Bill Gates (Credit: Getty/Jamie McCarthy)
Stop me when this sounds like a plot dreamed up by a Bond villain: The richest man in the world announced in a press release his intent to invest $80 million to buy 40 square miles of land just 45 minutes west of Phoenix. He and his investors want to build around 80,000 residential units and thousands of acres of commercial and industrial buildings to create their own “smart city,” dictated on their own terms and planned without any input from, oh, you know, the people who are going to actually live there — in other words, no pesky democratic planning getting in the way. The city will embrace the sort of techno-utopianist goals that sound good on paper but never yield any tangible social results besides buttressing the egos of the Silicon Valley cult. And the best part: the city-to-be — Belmont — is literally named after the firm that is investing in it, Belmont Partners.
If this sounds like a fiefdom, well, it kinda is. Weaving his own funds through a few different holding companies, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is proposing to build a town based on his personal beliefs as to …read more