Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The tragedy of Live 8

Aha! Someone's hit the nail I've been looking for on the proverbial head. Here's Mark Steyn's take on the misguided beast that was Live8:

"Let's take it as read that Sir Bob and Sir Bono are exceptionally well informed and articulate on Africa's problems. Whey then didn't they get the rest of the guys round for a meeting beforehand with graphs and pie charts and bullet points in bright magic markers, so that Sir Dave and Dame Madonna would understand that Africa's problem is not a lack of 'aid.' The tragedy of Live8 is that its message was as cobwebbed as its repertoire."
Steyn praises capitalism in his piece and suggests that in the same way that Linda McCartney protected her estate from the Royal Treasury, so too could our own contributions to African poverty be protected by being kept out of the hands of government -- in other words, private donations are more efficient than raising taxes and GNP percentages.

The problem, as Steyn says, isn't a lack of "aid," anyway -- it's gross mismanagement of the aid once it gets into the hands of the self-serving dictators who run much of the African continent. Watch Blackhawk Down or Hotel Rwanda for background on this.

Besides, isn't devoting more tax dollars to overseas poverty relief a bit of a slap in the face to our nation's own poor? It's not as if the United States is short on people who are without homes or meals -- downtown Philadelphia, one of the Live8 concert sites, is a prime example.

Geldof has said that we can help relieve global poverty for the price of half a stick of gum. But if we go about it the way Live8 and One.org have proposed, how much of that stick of gum is actually going to wind up in the hands of the people who need it? Once all the layers of the bureaucracy have have their handling fee, I don't suppose it would be very much.

Effort should be redirected to deposing the corrupt and greedy leaders who hold their populations hostage in Africa instead of strengthening and validating them by providing them with more global funding, however well-meaning. Cash is cash, and the same dollars that could be used to buy sacks of grain and irrigation can just as easily be spent on AK-47 rounds.


UPDATE: Open Post at Mudville.

UPDATE II: John O'Sullivan has a much more erudite way of saying this at the Chicago Sun-Times, via RealClearPolitics.