If there was ever an argument for letting the rich keep their money and do what they want with it, it’s Bill and Melinda Gates. The Gates Foundation and the various groups they partner with are doing a lot of good in the world, and in a lot of cases it’s not government money that is funding their efforts.
Because they believe in transparency and accountability, the Gateses publish an annual letter about their activities and successes. This year’s letter, however, is aimed more to raise awareness and dispel myths than to focus on their own efforts. It’s well worth the time to read it, especially if you want to feel a little better about the world we live in.
They focus on three main myths that threaten the effectiveness of global aid programs:
1. Poor countries are doomed to stay poor – They can cite numerous examples where this is not the case. Progress does not come evenly, but it is coming.
2. Foreign Aid is a big waste – Did you know that the U.S. budgets only about 1% of the annual budget, about $30 billion, for foreign aid? And did you know that when corruption or mis-handling of aid money is uncovered it’s usually by the organizations tasked with administering that aid?
3. Saving lives leads to overpopulation – The causality is more complex than this, but the bottom line is that when people can expect their children to live they have fewer of them.
There is a lot of good work being done by a lot of good people, largely unknown and unthanked. Much of the funding comes from people and corporations many are far too quick to demonize for their wealth. Money doesn’t solve problems by itself, but money in the hands of the right people goes a long way.
Read the whole thing. It’s worth the time.