U2 singer Paul David Hewson, best known by his stage name Bono, has come to recognize that capitalism is crucial in lifting people out of poverty in any permanent way.
He now calls institutionalized charity like foreign aid only a “stopgap,” not a basic cure for poverty — an understanding perhaps still too generous, since such aid can prevent needed economic and other reforms and thus help entrench poverty.
In any case, for decades Bono has both raised money from individuals for international charity and chastised government officials whose policies seemed too stingy (in spending other people’s money). Now he is surprised to be touting the pivotal virtues of money-making and entrepreneurship.
“Rock star preaches capitalism. Wow. Sometimes I hear myself and I just can’t believe it. But commerce is real. That’s what you’re about here. It’s real. Aid is just a stopgap. Commerce — entrepreneurial capitalism — takes more people out of poverty than aid. Of course we know that.” (See a clip of these words.)
The rock star’s epiphany came after a TED talk a few years ago by George Ayittey, in which the speaker “made a special effort to rip into the foreign aid establishment,” knowing that Bono was in the audience. When the star came up after the talk to express his disagreement, Ayittey gave him a copy of his ideology-changing book Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Development.
Perspectives unchained by myth and politics are a good idea too.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.