G8 approves major African aid boost

Post ImageThe members of the G8 agreed on Friday to boost aid for Africa to $50 billion. If you read my post on Live8, you probably already know that I don’t think throwing more money at Africa is going to solve anything. They have problems that cannot be solved by money alone.

The leaders presented the deal as “a message of hope that countered the hatred behind the London bomb attacks.”

“We speak today in the shadow of terrorism but it will not obscure what we came here to achieve,” Blair declared, flanked by fellow leaders of the G8 and seven of their African counterparts on the steps of the Gleneagles hotel in Scotland.

Excuse me, but what does rich terrorists setting off explosions in rich nations have to do with Africa? The notion that the poverty in Africa is a breeding ground for terrorism is quite simply, stupid. Throwing absurd amounts of money into an extremely problematic continent is one thing, but trying to pass it off as countering terrorism is ridiculous.

I understand that the London attacks required some sort of response, but I think that response should have been clear and separate from whatever else the leaders were trying to accomplish.

Read: Reuters

Why I refuse to sign the Live 8 List

Post ImageI refuse to add my name to the Live 8 List to be presented to the leaders of the G8 at the summit on July 6th. My reason is quite simple: pouring endless amounts of money into Africa is, in my opinion, a huge waste.

Live 8 has three steps for the G8 leaders to follow:

  1. double the aid sent to the world’s poorest countries,
  2. fully cancel their debts,
  3. change the trade laws so that they can build their own future.

The only one of these points I agree with is #2 – I am entirely in favor of forgiving debts owed by the nations of Africa, and of any “third world” nation for that matter. As for the other two points, I just don’t agree.

Mr. Geldoff is quick to point out that 20 years after Live Aid, the African continent is no better off. Billions and billions of dollars have already flowed into Africa, and yet things have not improved. I don’t think the way to solve a problem is to throw more money at it.

Why not spend billions of dollars at home? Drastically decrease the cost of post secondary education at home. Improve the availability of health care at home. Get people off the streets at home. There are many reasons to spend that huge amount of money at home first.

As for changing the trade laws – that’s just not necessary. Take an International Economics course, and then tell me if you still think we need to change the trade laws. What we really need to do is increase the level of education in poor countries, not make it easier for them to trade with nothing.

A common argument for giving so much money to Africa is that if we narrow the gap between first world and third world, everyone will benefit. Why is it then, that whenever I hear that argument I am left waiting for some evidence or facts to back it up?

The fact that you can get some celebrities up on stage, or in a commercial, or on a website, and millions of people will blindly do whatever you want them to is a big problem, don’t you think? I wonder how many people who have signed the list actually thought about it before doing so. More likely, they signed the list because their favorite musical stars were a part of the big concerts, not because they think that signing will make a big difference. I don’t think it’s too hard for anyone who spends more than five minutes thinking about it to see that pledging money is not enough. The world’s poorest nations need a lot more than money to improve from their current situation.

Ask everyone who signs the list if they would personally contribute to the billions of dollars going into Africa. I am willing to bet the number of people who say yes would be quite low. Or ask if they’d be willing to go to Africa, not to tour the poor nations, but to dig wells, build schools and hospitals, to do the things that really need to be done. I bet even fewer people would say yes.

To think that we can be “the generation that made poverty history” is extremely arrogant and short-sighted. Throughout history, there has always been poverty, even if it has been more visible at certain times than others. Throwing a bunch of money into a growing problem isn’t going to change that.

Read: Live 8