G8 and Live 8: Charitable Chowderheads by Edward Cline (July 14, 2005)
When the subject of other people’s money and what to do with it comes up in public, it is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish between the utterances of celebrities and politicians. By other people’s money, I mean takings in taxes, past, present and future, and what these two diverse yet philosophically symbiotic groups wish to do with it, which is give it away, sans strings, terms, or enforceable conditions.
Last Saturday we were treated to a media orgy that drooled over the noisy, sanctimonious, globe-girding Live 8 rock extravaganza whose chanting message was: End Poverty in Africa NOW! Never mind HOW!
There is a quaint epithet that one can apply to such celebrities and politicians: Chowderheads. A mess of fish and biscuits perfectly describes the moral and intellectual hodge-podge of their brains. It is a stew of ignorance and arrogance that causes them to assume that you won’t mind how politicians spend your money or how rock artists propose to spend it -- nay, demand it be spent on their pet charities and causes. Well, whether or not you mind how the money is spent is a moot point; you don’t have a choice.
You’re the taxpayer, the taken-from, the involuntary donor, the extorted benefactor.
A close, blind analysis of their utterances without accompanying credits would reveal that there is no fundamental difference between the altruist pronouncements of President George W. Bush, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Will Smith, Nelson Mandela, and Prime Minister Tony Blair. They all want to be "virtuous"; they all want to "help." Never mind their millions; they want you to sacrifice.
The test would be to identify who said what, because ingrained, knee-jerk altruism is a leveling phenomenon. It not only allows celebrities and politicians to be sloppy in choosing the objects of their charity, but affects their language and permits them to speak in non sequiturs couched in grammatical solecisms. The only politician who seems to have command of his words is Tony Blair, but that only makes him a more articulate chowderhead.
He is also clueless on the subject of "global warming." One would swear that he has not read a word of the many counter-arguments that the global warming issue is bogus, or that he refuses to allow facts to correct his assumptions about "climate change" -- but that is another issue.
The subject here is Africa. Specifically, its endemic, persistent poverty, and what G8 and Live 8 wish to do about eradicating it.
Now, you would think that after observing for the last half century how Western aid to government-impoverished African nations does not help the inhabitants of those nations -- indeed, how it perpetuates their poverty -- a loudmouth such as Live 8 impresario Bob Geldof, aging and still clueless Paul McCartney, plus Tony Blair, President Bush and the other eminences grise might have come to this conclusion: That only about one half of one percent of the billions poured already into those countries has ever reached the intended beneficiaries, and that the rest went into the coffers of bankrupt dictatorships, besides what found its way into the Swiss bank accounts of the dictators. Another observation they might have made was the contrast between the semi-free economies of the West and what they can produce, and the stagnant, looted economies of Africa and what they can’t produce.
But making causo-connections is not the forte of what the London Daily Telegraph’s Mark Steyn dubbed the "aristorockracy," or the strong suit of the legislating quasi-oligarchy of career politicians, particularly those in the U.S. No, Bob Geldof and his Company of Crooners Against Callousness and Wailers for World Peace want the G8 leaders meeting in Scotland to forgive all African debt, and then just give $25 billion in aid to the debtors. Some lip service was given to "trade concessions." What those might mean in the anti-capitalist rhetoric of Bob Geldof or to the battling anti-G8 demonstrators in Edinburgh, defies analysis. The joke is on Geldof and the subsidized hooligans. The men meeting at Gleneagles are not capitalists, and are not even remotely pro-capitalist. Observe their agenda.
Further, one would like to ask Bob Geldof what he thinks happened to the $60-$70 million he raised in 1985 during his Live Aid concert, and why he doesn’t regard the political and economic nature of the recipient regimes of aid as relevant to the final disposition of $60 million or $50 billion.
Suppose Geldof’s fantasies could be granted, and somehow $25 or $50 billion was immediately allocated to Africa, and, miraculously, none of it was siphoned off by ruling thugs and their bureaucratic minions ala the U.N.’s "food-for-oil" scam. Some stomachs might be filled for a week or a month and some shacks erected and a few selfless Albert Schweitzer wannabes might set up clinics in the shantytowns.
Then what? Well, Geldof and Company do not think that far ahead. Projecting the consequences of impoverishing some Western countries in order to temporarily relieve poverty and hunger elsewhere does is beyond their intellectual aptitude. Free trade? The rule of law? Individual rights? What have they to do with anything? Perhaps the brighter of these champions of limitless charity in legislative chambers or on concert stages might sense that these ideas imply capitalism. But freedom is not what they're advocating; it is enslavement of the free and the living to the needs of the non-free and the half-dead.
And Geldof and Company have the further chowderheadish cheek to complain that while the U.S. has been the biggest donor of aid to Africa, the percentage of its GNP going to that aid is "paltry." It should be bigger. That is, the U.S. should give until it hurts. Geldof’s focus on this particular issue might cause one to suspect that he is not so much concerned about eradicating poverty in Africa as bringing the U.S. down to the level of, say, Nigeria, with its concomitant standard of living.
Perhaps if he saw Americans wallowing in poverty, standing in endless lines for bags of rice and bowls of mush, just like people do in Africa, he would deign to respect this country. Egalitarianism is isn’t a pretty or noble goal, and neither is the soul of anyone who advocates it. "Charity" and "humanitarianism" are sometimes disguises for envy and malice.
Unfortunately, President Bush, ignorant of the nature of his enemies, granted Bob Geldof about an hour of his time in Scotland to vent his sanctimony again and present his non-sequiturs in person. It is this kind of concession to bombastic altruism that dooms civilizations.
In Philadelphia, actor Will Smith opened that arena of hysteria by proclaiming that Live 8 was a "declaration of interdependence." Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg got a 5-minute standing ovation for mouthing platitudes about ending poverty in Africa now, neglecting to mention, however, the poverty-by-policy imposed by his brutal buddy up north, Robert Mugabe, in Zimbabwe, or the war which that killer has declared on all the people he impoverished and continues to starve. Mandela thus proved he is as much a chowderhead as Bob Geldof. Yet the theme of the South African venue of Live 8 was "Africa Standing Tall Against Poverty." Yes, it may stand tall against poverty, but it doesn’t see a thing. Neither do Bob Geldof and President Bush and Tony Blair. LBJ’s "War on Poverty" was a costly failure, too, but that was then, this is now. Don’t bother us with history; we have nothing to learn from it.
Meanwhile, a recent, pre-G8 summit meeting of the African Union in Libya produced some curiously suspect statements. The leitmotif of those statements is: We Want, You Owe. One AU bureaucrat claimed, "We’re tired of the image of Africa as a beggar. Development aid is the way for the West to give back to Africa what it took from us."
Excuse me? What was it the West "took"? And what was destroyed by looting African governments but the incalculable wealth and millions of lives made possible by what the West invested in that continent? A more honest statement would have been a confession, not a finger-pointing: "Well, when the West granted us independence, we proceeded to destroy what it left behind. We had revolutions, civil wars, military coupes, ethnic cleansings, tribal and religious butchery, genocide, nationalizations, and race wars against residual colonials. You kept sending us ‘aid’ that allowed us to do these things. Now we are beggars. We squandered our inheritance, despoiled a legacy, and now we are destitute. Once we were developed. Now we are undeveloped. Sorry. If you bleeding-heart chowderheads really care about us, please don’t send us more aid. It’ll only fund more of the same."
That kind of improbable realism and honesty would cause Bob Geldof’s head to spin on its axis, and the pseudo-Solons of Congress and Parliament pause to utter a collective "Huh?" But the secret message beneath all the AU’s actual complaints about the futility of direct, no-strings aid from the West is merely a plea: Please help us stay in power, we promise not to graft and pillage as much as we used to. We want the chance to trade.
Trade what? On whose and what terms? To whose benefit?
But everyone watching the morning news last Thursday in America saw that Tony Blair was given a reality check by those who do not, as he said, "respect human life." The reality check is that we are still at war with Islamofascism, and that the alleged plight of polar bears in the Arctic and the misery of a continent that will not let go of collectivism and tribalism are luxury concerns of nations not fighting for their existence as free countries.
The terrorist bombings in London that morning were a boast that the last things on the minds of Islamic killers are the prospect of "global warming" and the well-being of Africans, 345 million of them Muslims. They want obedience. They want submission. Period. We may wonder how many Muslims were killed or injured in the London Underground; we may also be sure that the bombers will not wonder at all. Their brothers died for Allah, just as many did in the World Trade Center in September 2001.
It’s a message that one should hope is absorbed by President Bush and Tony Blair and the rest of the chowderheads at the "Give-8" summit in the spacious environs of Gleneagles. Perhaps one or both of them will discard their altruist pretensions, recognizing how destructive or counter-productive they are, and discover the morality of self-interest and self-preservation, and speak with the voice of reason. Then, perhaps, the next time they speak about "saving the world," we won't mistake them for Bob Geldof or Madonna or Pink Floyd. We won't mistake them for chowderheads.
We’ll see them as rational men, and they will have earned our respect.