Friday, July 06, 2007

When you grade intentions rather than results... 

The real Africa needs increased trade from the West more than it needs more aid handouts. A respected Ugandan journalist, Andrew Mwenda, made this point at a recent African conference despite the fact that the world's most famous celebrity activist � Bono � was attempting to shout him down. Mwenda was suffering from too much reality for Bono's taste: "What man or nation has ever become rich by holding out a begging bowl?" asked Mwenda.

Perhaps Bono was grouchy because his celebrity-laden "Red" campaign to promote Western brands to finance begging bowls for Africa has spent $100 million on marketing and generated sales of only $18 million, according to a recent report. But the fact remains that the West shows a lot more interest in begging bowls than in, say, letting African cotton growers compete fairly in Western markets (see the recent collapse of world trade talks).
From Bill Easterly today. Do I recall a fake ad on the 1/2 Hour News Hour (private to Fox: kill this, now. Just keep the Dennis Miller bits and play them as 2 minute spots scattered around your other shows) where you could rent celebrities to be part of your cause? Not like you can't rent them.

Gifts are often dependent on the utility of the giver rather than the receiver. Bono is great for consciousness raising, but not so good on policy.