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(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) In this opinion piece, Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, write, “The two of us have spent nearly every day of the past 17 years working on the fight against disease and poverty, but today, we are concerned. After a generation of historic progress, the world’s commitment to helping its poorest people is more uncertain than at any time since we started our foundation.” President Donald Trump, they note, has recommended cutting the budget of the State Department by 30 percent and, while Congress is unlikely to go along with such large cuts, it is their best guess that key foreign-aid programs will be scaled back. “Foreign aid is nothing more than the money that the U.S. spends to help poor countries around the world to improve the lives of their citizens. Disease and poverty are the clearest examples we know of solvable human misery, and the moral case for wiping them out is clear on its face. The lives of millions and the livelihoods of billions depend on the programs that American foreign aid supports,” they write. The U.S. spends less than one percent of its annual budget on foreign aid, they add, but note that even so, government spending on public health dwarfs that of foundations like theirs, which spent $2.9 billion last year. The aid supplied by the U.S. government fills crucial gaps that no other funder can fill, the Gates say. This week, the Gates Foundation will release a report, “Goalkeepers: The Stories Behind the Data,” which highlights promising approaches to meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report highlights countries that have been most innovative in tackling these SDGs. And, in preparing the report, the Gates say, they kept coming back to three observations: “First, there is a set of key priorities on which long-term global stability depends. Second, innovative programs have addressed these priorities effectively in countries around the world. Third, U.S. foreign aid has played a catalytic role in helping leaders to implement these successful programs.” Bill & Melinda Gates conclude: “Foreign aid isn’t perfect. Like the private sector, the development sector sometimes fails, and we learn from our failures. When we succeed, we still think about how to do more for less, whether the money comes from taxpayers or philanthropic organizations like our own. But U.S. foreign aid is spent purposefully and measured constantly, and on balance, it is extremely effective… Our country’s modest investment in the well-being of the poorest saves and improves lives, frees up vast amounts of human potential that’s been locked away by disease and poverty, and helps prevent global crises before they happen. Generosity is one of our best exports. We are confident that Americans will want their government to continue making strategic investments in a safer, healthier, more prosperous world.”

Posted September 13th, 2017