Music

Rattled and Glum

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From a story in the latest Rock & Rap Confidential (not on the Web yet, alas):

At June's Technology Entertainment and Design conference in Tanzania, Andrew Mwenda, a Ugandan journalist and social worker, spoke out against reliance on foreign charity, pointing out that it had never succeeded in reviving an economy anywhere in the world, least of all Africa. He made his points only with difficulty however because throughout the speech he was heckled from the back of the room with shouts of "Bullshit!" and "Bollocks!" The heckler was Bono.

More on Bono's switch from headliner to heckler here.

NEXT: Hey, That Anti-American Troop-Hater Has a Point!

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  1. Bono is a strong supporter of intelligently managed aid. When it came his turn to speak, he said that Ireland’s current prosperity is explained by government investment in its people, particularly education.

    Ireland also has one of the lowest, if not the lowest rate of taxation in the industrialized world. It also has business friendly laws, etc. Its the Gaelic Delaware.

  2. Rock stars … is there anything they don’t know?

  3. Good to know that not only does Bono know better than anyone else how to fix Africa, he is also a very mature individual.

    Is it possible to be smothered by your own ego?

  4. They did have a story on Bono is this month’s issue, which you linked to.

    Money quote: Bono told interviewer David Carr recently that “I don’t want to talk about Forbes now, but I will say this: One of the things that I have learned of in Africa is the crucial role that commerce will play in taking people out of extreme poverty.”

    Which doesn’t quite match the sentiment Bono allegedly expressed in his heckling. Bono has been pushing for trade with Africa for years, and I find it odd that he would argue for the necessity of trade in promoting development, and then heckle that point when made by someone else.

  5. Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what Bono can do for your country.

  6. Bono is just one keystroke away from Bozo.

  7. ….or two keystrokes away from Boner…

  8. The people slagging Bono for allegedly favoring a charity-only development program are one mouse-click away from…

    Ah, screw it. Let’s just project his face on the wall and yell at it. Kill the pig! Kill the Pig!

  9. Who said Bono was against commerce, Joe? Not I.

    Unfortunately, he’s also for aid programs that have a lousy track record.

  10. Cesar : “Ireland also has one of the lowest, if not the lowest rate of taxation in the industrialized world. It also has business friendly laws, etc. Its the Gaelic Delaware.”

    And the money from the EU back in the late 80’s & early 90’s help fill the gap while the benefits of a low corporate tax rate kicked in.

    BTW: Bono & Co. recently move business address to the Netherlands to avail of a better artist tax rate there.

    I really dislike that chap.

  11. How rude. It’s like attending a U2 concert and yelling,

    “Play some Skynard, man!!!”

    repeatedly throughout Bono’s a capella version of ‘One’.

  12. Ah, screw it. Let’s just project his face on the wall and yell at it. Kill the pig! Kill the Pig!

    Isn’t that what Bono was doing?

    Bono is a strong supporter of intelligently managed aid.

    Aye, there’s the rub.

    Top down, good.
    Bottom up, bad.

  13. Go, joe–go for the hyperbole! You can do it!

  14. The people slagging Bono for allegedly favoring a charity-only development program

    I don’t hate him, just lost any admiration I ever had for him as a rock star; he’s been phoning in crappy music ever since he decided to save the world.

  15. This is funny:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DgIRjecItw

    Ricky Gervais In Africa.

  16. George Ayittey gave a great speech too, denouncing aid, and corrupt African elites:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/151

  17. Bono is a racist, misogynistic and homo-phobic Christian fundamentalist asshole.

  18. [whispers in joe’s ear]
    Bono is a big supporter of Gorge Bush. The two are of like mind regarding Aid to Africa.

    [waits for head to explode]
    *munches popcorn

  19. joe,
    I think the sea-change in how a lot of pro-African Aid charities in accepting free trade as a way to truly help Africa is a HUGE blessing, and since Bono is one major participant in that sea-change that decries the truly unjust American and EU farm subsidies, he gets a thumbs up from me.
    On the other hand, he still wants to give huge amounts of money that, as always, ends up in the Swiss bank accounts of XYZ dictator/junta. Same theory applies to cancellation of foreign debt since it allows these same dictators and juntas to beggar the Western world for more loans…which wind up again in those bank accounts.

    It’s just a waste that someone who has such prominence like Bono won’t spend more time attacking subsidies than shaming for aid, and when he actively heckles someone who recognizes the dangers of aid…it’s just sad.

