Live 8 (Or 0.7% Thereof)
Back from Toronto. As mentioned in the last post, the CSEB conference (where I represented the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child/Youth Mental Health, my new employer) was loads of fun, but my week in Toronto ended with my cousin Alvin’s 3-day wedding to his highschool sweetheart Anita:
Let me tell you, I love being Indian, but it’s also pretty damn cool being Guyanese. Yes, we are a greasy, low class people with cheap suits, embarrassingly flashy cars, fake jewelry and a ghetto-fabulous fashion ethic, but man we sure know how to have fun. And fun was what we had at the wedding. Many of us also aspire to greatness, like Nazim Ally of Toronto who recently completed a walk from New York to Toronto to raise money to fight child poverty.
This weekend also saw Live 8, that concert thingy which will somehow reduce African poverty. Now, Live Aid was a magical thing which really had us all convinced that the world was going to change. But Live 8 is a little less convincing. It’s supposed to what? Raise awareness among the population to lobby our leaders to forgive African debt? Yeah, like that’s going to happen. At least Live Aid produced proceeds which could be directly invested; I don’t see any direct benefit of Live 8.
Darth Vadum suggests that foreign aid (under which he lumps debt forgiveness) is not a desirable path to poverty reduction. Surprisingly, I think he makes a good point. Money alone will do little in the long run; what is needed is governmental reform. What we as citizens of the G8 should do is pressure our governments to support stable, representative government in African nations… AND to reduce debt.
Meanwhile, a certain ex-girlfriend who is possibly the smartest person I know, bristles at the idea of compelling G8 nations to donate 0.7% of their GDP (Lester Pearson’s 1969 target) to poverty alleviation— because it’s innately offensive to “take money from those countries just to give back 0.7%” While I see her point, that we should avoid “taking” the money in the first place, I think there’s a modicum of realpolitik that must be embraced, and that includes the laws of Keynesian economics. Wealth must first be generated through trade before a portion of it can be redistributed. Part of a call for better government is a call for stable fair trade which, one assumes, might reduce the predatory export relationships that hobble Third World economies.