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2002-05-31

U.S. Exports Misery to Africa with Farm Bill

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and U2 rock star Bono’s unprecedented joint "Africa Tour" has come to an end. At a news conference in Ethiopia, O’Neill announced today that he cares deeply about Africa but insisted once again on tighter spending on aid.

The idea of a joint trip was hatched a year ago, when the two men met in O’Neill’s office. O’Neill was initially reluctant to meet with Bono, but said later he was impressed by the singer’s knowledge of Africa’s problems. They decided to take a trip together to try to learn what kind of aid really works.

But the two have been fighting throughout the trip.

Earlier this week, O’Neill suggested that the public in the US and Britain should be encouraged to think in terms of donating Dr Seuss books to Ugandan schools–"in effect adopt[ing] a child". He said, "We need to make this into individual people things, not some cosmic stuff about billions of dollars."

Bono retorted: "It takes billions of dollars. It is not cosmic for these kids to have a cup of porridge a day."

Bono is also upset about a farm bill President Bush recently signed. The $190-billion bill doles out an 80% increase in subsidies to American farmers. Critics from the US to Ghana to South Africa say those subsidies will put millions of small farmers out of business in Africa and jeopardize the continent’s efforts to overcome poverty.

Guests:

  • Mark Ritchie, president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis.
  • Salih Booker, director of Africa Action.

Related links:

Music:

  • Because–The Beatles, The Beatles Anthology 3 (Apple/Capitol CD).

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