  20. Where the hecklers have no shame. There, I’ve been searching for that for the last three hours.

  21. You guys are against charity? I mean, sure a lot of it gets squandered in a place like Africa. A lot of it goes to bad people. But a lot of it does find its way to people and help them. I have friends who did Peace Corps and missionary work and they can attest to villages that but for charity would not have drinking water or basic education. Is the argument that such aid then keeps the people from “learning how to fish” so to speak? Because while this can be true, it’s also true that millions would suffer while we wait for many Africans to develop the infrastructure, skills, and basic institutions to “fish” for themselves.
    When one thinks of a nation that has pulled itself up from 3rd world statut, I think S. Korea. And they had tons and tons of aid. Isn’t saying “aid has a lousy record” reflecting that there are certainly nations that are so bad off that aid has got them on their feet, but then many of those nations were not getting on their feet anytime soon anyway.

  22. should read “that aid has NOT got them on their feet…”

  23. I don’t think any of the commenters have experessed any antagonism towards charity.

    But, the proof is in the pudding for aid to Africa. If it was going to work in any appriciable way, it would have by now.

    I tend to listen to the people that have been through it. Straight financial aid doesn’t get to the bottom rung, but it does buy very nice Rolls Royces and yachts.

  24. Jesse,

    Who said Bono was against commerce, Joe?

    Virtually every non-joe commenter on the thread, in case you didn’t notice.

    Perhaps you could give us a longer clip, one that actually provides some context, so we can see what Boner was booing.

    As written, it suggests that Boner was booing the idea that charity is insufficient to promote development, as the comments on this thread demonstrate.

  25. I have friends who did Peace Corps and missionary work and they can attest to villages that but for charity would not have drinking water or basic education.

    Hmm. I have friends who did Peace Corps work who say the program was virtually useless, and that any good they did they had to do on their own.

    Not that I’m knocking charity per se. But government-to-government transfers tend to end up enriching the wrong people. I’m sure there are private and quasi-private efforts (Red Cross, Red Crescent, etc.) that are more impressive.

  26. Bono supports commerce in Africa.

    Interesting how taken out of context his “heckling” is above.

    Click here to read a post about Bono from someone who was actually at the TED event in Africa.

  27. I looked at your link, and I’m not sure what “context” you’re referring to. Indeed, the post doesn’t mention Mwenda at all. Is the point that he was cordial to Ayittey, so it’s somehow OK that he was rude to someone who shares Ayittey’s views?

  28. I think this post can be summarized more succinctly as:

    I hate celebrities who use their power to express political viewpoints!!!

    Even if this single-source account is accurate, all you’ve demonstrated is that one guy can, at least at one point, be made to yell ‘Bullshit!’

    It’s attack for the sake of attack. Nobody has learned anything from your post.

    Except that you’re an asshole.

  29. Option A: this was a post about manners.

    Option B: this was a post about charity vs. commerce as development tools in Africa.

  30. Oh, and thanks for following it up with an argument that the Peace Corps does nothing, backed only by a “I have friends…” post and no facts.

    It’s “libertarians” like you who give the whole lot of us a bad rap.

    It might seem fun to make up little “My best friend told me…” anecdotes, but even if they are true, they are useless. And they’re incredibly insulting to those who have actually put time, thought and research into their opinions.

    That said, thank you (sincerely) for reminding me why I canceled my print subscription to Reason in the first place. Too many attacks for attacks sake, and too many unsupported arguments tossed around like truth.

  31. Joe: It’s about both, of course.

    Kevin: I don’t (per se) hate celebrities who use their power to express political viewpoints. And of course, there’s nothing in my post that even remotely suggests that I do. Thanks for sharing your wild guesses about my motives, though; engaging with the world can be hard, so feel free to continue following your own script instead.

  32. Option A: this was a post about manners.

    Option B: this was a post about charity vs. commerce as development tools in Africa.

    ???

    None of these responses are possibly correct.

    Option A would require that there be some well-documented controversy. In this case, either Bono acted poorly or he didn’t, but either way there’s nothing to discuss or learn.

    Nobody is arguing that it’s good form to yell during a speech.

    Option B would indicate incredibly poorly chosen source material.

    No, this article was just axe-grinding about celebrities.

  33. Thanks for sharing your wild guesses about my motives, though; engaging with the world can be hard, so feel free to continue following your own script instead.

    So says the man who claims that a “LOL Bono is an asshole” article is actually about the value of various development tools in Africa.

    An honest reply would have admitted “yeah, I just wanted to laugh at bono”. Your claims to the contrary have only indicated that you’re a lying sack of shit, and as such I am very, very glad that I no longer help pay your (puny) salary.

  34. Oh, and thanks for following it up with an argument that the Peace Corps does nothing, backed only by a “I have friends…” post and no facts.

