Saturday, June 25, 2005

Charity and Africa-Go-Go

UPDATE: My most recent Live 8 hypocrisy post here.

Accessing the following articles requires registration (boo, hiss) but not subscription. I know for a fact that the Spectator's nosy form can be left incomplete and still goes through. However, I find the Telegraph and Spectator routinely have such interesting coverage, I think you'll find it worthwhile.

Do I ever tire of being so freaking on top of what's happening? Well, no, since I'm a pathetic fraud. But the inefficiencies and hypocrisies of international aid programs have been a concern of mine, since the inception of this blog- sans sexy links- last January to comment on the Indian Ocean tsunami. I do claim to be at least a persistent bore, banging my pot with a wooden spoon and yelling that more money and U.N. room service won't fix underdeveloped nations without systemic reform against corruption and empowering regular folks to benefit from their labors.

1) The authentically fabulous Mark Steyn describes the current fate of tsunami aid which is still held up awaiting bribes and infrastructure. He also details how the first responders and essential (non-bribe dependent) supply transport was provided by the same militaries that most of the world is too cheap or faux-civilized to maintain themselves. He cites a clueless Canuck who berated America for sending an aircraft carrier to the devastated region (how imperialist and warlike!) while ignoring that it replaced destroyed staging capacities on land and was additionally a high-tech, floating hospital. Like other countries, we sent tons of goods and funds. Unlike them, we also immedately provided a fully-staffed, billion-dollar asset to make sure the stuff got to where it was needed and that critically wounded people could be airlifted to top-quality medical care. This service is irreplaceable in the rest of the world. So why did our helping hand get accused of pinching pennies? Because greedy officials can't steal a whole carrier.

2) I've posted about the abuses of the ruling African strongmen and their love for Mercedes. Reading this Spectator article by Aidan Hartley, I learned the biggest tyrants are actually nicknamed WaBenzi in Swahili because of their trademark fleets of autos. You will discover their favorite models in color and number as well as how the money keeps finding its way past needy mouths and into rulers' garages. Hear the debauched argument that fat compensation makes a country's leaders less vulnerable to corruption. And BTW, grow up, Geldof.

3) Toward Robert Mugabe of decimated Zimbabwe, I've recently expressed a lack of confidence here and here. But now I must reconsider. He's got his thugs, correction, "building brigades", hastily reassembling some of the stores and shanties they just demolished after turning thousands from their homes and arresting thousands more for wondering whether things might be better under other leadership, I mean, for being menaces to society. Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister, admitted that "harm" had been caused to legitimate housing in the clean-up to "flush out black marketeers and criminals". I don't know if I'm more nauseous from the transparent antics, or from the oxymoronic notion of a Mugabe justice minister.

7 comments:

April said...

Isn't Mugabe(who I hate) the genius who turned all the white farmers(some of whom had farmed the land for many generations), and their modern agriculture methods, off their land?

Thereby giving the land back to the native peoples, and their primitive agriculture methods

Thereby setting up a nice round of severe food shortages and famine?

But at least they have their land back, right?

Africa is a toilet. I'm pro-recolonialisation. A much less opressive version, of course.

I didn't send any money for tsunami aid because 1)I knew it would end up in some government official's pocket, and 2)I knew it would end up in some government official's pocket.

It's really a shame, and I do feel really bad for the tsunami victims..but if the rebuild their houses on the beach..I will lose my last shred of empathy for them.

46 million people in THIS country have no health insurance. Turn that carrier around and park it in say...New York Harbor or Chicago.

I say "go Bob!" It might not help a soul...but his intentions are honourable. He gets a big thumbs up from me. Plus, lots of rich white people get to hear some cool music. I won't be attending, however.

Henway Twingo said...

Yes- you remember Mugabe rightly, and he threw out white farmers in favor of his cronies, most of whom didn't have the backgrounds or stomachs for proper agriculture. That set up Zimbabwe's famine which Mugabe would not publicly acknowledge and for which he would allow no food shipments. Africa is a Cash-Only line, please.

And I just can't support Bob or Live 8's hypocrisy he and other celebs who claim to be compassionate will pay to buttress the stolen palaces of butchers, weeping with compassion while denying the inescapable facts about the fate of such unconditional funds. Contrary to Bob's legendary hype, Live Aid money was mismanaged and didn't do squat for Africa. Famine still reigns and genocide is way, way up. The result of continued ignorance of the Continent's violent dysunction.

Crap musical events producing crappier medleys soothe wealthy celebrity consciences. Notice though, that they principally donate time and their artistry while the puling public donates cash. Nice normal people will give where it hurts them because they're generous but don't know what to do to help. And Geldof and comrades are happy to pretend that sending Mugabe another check is the most important action anyone could take.

