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Bill and Melinda Gates call foreign aid a 'moral imperative,' urging more investment in poor countries

Bill and Melinda Gates are avid readers
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Bill and Melinda Gates are avid readers

Calling the case for U.S. foreign aid "increasingly obvious" in a turbulent world, Bill and Melinda Gates issued a call to the world's largest economy to redouble its financial commitment to needy countries.

In a lengthy Wall Street Journal opinion piece published on Saturday, the philanthropist founder of Microsoft and his wife stated that "the lives of millions and the livelihoods of billions depend on the programs that American foreign aid supports" – which are currently threatened by steep budget cuts.

The federal budget spends approximately 1.3 percent of its money on foreign aid, according to data from the Council on Foreign Relations. The Trump administration's blueprint for fiscal year 2018 meted out a reduction of nearly 30 percent to the budgets of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which sparked immediate pushback from Congressional leaders.

Writing in the WSJ, Bill and Melinda Gates suggested those cuts would result in increasing the misery suffered by impoverished countries.

"Foreign aid is nothing more than the money that the U.S. spends to help poor countries around the world to improve the lives of their citizens," the Gates' wrote in the publication. "Disease and poverty are the clearest examples we know of solvable human misery, and the moral case for wiping them out is clear on its face."

In recent years Gates, one of the world's wealthiest men, has drawn more attention for his status as a philanthropist than as one of technology's most famous innovators. Last year, the Gates Foundation contributed nearly $3 billion to global public health causes.

"The practical case [for foreign aid] is also becoming increasingly obvious. We see repeatedly that when people anywhere are desperate, people everywhere are at risk," the couple wrote.

"In a world where pandemic disease spreads from one continent to another in the span of a few hours, where terrorist attacks are more random and frequent, and where political crises trigger mass migration, it is in our collective interest to fight against the daily reality of poverty, sickness and frustration," they added.

"Spending a little to keep a child healthy isn't only a moral imperative; it is also a long-term investment in a secure and thriving world," the Gates' wrote.

The full article can be found on the Wall Street Journal's website.