    In normal conversation, it is considered acceptable to reply to one anecdote with another. If I used that anecdote to make sweeping claims about the efficacy of the Peace Corps, you’d have a point; but of course I didn’t.

    It might seem fun to make up little “My best friend told me…” anecdotes, but even if they are true, they are useless. And they’re incredibly insulting to those who have actually put time, thought and research into their opinions.

    You know what’s really insulting? Being falsely accused of making something up; having the content of my anecdote distorted in the process (just try to find the phrase “my best friend” in my comment); and being told my opinions have no grounding in time, thought, and research, not on the basis of any article I’ve written but because of an off-the-cuff comment in a comment-thread conversation.

    No, this article was just axe-grinding about celebrities.

    I see that in your private script, my brief blog post is an “article.” And apparently, if I understand you correctly, it’s part of some alleged pattern of attacking celebrities — a pattern you’ve done nothing to demonstrate. (And yet you accuse me of not backing up what I write…)

    I don’t know where you got the idea that I’m grinding an axe here, but I’m starting to get the impression you’ve got an axe of your own to grind.

  35. An honest reply would have admitted “yeah, I just wanted to laugh at bono”. Your claims to the contrary have only indicated that you’re a lying sack of shit, and as such I am very, very glad that I no longer help pay your (puny) salary.

    Well, I am indeed happy to laugh at Bono, though not for the reasons you seem to assume.

    At any rate, your last line implies that you’re not interested in conversation, just in being a jerk and yanking my chain. So I’ll just bow out of this pointless echange now.

  36. Wow! Kevin sure did get agitated quickly over quite an innocuous blog post. Better not write more than two sentences about this subject next time, Jesse, or his head will explode. On second thought…

  37. In defense of Jesse he was replying to my “I know some people” line with one of his own. I linked to the Sachs argument to give a less “I know some people who say” line. And I won’t even dispute his claim that private charity has better effects than government aid (but you must mean usually right? I mean you’re not claiming that every government-government transfer is empirically worse or it’s somehow conceptually doomed to failure are you, because that strikes me as probably bound to be wrong and ideological fanaticism).
    But even given private aid will somehow always be better than government, it doesn’t follow that much goo does not come of the latter. Even if, say, 20% trickled down into good projects it would help a great number of folks (given that as bad as things are in Africa a little project here can do a great deal of good).
    “But, the proof is in the pudding for aid to Africa. If it was going to work in any appriciable way, it would have by now.” I’m afraid that is poor reasoning JW. It’s like saying “we’ve spent quite a bit of money to stamp out homicide in urban areas, and it’s still quite bad, so therefore these efforts are worthless” or “we have a parapalegic whom has been undergoing physical therapy for years, and yet he still cannot move his legs, therefore this therapy is worthless.”

  38. I mean you’re not claiming that every government-government transfer is empirically worse or it’s somehow conceptually doomed to failure are you, because that strikes me as probably bound to be wrong and ideological fanaticism

    No, I’m not claiming that. For one thing, there’s plenty of private programs that haven’t worked well either. For another, some private programs that have done some good get some government support; you’ll note that I included the phrase “quasi-private” in my earlier comment. And finally, there’s the separate issue of emergency aid after a disaster, where the focus is much more short-term.

    Also: Sorry for not noticing the Sachs link before. I’ll read the article this weekend.

  39. I’m afraid that is poor reasoning JW. It’s like saying “we’ve spent quite a bit of money to stamp out homicide in urban areas, and it’s still quite bad, so therefore these efforts are worthless” or “we have a parapalegic whom has been undergoing physical therapy for years, and yet he still cannot move his legs, therefore this therapy is worthless.”

    Wait, you’re accusing me of bad reasoning?

    You have basically only a couple choices here:

    A) Continue as normal and hope that something will change eventually, all the while people continue to suffer.

    or

    B) Abandon demonstrably futile and counter-productive methods and refocus efforts on something not reallly tried yet in that area and that has plenty of evidence of creating a sustainable economies, especially in the long run. No guarantees of profligate wealth anytime soon, but you have to start somewhere.

    Go with what works.

