Development Economics

U2's Bono Admits: "A Humbling Thing Was to Learn the Role of Commerce" in Development

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Forbes reported last week on some lessons learned by Bono, lead singer of long-lived rock band U2, in his efforts as an advocate for more international aid.

Highlights:

The Irish singer and co-founder of ONE, a campaigning group that fights poverty and disease in Africa, said it had been "a humbling thing for me" to realize the importance of capitalism and entrepreneurialism in philanthropy, particularly as someone who "got into this as a righteous anger activist with all the cliches."

"Job creators and innovators are just the key, and aid is just a bridge," he told an audience of 200 leading technology entrepreneurs and investors at the F.ounders tech conference in Dublin. "We see it as startup money, investment in new countries. A humbling thing was to learn the role of commerce."

Nick Gillespie mocked Bono's attacks on the "brain-dead, heart-dead ideologues" who dared question international development aid here in May. I wrote about African development expert Dambisa Moyo's attacks on the development aid industry's efficacy back in April 2009.

That smart people concerned with ameliorating poverty have to go through long education and soul-searching to learn the "role of commerce" in development and wealth-creation is a sad commentary on the state of economic education and understanding of what free markets are really about and for, but all one can do is keep trying and remember Leonard Read.

U2's "A Sort of Homecoming" is still one hell of a tune, however:

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  1. So U2’s song “Electric Co” was about the TV show, not commerce?

    I did not know this…

  2. You’d think that the time Bono spent hanging with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates would have given him a clue about the value of entrepreneurs in alleviating poverty by creating wealth and jobs.

  3. Lesson #2 for Bono: All That You Can’t Leave Behind is U2’s Tattoo You.

    1. Lesson #3: U2 does not have an Exile On Main St.

  4. I haven’t listened to U2 since Unforgettable Fire. At least Bono is finally growing up and understanding adult concepts.

  5. Did Bono just endorse free market capitalism?

    I’m shocked. Seriously. I thought he had a terminal case of Leftism.

    1. Declining record sales got him thinking about how precious his millions really are to him?

      1. Naw. I think the guy’s heart is in the right place.

        And he’s finally coming to understand that staging benefits to generate aid serves little purpose if the recipients don’t have the economic liberty to use that aid as a stepping stone to a better life, instead just of a handout that feeds them for a day.

        Better late than never.

        1. Wait, Live 8 was just a nostalgia-trip and didn’t really help anybody?

          1. Giving a person a fish still feeds them for a day.

            1. And puts the local fishmonger out of business?

              1. Come to think of it…yeaaahh.

      2. He figured that out when he fled Ireland and the UK’s exceptionally high tax rate on high income earners such as the Bono.

        1. Or he just couldn’t risk Matt and Trey making another episode about him.

          1. He’ll always be number 2 in my book.

  6. I think it’s a bad idea to rail on someone for coming around late to your point of view. All new converts should be welcome.

    1. ^^ THIS

      1. Although “A Sort of Homecoming” is hardly their best tune, I guess the title fits. Welcome to the free market Bono.

      2. And J. C. wins the thread prize for most ironic post.

        +1 conversion.

    2. Point taken but sometimes the compulsion to rub noses in their stupidity is overwhelming!

    3. I think it’s a bad idea to rail on someone for coming around late to your point of view. All new converts should be welcome.

      I agree.

      But emotionally, we have to be prepared to forgive them for their vile behavior towards us first, and that can be hard especially given the vicious libels and slanders guys like Bono have directed our way.

      1. Do you mean to tell me that libertarians and other forms of free market purists are NOT the reason that all poor people are poor? That we are not all Hitler’s spawn?

    4. Re: Voros McCraken,

      I think it’s a bad idea to rail on someone for coming around late to your point of view.

      How about railing on someone who is decidely a extreme latecomer who arrived at the ephiphany only after years and years of seeing the evidence right in front of his dogdamned nose?

      Can we at least have that?

      1. What is your point?

  7. Welcome to the codex of liberty, Bono. It’s a beautiful thing.

  8. YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH! ‘ELLO ‘ELLO!

  9. The Irish singer

    That smart people concerned with ameliorating poverty have to go through long education and soul-searching to learn the “role of commerce” in development and wealth-creation is a sad commentary on the state of economic education and understanding of what free markets are really about and for

    The Irish are not the smart people Doherty.

  10. “Job creators and innovators are just the key, and aid is just a bridge,” he told an audience of 200 leading technology entrepreneurs and investors at the F.ounders tech conference in Dublin. “We see it as startup money, investment in new countries. A humbling thing was to learn the role of commerce.”

    Bono wants to live in Somalia!

    ROADZ!!!!

    [And Elizabeth Warren still has not been committed to an institution for the ideologically insane.]

    By the way, what the FUCK took you so long, Bono?

    Oh, and another by the way – can you tell your little friend Gael Garcia to stop being such a stuck up, annoying little bitch and embrace capitalism instead of “Fair Trade”?

  11. He still doesn’t get it. He sees that he needs capitalism to fund his white mans burden hobby. But he still doesn’t see that capitalism is what’s needed to lift people out of poverty. But then Bono couldn’t play Great Father anymore.

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