Multi-Millionaire Tax Avoider Bono of U2: Only "brain-dead, heart-dead ideologues or professional controversialists" Are Against Government Aid For His Preferred Charities


As a longtime U2 fan—and someone who shelled out hundreds of dollars to take my kids to see Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, featuring music by Bono and The Edge—I must acknowledge that the group's lead singer is a major jackass.

Via Andrew Kirell of Mediaite comes this latest pearl of wisdom from tha artist formerly known as Paul Hewson:

Bono spoke to the crowd about Europe's debt woes, conceding that "we're broke." He continued on to explain that during these tough economic times, when he goes busking for foreign aid in Western capital cities, "the word 'aid' sounds like an expletive. It's like you brought a bad smell into the room." But despite the resistance, Bono insists, "we need aid."

"Of course we still need aid. Of course we do," he declared. "Does anyone disagree? Anyone apart from brain-dead, heart-dead ideologues or professional controversialists? Come on. Every sensible person knows that."

U2 famously bases some of its business dealings in Holland to reduce its tax bill. Nothing wrong with that, but it gets a bit rich when Bono, who admits that Europe is broke, pushes for more overseas aid. What's especially galling, I think, is that such aid hasn't worked so well so far. As Kirell writes:

World Bank economic studies confirm that foreign aid actually does great harm because "higher aid levels erode the quality of governance."

In the past 40 years, Western governments have given Africa more than half a trillion dollars in aid. Yet Africa is even poorer than it was before the money started rolling in. A study from the London School of Economics further confirms the failure of foreign aid. By reviewing the aid given to more than 95 countries, the study finds that "aid does not increase investment and growth, nor benefit the poor as measured by improvements in human development indicators, but it does increase the size of government." Another comprehensive study by the IMF also found no relationship between aid and growth.

Foreign aid hasn't accomplished its goals. Instead it has financed mostly authoritarian governments, whose destructive policies — trade protectionism, insurmountable licensing schemes, price and wage controls, nationalization of industries — have all been supported in some fashion by our foreign aid programs.

Kirell points to some things that actually do work. Read his piece here.


NEXT: Land Use Wars: George Lucas Strikes Back

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Multi-Millionaire Tax Avoider Bono of U2

    Um, Make that Billionaire Tax Avoider Bono of U2. He made a cool billion and a half on Facebook’s IPO.

    1. Then he’s likely a millionaire again by now.

      1. Not unless 11% of 1.5bill is more than 500mill.

        1. Well, it’s lost just over 20% of the opening price, so I guess you’re still right. Give him a week, though.

          1. Is it that bad? I haven’t read the news yet this AM. Looks like you might be right soon enough. Jaysus!

      2. Then he might be a thousandare before long.

    2. I just wanted to say that IRL I have been banging the “Facebook Will Not Monetize Well” Drum for years and years. One look at their crappy ads and any gimlet-eyed realist could’ve figured that out.

      1. According to some friends at Facebook, they’re looking into a pay model. And it sounds completely retarded and unworkable.

        1. $2/mo for “Higher Positioning” – it’s outside of Facebook now. NPR did a piece on it and it isn’t supposed to be really all that big. Just a boon until the end of the year.

      2. Their pay model is just short term. I could tell you how they are going to monetize but it would cost me my job and a HUGE lawsuit :-p

  2. As a longtime U2 fan

    [moves Nick down a peg on the coolness board]

    1. That is only because you are 12 and are not old enough to get it.

      1. That is only because you are 12 and are not old enough to get it.

        John, I am much older than 12 and I don’t get it either. Never have been a fan.

      2. Oh, I get it. (You know I’m your age, right John?) I used to be a U2 fan as well. But right after Joshua Tree, and maybe a bit before it actually, they went off the rails into some self-congratulatory phase that I couldn’t stand. It’s as if they thought they were the greatest band of all time and they wanted everyone to know they felt that way about themselves.

        Then we got into the following:
        Achtung Baby–total garbage
        Zooropa–possibly the worst album by a band not named Milli Vanilli
        Pop–see above
        I couldn’t even get through a first listen to the remaining albums without vomiting up whatever I had eaten earlier that day. Pure, unadulterated crap.

        Do I even need to get into their pretentious politics and/or their horrible, and I mean horrible, concerts post-Rattle Hum? I’ll fucking do it, I swear.

