Jonah Goldberg

Nice line. But, uh, how? I'm sure Geldof, Bono and a few others have some ideas worth listening to. But I somehow doubt the Madonna and Snoop Dogg fans in the audience had formed a particularly cogent consensus on how to "Make Poverty History." In fact, I doubt you could get even a fraction of them to agree on a recipe for apple brown betty.

Very smart people have been trying really, really hard to make poverty history for a long time. Heck, they've been working very hard to make Africa just ever-so-slightly less hellish for a very long time. Debt relief is probably part of a potential solution, but without ending Africa's tendency to produce horrible, greedy dictatorships, debt relief is more akin to paying off a drug addict's credit cards.

Even if the concert-goers were speaking with a single voice, they weren't saying anything of much use, except "we care" - and aren't we special people for it? Geldof summed up the attitude perfectly when he said, "Something must be done, even if it doesn't work."

This concert was an exercise in boosting the self-esteem of the audience. Included in the ticket price was grace on the cheap. T-shirts cost extra. Live8 was an appeal to the vanity of people who collectively aren't concerned enough about Africa to watch a classical music concert.

Geldof's heart is in the right place, I'm sure. But what he really did was successfully bribe a bunch of people to be props in a publicity stunt. And I somehow suspect that the G8 leaders do feel the force of the gale that's hit them - and it feels a lot like a gust of hot air.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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