William H. Gates Sr.

| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

Bill Gates SrAs if working to eradicate polio weren’t enough, William H. Gates Sr. has, in his mid-80s, ventured forth and not only approached, but also actively embraced, the so-called third rail of Washington state politics: the income tax. This is in addition to his co-chairmanship of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and his active involvement in numerous aspects of civic life.

Despite Initiative 1098’s failure at the polls, by lending his name and visage to the Yes on 1098 campaign, Gates did two remarkable things this year. One, he gave the effort to reform Washington’s famously regressive tax code The Goodthe boost that only a celebrity can provide, thus helping Initiative 1098 in fundraising and in garnering enough support to ensure its place on the November ballot. Without Gates, it wouldn’t have gone that far. Two, Gates comes from the class that would be most directly affected by a measure like I-1098, giving a moral dimension to his decision as well.

Gates’ involvement with I-1098 harked back to his chairmanship of a committee the state Legislature formed in the 1990s to study tax reform. He came out of that process convinced of the need for change, and his public role in this year’s campaign was an outgrowth of that process.

And while the elder Gates has never really flirted with running for public office, his embrace of the third rail only ensures that his role is to take the high road and put the interests of the state before those of his class. That’s something no politician is likely to do.

Back to main menu

Related Content

It’s easy to get discouraged by the torrent of bad news of late, but now is not the time to jump ship

The increased reliance on telecommuting spawned by the COVID-19 opens the door to new information-security vulnerabilities

‘We need the federal government to move quickly to invest in people, nonprofits, small businesses and employers’ to stabilize the economies of our urban centers

It’s time to have a national conversation about the path forward for our way of life

It’s time to have a national conversation about the path forward for our way of life