20 August, 2007

Rock Star Economics

This isn't exactly the forefront of news right now, but I've wanted to talk about it for a while; African Debt Relief/Live Aid/Make Poverty History. I am increasingly uncomfortable with the entire concert buzzed hype. Stephen Marshall has a great post on the whole topic. When the whole G-8 Debt forgiveness campaign came out, I was young, idealistic and convinced that imperialistic debt was Africa's main economic problem. I remember celebrating with a near-sighted xanga post when the G8 promised to cancel that debt. Apparently, I understood the complex economic issues with the same aplomb as highly popular music stars who hire other people to manage their money. We listened to the musicians because they related to us, they made themselves accessible and hip. They used language we could understand and never wore 3 piece suits. It turns out there are strings attached to accepting this debt relief. Not only are the nations expected to remove tariffs that protect their markets, but they are encouraged to privatize their electric, water, transportation and many of their natural resources. Nothing about democracy or stable ownership laws are mentioned. There is nothing designed to make these countries more stable or predictable, increasing trading confidence. I suppose one cannot expect the largest money movers in the world to simply roll over to "popular sentiment." They still plan to make their money somehow.

Here's not the first lesson I should learn from this: Don't trust celebrities.