Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
My answer to the problem of alleviating poverty in Africa is to stop offering monetary assistance. Rock star Paul Hewson (Bono) very proactively advocates debt cancellation. He did so again recently at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama and appeared characteristically noble (“Canceling African debt would be just: Bono,” May 30th). I want to suggest that forgiving debt could be said to be among the worst things to do so long as bad economics are nurtured in Africa. Plus, I want Bono to get out of my face about it.
Foreign Development Assistance and debt cancellation may actually contribute to the problems of Africa so long as those cultures do not solve the domestic reasons behind the systemic nature of their poverty - and donor nations’ money does not affect that. A detailed explanation is for a longer essay than this, but I only have to say that if no monies were loaned in the first place then the kind of crippling debt that we currently see would not accumulate in the second place. And, it is irresponsible for rich nations to extend loans foolishly and then later be forced to cancel an unserviceable debt. For Africa’s own good, let’s stop doing it! First World capitalists’ imaginations are bound to money and its manipulation, so they can only imagine further spending or accounting novelties as ways out of a financial trap. My suggestions sound preposterous and stupid, and maybe they are. But I am not trying to be stupid. I am only trying to suggest weaning poor nations from the foreign assistance teat in a spirit of brotherly loving kindness.
What qualifies me to have an opinion on the matter is that as a taxpayer in two wealthy, developed nations, the Overseas Development teat nurses unsanctioned use of my money. And, I don’t need Bono to tell me how to be a noble man.
Published on Sunday, June 8, 2008 as “For Africa’s sake, stop money aid.”
Anticipating that The Japan Times would not print another letter of mine so soon I prepared the following revision to send to The Daily Yomiuri. I much prefer the Yomiuri version, although the above letter that was sent to The Japan Times and printed by them on Sunday 8th was itself the product of several revisions. Afterwards I regretted not coining the phrase“Bono fatigue” earlier as I did in The Daily Yonmiuri’s versio, and ultimately, the following letter was never sent.
Sunday, June 8, 2008.
Letters to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8055
At the recent Tokyo International Conference on African Development held in Yokohama rock star Paul Hewson (Bono) very proactively advocated his chronic message of debt cancellation. I want to suggest that forgiving debt could be said to be among the worst things to do so long as bad economics are systemic in Africa, plus I want Bono to get out of my face about it. It is not that I am uncaring about the poverty of many developing nations, and it is not because I am experiencing Africa fatigue, or Aid fatigue so much as Bono fatigue. So I wish he would stick to music and stop his unsanctioned advocacy about how my money shout be used, because I don’t need a rock singer to show me the way to nobility or human loving kindness.
If unserviceable debt is a problem for poverty-crippled African economies, and much of this debt accrued through loans that could not be repaid, then my suggestion is to simply stop lending them money, stop advancing donations, and for goodness sake don’t cancel existing debts because that reveals the bankruptcy of the idea of development assistance and viable progress in the first place. Not to mention how foolish it makes First World leaders appear when they flush more of our tax yen into the black hole of endemic economic ineptitude. This kind of generous largesse make good press for politicians. But for Africa’s own good, let’s stop giving them money. First World capitalists’imaginations are bound to money and its manipulation, so they can only imagine further spending or accounting novelties as ways out of a financial trap. My suggestions sound preposterous and stupid, and maybe they are, but no more than Bono’s suggestions, I think.