        1. I guess Im not alone.

        2. I will not defend their post 2000 stuff. But if you think Achtung Baby is total garbage, you are just hopeless. That is fantastic record by any measure.

          And as far as their horrible concerts, I haven’t seen their last two tours, but I saw them in 87, 92,93, 97 and 01. And I have never seen them give anything but fantastic show. The Zoo TV tour is for my money the best outdoor big venue tour maybe ever done. It was just unbelievable.

          If you want to talk about how lame their last three records have been, I won’t argue. But to say that they were garbage in the 90s is just making yourself look foolish. Stop it.

          1. They were garbage in the 90s.

            It some ways they had no chance, there was no way they were ever going to top New Years Day, so by definition it was all down hill from there.

            And Joshua Tree is a great album once you get past the singles.

            1. Sorry Rob but between this and trying to tell me Document was a good record reveals you to be a philistine.

              U2 totally reinvented their sound. Achtung Baby is very interesting sonically and very creative. Same with Zooropa and the much underrated Pop. If anything Joshua Tree is kind of overrated in retrospect. I would listen to any of those records before Joshua Tree. That record really was about a time and a place and hasn’t seem to of aged as well as the other stuff they did.

              You guys are hopeless.

              1. trying to tell me Document was a good record

                [citation please]

              2. U2 totally reinvented their sound.

                As did REM.

                I dont blame them for trying, but both lost me when they did.

                1. U2 totally reinvented their sound.

                  As did REM.

                  I dont blame them for trying, but both lost me when they did.

                  No shit. I thought this one of the universally acknowledged verities?

                  I can clearly recall, way back in 2001, standing outside a bar in a college town having a cigarette and trying to help a much younger friend convince his roommate that Bono had slipped over into the dreaded Sting zone of pretentious irrelevance a decade or so earlier.

                  Nothing’s changed for the better since then, has it?

                  1. Oops. Make that “I thought this was one of…”

                  2. Masterful slamming of two douchenozzles. Well played, sir.

              3. U2 totally reinvented their sound.

                You’re right. They went from sounding like a rock and roll band to sounding like a bunch of people banging instruments against sheet metal. And Bono went from sounding like a vocalist to sounding like a wailing pansy that had been recently kicked in the groin.

                1. That is just not true. And there is nothing wrong with distortion.

                  1. I stand by my statement.

                    This doesn’t even sound like the people playing know the others are. It’s like three different songs being played at the same time on three different instruments. And need I get into Bono’s “singing?”

                2. Has he been recently kicked in the groin? Because if not, he’s waaaaaay overdue.

                3. Hey now, U2 is nowhere near as good as Einstuerzende Neubauten.

              4. Jesus John, you got the whole thing backwards. U2 is crap after Joshua Tree.

                Oh, and the Sex Pistols still fucking rock.

                And fried chicken.

          2. White people arguing about White-Bread Rock is morbidly fascinating in the same way that one can’t turn their eyes away from a gruesome car accident.

            Jus’ sayin’

            1. Whatever HM. Lots of white Rock is fantastic. And as much as I love black music of the 20th Century, it has pretty much all been pissed away in the name of Hip Hop.

            2. As a caucasoid, I must agree. I’ve never really been able to stomach U2 for more than about five minutes, which makes Sunday, Bloody Sunday like Chinese water torture.

              1. To each his own. I feel the same way about the Sex Pistols and at least 50% of punk and nearly all of hip hop, including a very large chunk of the ultimate frat boy band The Beastie Boys. I rather be in the Bay City Rollers wing of hell than the hip hop one.

                1. Whitebread Rock =/= All White Rock.

                  U2 is totally in the wheelhouse of SWPL. You guys arguing about this looks like a slapfight between owners of a co-op food market.

                  1. U2 is totally in the wheelhouse of SWPL. You guys arguing about this looks like a slapfight between owners of a co-op food market.

                    +billions and billions

                  2. “You guys arguing about this looks like a slapfight between owners of a co-op food market.”

                    I will shameless steal this one…

                2. Hey! Bay City Rollers are the best! Don’t disrespect the tartan!

                  1. “Piper down! We have a Piper DOWN!!”

                3. I rather be in the Bay City Rollers wing of hell than the hip hop one.

                  You know, John, I’ve got a feeling that you will get your wish. I bet you’re also a big fan of Pearl Jam.

