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Bill and Melinda Gates answer 'tough questions' in annual letter

14 February 2018

Bill: ... More broadly, the America First world view concerns me. They've made known their differences with the president and his party on issues including foreign aid, taxes and protections for immigrant youth in the country illegally. They also create USA jobs. "We've learned over the years that listening and understanding people's needs from their perspective is not only more respectful-it's also more effective", she says.

Most of the correspondence between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the public is done through press releases after philanthropic donations or programs have been initiated. Last year, it funded a grant for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to look into state and federal policies that can reduce poverty. "Despite the headlines, we see a world that's getting better", they write. "And it's not fair that our wealth opens doors that are closed to most people", Melinda Gates wrote.

She added that President Trump "has a responsibility to set a good example and empower all Americans". "It's not the world that I see".

The couple also addressed their own personal privilege in answer to the eighth question-"Is it fair that you have so much influence?".

This year, Gates, 62, and his wife decided their annual letter would answer 10 self-imposed questions.

Is it fair that you have so much influence?

Bill and Melinda also said that they work with corporations "because they can do things no one else can" (Melinda) and that they "think poor people should benefit from the same kind of innovation in health and agriculture that has improved life in the richest parts of the world".

In 2010, Bill and Melinda Gates started The Giving Pledge along with their friend (and fellow billionaire) Warren Buffett. They've been criticized for prescribing how the money is spent and then expecting tangible proof their investments work.

Among its global health achievements, the foundation says malaria cases are down by 60% since 2000, according to the World Health Organization.

They also argued that saving children's lives does not cause overpopulation.

But he concedes the same level of progress didn't happen in the US with their strategy of chasing equity through education reform.

What do you have to show for the billions you've spent on U.S. education?

After an early push to cut classroom size didn't pan out, the foundation supported programs to boost low-performing high schools and evaluate teachers.

"It's in taking all of those lessons and saying, 'OK, but did they reach the majority of the school districts?"

And speaking to this criticism of the Foundation, Bill said while they do their best to encourage feedback, many critics don't speak up because "they don't want to risk losing money".

Why don't you give more in the US?

"We keep talking to them because if the USA cuts back on its investments overseas, people in other countries will die, and Americans will be worse off", Bill added.

Bill and Melinda Gates answer 'tough questions' in annual letter