Bill Gates: Ignoring World's Poor 'Would Hurt Our Economic Future'

11/03/2011 06:24 pm ET | Updated Jan 03, 2012
  • Harry Bradford Associate Editor, HuffPost Business and HuffPost Small Business

Bill Gates says the world's developed nations need to ensure that they aid the world's poor. And the best way to do this, according to the billionaire philanthropist? A tax on financial transactions.

In an interview with BBC News, the Microsoft co-founder, said that while the plight of impoverished people in developed nations may seem like it has little to with the economies of rich countries, it affects everyone.

"Not caring about the instability of these countries really would hurt our economic future quite dramatically, whether it's unrest, whether it's disease," Gates told BBC News. "On the other hand, if you bring these people into the world economy then you get this very positive, virtuous cycle."

Gates, who made a presentation highlighting the importance of foreign aid at the G20 conference in Cannes Thursday, has outlined several ways to better integrate the globe's poor into the world economy, the Guardian reports. One of his most popular proposals seems to be the institution of a tax on trades on stocks, bonds and derivatives, also known as the Robin Hood tax.

A similar tax is already in the works in the U.S. On Wednesday, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) proposed a bill that would levy a 0.03 percent tax on stock, bond and derivative trades. Likewise, Adbusters, the anti-capitalist group that made the initial call for Occupy Wall Street, has already made its support known for the Robin Hood tax by demanding G20 leaders get behind it at the summit.

Gates, who recently aligned himself with fellow billionaire Warren Buffett in saying that the rich should pay more in taxes than other Americans, still faces significant opposition to the Robin Hood tax in the United States, according to ThinkProgress. The Obama administration remains opposed to the tax, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some argue that such a tax would not only help to decrease the budget deficit, it would have the added benefit of deterring types of trading known to increase market volatility, ThinkProgress notes.

But Gates' main priority is foreign aid, not tax reform. He argues in a video on his website, GatesNotes, that relatively small amounts of aid -- foreign aid constitutes just 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget -- can have huge impacts on poor nations.