Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Live 8

Live 8 is happening in several cities around the world this weekend, and i hope the kids have a great time. I also hope that while they are partying, they don't forget what it's all about i.e. addressing the problem of extreme poverty in Africa. That said, I wonder how much a difference the event will really have. I really hope a huge one but I'm not so sure. There have been varying criticisms of the event, from the left as well as the right. The criticism from the right goes along the lines of: don't give to corrupt governments. I went to see Joseph Stiglitz talk the other day, and he explained how Western governments are complicit in corruption in the developing world.

Bitterly sarcastic comment of the day: I think we should do absoutely nothing to help folks trapped in poverty because of a government which is corrupt through no fault of their own. That'll show them.

Anyway, there are criticisms from the left as well, which for me are much harder to dismiss. I don't think Live 8 does enough to address the structural problems which are at the root of poverty in Africa. The .7% spending proposal is important and i hope it is agreed to by the parties to the G8, but much more fundamental are unfair trade policies, high-interest loans, and "structural adjustment programs" which put pressure on developing countries to make certain right-wing economic reforms, such as privatization and deregulation. A recent example of this is the recent agreemtn on debt relief. It would have been better to wait for a better deal, which should be a no-brainer, than one which forced such reforms on these countries.

I hope it's a great event. I hope the music is great, and that millions appreciate it. And I hope the people there remember why it's happening in the first place.