Meanwhile, what would be infinitely better and less easily misdirected would be providing childhood vitamins; vaccines; prevention programs for sexual violence and disease; potable water; Malaria prevention and treatment; establishing trade skills coops; democratic organization; and literacy. But that all takes concrete effort and significant time, so simple-minded musicians simply preach overnight wealth redistribution. And they're all going to pat each other's backs about the good they've done while Mugabe picks out his new fleet of 600SLs.

I still love THE FINE ART OF SURFACING, but Geldof and the rest of the Frequent Rewards for Murderers crowd suffer from willful blindness that will doom Africans to another decade of deprivation until this cash runs dry. Oh, but then of course, we can retread another bogus carnival of nobility.

April said...

Part of the problem I have with Africa is that so many of its inhabitants appear to be completely devoid of common sense.

Hellooo..if you can't feed and shelter yourself and your wife...don't have 12 kids! Don't even have ONE. And, don't expect my tax dollars to bail your hungry asses out.

Live Aid was like a billion years ago, and I remember hearing that the funds DID do some good. The continent is a toilet, yes..but I don't think Live Aid made it worse. Live Aid money was a pittance to these dictators, and my first instinct is to check which US businesses are propping up these dictators. There are probably a lot of them..especially in the oil and mining businesses.

We always back a sure thing.

Henway Twingo said...

Be sure, the largest honeypots in Africa aren't in corporations- it's hard to get much done and the natural resources are not only difficult to get but the corruption is discouraging to enterprise. We can and do achieve much more mining and drilling business in South America. Currently, the BIG slices come as aid from foreign governments.

April said...

...Meanwhile, what would be infinitely better and less easily misdirected would be providing childhood vitamins; vaccines; prevention programs for sexual violence and disease; potable water; Malaria prevention and treatment; establishing trade skills coops; democratic organization; and literacy...

How many hundred of organisations are doing this already? Is it working? Yes, but sporadically. Vaccination programs, where implemented, have great success..when the people are told that it's NOT a plot by western governments to make them sterile. Some african communities are very suspicious of western medicine. And, to them I say...fuck you! I believe Mugabe was against the distribution of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS. He was a proponent of having sex with virgins to cure AIDS, I believe. Or was that a different dictator? And the people BELIEVED.

I personally like the micro-loan concept being used to lift women out of poverty in India, and I think in Africa, too. I'm pretty sure a lot of live aid money went to the causes you mentioned above.

I'm a musician, and that is how I define myself, and don't think I'm particularly simple minded. I wish I was simple minded...life is just easier that way. It would be much easier to live in this country today if I was. Mostly, I'm just a heartless bitch. Though I did enjoy live aid for it's stand-out performance...Queen. Good LORD, Freddie was awesome.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any proof that live aid money didnt help or did help? Theres a lot of "i bet it helped" and a lot of "well, it probably didnt help", but where is the proof for the cases? I'm new to the 'millionaires telling other people to help the poor' scene and there seems to be a lot of he-said she-said going on in discussions about it. Based on the ignorant international communities' record of helping Africa, the burden of proof lays with people who think its actually working.

And how in the world does this raise awareness? Do people actually need to be told that a lot of people are really poor in Africa? And how do a bunch of musical acts do this, especially to an audience of half-drug addicts?

Henway Twingo said...

I wish I could give you access to subsciber materials, but I'll have to quote from this WSJ article by a German journalist for Der Spiegel. http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112016799914374625,00.html?mod=opinion%5Fmain%5Feurope%5Fasia

"From 1970 to 2000, Africa received over $400 billion in reconstruction and development aid. That's quite a lot, but apparently still not enough. Especially when you're pouring water into a bottomless barrel. Despite all the financial aid, living conditions in Kenya and Tanzania have gotten worse.

In Uganda and Botswana, on the other hand, once the poorest countries in Africa, they have noticeably improved. Per capita income in Botswana is around $8,000, far above the African average. All economists who deal with developing countries agree that it's not a question of the amount of development aid, but about how countries are governed, how much corruption exists, whether the governments run businesses for their own use or permit free trade."

The GDP of Africa as a whole and quality of life (as in the Middle East as a whole) has dropped in the last 30 years, this during an era of high technological advancement. That fact's not under dispute by anyone I've read. Solutions are.

And debt forgiveness for African nations is an example of the pure cash, no oversight method of aid that the Live 8 boosters support. From the WSJ article again:"...the Kenyan scientist, environmental activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Muta Maathai, 'Africa's first Green' (Die Welt), said that the only people who would profit from debt forgiveness would be 'those who are responsible for the mismanagement in the first place.'"