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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Still haven’t found what I’m looking for 

The presidency for the World Bank is up for grabs. And word around the campfire is that U2’s Bono may be up for the title. Now, I know that it’s not unusual for a celebrity to take on a heavy political portfolio, but that has usually been limited to U.S. domestic politics. Sure Canada now has NHL all time great Ken Dryden as our minister of families, but the World Bank is a bit different, one would think.

Bono has done a lot of good work lobbying heavy-weight politicians to invoke debt relief in Africa. Canada led the charge on this one, and it looks like some debt relief is occurring. Good for you Bono. But, there are a few sleeping tigers with our Irish Pop Star. First off, Bono is a bit of a corporate whore. U2 has their own iPod design for God’s sake, and with it comes their latest hit “Vertigo” which is a song engineered for marketing purposes. Seriously, albums like The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby are long gone, and U2 keeps churning out crappy tunes for the consuming masses.

Second, the World Bank is a traditionally western-catering structure that is deeply embedded in policies that practice unfair trade and support neo-liberal economics. Sure, the Bank has been trying to put a rosier face on lately, but you won’t escape their underlying agenda, which, as one World Bank employee told in Mexico, sounds something like this: “There’s no better way to spread democracy and freedom than through the consumption of U.S. products.” Ahh yes, more vacuum cleaners in dirt huts please. Could we get a new fridge to the house without electricity? How about we send some more SUV’s to cities whose roads are physically too small for them.

My fear then is that with Bono at the helm of the Bank we’re going to see iPods in Africa before anti-retroviral drugs. Bono is all for sending Aid to places that “need it.” This is a tricky idea. The food (rice and beans) that the U.S. alone sent to Sri Lanka from the Tsunami relief has effectively crippled the Sri Lankan rice farming economy. It was a hay-day for U.S. rice and legume farmers. Sell the wares to the Red Cross, and then the Red Cross dumps all the free food in Sri Lanka and bankrupts the local farmers. Now there is too much rice and beans in Sri Lanka, and it is rotting in warehouses as we speak.

I’m sure that Bono won’t be of too much worry to the Botswanian mp3 industry, but more of the same charity that we saw with the Tsunami is something to worry about from the perspective of small-time farmers. It’s the kind of charity that sells well to the Northern audience, and Bono sure knows how to sell. Achtung baby, achtung!

Could be worse I guess, Wolfowitz is said to be the top contender - this Wolfowitz:
cheers. wiremu1306

Top 10 Reasons Why Paul Wolfowitz Would Make a Good World Bank President
by John Cavanagh

1. He would follow in the great tradition of World Bank president Robert McNamara, who also helped kill tens of thousands of people in a poor country most Americans couldn't find on a map before getting the job.
2. It helps to be a good liar when you run an institution with employees who earn over $100,000 a year to pretend to help billions of people who live on less than $1 a day.
3. With all his experience helping U.S. companies grab Iraq 's oil profits, he's got just the right experience for doling out lucrative World Bank contracts to U.S. businesses.
4. After predecessor James Wolfensohn blew millions of dollars on "consultations" with citizen groups to give the appearance of openness, Wolfowitz's tough-guy style is just what's needed to rid the World Bank of those irritating activists.
5. Unlike former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, another one of the four leading candidates, at least Wolfowitz hasn't failed at running a Fortune 500 company.
6. Unlike the Treasury Department's John Taylor, another leading candidate, at least Wolfowitz doesn't want to get rid of the institution he would head.
7. While earning a University of Chicago Ph.D. , he was exposed to the tenets of market fundamentalism that have reigned at the World Bank for decades.
8. He has experience in constructing echo chambers where only the advice he wants to hear is spoken.
9. He knows some efficient private contractors who build echo chambers for only a few hundred billion dollars (cost plus, of course).
10. He can develop a pre-emptive poverty doctrine where the World Bank could invade countries that fail to make themselves safe for U.S. business, modeled on the U.S. pre-emptive war doctrine he helped craft.

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