Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Live 8 And Making Poverty History

Whilst it is admirable to see the modern-day Good Samaritans like Bob Geldof and Richard Curtis raise awareness of some of the most awful problems in the bleakest pockets of the globe, one can't help but feel that their respective campaigns are fundamentally misguided.

Their insistence that more money will solve Africa's problems is at best a dubious claim. As Moeletsi Mbeki - brother of South Africa's President - has written, offering hand-outs to Africa breeds a lack of accountability on the part of governments to their people. What's more, aid is a disincentive to prudent financial management. The only problem for me is that those two counter-arguments are just not very nice. Imagine if 'The Girl In The Cafe' gave a lecture to AU leaders about the importance of cautious and sensible fiscal and monetary arrangements within a framework of accountability, so that investment and trade may follow. It's just not as sweet and fluffy as Richard Curtis's offering, is it?!

I remain convinced that free trade on the global stage and democratic accountability at home will bring prosperity to Africa. Of course, Africa is a continent of deserts and mountains; of drought and flood. Africa does not have the paradise of resources that have tilted the balance of global power westwards. But if we brought their people out of the cesspit of dependence and dictatorship, that would be a step in the right direction.

Sadly, I can't claim to have heard Pink Floyd or Sir Paul McCartney bound on to the stage in Hyde Park with a homily on the importance of trade without barriers or democratic accountability. Instead, they want us to sign a petition calling on the G8 leaders to double their aid to Africa.

The biggest opinion formers on the issue of global poverty have, I'm afraid, got it wrong.

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