Bill, Melinda Gates voice concerns over Trump's "America First" view

Bill Gates

REUTERS Rick Wilking

In recent interviews with experts on the more general topic of Bill Gates' philanthropy, he and his foundation are given credit for their mea culpas.

Bill, who rode the tech wave of the late 20th century to a one-time $100 billion fortune, once said he wished he wasn't the richest person in the world.

(It's not always clear what's been successful and what hasn't, but our foundation team works hard to assess our impact, course correct and share lessons.) Although we've had some success in getting the world to pay more attention to health and extreme poverty, it would be hard to argue at this point that we made the world focus too much on them.

Lubienski, who said he has not sought nor received money from Gates, also noted that by turning their attention to poverty, the Gateses are tackling the "really big elephant in the room" when it comes to student achievement. His and Melinda Gates's tenth annual letter, released Tuesday, is otherwise sunny in its global outlook.

In their 2018 letter discussing the foundation's charitable work, Bill and Melinda Gates answer 10 questions that people frequently ask them.

Melinda Gates also criticized how the president conducts himself on social media. US education initiatives are a distant second funding priority for the foundation, but the $450 million the Gateses spend annually on the issue makes them the top funders of schools reform in America. But, the millions of dollars they're donating for what they deem to be "good causes" could have been retained and spent by consumers like me.

"World leaders tend to take our phone calls and seriously consider what we have to say".

On why they are doing charity work, Bill said: "One is that it's meaningful work...."

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Although the Bill and Melinda Foundation disagrees with the Trump administration "more than the others we've met with", Bill said, the couple still believes that "it's still important to work together whenever possible".

One of the questions in the letter is about what happens when the two of them disagree.

"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", Melinda writes.

Why don't you give money to fight climate change? "Our goal is to do what our parents taught us and do our part to improve the state of the world".

But when asked about the growing criticism that big technology companies like Facebook and Twitter have faced over their role in spreading misinformation, Gates said he hadn't "seen great solutions", though "I'm hopeful they'll come". We think that's a basic responsibility of anyone with a lot of money.

Melinda agreed, and said that the passion the two feel for their actions through the Foundation was born from a desire to leave the world better than they found it, and to "do our part to make the world better".

"The issues of economic mobility in America are deeply intertwined: education, employment, race, housing, mental health, incarceration, substance abuse", Bill writes. Bill said, adding "We are partners in both senses that people use the word these days: at home and at work". But now it's impossible to imagine.

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