Yesterday I interviewed Bill Gates on stage at Davos, at an event designed to give the businessman-philanthropist a platform to expound his ideas on development – and to skewer some “myths” about foreign aid. I thought Gates did pretty well. But today I open my own paper to read a spirited attack on him by William Easterly, headlined – “Western vanities that do little to help the world’s poor”. Easterly argues that: “Mr and Mrs Gates promulgate myths of their own. They overstate the contribution that foreign aid makes to economic progress in the world’s poorest regions. And they exaggerate the role played by philanthropists and politicians. These misconceptions, too, are pernicious, for they focus attention on development programmes that spread a costly misunderstanding on how poverty really ends.”
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