Sunday, July 03, 2005

Live 8

Yesterday 10 concerts were organised in the capitals of the G8 countries, the Eden project (in England) and Johannesburg to pressure the G8 nations to write off African Nation's debts. These concerts were organised mainly by Bob Geldof (who organised the Live Aid concerts in 1985), as a part of the Live 8 jamboree. A 200,000 person demonstration to "Make Poverty History" also took place in Edinburgh, the site of a G8 summit next week. The concerts had no tickets, passes were given out free. Mr. Geldof was quite insistent on this aspect of the campaign, and made quite the ass of himself when some people tried to sell the passes on EBay. The concerts were described as a "great success", with appearances by Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg (which caused Top Gear to be pulled off the BBC) and Thabo Mbeki in London.

All this brings me to a couple of questions I have for Live 8 proponents/supporters:
  1. Do you really think the reason there is so much poverty in the world is a lack of will to do someting about it? Do you, really? Did you think that it is in Tony Blair and GWB's power to end poverty and that they haven't done so yet because they think there is no constituency?
  2. How does it help poor people in Africa if you travel hundreds of miles to Edinburgh, jam the roads with your march, create tonnes of trash and deface a few local businesses?
  3. How does allowing Robert Mugabe to keep the millions of aid dollars he stole help the poor people of Africa one whit?
  4. Is all this really for the African poor? Really?
  5. What about the Asian and South American poor, eh? How about writing of India's debts then? We got plenty of poor people too.
That said, there were a lot of things said that I liked. Most of the people who spoke (like Geldof) took the trouble to say that Africa should be helped with aid and trade. Remarkably, Geldof is also reported to have hinted that African nations should be democratic. Wow.

Of course, Live Aid ain't over yet. There's still another concert in Edinburgh planned for the day of the G8 summit. Stay tuned.

Update (4/7/05): Will Stephens of Samizdata thinks the people at Make Poverty History are actually culpable for many African deaths.

Update 2 (6/7/05): Kenyan Economist James Shikawati talks about the need to stop thinking of Aid as the panacea to all Africa's problems in this interview to Der Spiegel magazine (H/t: Josh McCabe).

Posted in Politics and Economics.


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