Live 8 and poverty

‘Are they hoping one of these guys from the G8 … sees Annie Lennox singing ‘Sweet Dreams’ and thinks, “Fuck me, she might have a point there, you know.” It’s not going to fucking happen, is it?’ – Noel Gallagher

There’s something about Bob Geldof that really shits me off. Part of 80s one-hit-wonders crew, I first saw him as the actor who played the lead character in Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Today, he’s a self indulgent wanker who thinks of himself as some sort of savior for the third world; organising campaign after campaign in an effort to end poverty. ‘Saint Bob’s’ latest effort comes in the form of Live 8 starting this weekend. Eight concerts in eight countries to bring awareness about world poverty to coincide with the G8 meetings. The music should definitely be something to look forward to, with artists such as Coldplay, U2, Green Day, REM, Elton John, and Paul McCartney lined up to perform. While obviously good intentioned, Bob Geldof is not qualified in economic development. His music career hasn’t been that flash either for that matter. For the past twenty years, the focus of his, and many NGOs’ campaigns have been about more foreign aid and debt cancellation, thinking that pouring money into the coffers of third world governments will somehow solve all their problems. The idea being that western countries, being relatively successful and uncorrupt, have become rich at the expense of the third world, and therefore be expected to pay and fix it up. Recently however, he may have finally had some sense knocked into him. Geldof rightly welcomed last months decision by several G8 nations to cancel almost $50billion of third world debt on the condition that those countries reduce corruption and liberalise their economies. U2’s Bono, that other musician-turned-third-world-messiah, said about Live 8 that the focus of the past twenty years has changed from a “charity to justice”. It’s clear that the problems facing the third world are not caused by globalisation and western imperialism, but by debunked socialist economics and corrupt dictatorships. Zimbabwe was rich in natural resources and agriculture before Mugabe became President. Since then, he has nationalised the farms, forcing hundreds of thousands of people off their property and making it illegal for people to grow and trade their own crops. This has caused the greatest famine the country has ever seen, similar to Russia under Stalin in the late 20s. Last year, inflation in Zimbabwe was 160%, unemployment is over 70%, life expectancy at 36, and half the population needing imported food aid to survive. Ethiopia has also suffered greatly since the socialist coup in 1991. War continues to break out along its borders. The country is almost entirely dependent on foreign aid for food, as its state owned farms churn out almost nothing. No amount of aid or debt relief is going to solve Zimbabwe’s or Ethiopia’s problems. Contrast that with countries which have shunned socialism and embraced globalisation and economic liberalism. Places like Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea, with little natural resources between them, have flourished because of trade and open markets. China and India are steaming ahead since opening up their markets during the last few decades. One does not need to look further than the contrast between North and South Korea to see the benefits that markets bring. So what will Live 8 achieve? If it’s yet another exercise in trying to get western nations to give more to the third world, then it will be pointless. If it does however, bring attention to the world the horrendous nature of third world dictatorships and that their disastrous socialist dogmas are doing to its people, then perhaps we really may see an end to poverty in our lifetime.

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3 Responses to Live 8 and poverty

  1. Chris says:

    Oh man, sorry, but I laughed. You completely ignore every other factor that impacts on a countries development and economic growth. Liberalisation of the economy and globalisation != insta-success. That kind of thinking was what brought a large number of nations in the global South to their knees, as it were.

  2. Chris says:

    Hm… I sound like a total jerk just there. Still, even though it could have been phrased better, I stand by my comments.

  3. Jimmy says:

    Whoo! Dissent! 😀

    Of course there are other factors which impact a country’s development – demographics, geography, natural resources, infrastructure, perhaps even cultural values etc. But evidence shows that without a liberal economic framework, development is severely hindered.

    It’s no coincidence that most of the world’s poorest coutries have experienced a combination of war, bad governments, socialism, and perhaps suffered at the hands of outrageous European/US agricultural tariffs.

    It’s also no accident that many countries in Asia and former Soviet Eastern Europe, with a combination of good government and economic liberalisation, have had significant economic growth and rise in living standards in recent decades.

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