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Bill Gates: How Foreign Aid Helps Americans

Gates Notes

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Foreign aid is often in the hot seat, but today the heat is cranked up especially high. The United States government, one of the world’s most influential donors, is considering dramatic cuts to health and development programs around the world. I understand why some Americans watch their tax dollars going overseas and wonder why we’re not spending them at home. Here’s my answer: These projects keep Americans safe. And by promoting health, security, and economic opportunity, they stabilize vulnerable parts of the world.

This is a lesson I’ve learned myself. When I first got involved in health and development more than 15 years ago, the main motivation was to save and improve people’s lives around the world. That’s still true today, but over the years I have come to see the tangible ways in which American aid benefits Americans too…

These projects keep Americans safe. And by promoting health, security, and economic opportunity, they stabilize vulnerable parts of the world. 

This is not simply a humanitarian accomplishment. For those countries it means more teachers, entrepreneurs, police officers, and health-care workers contributing to strong, stable societies. According to one bipartisan study, political instability and violent activity in African countries with PEPFAR programs dropped 40 percent between 2004 and 2015. Where there was no PEPFAR program, the decline was just 3 percent….

Protecting Americans, preventing epidemics, strengthening markets, saving lives: aid delivers phenomenal benefits, and for a bargain. It represents less than 1 percent of the federal budget, not even a penny out of every dollar. It is some of the best return on investment anywhere in government. This money is well spent, it has an enormous impact, and it ought to be maintained. 

KEYWORDS: AIDS, BILL GATES, PEPFAR, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH