Something very big is falling in THE cracks

By Ron Goodenow
Who among us is not proud that Rotary International is a key part of an international consortium, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This public-private partnership is led by national governments with five partners: World Health OrganizationRotary International; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; United Nations Children’s Fund; and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of this initiative is to eradicate polio worldwide.
We admire this effort, built in large part on what our clubs, and leaders in our districts, such as Carl Good III, chair of the District Polio Subcommittee, do to support it. We salute the thousands of Rotarians and friends in other nations who have joined the effort, often at considerable personal risk, to be sure that children are vaccinated and educational efforts succeed. And, we give thanks for clubs and organizations which help the victims of polio across their lifetimes.
As a childhood polio victim, I have followed all this with pleasure as we reduce the number of childhood cases globally to approximately 40 this past year. Yet, like many of you, I fear that something will fall between the cracks - such as an unwitting victim bringing polio to another country, including our own, thanks to modern air transportation.
Given this you, can image the horror I felt when I read a fascinating report in the April 25 Business Insider, Polio could make a comeback under Trump's budget, Gates Foundation fears. Read this, and you will see something very big falling in the cracks - something that you and I, as taxpayers, citizens and Rotarians, can try and stop.
According to a statement from the Gates Foundation, cuts proposed by the Trump Administration in foreign assistance (the biggest since the 1970s) "would shrink the foreign-aid budget by 31 percent, from $30 billion in 2017 to $20.7 billion in 2018. The current budget makes up less than 1 percent of the $3.8-trillion federal budget.” The report goes on to discuss the implications of a major cut such as this on inter-agency cooperation and program investment. It reminds us of all the work done to develop leadership at the local level while showing business and political leaders what an investment in eliminating polio (and other diseases) means for economic stability and growth. Much may be in vain.
The proposed federal budget contains many cuts in environmental, health, science, transportation, and other programs we may (or may not) care about as individuals, and Congress has yet to approve them, or cuts in tax rates that could raise our national debt. A bigger debt will make it harder to allocate funds to efforts such as the polio one, as well as programs that Bill Gates and others say will be needed to prevent a pandemic.
Whatever our individual political beliefs, we are Rotarians and as such heavily invested in defeating polio, and promoting a healthier world. I don’t think we can idly sit by and be blameless. Here is how you can contact key players in Washington, DC. Let them know your views and what Rotary does.
  • President Donald Trump: Contact the President of the United States by filling out the online contact form, or by calling either the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414 or the comments line at 202-456-1111 during business hours. Note: The 2017-2018 federal budget, for the fiscal year that next next October 1,  is not the short-term one approved in a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through this September 30.
  • U.S. Senators - Click on that link, and get contact information for your Senators.
  • U.S. Representatives - Click on that link, and get contact information for your Representative.
In addition, check out Rotary’s polio programs. Contact Carl Good with ideas and offers of help, at
And, don’t forget that Bill Gates will be a featured speaker at the 2017 Rotary International Convention next month in Atlanta!
I’m happy to exchange thoughts.
Ron Goodenow, a member of the Rotary Club of Westborough, may be reached at