                  1. Nope Sloopy. I am not.

                    1. Coldplay?
                      The Killers?
                      Sinead O’Conner?

                      I bet I’m a lot warmer, aren’t I?

                    2. No, wait. Wait.

                      You’re a Dave Matthews Band fan, aren’t you John?

                    3. You’re a Dave Matthews Band fan, aren’t you John?

                      That’s low.

                    4. You’re a Dave Matthews Band fan, aren’t you John?

                      Duuuude, not fucking cool man.

                      I thought I knew you.

                      “You don’t just shoot a guy in the dick”

                4. Count me as someone who absolutely hated the Beastie Boys as well as the myriad white hip-hop spinoffs they encouraged (that alone should be reason to hate them), and I could only shake my head and roll my eyes when people lamented about we lost a legend.

                  But, I’ll admit as a kid and even young adult I was a fan of U2 with Achtung Baby being my favorite and Pop actually ranking really high.
                  I still like some of it, esp pre-200. I find his politics aggravating when I read about them and mild rage inducing when he uses concerts to promote them.

          3. If you want to talk about how lame their last three records have been, I won’t argue. But to say that they were garbage in the 90s is just making yourself look foolish. Stop it.

            Anyone who claims that anything ever put out by U2 was in any way worth listening to just making themselves look foolish. Stop it.

            1. Wow Mo. You are like a machine. Is there anything you can’t get wrong?

              1. The butthurt is strong with you John.

            2. +1. They were whiny sanctimonious crap even when they were “cool”. Most over rated band of all times.

            3. Joshua Tree was pretty good. The rest … meh.

        3. Do I even need to get into their pretentious politics …

          This is why I dislike them. Their music is meh to me.

      3. Depends what he means by “longtime U2 fan”. If he meant, I was a fan in the 80s but lost interest around Joshua Tree time, then thats cool.

        If he spent any money on them after that, its pretty lame.

        I know it seems like a “I only like them before everyone liked them” kind of thing, but I lost interest in REM after Green and U2 after Joshua Tree.

        I think it had more to do with me than them. And since I wasnt a big fan of either when they truly were unknown, the obvious claim isnt right.

        1. I lost interest in REM after Fables of the Reconstruction and liked them for a short time when they did Automatic for the People. That was their last good record. Everything in between and after just sucked.

        2. Rob,

          If you honestly think Document is anything but suck, I dare you to go listen to it. It is amazing how badly that record has aged.

          1. Document was the start of the slide.

            I liked Green better but it was the combo of those two that pretty much ended my interest in what they were doing.

            Lifes Rich Pageant is their last great album.

            What Noisy Cats are We.

            1. Life’t Rich Pagent is a good record. That was their last one. Automatic for the People is good. It shocked me when it came out because I had written them off after Green and Out of Time, which was just horrible.

              1. Life’t Rich Pagent is a good record. That was their last one. Automatic for the People is good.

                Contradict yourself much?

                1. You get my point Rob. Automatic was an exception in otherwise constant slide into suckatude once they signed with Warner Brothers.

                  1. You also said everything between Fables and Automatic sucked.

                    But then you siad Pageant was a good album.

                    I dont think you know the REM discography.

                    1. I think I know it just fine Rob. I had just forgotten that there was a record between Fables and Document.

          2. ????

            Please don’t tell me you hate Exhuming McCarthy or (As we know it).

            1. Granted, (As we know it) works better in an acoustic arrangement, but still.

            2. “The One I Love” is one of the most brutal songs ever to be taken for a love song. That song alone would save Document from being a crap album.

              1. Oh fuck me that song is boring. I get it isn’t a love song, but it isn’t fucking anything. Three lyrics! THREE

                1. Zero lyrics.

                  Picking which instrumental to link was tricky. But for some reason this popped into my head and Im happy with my choice.

                  1. I saw the EWG in LA once. Their concert version of Frankenstein goes on forever and ever. Makes the album version seem short in comparison.

                  2. I need to rush to add that plenty of Instrumental songs can be Not Boring, and the lack of lyrical depth is a necessary NOT a sufficient condition for boringness.

                    I was just pointing out that I don’t see “The One I Love” as a love song OR brutal or anything else – it’s just fucking boring.

                    1. To each his own. Personally, I love the irony when a song about someone using and discarding another person is taken for a love song.

                      And if you can get your point across in three lines, why the fuck should you keep on talking? Is that a hangover from your favorite author?

