Bill Gates: Is No Government Better Than Lousy Government?

I was completely surprised that nobody was funding some of these vaccines. When I first looked at this I thought, well, all the good stuff will have been done. It was mind-blowing me to find things like Rotavirus vaccine were going unfunded. One hundred percent of rich kids were getting it and no poor kids were. So over a quarter million kids a year were dying of Rotavirus-caused diarrhea. You could save those lives for $800 per life. That’s like $20 or $30 per year of life. It’s just ridiculous that an intervention like that isn’t funded.

And I’m really surprised at the variance. Some very poor countries run great vaccination systems and some richer ones run terrible programs. The north of Nigeria has about 30 percent vaccination coverage, and they’re above average in terms of wealth within Africa. You compare that to, say, Somalia, which has absolutely no government at all, and they get about 60 percent vaccine coverage of children. So you have a place literally with no government getting a better vaccine coverage than a place that’s above average wealth.

This is from an interview with Ezra Klein.

Comments (13)

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  1. Studebaker says:

    I respect what Gates is trying to do for poor people in developing countries. However, I don’t agree with his notion that estate taxes should confiscate the lifelong accumulation of wealth from families.

  2. Mark says:

    ^ Complete non sequitur.

    He’s complaining about the ineptitude of government, not estate taxes.

  3. Harley says:

    Well why don’t we just retract all of those NGOs we’re funding to come into Oakcliff and do vaccinations.

  4. Roget says:

    It’s a good thing too — choosing a failed state for driving down child mortality is a spectacular idea. Starting to miss the old days where ‘merica would just go in and prop up a regime that was unpopular but kept its people in order.

  5. Gabriel Odom says:

    I do not agree with empire-building of any kind, Roget.

    Also, I fail to see what an interview on public health has to do with estate taxes. Could you explain your point, Studebaker?

  6. Wasif says:

    Sometimes the best success stories on development happens outside of the government.This is especially the case through out developing countries.

  7. Dianne V. says:

    I do feel the more government means more regulations which translates into more problems on the ground for people who want to do more to solve problems, but the Big G comes in the way to mess and slow down the process.

  8. Raiden says:

    Yes small government is good! Let the non-profit humane society sector aid those who need the extra help to get ahead.

  9. Valerian says:

    @ Raiden

    Although I understand where you are coming from, i do think the government has a role to play to help its citizens, however, I do think there is a limit to the amount of helping hand.

  10. Omar says:

    This is a great blog post, thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  11. Sam says:

    Interesting post and I think B Gates has a point, but ultimately the effectiveness of a government relies on the effectiveness of its own people. Bad governance is mostly an illustration of poor civic engagement.

  12. Tom says:

    Well, the example that Bill Gates is showcasing is a clear case of a well-known overly-corrupt government. I agree with Sam in this instance. Not all governments are run the same way or stimulated the same way.

  13. Roget says:

    It’s nice that you don’t agree with empire building.

    Unfortunately, in the Arab world — allowing the natural formation of a democratic state fails. Structural aid has not been found to consistently correlate with development.

    Social overhead programs do not correlate with development.

    Unfortunately an administration needs to exist — it won’t be democratic, but it could be amenable to the type of development which will create stable financial regulation, common law property protections and health programs, which do correlate with development.