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September 19, 2005

Bono and Debt Relief

We all know Bono is the rock star with a cause; the best of the many rock stars with causes. He got Jesse Helms to cry and corralled a bunch of conservative Republicans to promise debt relief which really hasn't happened, and an AIDS project, which actually does more harm than good. But at least he's using his fame for a good cause, right?

Well...I suppose. But what does that say about the state of the world? We live in the era of global capitalism. So why do we leave the most important jobs in developed countries to volunteers? Why do we say "we don't have enough teachers, let's get volunteers to do two year stints"? Why do we say "we want to teach American values and the American way of life to the world, let's send volunteers through a program created by Kennedy called Peace Corps"? When we send volunteers to kill foreigners, they get paid. When we send them to build a well, they get close to nothing.

I am sick of living in this pseudo-volunteer culture. The only people who have enough time and resources to do this volunteering are mega-rich actors and singers and children of the upper middle class. Enough already! I went to school with plenty of investment bankers and management consultants. What I want to do with my life is no less important than what they're doing - and I expect to get paid for it. Not popcorn salary and not "volunteer some more so we know you're really committed to the cause" but real greenbacks to pay off all the debt I've accumulated trying to survive in this capitalist society.

I'm not calling for an overthrow of the economic system - I still think that is a fantasy. But until people get real and face the fact that in a capitalist society work should be honored and PAID, we will never live in the world we wish to see.

That doesn't mean I'm going to stop all of my volunteer work for WILPF. It just means that sooner, rather than later, I need to find paid work in "the movement." Otherwise, I might as well turn my little black box back on and find another escapist fantasy to keep me numb from reality.

More on that Irish bloke: "The Statesman," by James Traub in Sunday's NYT Magazine

Posted by cj at September 19, 2005 9:13 PM


"When we send volunteers to kill foreigners, they get paid. When we send them to build a well, they get close to nothing."

that is a really good line. sadly it is so on point.
nice post.

Posted by: c at September 25, 2005 6:11 PM

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