In the 2018 Gates Letter, Bill and Melinda Gates answer the question, “Is it fair that you have so much influence?”
They both responded that it’s unfair that their wealth opens doors that are closed for most people.
The Gates’ added that is one reason why they started their philanthropic foundation, which aims to steer funding toward ideas and programs that can alleviate poverty and inequality around the world.
Critics of the Gates Foundation say it has become too big and powerful to fully scrutinize.
Bill Gates was until recently the richest person on Earth — which affords him a lot of power. He and wife Melinda largely use that power for philanthropic purposes through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which funds projects that aim to reduce poverty, inequality, disease, education gaps, and hunger around the world.
In their 2018 letter discussing the foundation’s charitable work, Bill and Melinda Gates answer 10 questions that people frequently ask them. One question is, “Is it fair that you have so much influence?”
To that, they both answered “no.”
“It’s not fair that we have so much wealth when billions of others have so little. And it’s not fair that our wealth opens doors that are closed to most people,” Melinda Gates wrote. “World leaders tend to take our phone calls and seriously consider what we have to say. Cash-strapped school districts are more likely to divert money and talent toward ideas they think we will fund.”
Their immense wealth, privilege, and influence is one reason why they launched the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they wrote.
“We do this work, and use whatever influence we have, to help as many people as possible and to advance equity around the world,” Melinda Gates wrote.
Bill added that he realizes critics of the foundation’s charitable work don’t often voice their concerns due to fears that they will lose funding.
The Gates Foundation is the largest private foundation in the world, and requires critical scrutiny about its far-reaching influence. As Vox notes, while plenty of experts believe the foundation has improved the state of the world, some say that the Gates’ health philanthropy has become too big to evaluate. The scale of its giving highlights the trend of philanthrocapitalism, in which billionaires — from the Gates’ to the Zuckerbergs — give charity through foundations that may have little oversight, regulation, or public input due to the financial power they wield.
“That means we need to hire well, consult experts, learn constantly, and seek out different viewpoints,” Bill Gates wrote.