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Bill and Melinda Gates argue against common poverty myths

Bill and Melinda Gates see a world of opportunity in the fight against poverty, according to a Seattle Times article published January 22, 2014.

Bill & Melinda Gates

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation presented its annual letter earlier this week and in it, the former tech businessman and his wife argue against three common myths about poverty- myths they see as detrimental to worldwide efforts to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, and otherwise improve economic conditions for the world’s impoverished nations and people.

The letter is the sixth one from the foundation and it rallies against the common beliefs that 1. Poor countries are doomed to stay poor, 2. Foreign aid is a waste of time and effort, and 3. Saving so many lives will lead to overpopulation.

"All three reflect a dim view of the future, one that says the world isn't improving but staying poor and sick, and getting overcrowded," said Bill Gates in annual letter. "We're going to make the opposite case, that the world is getting better, and that in two decades it will be better still."

To back his claims, Gates points out that countries such as Botswana, Brazil, China, and India have all enjoyed economic growth since 2005. In addition, life expectancies have increased across Africa, in spite of health challenges like AIDS. More children are attending school and the quality of life is improving.

"I am optimistic enough about this that I am willing to make a prediction," he said. "By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world."

Many have made the case that foreign aid is a waste of money because it too often makes its way into the hands of corrupt government officials. Bill Gates argues that this aid, while small in comparison to most national budgets, has made a tremendous difference in world health.

"Health aid is a phenomenal investment," says Gates. "When I look at how many fewer children are dying than 30 years ago, and how many people are living longer and healthier lives, I get quite optimistic about the future."

Melinda Gates goes on to dispel the myth that reduced poverty will lead to overpopulation, showing how lower infant mortality rates mean more surviving children, leading to smaller families overall.

"The planet does not thrive when the sickest are allowed to die off, but rather when they are able to improve their lives," she says. "Human beings are not machines. We don't reproduce mindlessly. We make decisions based on the circumstances we face."

Family life has improved in much of the world, but there is still work to be done. Budget- minded parents in the United States do not have to face the extreme challenges like parents in other nations, but most are aware of the plight of the poor and grateful to organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its commitment to the cause.

To learn more about this commendable organization and its efforts, visit

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