Tuesday, February 14, 2017

More on that damn foreign aid

Remember this post on how the foreign aid that the US gives is sinking it deeper and deeper into the gazillion dollar debt?

Go ahead, take a minute to read that and come back.

You ready for me?
The United Kingdom’s largest-circulation Sunday newspaper recently launched a petition calling for an end to ring-fenced aid spending (worth 0.7% of national income). Prior to his election victory, US President Donald Trump railed against “sending foreign aid to countries that hate us,” reflecting a widespread belief that aid needs to be cut. The United States allocates less than 1% of the federal budget to aid, but the average American believes this figure to be thirty-one-times higher.
Yes, welcome to the brave new world of alternative facts and all-about-me-who-cares-about-the-rest.

The other day, in class, students were clearly appalled at the fact that a billion people in this world do not even have access to electricity.  Mere access.  Without access, there is no question of consumption of electricity.  Students were at a loss understanding why developed countries were not helping out.  I didn't tell them though at the miserly amount we give as foreign aid; why completely discourage those young students, right?

Ah yes, let those poor people eat cakes in the dark!

But,enough with the doom and gloom.  (Flynn resigning, and the FBI continuing to investigate him, has boosted my morale!)

Let us look at something positive then:
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spends more each year on development aid than most rich governments do.
Re-read that sentence.  Go ahead.  And be impressed.

Against the backdrop of the pathological presidency of Trump's, which wants to reduce funding for organizations that educate girls and women about family planning, I want to highlight the following from the Gates Foundation:
For the first time in history, more than 300 million women in developing countries are using modern methods of contraception. It took decades to reach 200 million women. It has taken only another 13 years to reach 300 million—and the impact in saving lives is fantastic.
Why is this a big deal?
When women in developing countries space their births by at least three years, their babies are almost twice as likely to reach their first birthday. Over time, the ability of women to use contraceptives and space their pregnancies will become one of the largest contributors in cutting childhood deaths.
If only the asshole president and his asshole minions will listen to Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett!  There is a lot more to life than to be obsessed with fertilized eggs!
Contraceptives are also one of the greatest antipoverty innovations in history. When women are able to time and space their pregnancies, they are more likely to advance their education and earn an income—and they’re more likely to have healthy children.
Join me in yelling a yuge "fuck you" to trump and his minions, and an even bigly and yuger yell to say "thank you" to Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett.


Ramesh said...

I don't know what "an even bigger and yuger yell" is, but I am prepared to stand first in line and do it. Its been a long standing view of both of us that the good Mr Gates must be Sainted.

What is even more impressive about the Gates Foundation (and we should mention the Dell Foundation too) is not just the sum of money they spend. They also take great care that the money is well spent. They force government and local agencies to be accountable. Where they are not, they bypass them and create sustainable organisations that spend the money effectively. They monitor and drive end results from the programmes. They don't just write a cheque like the governments do.

Try this on your students. In the erstwhile era many Americans spent a year or two with the Peace Corps. Suggest to your students that they may want to think of a year interning with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, before they embark on their careers. It may be a life changing experience.

Sriram Khé said...

It is not easy to get an internship opportunity at this place, my friend. The line to get in is way too long. It is one of the hottest places if one can get in. And the pathways are limited: "The foundation works with partner universities and the Management Leadership for Tomorrow organization to identify candidates for internships. ... At this time the foundation does not post an open call for internship applications."
And if you think you can sneak in as a volunteer, "we do not accept volunteers at the foundation."
A strange model ... but, hey, their money, their rules.

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