Bono has the wrong answer for the poor of the world (Part 4)
Bono praises the election of President Obama!!!
This is a series of posts that show that Bono (who I have been listening to since 1983) has the wrong solution to the problem of worldwide hunger.
Politico reports here that a group of celebrities, including former Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee, shouted a four-letter obscenity for cameras in a promotion to speak up against famine. Bleeps and labels to cover mouths obscure the actual word.
ONE, the Bono-founded organization, says:
In the PSA, our celebrity supporters shout out one four letter word that the majority of viewers will find offensive, in order to shine a light on something only a minority seems to be offended by. I know the tone is a bit rough for ONE — that’s no accident. If it feels like a punch in the face, then good — mission accomplished. It’s time for a wakeup call and here’s the alarm. Love it? Great. Hate it? OK. Just don’t ignore it.
I’m not sure I believe Huck did precisely as described.
Economic freedom and free trade need to be major pieces of the puzzle to solve this problem but President Obama and Bono do not get that.
Here is a link to a great article on Africa and the problem of hunger by Greg Mills. The article appeared on April 23, 2009 in the NY Times and it mentions Bono and below is a portion of an article about Greg Mills and what he had to say to the Cato Institute.
Cato recently held a book launch for South African development expert Greg Mills (you can pre-order at Amazon). This is a very smart book by a man who has spent his professional life in the thick of the problem (bad governments making bad policy choices).
Economic growth does not require a secret formula. While countries from Asia to Latin America have emerged from poverty, Africa has failed to realize its potential in the 50 years since independence. Greg Mills, the former director of the South African Institute of International Affairs and one of South Africa’s most respected commentators, confronts the myths surrounding African development. He shows that African poverty was not caused by poor infrastructure, lack of market access or insufficient financial resources. Instead, the main reason Africans are poor is because their leaders have made bad policy choices. Please join us to hear why a growing number of African opinion makers and ordinary citizens believe that to emerge from poverty, Africa must embrace a far greater degree of political and economic freedom.
One of my favorite development economists wrote the lead blurb
“Poverty is now optional” is Greg Mills’ invigorating message’, Paul Collier, Oxford University, Author of The Bottom Billion and The Plundered Planet
African poverty has been optional for fifty years — just keep in mind that the African elites do just fine under the status quo. And so do the NGOs, who effectively get a commission cut of the western aid budgets (as does the consulting industry housed around the DC beltway).
Good job Cato! Now, if we can just inject some sanity into the NGOs and OECD aid agencies. The billowing aid continues to insulate the African leaders from the consequences of their policies (and of course insulates them from their own populations).
On aid, I was pleased to hear Greg Mills respond to questions, with, paraphrasing:
Obama said his Africa policy was to “double the aid”. In fact that is a clear signal that there is no Africa policy. An effective, Africa policy is far more nuanced and complex than “double the aid”. What is the point of aid if you do not have tools for measuring the effectiveness of that aid?
While we are at it, let’s measure the effective of NGOs! I would be perfectly happy to have the organization that I run measured. Also, measure the effectiveness of consultants.
(…) The average age of African leaders is 75. The average age of Africans is 25. The numbers for Europe are about 55, 45. I am stupified by how passive African electorates are. How long would Robert Mugabe have lasted in Serbia?