Bill and Melinda Gates answer 'tough questions' in annual letter

Melinda Gates co-founders of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at a UN event in New York

"So it's discouraging to hear that kind of talk". For 2018 though, Bill and Melinda chose to offer a bit of insight into their personalities and ventured to take on "10 tough questions that we get asked".

The letter closes by inviting people to the couple their own toughest question.

"We are not seeing the mobility out of poverty in the same way in the United States as it used to exist", Melinda Gates said.

Is it fair that you have so much influence?

What do you have to show for the billions you've spent on US education?

"They do feel like they'd rather give their money away than have it captured by estate taxes", he said. And "Is it fair that you have so much influence?".

And they said they're now digging into the layers of USA poverty that they haven't been deeply involved with at the national level, including employment, race, housing, mental health, incarceration and substance abuse.

Bill and Melinda Gates say they're concerned about some of President Donald Trump's policies and statements. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, a survey released in January, finds that global trust in nongovernmental organizations by the "informed public" dipped three percentage points over the past year, and fell nine overall in the United States.

Bill and Melinda Gates have some reservations about the President.

"It's authentic to take on tough questions, and not use just your typical P.R. format", said Bill George, the former CEO of Medtronic and a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, applauding the approach. The questions either come from journalists implying Bill is the one making the decisions, or female entrepreneurs wanting to know how to better work with their husbands. "That debate is healthy", he said.

"There have been some interesting tip-offs about where they're heading or their perspectives on things", said David Callahan, the founder and editor of Inside Philanthropy, a news site about charitable giving. "This can't be a one-and-done thing".

To that, they both answered "no".

"I'd be surprised" if those questions were tougher than the ones they selected, he said in the interview. In a minute and half long YouTube video, we see the second set of more enduring questions being asked that include what Melinda actually looks like and if Bill Gates is even alive anymore.

The administration's policies affect our foundation's work in a number of areas.

"The world is not a safer place when more people are sick or hungry", Gates added.

Critics of the Gates Foundation say it has become too big and powerful to fully scrutinize.

I don't think Gates should be treated like a hero for his philanthropy.

The Gates and their foundation have opened up at times in the past about when they've fallen short. Personally, we are investing in innovations that will cut back on greenhouse gases. The Gates Foundation has given money to various programs in more than 100 countries, as well as in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. And in a speech in October announcing a pivot in the foundation's education strategy, Gates said he would end the foundation's direct investment in teacher evaluations and ratings and focus funding on strategies identified by local schools, a pivot some saw as a recognition that top-down approaches have limits.

"One is that it's meaningful work".

"That means we need to hire well, consult experts, learn constantly, and seek out different viewpoints", Bill Gates wrote. "The answer is that we think there's always going to be a unique role for foundations", Bill Gates said.

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