficient than government money?

GATES: No, I am saying that there are examples when you focus on health, that all the money -- government and private -- can make a difference. We often do pilot projects though to you know make it evident what the right approach is. We're very careful about measuring the outcomes, making sure that we really did get what was intended and then if it goes well than both private and government money hopefully come in and scale up the good idea.

JENNINGS: Is the converse true? Do you sometimes give so much money that people are inclined to say, "Let Gates do it."

GATES: Well I hope that's not the case. I know that in the case of world health and education we are seeing more money, other than our money, come into those areas and we're able to shape how some of the government money comes in in way that makes it more effective.

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