Charity is a wonderful thing. Indeed so wonderful that one cannot say a word against it. Therefore I’m going to say quite a few words against it, specifically the Band Aid 30 single, ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ (DTKIC) Leaving aside the rather obvious fact that the people currently suffering from Ebola are not likely to celebrate Christmas, there’s also the equally obvious fact that of course there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas, mainly because there never is! (Although, actually, it er…does, as I discovered after writing that, only hardly ever and winter for us isn’t winter for them.)
And don’t for one second imagine I’m making light of the very serious humanitarian crisis that’s facing everyone confronting the horror of Ebola. However, what I am making light of is the somewhat patronizing attitude of some ‘pop stars’ – admit it, you have no idea who the vast majority of them are either – who under the guise of seeking to do the right thing, do the right thing by their careers. Oh what a happy coincidence! Only a cynic of the very highest order would suggest of course, that all of the artists taking part have a vested interest in being seen as concerned individuals who are doing their bit to help – hey, they’re just people too, they watch and read the same news we do – which is all very laudable as far as it goes.
However, let us examine the actions of Bono.
Whilst he exults everyone to try and make poverty history, certainly no one can accuse him of not practicing what he preaches, insofar as he’s made his own poverty history. This, after all, is a man whose estimated net worth is $600m. And has transferred for more advantageous tax purposes, any payments to him from Ireland to the Netherlands thus reducing the amount of tax he is liable to pay. I am not suggesting that he has done anything illegal in this, but one wouldn’t have to be cynic to point out that someone who channels their income through a more tax efficient country is hardly best placed to pontificate about the need to eradicate debt. They say ‘charity begins at home’, which for Bono must be something of a headache, because he’d got three of them (and they’re not too shabby either!) Mind you, fairs fair, it’s his hard earned money, it’s up to him what he does with it but…
Equally I cannot find any information about exactly how much from every sale of ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ actually goes to help combating Ebola. Given that even if it was the full £3.50 – or 99p if you download it – it would still have to be a massive seller to make any substantial difference to charity. But the biggest selling record of this century sold 1,790,000 copies and if DTKIC equaled that, then it’d raise just shy of £6 million. Perhaps the assorted ear botherers’ could instead have each donated 1% of their income. That would have made considerably more money – Chris Morris time, only two minutes long this one! – and another thing, shouldn’t a charity single by definition, be given away for free?)
With this in mind one has to hand it to Adele, who was condemned in the press by Sir Bob for not taking part in his single. However it emerged that Adele had made a private and anonymous donation to Oxfam and that this was made in lieu of her taking part. Similarly Mark Zuckerberg (you know the Facebook bloke!), Zuckerberg faced criticism for not doing anything to help the victims of Ebola. Only for him to respond to that by pointing out that he donated $25m to the Ebola fight.
Lest you’re thinking I’m quite happy to criticize others but what has he done in the last few months? Well I’ve donated funds to the White Helmets – volunteers who race into bomb hit buildings in Syria to rescue survivors – so that they can purchase essential life saving equipment and I’d urge you to do the same and to ‘Save the Children’. I mention this only because when one considers my charitable giving as a proportion of my income –which is only benefits – I would contend that it’s much higher than Bono’s.
(Maybe Bono is heavily into charitable giving? He might be! And anyway, can’t you write it off as tax deductible?)
In a similar vein, one feels some sympathy for Katie Hopkins – the former Apprentice ‘star’ who was hired by ITV to be a controversialist on the This Morning programme. When she tweeted something entirely rational regarding Ebola – basically Ebola might be seen as a preventative check on population, citing the work of Malthus, – she was widely condemned on Twitter. But just not to be controversial or anything, but from a purely objective standpoint, when one considers the global population’s rate of increase and the effect on the planet, is it too far fetched to see what the Ebola is doing in Africa is small payback for what humanity is doing to the planet?
Equally there is the irony that this Christmas is going to be a boom time for retailers, with an estimated consumer spend of £90.7billion. This makes me think of Karl Marx, Robert Cialdini and Black Tuesday. Bear with me here. In his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” Professor of Psychology, Cialdini identified six universal themes common to retailers to persuade consumers to buy. Scarcity was one such technique, by which he suggests that the less there is of something, the more we want it. This want, he elaborated, can be enhanced by time limited offers and discounts. And then one thinks of the chaotic pandemonium of Black Friday, where shoppers acted like savages in their desire to get a bargain. Given that, seven people have died in the U.S. during Black Friday bargain hunts, it puts a somewhat macabre meaning of, “It’s simply to die for, darling!”
Karl Marx predicted that the working class would become ‘the grave diggers’ of capitalism. Witnessing the scenes of mayhem over heavily discounted merchandise, one thinks not only that this capitalism at in its basest and simplest form, one thinks of the grave diggers Marx wrote about. And we spend more on sales than we do on saving lives. Indeed, shoppers are the grave diggers of capitalism.
Except that if you die of Ebola, your body has to be burned.
My next post will be altogether a lot jollier, as it is not the time one wants to think about less than cheery things, so it’ll be nothing more than a collection of Christmas Liffs. And as everyone wants to open their presents early, here’s a few….
The exact moment when the life and soul of the party has had too much to drink and then becomes thoroughly obnoxious.
When a someone experiencing a Barmouth proceeds to boorishly hold forth on a subject on which they clearly know nothing about, but on which you have considered, reasoned and well thought opinions which you can defend articulately, so much so all you want to do is punch his lights out.
Name given to an expletive laden outburst traditionally heard at supermarket checkouts when the grand total of the Christmas food shop is revealed.
Name given to an expletive laden outburst by householder one month after Christmas, upon opening of a utility bill and realizing that that partners relatives had taken the invitation “to treat this house as your own” rather too literally.