Tuesday, June 21, 2005

make the poor pay more

I do try to think the best of people, but going into a situation with good intentions isn't enough.

European ecologists extrapolating plans for tropical savannah based on experience of temperate grasslands had disastrous results. Good honest Catholics sending their little boys for 'personal tuiton' from the padre didn't end up giving their child the solid moral grounding they'd hoped for.

And as before Bono, even if he does really mean it, should know better.

As it is, he makes a series of sycophantic slurpings at the political groins of powerful Western figures, giving them cred and oversimplifying issues so the most half-arsed spin gesture can look like doing good.

Gordon Brown, he of the IMF, saying that he supports Make Poverty History! The best support he could give MPH on 2nd July is the support of his bodyweight strung up by his scrotum from a lampost in Edinburgh.

Bono says 'I salute Gerhard Schroeder for the deal on debt relief at the G7', implying the G7 are dropping the debt. They are not. The deal is using the debt as a tool to force freemarket capitalism on debtor countries and allow Western corporations to cherry-pick the most profitable industries.

This means charging for things that had previously been free. This in turn means the poorest can't afford those things.

So, for example, when water was privatised in South Africa, the poor drank from streams. The resulting cholera outbreak infected thousands and killed hundreds.

If education charges are brought in the poor stay uneducated. The not-quite-so-poor can only educate one child which, as we've seen from Uganda to Vietnam, has tended to be the boy, so women grow up illiterate.

These are the effects - so obvious and predictable that they can only be seen as deliberate - of the strings attached to the supposed dropping of the debt.

A couple of reliable cultural commentators have cut through the crap and give us stark facts and clear reminders to keep our wits about us in this spintastic run-up to the G8.

To qualify for debt relief, developing countries must "tackle corruption, boost private sector development" and eliminate "impediments to private investment, both domestic and foreign."

...Attaching conditions like these to aid is bad enough: it amounts to saying "we will give you a trickle of money if you give us the Crown Jewels." Attaching them to debt relief is in a different moral league: "we will stop punching you in the face if you give us the Crown Jewels." The G8’s plan for saving Africa is little better than an extortion racket.

- George Monbiot, Spin, Lies and Corruption

This is what keeps Africa poor: not a lack of political will but the tremendous profitability of the current arrangement. Sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest place on earth, is also its most profitable investment destination: It offers, according to the World Bank's 2003 Global Development Finance report, "the highest returns on foreign direct investment of any region in the world." Africa is poor because its investors and its creditors are so unspeakably rich.

- Naomi Klein, A Noose Not A Bracelet


Anonymous said...

Bono. He drives a Maserati you know....

One of these :-


CO2 emmisions? Combined 442.7 g/km. Put into perspective, my modest family car has emmisions of 148 g/km

He really cares you know...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to sign that last Bono comment. Its me, RA. Peace..


Anonymous said...

but as Merrick has said to me in the past. We are all hypocrites.. it's just a matter of degree.. maybe i do more miles im my car and produce more co2? Dunno...?


merrick said...

The idea that not using them much excuses the ownership of luxury sports cars is nonsense.

Yes, you may generate more CO2 by driving your efficient car a lot more than Bono drives his Maserati. But he'd generate even less if he drove whatever distance he drives in a more efficient car.

Maseratis are a big fuck you to the poor and to future generations. It's a clear, overt statement of caring more about expensive thrills for yourself above other things.

It's in keeping with Bono's love of being on the stage as a polticial statesman type, even if he's doing more harm than good.

The fact that we are all hypocrites does not absolve us of the responsibility to strive to be better. To give in to your desire for a Maserati is deplorable.