Wednesday, September 29, 2010

(not so) Pro-Bono

The Guardian absolutely eviscerates The Edge's sidekick:

Bono's ONE campaign had blitzed the New York media with fancy gift boxes. These contained several items, from designer water bottles to $15 bags of Starbucks coffee, as well as information explaining that poverty-stricken African children live on less than $1.25 a day – "about the cost of the cookie in this box".

To which the only reasonable rejoinder would seem to be: "Then stop spending your money on biscuits for journalists."

But let's not be facetious. Naturally, naturally, the business of activism is more complicated than that, and indeed, ONE has since been forced to remind confused civilians that it is an advocacy organisation and not a grant-making organisation. This became necessary after the New York Post revealed that in 2008, the most recent year for which tax records are available, ONE took $14,993,873 in donations from philanthropists, of which a thrifty $184,732 was distributed to charity. More than $8m was spent on executive and employee salaries.

But wait, there's more:

Bono is adept at holding two contradictory positions in his own mind. Do consider his endless lobbying of the Irish government to earmark more cash for said MDGs, despite having shifted part of U2's tax affairs to the Netherlands to avoid paying even the ludicrously reduced rates Ireland affords to artists. Has he not heard that the money in the Irish exchequer's coffers comes from taxes, paid by the sublebrity likes of nurses and teachers and bricklayers and so on?

And I thought the English and the Irish were getting along now.


Tom said...

And underlying it all is the shakey proposition that aid does improve the lives of those receiving it.

Unknown said...

Activism is a way for useless people to feel important, even if the consequences of their activism are counterproductive for those they claim to be helping and damaging to the fabric of society as a whole.