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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

How To Solve The Third World Debt Crisis With U2

I've been reading reports all over the internet for a while now about how Bono has taken it upon himself to routinely harangue the people who attend U2 concerts and shame them into giving more money to charities that support the eradication of the Third World debt. End Poverty Now, he says. And good on him! It's a noble cause, albeit a doomed one. Still the same people who shell out anywhere from $150 to $200 a ticket to see U2 sing what passes for their greatest hits don't want to be told that they're not giving enough money.

It's the height of hypocrisy. We're not privy to the amounts (if any) that Bono, The Edge, Adam and Larry donate to the same charities, but what people do know is that the current U2 tour will gross millions of dollars, the large percentage of which will end up in the collective bank accounts of the U2 organisation (and don't be fooled - like the Rolling Stones, U2 ceased being a band years ago - it's a business now, and like any business they're there purely for the profits and nothing else). That money goes into sustaining a life style for Bono, The Edge, Adam and Larry, a lifestyle that is beyond the reach of the majority of us. Bono has admitted that he spends his money on a family-size Maserati, a house on the Riviera, a charming hotel in Dublin, great food and wine. And more power to him - in his shoes, I'd do the same, as I expect the bulk of us would. The people who go to the concerts, who buy the over-priced merchandise, buy the albums, all pay for those houses, cars, food and wine.

So what to do when you go to a U2 concert and Bono starts up with his standard rants about giving money? Don't listen perhaps? Switch off mentally and perve on someone of the opposite sex? Check out the funky lights? Guess what song is coming up next? Hum a few bars to the last one? Try and work out just what song was plagiarised for Beautiful Day or Elevation? Try and remember if you've fed the cat before you left home? Where did you park the car? Hey - do what you want - it's your ticket, you paid, and part of that means you can walk out anytime you want.

But people don't (because they're idiots). They sit and listen to Bono rave on and then whinge about it. I'm sure that Bono figures that anyone who can afford $150 upwards for a rock concert has a certain degree of disposable income. I know I can't afford to drop a casual $150 to see a band - I've turned down some shows that I'd love to have seen due to the price, indeed I'd not be seeing Garbage next week if I didn't get the tickets as a gift. So Bono would probably be correct to assume that if someone can afford to drop about $400-500 a night at a rock concert, they can afford to drop a few more bucks into his baskets. Hence you're paying for the privilege of hearing Bono squeal about world injustice.

How do you combat this? Well here's something to consider. Make Bono really, really happy. Instead of dropping that $150 on a ticket, instead of spending your hard earnt on the merchandise on sale (hey - that all puts a few more lazy millions into their pockets) take about $300 and donate it to any charity that supports a Third World cause. Then let the band know about. This way no-one will go to the concerts, but they'll raise untold millions of dollars to assist those who really need it, and not those who need to buy a new house in the South of France or New York. And if Bono is truly just in his quest then he'll not only support that, but he'll also encourage it.

It's worth considering...

Yesterday, back in 1984, I went and saw my first U2 concert, here at the now long gone Apollo Stadium. It cost me the princely sum of $20 (my brother bought the ticket and I paid him). I spent $10 on a tour shirt, $10 on a tour programme and had a good night out with $10 left over for cheap drinkies (I went with my brother, we stopped off at a bottle shop on the way home and got a six pack). I doubt I could do that again.

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