Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates pitched an optimistic future for the world’s poor and sick in their 2014 Annual Letter, arguing passionately against three myths they say hurt efforts to bring people out of poverty, save lives and improve living conditions.
In their sixth yearly letter, the co-chairmen of the world’s largest charitable foundation seek to dispel notions that poor countries are doomed to stay poor, that foreign aid is wasteful and that saving lives will cause overpopulation.
According to Bill and Melinda Gates the Argument from critics is that aid holds back normal economic development, keeping countries dependent on generosity from outsiders, makes several mistakes: “it lumps different kinds of aid together. It doesn’t differentiate aid that is sent directly to governments from funding that is used for research into new tools like vaccines and seeds. The money America spent in the 1960s to develop more productive crops made Asian and Latin American countries less dependent on us, not more. The money we spend today on a Green Revolution for Africa is helping countries grow more food, making them less dependent as well. Aid is a crucial funding source for these “global public goods” that are key for health and economic growth. That’s why our foundation spends over a third of our grants on developing new tools.”
In their letter, Bill and Melinda Gates make a prediction. “By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. Almost all countries will be what we now call lower-middle income or richer. Countries will learn from their most productive neighbors and benefit from innovations like new vaccines, better seeds, and the digital revolution. Their labor forces, buoyed by expanded education, will attract new investments.”
Find a pdf of the annual letter here.