                    2. Ha ha.

                      Didn’t Stipe admit that the song is actually “enigmatic” though?

                    3. Which, for clarification, when an artist says “you derive your own meaning”, that is code for “I have no idea what the hell I was doing either”

                    4. I’d agree with your last statement. If Stipe said that, I have no idea why, since the meaning of the song is pretty clear.

        3. I have long been of the opinion that bands shouldn’t stay together for more than 10 years or maybe 7 albums or something. After that they either get stale trying to sell the same rehashed sound or change enough that they sound nothing like they originally did.
          This theory isn’t completely developed, I have better things to spend my time on, and there are obvious exceptions. I think it feeds into one of my other theories, everything eventually becomes a parody of itself.

    2. U2’s best work was done by Negativland.

  3. Gillespie accidentally included a picture of Mork at the top of the post there.

  4. Instead of going around with the beggar hand, why doesn’t this jackass and his friends do a big charity concert like they used to do back in the eighties?

    I wonder if it’s because he knows deep down that the commies of Europe don’t cut nearly as sympathetic a figure as starving, drought-plagued Africans.

  5. “For God’s Sake, Please Stop the Aid!”…..63,00.html

  6. Foreign Aid: Taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries.

  7. someone who shelled out hundreds of dollars to take my kids to see Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

    Ow. S-MTOTD comprises major suckage, not the least of which is the score.

    1. I guess it comes with being wildly successful at something. People never seem to get their limitations. Bono and the Edge were the main song writers of one of the most successful and popular rock and roll bands in history. Why would they then decide to go be shitty Broadway writers? Isn’t being really good at being a rock star good enough?

      1. I’ve been questioning their decision-making since All That You Can’t Leave Behind.

        1. That wasn’t a bad record. The last two have been weak. They had a great run. But they seem to have run out of ideas. You never know. They could always get their groove back and come up with a great record out of nowhere.

      2. They were trying to beat ABBA.

        1. Well, I never saw Spider Man. But it had to be better than Momma Mia. So there is that.

          1. Not better than Chess

  8. As a longtime U2 fan – and someone who shelled out hundreds of dollars to take my kids to see Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, featuring music by Bono and The Edge


  9. Bono, in an effort to improve his relationship with proctologists worldwide, stares into a hypothetical asshole.

    1. Some people shouldn’t engage in self-contemplation, in other words?

  10. Aid maintains poverty and prevents real economic growth, so no Bono, it is you who is the heartless and brainless cunt.

    1. He’s either brainless or evil. “Easily predicted consequences aren’t unintended.”

      1. Nope, it’s all intentions justifying the means.

        As long as they mean well, it’s no big deal.

        It’s an extension of the whole “we have to do SOMETHING” mindset, which usually leads to short term benefits with atrocious long term consequences.

        While it’s easy to hypothesize about what might have been, I still have no doubt that Africa would be better off if we had stayed away. Africa needed, and still needs, to be fixed by Africans.

        1. It’s a selfish trait. It makes “ME” feel better. It satisfies my master conscience, which is a demanding taskmaster. Or see Mark Twain’s essay “What is Man”.

  11. he could always forgive the debt the banks owe him known as deposit accounts. that would free up some cash for the banks to forgive some loans.

    1. No one seems to want to wear the hairshirt anymore do they?

      1. It’s itchy and isn’t conflict-free or fair trade.

  12. There’s that word again: ideologue. Truly, the insult of our age.

    1. There’s nothing worse that a person with principles.

  13. Late to the party, per usual…

    U2’s road crew came to see my band once. They were setting up that god-awful spider thing U2 was using a couple/few years ago. The crew was some Americans, Germans and a Dutch dude. I burned one with them at my break and one of the crew said, “I’d rather listen to you guys than one more minute of Bono’s whining.”

    U2 is the biggest Christian rock band in the world. That’s why they suck.

    1. Not always true… King’s X has had a Christian-ish flavor throughout their career, and they fuckin’ rock.

      Plus, they’re not assholes about it.

  14. Unless, Bono is campaigning against government predation in the developing world, this all amounts to little more than an exercise in self-aggrandizement (intentional or not). Bill’s First Law of Development applies here: Aid to countries with predatory governments is a waste. Aid to countries with non-predatory governments is superfluous.

  15. South Park was right. Bono is the world’s biggest single piece of crap. At least until Stan’s dad took an even bigger crap at the end of the episode.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.