Bill and Melinda Gates want people to stop being such gripes and start paying attention to success.
Yeah, yeah, it’s easy to poke fun at that kind of talk – especially from the super-rich.
But some things, in fact, are getting better. And unlike most of the world’s super-rich, the Gateses are actually “investing” in making the world a better place. They also want to convince skeptics why this is actually a good investment for all of us.
That was the point of their “Living Proof” event, webcast live today from London.
The event was done in collaboration with the ONE campaign, an organization co-founded by Bono which advocates on matters of global health and poverty — and which, apparently, doesn’t like to answer questions from the media regarding its finances, but that’s another story.
(Oops, there I go again being a typical journalist and focusing on the negative.)
Frankly, I expected this Living Proof event to be another one of those sappy sob-sister things in which the super-rich and celebrities talk about how moved they are by the plight of poor moms and sick kids. There was a bit of that, but not too much. (The event video is below)
Instead, the world’s top philanthropists focused on providing hard data to back up their claims that the world is getting better:
- – Bill Gates talked about the success the world has had in reducing child mortality rates. Child deaths have been cut in half since the 1960s.
- – Melinda Gates added that when child mortality is reduced, parents have fewer children — because the ones they have survive. It may seem counter-intuitive, but she says many studies show that reducing child deaths reduces birth rates and helps increase the economic strength of poor families.
- – Polio has almost been eradicated, knocked down from 1,000 cases occurring every day to only a few per day now. Bill Gates says it is critical to carry this to completion, to rid the world of this crippling disease and to instill confidence in other disease-fighting efforts.
The Gates Foundation provides evidence on their Living Proof website of many other stories of success, such as the increasing life expectancy in poor countries. Success with improved child nutrition. Millions of lives, and families, saved by the “humanitarian” provision of treatment against AIDS, TB, malaria and other diseases that disproportionately afflict the poor.
Yes, the Gateses say, we still have problems — including some fundamental problems with and disagreements over how the developed world provides assistance to developing countries.
But foreign aid done right is making a difference, they say.
“The overall trend is that the world is getting better,” Melinda Gates said.
And, as her less emotional and more business-minded husband emphasized, making the world a better place is actually in our interest. Latin America and some parts of Asia used to depend upon foreign aid, Bill Gates noted, and now many of these countries are key players in the global economy.
Sub-Saharan Africa, Gates said, is on the cusp of experiencing similar growth and is already attracting international investment and interest. Foreign aid, he says, speeds that up and benefits everyone.
(NOTE: The actual event starts at 21 minutes in …)