Wednesday, July 06, 2005

What Dickens Knew That Geldof Doesn't

Good stuff found on Roubini's RGE originally published in LA Times

What Dickens Knew That Geldof Doesn't: No one should deprecate Geldof's sincerity, nor the seriousness of Africa's plight. It is indeed a scandal that millions of Africans live at or below the subsistence line, prey to hunger and disease. But the question is whether the modern-day Jellybys who congregated Saturday can really do anything about it.

Like Mrs. Jellyby, Live 8 supporters not only want to Do Good; they want to Feel Good while doing it. She got her kicks by dictating sanctimonious letters to public bodies. They think they can "stop 30,000 children dying every single day of extreme poverty" by chanting along with Coldplay.

Why, you may ask, should philanthropy not be fun? No reason — as long as it's also effective. Unfortunately, Live 8 will not be.

It may come as a surprise to Live 8 fans, but the top three reasons why most African countries are economic basket cases are not lack of aid, excessive debt service payments and protectionism by developed countries. The real culprits are chronic misgovernment, recurrent civil war and the high incidence of diseases such as malaria and AIDS.


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