By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. You might think that such striking progress would be widely celebrated, but in fact, Melinda and I are struck by how many people think the world is getting worse. The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful. That’s why in this year’s letter we take apart some of the myths that slow down the work. The next time you hear these myths, we hope you will do the same.
– Bill Gates
Read the entire letter here: http://annualletter.gatesfoundation.org/?cid=bg_pt_ll0_012122/#section=home
Pdf version also available from the website or here: 2014 Bill GatesAnnualLetter – 3 Myths
Myth 1: Poor countries are doomed to stay poor
I’ve heard this myth stated about lots of places, but most often about Africa. A quick Web search will turn up dozens of headlines and book titles such as ‘How Rich Countries Got Rich and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor.’
Thankfully these books are not bestsellers, because the basic premise is false. The fact is, incomes and other measures of human welfare are rising almost everywhere, including in Africa.
“By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.” Bill Gates
Myth 2: Foreign aid is a big waste of time
You may have read news articles about foreign aid that are filled with big generalizations based on small examples. They tend to cite anecdotes about waste in some program and suggest that foreign aid is a waste. If you hear enough of these stories, it’s easy to get the impression that aid just doesn’t work. It’s no wonder that one British newspaper claimed last year that more than half of voters want cuts in overseas aid.
“It is ironic that the foundation has a reputation for a hard-nosed focus on results, and yet many people are cynical about the government aid programs we partner with.” Bill Gates
Myth 3: Saving lives leads to overpopulation
We see comments like this all the time on the Gates Foundation’s blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. It makes sense that people are concerned about whether the planet can continue to sustain the human race, especially in the age of climate change. But this kind of thinking has gotten the world into a lot of trouble. Anxiety about the size of the world population has a dangerous tendency to override concern for the human beings who make up that population.
“We make the future sustainable when we invest in the poor, not when we insist on their suffering.” Melinda Gates