Saturday, 25 September 2010

Make Bono History

There was a humdinger of a story about Bono in the New York Post earlier this week that the Mail has picked up on this morning. According to the Post, Bono’s anti-poverty ONE foundation received $14,993,873 in donations from philanthropists in 2008, of which just $184,732 was distributed to three charities. (ONE is an “advocacy organisation” whose main purpose is to change policies, not support charities, it says.) So what happened to the rest? More than $8 million was spent on executive and employee salaries.

This isn’t gossip. The Post’s figures are taken directly from the organisation’s 2008 tax return, the latest year for which records are available. This story follows hot on the heels of the revelation that Edun, Bono’s fashion label, has shifted some of its production base from Africa to China. A perfectly acceptable business decision, were it not for the fact that Edun is an “ethical” fashion house that was set up to aleviate poverty in … Africa.

This isn’t common-or-garden, run-of-the-mill hypocrisy, this is hypocrisy on an epic scale – stadium-filling hypocrisy. Bono browbeats Western governments for not spending more money on aid – taxpayers’ money – while doing his best to avoid paying tax himself. He chastises the private sector for not investing in African businesses, then moves his own business out of Africa. He persuades kind-hearted souls to donate money to charity, then stands by while his own foundation pays its employes 43 times as much as it gives to good causes.


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