Bill and Melinda Gates just released their annual letter, “Our Big Bet for the Future,” with their thoughts on the current state of global poverty and the suite of projects they are funding to tackle it. While their hopeful tone and a good deal of what they are proposing is excellent, the story they tell about poverty obscures far more than it reveals. These are not “big bets,” but rather small technical fixes that can’t solve the real, underlying problems.
This matters, because the Gates have an incredible amount of power to go with their wealth. What they say carries tremendous weight with policymakers and affects what millions of people think. If their story is accepted, we all get tricked into accepting relatively small actions as solutions to big problems.
Their basic story goes like this: we can break the cycle of poverty–the big bet–by introducing new elements into the mix, like mobile banking, more vaccines, and differentagricultural technologies. They say that by taking actions like this, extreme poverty can actually be eradicated by 2030. But they leave out anything to do with why it exists in the first place, and who and what causes it, and so end up ignoring the things that matter most to actually breaking the cycle of poverty.
Here are four of those things that you probably know, that it seems Bill and Melinda Gates don’t.