If there’s one lesson from globalization, it’s that those in wealthy countries must work to empower people in poorer nations, Bill Clinton said Friday in a speech to a forum of philanthropists gathered at Google. And he warned, unless people want their grandchildren “to live in a bubble” insulated from a warming earth, diminishing resources and exploding population growth, “you don’t have anything better to do.” Clinton, speaking to global charity executives, gave a blunt assessment of a growing divide in the world that threatens to increase poverty and health problems at the same time climate change could wreak havoc on the world’s ability to feed an exploding population. Clinton noted that globalization is not all bad. Answering a question, he told the Google audience “There is a huge sea change now in American attitudes. This coming election is going to be the only one in my lifetime where Americans will actually be influenced in their voting by what is necessary to restore our country’s standing in the world.” And asked what he would do as “first man” that he failed to do as president, he laughed, “If I were to do it again, first of all I wouldn’t be making the decisions.” Then, he launched into an agenda that would include sending more U.S. aid to help poorer countries build their infrastructure. Clinton described how his eyes have been opened after leaving the presidency to the powers of the marketplace, citing examples of how bringing order to inefficient markets can help people’s lives. He described how his foundation has worked with governments to drive down the cost of drugs to treat HIV/AIDS and children’s diseases and now is looking for ways to organize the market of selling carbon emission limits. But he warned climate change is only one of several global problems threatening the quality of life around the world. “It is completely unsustainable, not only because of climate change but of a related condition that is likely to bite us more severely, even before the worst implications of climate change, that is the accumulated combinations of resource depletion and population explosion.” But he said never before has the private sector, combined with technological tools, been in a stronger position to be a force for change. “Private citizens have more power to do public good than ever before,” Clinton said. “The rise of fortunes, unprecedented number of people quite wealthy at an earlier and earlier period in their lives, the rise of the Internet as a giving tool has enabled people of modest means to move the world, if they decide to, at the same time.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! In fact, referring to his hosts Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, he said it is hard to criticize it “if you’ve had the life that Larry and Sergei have built and all these employees at Google.” But, he added, “half of the world’s people aren’t part of this, they’re still living on less $2 a day.” While mostly avoiding politics, Clinton did take a swipe at the Iraq war, saying he doesn’t support expansion of troops. “The single most expensive thing you can do in a modern society is fight,” he said. Whether one supports or opposes the conflict, “just think about the money,” he added. “In Iraq we are soon going to hit the $500 billion mark. There are 26 million people there. What about the other 6.5 billion people in the world?” Clinton is making several Bay Area appearances this week, though none are open to the public. Today, he is meeting with philanthropists under 40 to encourage them to get more involved. On Sunday, he will appear at a breakfast fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and give a speech to the National School Boards Association. All the events are in San Francisco. But he didn’t steer entirely away from politics on Friday.
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