Are We The World?

Is it me, or is this Idol Gives Back campaign just, plain icky?

I find it ironic that a bunch of bagillionaire rock stars and celebrities were begging us regular folk for money in their quest to accomplish their latest cause. And on top of that they were hawking mosquito nets, malaria pills and I suppose porridge(?) for the starving children of the world.

Let’s put aside the fact that the United States and the rest of the Western world have given billions, maybe even trillions of dollars to AIDS relief and foreign aid of every type and description – and still the world is full of starving, dying, sick children. We apparently have gotten nowhere. Because you see, the problem still exists. And each new campaign is determined to wipe out these horrible conditions – but never seems to. This is not including the private donations of again, billions, possibly trillions of dollars by regular folk like you and me, for these causes. Again, still they exist. Don’t you have to ask  yourself, why?

Isn’t it the ultimate irony that if we took those dollars and enabled these countries, particularly Africa, to modernize – to have proper plumbing, power, sanitizing plants, recycling plants, (in other words, have all the things we have as a matter of everyday life) and showed them how to industrialize so they could compete on the open market, that they wouldnt need our charity? Because you see, they’d be self sufficient. They’d be able to take care of their children, diseases, hunger. The disease, hunger and abject poverty would quickly become a thing of the past, wouldn’t it?

We wouldn’t need Bono, American Idol or any vacuous celebrities to hawk the cause, nor lecture us about giving back. Would we?

The truth is that we have decided (I use the collective we, because I by no means made this decision) that these folks have to stay in the dark ages. Lest they destroy the planet with something as evil as progress, industry, commerce, clean power sources and dare I say it, motor vehicles.  No, we mustn’t do anything that logical or survival for these folks. It’s much better that we make them totally and utterly dependent upon our charity. And force them to live in the dark ages for the rest of their existence.

So we do crap like this to make ourselves feel better about ‘giving back.’ Or at least it makes some people feel that way.

If we’re going to give, why not give what we have? A decent, liveable world and all the opportunities that comes with it?

Perhaps that would be too easy or make too much sense. It’s much better to give food and decide what food to give than to actually teach them how to grow, catch or make food. Better to give medical supplies than to train doctors and build hospitals. Better to make them live the green life and deal with the balance of nature, yes?

Personally, I find this reprehensible. Don’t you ever wonder why all the bagillions already given don’t result in a change in these conditions? I do. I really do. I mean where is all that money going? Don’t you have to wonder? With all that money, we could have modernized Africa 20 times by now, don’t you think? I do.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to help as much as the next person. I don’t want to see other human beings suffer. I don’t want children to go to bed hungry. I don’t want mothers having to bury their children because they couldn’t get what would be in our country, ordinary medical care. I don’t want to see anyone suffer. I feel for my fellow human beings.

I just want to give them real help. Help them to make better lives for themselves. Help them to fulfill their potential. Not just feed them for a few months. I mean, really does that help them in the long run? I don’t think so.

So, excuse me if I view this and every other ‘star-studded extravaganza’ with a cynical eye. Forgive me if I see vested interest in these deeds. I can’t help it. Because in my mind, real help actually solves the problem it doesn’t perpetuate it.

What do you think?


8 thoughts on “Are We The World?

  1. Chicken, after world war II we gave money to the Japanese to rebuild, the Germans to rebuild they took the money and with their skills rebuilt their countries, these people take the money and put a band aide in place instead of training themselves or having things put in place to make them self-sufficent

    Yeah, Ger, you’re right. I think our whole mindset has changed. Instead of lending a helping hand, we opt to be the nannies of the world. These people aren’t children – they have a right to a normal life too. Why not give it to them? It makes no sense to me at all that we don’t.


  2. I recently read something on this; I’m going to excerpt the pertinent chunk here:

    ” … imagine you’re the poor schlub who serves as the [World] Bank’s representative in one of those impoverished, not-part-of-the-war-on-terrorism African countries that Paul Wolfowitz has so vocally championed. Here in this sweaty, distant posting, you’ve been funneling loans to the country for things like rural electrification.

