Jesus stated: “The poor you will always have with you…” and there are those who want to ensure that these words will always ring true.
Last week, from 20-22 September, there was an U.N. summit regarding the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For those unfamiliar with what this is all about, in 2000 the world leaders came together at the United Nations and adopted 8 “measurable” goals, (measurable by 18 targets complemented by 48 technical indicators) to reduce extreme poverty worldwide by 2015 (see here).
While these world leaders, political as well as business leaders, predominately western, white and male, were assessing and refining their plans for the future of the black and brown peoples, who are the majority of the world’s population, there was little or no coverage, nor interest by the AfroSphere. There was some interesting commentary for example by MsAfropolitan, based in London and Lagos that I read, while the African-American blogging community was wholeheartedly and rabidly committed to arguing about the (alleged) Bishop Eddie Long sex scandal. What the “African”-American community fails to realize is that these plans (I mean “Goals”), which appears to be directed at the so-called “third world”… you know those “other black and brown people” across the Atlantic… directly affects their quality of life in America. I remember reading somewhere that black people worldwide are either victims of capitalism or imperialism, which are two sides of the same coin.
On the surface the MDGs, with it’s objective to reduce extreme poverty, seems to be based on good intentions. However as the saying goes: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Although it has been long concluded, by their own targets and indicators, that the MDGs will never be met, there is enough perceived successes to make the interested parties feel good about themselves, while shifting blame for the failures on the black and brown peoples, their corrupt leaders and their own economic mismanagement. These illusions of success, coupled with blaming the victims of neocolonial exploitation, perpetuates the international status quo and as we can see, for those who care to look, that means it’s business as usual. The rich get richer and the poor… well Jesus did say that they will always be with us… so blame God.
Here is an article and video at Aljazeera discussing the MDGs called: Scoring Goals
Interestingly, the business of poverty is apparently just as profitable in the world of rock and roll. Ironically, at the same time that the MDGs summit was commencing, there was also a news report last week involving the charity ONE, co-founded by U2 frontman Bono, who is an outspoken advocate for the Millennium Development Goals. According to its’ 2008 tax records, ONE took in close to $15 million in public donations, paid over $8 million on executive and employee salaries, while only $184,732 was distributed to three charities! Although ONE doesn’t actually deny the media reports, in the interest of fairness, here is a link to their response.
Now I know Bono doesn’t handle the day to day operation of the charity, as his role appears to be jet-setting around the world fraternizing with these world leaders, lobbying for debt relief and more aid for Africa… but the question I ask is this: how committed is he to his own cause? Well I’ll probably never get an audience with him to ask, so the next best thing is to look at his own actions.
Bono’s fashion company Edun, which according to it’s mission statement, he and his wife founded “to create sustainable trade and promote local economic opportunities in Africa”, is now moving most of it’s production to China. Why? Profits over Poverty of-course! (read here)
He is forever calling for western governments to spend more money on aid, which in reality is taxpayers’ money, but he and U2 decided to move part of their business interests from Ireland to The Netherlands in 2006, because the government put a cap on the amount of tax-free earnings available to artists (read here). Now I am one who does whatever I can to lessen my tax burden (legally of-course), but the fact is that tax revenue, especially from the rich and corporations (Bono is both), is needed to sustain social services for the less fortunate in society. This is why there is a sense of disgust when we see them take advantage of the loopholes and tax havens to avoid their civic, corporate and humane responsibilities to their fellow human beings. Therefore, if Bono doesn’t care about the less fortunate in the country where he resides, Ireland, then why would he really care about a bunch of Africans?
MsAfropolitan cleverly titles her above post about the MDS: “Friends with Benefits”, to accurately describe Africa’s relationship with the West. Speaking from personal experience, the one who becomes dependent and emotionally committed to this type of arrangement, is at a disadvantage and gains no “benefits” whatsoever. However in the short term they may fool themselves into actually believing that they do, mainly because of the “sweet nothings” that are being whispered into their ears… while they’re being fucked.