Bill Gates calmly explains why Trump's world philosophy doesn't make sense.

Bill Gates is one of the richest people in the world. So when he doles out advice about how to spend money wisely, it's a good idea to listen.

Gates' latest investment tip? Cutting off aid to other countries could actually worsen the very problems President Donald Trump and other critics are worried about — and have a big economic impact.

The Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist was in Washington, D.C., on March 15, 2018, to discuss international aid projects, including those spearheaded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In an interview with C-SPAN, Gates said he disagrees with Trump's "America First" approach but said that he'd try to explain the merits of international aid within Trump's worldview.


"I'll take his framework and explain why things like health security and continued foreign aid, even in that narrow framework, where you give no credit for saving lives in Africa, kind of pure humanitarian things, even without that, this is money well spent," Gates said.

Photos by Gage Skidmore/Flickr and World Economic Forum/Flickr.

For starters, international aid is a tiny percent of America's annual budget.

Trump has been skeptical of international aid in past speeches and has criticized other countries and the United Nations for not playing a larger role in global peacekeeping efforts.

Gates didn't totally disagree with Trump's assessment, noting that the U.S. is almost always the first- or second-largest donor in major research projects and international relief efforts. However, he pointed out that it's still less than 1% of America's GDP, a smaller amount than what's given by percentage from other countries, including the U.K.

"It's hard for me to understand the notion that helping people that are poorer than we are is a bad thing," Gates said. "It’s kind of in the Bible."

With public health at stake every time someone climbs on a plane or boat, Gates says humanitarian aid is a wise investment.

Perhaps knowing that he isn't going to win over Trump with an altruistic argument, Gates explained that international aid is, in fact, a powerful tool in national security.

"The preparedness we have for a pandemic, either a naturally caused pandemic or a bioterrorism, intention-caused pandemic, we don't have the tools, the preparedness, the capacity to deal with that," Gates said. "And yet the science is at a point where for a fairly small portion of that increase, say a few percent a year, you could do something quite miraculous in terms of health security."

Staying connected to the global community is the surest way to avoid future disasters.

In an increasingly interconnected world, America has a responsibility to play its part both because it's the right thing to do but also because it's in our own best interests.

Someone like Gates inherently gets that. It's likely a big reason why he stepped away from his iconic role as a tech pioneer and has devoted his life to the work he and his wife, Melinda, do on behalf of their foundation.

Preventing the next epidemic or terrorist attack could come down to how involved we are as a society in helping the less fortunate in times of need.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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