- By Andrew SwiftAndrew Swift is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.
Not every day does Bill Gates lay the smack down on a sitting premier, but that was the case when the Microsoft founder slammed Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s foreign aid policy. Berlusconi’s stolen Italian headlines in the last week (but when is that not the case?) for a post-hair-transplant bald head — and Gates couldn’t resist making a not-so-subtle reference:
And in a clear reference to the notoriously image-conscious Berlusconi, Gates told Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Rich people spend a lot more money on their own problems, like baldness, than they do to fight malaria."
Italy’s foreign aid budget was approximately 0.11% of its GDP in 2009, one of the lowest figures among developed countries, and half of what it was even in the prior year. Gates didn’t mince words on his views:
"Dear Silvio, I am sorry to make things difficult for you, but you are ignoring the poor people of the world," he told the Frankfurter Rundschau.