  40. JW
    “We’ve been trying modern medical techniques to get this parapelgic to walk again and all we have to show is he can wiggle his toes. Isn’t it time to try something new, like voodoo?” That’s a bit unfair since, as you mention, we evidence in some areas of what you’re talking about while little for voodoo, but my point that just because aid has not “worked” in Africa by pulling it into the 1st world doesn’t mean it hasn’t “worked” in the sense of making many people’s lives there better off.
    I agree that usually its a guide to stop doing something that is not “working”, but the problem here is with the concept “working.” Africa has so many complex problems that it is no suprise that aid does not “work” if by “work” you mean raises them up to South Korea levels. Africa is really bad off, so bad off that giving them aid is probably a lot like giving a parapalegic physical therapy: it ain’t going to make him worse off, it will make him better off (though marginally since his condition is so bad), and it’s better than doing nothing. So if someone were talking about ending it (the aid or therapy) then, yes, bullocks to them is warranted I’d say (and to be fair perhaps Bono’s target was not saying “let’s junk aid”).
    Should we try non-aid remedies like encouraging trade, markets and self-sufficiency? Heck yes. But aid helps too (how could it not). And as Sachs points out it can sometimes help places where markets are simply unthinkable in present conditions…

    BTW-Aid too has “plenty of evidence of creating a sustainable economy.” S. Korea again. We pumped bazillions of $$$ into their system in various ways and they are the prime example of a newly industrialized nation.

    Jesse-I noticed that you did not mention a government to government transfer program that works or even the possibility of one working, other than perhapes short term emergency aid (I say perhaps in the sense of “if I’m reading you correctly.”) Surely there have been some government-government aid programs that have been well done, or it’s at least concievable there could be one, right?

  41. but my point that just because aid has not “worked” in Africa by pulling it into the 1st world doesn’t mean it hasn’t “worked” in the sense of making many people’s lives there better off.

    I think they’re still solidly in the 4th world in some instances, few, if any, have left the 3rd as result of direct financial aid.

    Billions of dollars in aid and what has really changed? Besides, why is this a zero-sum game for you? Assitance in building a sustainable economy means that all aid must stop? That’s a bit less than honest.

    S. Korea again. We pumped bazillions of $$$ into their system in various ways and they are the prime example of a newly industrialized nation.

    Except that South Korea wasn’t inundated with kleptocrats. When exactly is this aid going to be funneled into something other than swiss bank accounts or not used as a weapon against populations on the wrong side of the politcial landscape? Next year? 10 years? 20?

    Again, maybe we should listen to the people who actually have or used to live the life. That comes off a bit more authentic than a celeb behaving borish.

  42. Apparently, one of the most desirable and fastest-growing market segments in many aid-recipient nations: truck drivers.

    Nobody farms, because who can compete with free food sent as aid from abroad? Now, moving that free food from point A to point B — *that’s* a growth industry.

    And, of course, does nothing whatsoever to build a self-sustaining economic base for the aid-recipient nations.

  43. OK, Jesse. Thank you for disowing the description of Bono as an anti-trade do gooder in reference to Africa.

    There is, obviously, a great deal of pent-up demand among libertarians for dismissing anyone concerned about poverty in Africa as elitist, naive, anti-commerce, paternalistic busy-bodies. As the early responses to your post demonstrate.

    I’m glad we could clear that up. A great many people use that perception as an excuse to simply not care the problem, and I was disappointed that you seemed to be feeding it.

  44. I am by no means anti-charity but the WAY in which charity has historically been distributed in the [insert favourite term for poor countries] world has obviously not worked. There is a model that, if tried more often COULD make a difference I think.
    http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/

  45. There is, obviously, a great deal of pent-up demand among libertarians for dismissing anyone concerned about poverty in Africa as elitist, naive, anti-commerce, paternalistic busy-bodies. As the early responses to your post demonstrate.

    It’s good to see you saying this. It’s a shame that the original poster of this article serves only to illustrate the correctness of your assertion.

    At any rate, your last line implies that you’re not interested in conversation, just in being a jerk and yanking my chain. So I’ll just bow out of this pointless echange now.

    Only because you responded to my valid criticism by insulting me in kind, despite the fact that you are supposed to be a professional. It is unsurprising to find that you are the kind of hypocrite who makes a subtle jab, but then pretends to be offended when the jab is returned in kind.

    Thank you, once again, for reminding me why it is that I stopped subscribing to Reason, and recommending it to others.

    I’d feel like a true asshole if anybody ever thought I might agree with a jerk like you.

  46. P.S. I stand by my assertion that the ONLY reason to link to this article is if you want to laugh at Bono and discredit his pro-charity beliefs via ad hominem attack.

    Your claims to intellectual reasoning are transparent at best. You just hate Bono, the same as many early commenters.

    If this was meant to cause informed conversation, then your choice of source material indicates that you are exceptionally stupid, and that in a truly Darwinian society, your family would starve to death.

  47. “. . . pointing out that it had never succeeded in reviving an economy anywhere in the world.”

    So if Andrew Mwenda is wrong, where has it succeeded?

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