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Friday, July 08, 2005

The G-8's Incredible Deal
James S. Henry

Glasshalffull"Have we just been invited to dinner and served pictures of food?"

Aging poverty rockers Bob Geldof and  Bono are apparently quite satisfied with today's G-8 announcement on aid, trade, debt relief, and global warming.

Sir Bob, 51, called it "a great day...Never before have so many people forced a change of policy onto a global agenda."

20030522t152603z_01_lon02d_rtridsp_2_briPaul Hewson (Bono), 45, butchering a quote from Winston Churchill,  remarked that he "would not say this is the end of extreme poverty, but it is the beginning of the end."

On the other hand, the global NGOs that follow the subjects of debt, development, and trade reform most closely disagree vehemently.  For example:

  • Friends of the Earth UK  said that on the issue of climate change, the G-8 accord represented "more talk, no action...a very disappointing finale."
  • ActionAid said of the deal,  "It is still too little, too late, and much of it is not new money. Fifty million children will die before the aid is delivered in 2010."   

So whom are we to believe? 

Should we believe the NGOs that are full-time specialists in these issues, but also,  in a sense, have a vested interest in the glass being perpetully half-full? 
Should we believe the professional celebrities and politicians who also have a huge stake in the equally-curious notion that the way to "end poverty" is rely on their episodic cycles of concern and their undeniable ability to periodically whip us all into a guilt-ridden frenzy?

Or should we and the world's poor perhaps begin to do some thinking on our own about what "ending poverty" really means, and how to go about it?   



July 8, 2005 at 02:16 PM | Permalink


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The G-8's Incredible Deal
James S. Henry



Your last point takes us right to the root of the problem. Forgive me for being a bit cynical here, but unfortunately only a small portion of the population is ready to "think on its own" as you cogently put it in your recent post. IMHO, as a start, our newsbyte driven culture needs to abandon the notion that complex problems have 30-second explanations. Quite simply, for Americans a serious debate could then start with a collective look in the mirror as a culture.

Is this possible for a nation (that as you state in the introduction to your book) where only a small part of the population even knows or cares to know where any of these poverty-stricken countries even are? I don't think this type of shallowness and ignorance lends itself to the type of thinking that is required to accurately address the situation and ultimately fix the problem. Couple this ignorance with a government that jails reporters and the only picture that arises is one of a culture that is content living with its eyes closed. Is this type of culture really ready to think on its own? I think they are happier letting Sir Geldoff and Bono do their thinking for them. Who needs objective journalism when we have Sir Bob and Bono on the case telling everybody what they want to hear anyway?


Posted by: Anthony Visone at Jul 9, 2005 2:24:17 PM