    “But there’s a problem: The minister for public works has been skimming 10 percent from all the contracts. His deputy gets another 5 percent. And so on and so forth, until all the country has to show for its electrification debts are a few gangly power lines that don’t even work most of the time.

    “So now you’re paying him a visit in the finance ministry to chat. Arriving at the brand new secretariat, built last year by the minister’s brother’s construction firm, you’re ushered back to his air-conditioned suite, past the empty offices nominally occupied by the presidential cronies who’ve been recently hired as consultants. As a servant pours you a cup of coffee–grown on the plantation the minister somehow managed to buy during a Bank-promoted privatization in the late 1990s–you read him the riot act.

    “Now, in light of the allegations swirling around the Bank’s anticorruptionist-in-chief, just how likely is it that your message will get through? It’s far more likely that it will be understood as more empty rhetoric–not unlike all that chatter about popular democracy and anti-imperialist equality mouthed in undemocratic, inegalitarian postcolonial capitals in the days before the Washington consensus.

    “As you drone on, the minister may well be wondering why it is that, if you’re so smart, you’re counting electric poles in his godforsaken country rather than hooking your own girlfriend up with a sweet job back in D.C. If he’s a polite sort, maybe he furrows his brow and promises to thoroughly examine your allegations as you wind up your lecture. As soon as he gets back from a holiday trip to Brussels, of course. So much for ending corruption. “

    I think the issue needs to become how to work within their cultural tribal frameworks. Our “executive decision-making” model only fuels the corruptiona nd widening their wealth gaps.

    Personally, I like the programs that give smallloans to small business owners, especially women. Bnagladesh has a good model.

    But to give them money for plumbing? It’s like Tony Soprano’s gang getting loans from HUD to buy crack-houses, so he can then rip out the copper pipes to sell them on the black market; leaving the house worse than it was.

    Hey Ben,
    Yeah, I was rambling in this one. I guess my point is this – if we are going to give all these funds, why don’t we just build the stuff they actually need to be self-sufficient. Give them a real hand up, so to speak. I am all too aware of the graft that occurs as the money trickles and grows ever-smaller down to those it is intended to help.

    My beef is the hypcrisy of it all. There is no reason, given the resources, smart people and advantages of the modern world that anyone be forced to live in tents and tin shacks with no power, food or plumbing – nor go without education and opportunity.



  3. I was just thinking today that I was going to blog on this. I guess great minds think alike. I’m not going to lie, the images they showed bothered me-severely. However, it’s not the first time I’ve seen them. The one thing that did surprise me was the kids in Texas who have no books, and can’t read. There is no reason why in a country such as ours that there are children who cannot read, or are going hungry to bed. We are not a third world country. But you do have to wonder if we don’t keep them down (the third world countries that is), just to look good?

    Regardless, all I kept thinking was that if I had gazillions of dollars and really didn’t have to work, I’d have no problem at all running around and organizing events for different charities. I’d volunteer all the time, reading to kids, and traveling to poverty stricken places, but unfortunately I’m not afforded such a luxury. And I agree with you on the celebrity thing, that’s what I was thinking, like so you put a bunch of celebrities on the show and that is what it is going to take to get people to give money.? Do we really need celebrities to tell us to give money to charities or to try to make a difference in the world? And what’s more, what does Tom Cruise know about being poor? It’s all crap really. Great post.

    Anabel, I’m convinced that if we had more heart and less infrastructure, people who were in need would get what they need a lot more than they do. Yes, we do have some very severe poverty in our own country as well. How I would love to see real, geniune philanthropy on the part of the many celebs that seem to gravitate to this stuff. How I’d love to hear about someone who just did it – instead of using it as some sort of sword to branish in the pursuit of a political or career move. That would be tres’ cool. But I’m probably dreaming and should just shut up now. 😉


  4. Come on here WC…don’t tell me that by reachin deep into your own personal pocket and giving so freely of your hard earned money, that you don’t feel automatically better….just by knowing that you helped make all these wonderful celebrities feel so much better about THEMSELVES. Because basically, the charity event is more about THEM getting to show off to the world at large how altruistic THEY are then it is about anything else.

    Amen to that, my friend. Amen to that.


  5. AIDS is a waste of time. You can’t cure it. You can find a vaccine, but it’ll just mutate again because it’s RNA based. I’m with you- better living, not disease curing.

    Hey DT,
    I will agree with you to some degree – the manner being used to find a cure for AIDS is a waste of time and money. Very little of the money actually ends up in the hands of those actually trying to find a cure. I take my hat off to anyone who has in any small way, has managed to even curtail the illness. My brother was one of its earliest victims and I wish what we know now, we had known then. Perhaps he’d still be alive today and would have been able to see his two children grow into wonderful young adults.

    But…back to the topic at hand – solutions, not bandaids. Yes, indeed.


  6. WC well said, I agree with you 100%. I feel sorry for all the starving children of the world but charity starts at home. What is up with the New Orleans situation? I was shocked to see people living in such horrible conditions, my son who’s 12 said mom is that really here in the United States? The Katrina victims are just that victims, where is their help, aid? Why are they still living in trailers that were only supposed to be temporary? Why don’t have have schools rebuilt? Where is all that money raised by all the charity events/ benefit concerts, private donations and from our goverment? I don’t have the answers just alot of questions. I couldn’t answer Derrick when he asked “mom why isn’t “Pres. Bush helping these New Orleans victims?” I’m sorry Derrick I just can’t give you an answer. I pray for all those suffering from disease, poverty and the mothers/fathers who have to watch their child(ren) suffer and die. It’s heartbreaking. I can only tell my kids to be thankful for all we do have and never take anything for granted.

    Hey Kath,
    You know, in a way the Katrina incident is a perfect illustration of this rant. Millions of dollars were defrauded from the government by people pretending to be victims of Katrina. Millions of dollars have been wasted – what has happened to all the private money donated, I have no idea – and I suspect, neither does anyone else. Despite the fact, that Louisanna was given millions over the course of years to repair those levys the money magically ended up somewhere else. Between the greed, the graft and shenanigans – it’s a joke and a shame.

    Although, too thousands of cities opened up their arms to many New Orleans orphans and helped them to build at least temporarily – a better life. My point is, these things are always resolved on the human level, not governmental, bureaucratic or political level.

    And one more sidenote – a trailer might not seem like much to you or me – but I’m sure many are greatful they have any home at all and it sure as hell beats living in the street or a shelter. I think that if New Orleans is ever going to heal, then all of its citizens need to band together and help one another rebuild their city. When they start to care about making a group effort, things will start to change for the better.


  7. WC I hope I did not offend about the trailer comment. I myself lived in 2 mobile homes for a total of 8 yrs. It was what I heard from the Idol fundraiser/broadcast straight from a woman who lives still in a “row” trailer as she called it. One on top of the other. The conditions were supposed to be temporary. She spoke of higher crime rates and dirty living conditions. I am sure they are happy to have shelter. Thankfully they are not on the streets but what makes me so mad is that where the hell is all the money gone to? I can not believe New Orleans has not been rebuilt after Katrina!

    Hey Kath,
    No, honey you didn’t offend me in the least. I think the problem with New Orleans is that it is such a political football, that the power and the money can’t be traced. It’s unfortunate that average citizens are caught in the crossfire – but, if you want to change conditions you usually have to make those changes yourself. At least, that’s how my life is.

    You know (and I know you do) life isn’t fair and we all have to deal with whatever crap life gives us – the difference is how we handle it, isn’t it? I think it’s too easy to sit around and bitch and moan about how one isn’t being taken care of – especially someone who simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’ve noticed that no matter how screwed up things get for me, there isn’t anyone swooping in and saving me. I think anyone would be well advised to just take it upon themselves to fix their lives. Looking in the direction of the government or any other group or person that says they want to help you, more often than not, leaves one disappointed.

    I have no problem with helping people, especially in light of severe tragedies – but I have to say that it seems to me the only people I hear complaining about it are the folks down N’orleans way. Mississippi was actually hit much worse and harder than Louisianna and yet we hear nothing about it. And other parts of the south were devestated as well – yet those folks have seemed to have rebuilt and moved on with their lives. It’s something to think about.

    Anyway sweets, no worries, you could never offend me – even if we disagreed completely, I still love ya.


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