Bono has the wrong answer for the poor of the world (Part 1)

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.

Max Brantley wrote on the Arkansas Times Blog:

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.


One of the key parts of the solution is economic growth. It is not the bailout, welfare approach of President Obama who Bono supported in 2008.  Here is the first part of an excellent article from the Cato Institute:

Ending Mass Poverty

by Ian Vásquez

September 2001

Ian Vásquez is director of the Cato Institute’s Project on Global Economic Liberty. This essay originally appeared on the U.S. Department of State’s electronic journal, Economic Perspectives (September 2001).

Economic growth is the “only path to end mass poverty,” says economist Ian Vásquez, who argues that redistribution or traditional poverty reduction programs have done little to relieve poverty. Vásquez writes that the higher the degree of economic freedom — which consists of personal choice, protection of private property, and freedom of exchange — the greater the reduction in poverty. Extending the system of property rights protection to include the property of poor people would be one of the most important poverty reduction strategies a nation could take, he says.

The historical record is clear: the single, most effective way to reduce world poverty is economic growth. Western countries began discovering this around 1820 when they broke with the historical norm of low growth and initiated an era of dramatic advances in material well-being. Living standards tripled in Europe and quadrupled in the United States in that century, improving at an even faster pace in the next 100 years. Economic growth thus eliminated mass poverty in what is today considered the developed world. Taking the long view, growth has also reduced poverty in other parts of the world: in 1820, about 75 percent of humanity lived on less than a dollar per day; today about 20 percent live under that amount.

Even a short-term view confirms that the recent acceleration of growth in many developing countries has reduced poverty, measured the same way. In the past 10 years, the percentage of poor people in the developing world fell from 29 to 24 percent. Despite that progress, however, the number of poor people has remained stubbornly high at around 1,200 million. And geographically, reductions in poverty have been uneven.

This mixed performance has prompted many observers to ask what factors other than growth reduce poverty and if growth is enough to accomplish that goal. Market reforms themselves have been questioned as a way of helping the poor. After all, many developing countries have liberalized their economies to varying degrees in the past decade.

But it would be a colossal mistake to lose focus on market-based growth and concentrate instead on redistribution or traditional poverty reduction programs that have done little by comparison to relieve poverty. Keeping the right focus is important for three reasons — there is, in fact, a strong relationship between growth and poverty reduction, economic freedom causes growth, and most developing countries can still do much more in the way of policies and institutional reforms to help the poor.

The Importance of Growth

The pattern of poverty reduction we see around the world should not be surprising. It generally follows the relationship found by a recent World Bank study that looked at growth in 65 developing countries during the 1980s and 1990s. The share of people in poverty, defined as those living on less than a dollar per day, almost always declined in countries that experienced growth and increased in countries that experienced economic contractions. The faster the growth, the study found, the faster the poverty reduction, and vice versa. For example, an economic expansion in per capita income of 8.2 percent translated into a 6.1 reduction in the poverty rate. A contraction of 1.9 percent in output led to an increase of 1.5 percent in the poverty rate.

That relationship explains why some countries and regions have done better than others. “Between 1987 and 1998, there was only one region of the world that saw a dramatic fall in both the number of people and the proportion of the population living on less than a dollar a day. That region was East Asia,” observes economist Martin Wolf. “But this was also the only region to see consistent and rapid growth in real incomes per head.”

High growth allowed East Asia to reduce the share of its poor during this period from 26 to 15 percent and the number of poor from 417 million to 278 million people. With annual growth rates of nearly 9 percent since 1979, when it began introducing market reforms, China alone has pulled more than 100 million people out of poverty. The more modest but increasing growth rate in India during the past decade means that the outlook of the poor in the two countries that make up half of the developing world’s population is noticeably improving.

Elsewhere the performance is less encouraging but follows the same pattern. Poverty rates rose in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where economic activity declined sharply, and stayed the same in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, where growth was low or negligible.

Even within regions there are variations. Thus Mexico’s per capita growth rates of 1.5 percent in the 1990s did not affect the share of people living in destitution, while Chile’s 7 percent average growth rate from 1987 to 1998 reduced the poverty rate from 45 to 22 percent, according to the Institute for Liberty and Development based in Santiago.

Likewise, Vietnam stands out in Southeast Asia. With that country’s per capita growth rates averaging about 6 percent in the 1990s, the World Bank reports that those living under the poverty line declined from 58 to 37 percent between 1993 and 1998. And Uganda’s per capita growth of more than 4 percent in the 1990s reduced the share of people living below a minimum poverty line from 56 percent to 44 percent between 1992 and 1997. The Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University concluded that “general growth accounts for most of the fall in poverty.”

The dramatic impact of growth cannot be understated, even when differences in productivity rates are apparently small. To illustrate, Harvard economist Robert Barro notes that per capita income in the United States grew at an average 1.75 percent per year from 1870 to 1990, making Americans the richest people in the world. Had this country grown just one percentage point slower during that time period, U.S. per capita income levels would be about the same as Mexico’s. Had the growth rate been just one percentage point higher, average U.S. income would be $60,841 — three times the actual level.

Uploaded by on Jan 18, 2009

U2 performs Pride: In the name of Love, a song about Martin Luther King, at President-elect Barack Obama’s Inaugural concert on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Bono told the estimated 600,000 there that on Tuesday “that dream comes to pass.” Jan. 18, 2009

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: