We criticized U2 rock star Bono in God versus Socialism for enjoining the leftist economic ideas of socialist activist Jim Wallis in the name of God. But after years of such activism fighting poverty in Africa, Mr. Bono apparently still hadn’t found what he was looking for. Somewhere along the way, he succumbed to the mysterious ways of capitalism.
Invited by George W. Bush to speak at the 2006 National Prayer Breakfast, U2 rockstar and activist Bono gave an impassioned “homily” urging the government to give up more tax dollars to United Nations and leftist programs for poverty reduction. Jim Wallis was in attendance. . . . [G]iving a literal nod to Wallis, Bono laid out a plan referring to Wallis’ book God’s Politics. . . .
He called for an additional 1% (about $27 Billion – that’s why he refers to it only as 1%) of the federal budget to be directed to international assistance. That’s money captured by using religious language to persuade government into taxing your income. Bono said this is “what God is doing” and piled on the guilt, saying his plea was one of the defining missions of our era: “History, like God, is watching what we do.”
That was then, this is now. It just came to my attention that the same Bono spoke at Georgetown University last fall. Perhaps he still gives nods to Wallis, I don’t know. But he is certainly singing a different tune to a great degree. He said:
Commerce is real. . . . Aid is just a stop-gap. Commerce, entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid. Of course, we know that.
Inquisitr.com reports how Bono followed up:
In dealing with poverty here and around the world, welfare and foreign aid are a Band-Aid. Free enterprise is a cure.
Entrepreneurship is the most sure way of development.
The same source notes that Bono made similar comments during a speech in Dublin last October:
Job creators and innovators are just the key, and aid is just a bridge … We see it as startup money, investment in new countries. A humbling thing was to learn the role of commerce.
I have never spoken to Bono and thus cannot say exactly where he stands confessionally or politically. But when one switches economic views away from socialism to “free enterprise,” and attributes this to having learned something and having been humbled, I say there is some merit.
And it appears that that merit stretches further than mere economic views. Bono’s organization targets poverty and disease in Africa, but Bono notes that the biggest killer in Africa is the things that allows these to perpetuate: political corruption. And he’s fighting that head-on as well. Forbes notes how Bono is promoting online transparency programs that are fighting the:
“biggest killer disease of them all: corruption,” said Bono. “It kills more kids than AIDs, TB and malaria. Right now in Africa we spend time with groups in civil society, with groups who are using technology to inform themselves better on what governments are doing and holding them to account.”
These developments are laudable, even if they are not perfect (and I am not saying whether they are or not, for I do not know them well enough). Let us pray that God uses such measures in a powerful way to raise Africa out of corruption and misery.
Let us pray that He opens the eyes of more influential individuals to the virtues and power of a more biblical form of economics, society, and freedom, and not just in Africa. A good dose of such learning and humility to fight corruption and turn to free enterprise is just as badly needed in the American and European continents as well.