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Old 06-24-2002, 12:50 PM   #1
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O'Neill comments on trip with Bono

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul
O'Neill said Wednesday his African tour with rock star Bono
was an ``intense'' experience but indicated he still felt the
antidote to widespread poverty lay with private-sector growth.
In his first major address since returning last Friday from
a 12-day swing through four African nations, O'Neill said the
failure of past aid efforts to assist the world's poorest
continent meant reforms were essential.
``The impoverished people of Africa -- and in poor nations
everywhere -- require a new kind of help, that goes beyond the
well-intentioned but disappointing results of the past 50
years,'' he told a Georgetown University audience.
While O'Neill donned a pair of Bono's trademark blue
wraparound sunglasses at the podium, his words made clear that
the Irish rock star -- a staunch advocate of increased aid and
more generous debt forgiveness -- had failed to transform the
Treasury chief's essential views on aid spending.
``In the long run, domestic entrepreneurship as well as
trade and foreign investment are far more important for
economic growth than official aid,'' he said.
O'Neill, who led a fact-finding tour through Ghana, South
Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia, was applauded for it by members of
the African diplomatic community who attended his speech.
He briefly donned the glasses, which were a gift from Bono
who wears the distinctive eyewear constantly, to remind the
audience the so-called ``odd couple'' tour was not all a grim
slog through orphanages, AIDS clinics and shantytowns.

O'Neill insisted he and Bono were not really so odd. ``We
both desperately want to see the people of Africa...living to
their full potential,'' he said, adding he was not yet ready to
announce policy recommendations from the trip.
The Treasury head did indicate that a fattened U.S. aid
purse will be opened most readily to nations that meet the Bush
administration's concept of well-led developing nations with a
chance of achieving sustained economic growth.
``What I mean by leadership is government officials at the
very top who believe in justice for their people, who believe
in their responsibility to create the rule of law and
enforceable contracts and who attack corruption,'' he said.
The United States intends to put up an extra $5 billion a
year in aid money, in the form of Millennium Challenge
Accounts, from which nations could apply for cash. O'Neill will
advise President Bush on criteria that applicant
countries must meet in order to qualify for the aid money.
O'Neill, a former businessman and advocate of
up-by-the-bootstraps private enterprise, said there were
instances in which aid was helpful but didn't hide his
skepticism about its ability to create lasting change.

O'Neill also suggested that forgiving past debts of poor
nations -- one of Bono's favored remedies for heavily indebted
African countries -- only went so far.
``I would agree that debt forgiveness may help, but it alone
is not the solution,'' he said, urging instead a Bush
administration proposal to help poor countries by offering
targeted grants rather than loans.
``It will eliminate the next generation of debt service
problems,'' he said.
Oxfam, one of the nongovernmental organizations working in
the continent, said later O'Neill should step up to the plate
to help Africa by announcing $1 billion of support for
education spending when finance ministers from wealthy nations
meet in Halifax on June 14-15.
The G7 finance ministers' gathering is to focus specially
on Africa's needs, and Oxfam spokesman Oliver Buston said
O'Neill should demonstrate the Bush administration was willing
to go beyond promises.
``Now is the time for action,'' Buston said.
O'Neill said future aid should support local leaders and
local solutions, saying it was ``sometimes shocking to see the
disconnect between the aid bureaucracies with their 15-year
plans and the availability of more immediate solutions.''
He said he saw three types of investments in Africa that
were effective: clean water, primary education and fighting HIV
and AIDS.
``When governments are investing in their people, providing
clean water, education and health care and when other aspects
of good governance are present -- just rule and economic
freedom -- prosperity can blossom,'' he said.

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Old 06-24-2002, 01:10 PM   #2
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I think O'Neiill means well. He honestly believes this. It's true that there have been problems with aid in the past, but that was when the aid was given for the wrong reason--because the dictators were against the pinko-commies, not because they gave a damn about their people. They didn't. The problem with this is that we're talking about democracies like Ghana and Uganda, not dictators. Countries with dictatorships or corrupt governments, like Sudan, don't qualify for any of the aid plans people are proposing. Our government and others should work with these governments to help their people. Other leaders, like Blair and even Chirac, don't quite look at the aid picture the way O'Neill does. I hope these guys can pressure the U.S. into being more active in stopping the AIDS crisis and dropping the debt.

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Old 06-24-2002, 01:13 PM   #3
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argh...just relized that story was actually from June 5. still quite in depth and interesting.
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Old 06-24-2002, 01:15 PM   #4
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Originally posted by verte76
I hope these guys can pressure the U.S. into being more active in stopping the AIDS crisis and dropping the debt.
“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.”
~Frank Zappa
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Old 06-24-2002, 01:17 PM   #5
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Thanks for this! In one real sense, O'Neill's exactly right. Private business is an important part of this equation. But so are debt cancellation, emergency aid and fair trade laws. The equation won't balance unless all these are a factor. I really like the way someone on PLEBA put it (see, we do more there than just drool ): the Bush/O'Neill stance is like saying to a sick person, okay, get a little better with what you've got and then we'll send you meds. *sigh*

O'Neill's comment here also reinforce the urgency-- the desperate urgency!-- of letting him and Bush and our reps know how we feel. Please, if you do agree, send that letter. Make that call.

O'Neill's at 202 622 0190

Here's the letter I sent again; cut, paste and mail at will
Mr. Paul ONeill
United States Treasury Secretary
1500 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20220

June 2, 2002

Dear Secretary ONeill:

I am writing to express my congratulations and gratitude for the time you recently took to travel through rural Africa to learn more about what can be done to help. Your focus on providing clean water, for example, impressed me. I was excited to hear you describe that task as possible and then express that it would be unforgivable that 40 million Ethiopians go without it! I could not agree more!

As a citizen of a powerful and prosperous country, I believe it is crucial to do all I can do to help. Its my hope that our aid to the worlds poorest nations will be increased, that their debt will be dropped and that trade laws will change to ensure a fair market.

Again, congratulations and welcome home! I wish you the best of luck as you continue the fight!


And the one to the President

President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing with concerns about the recent $500 million pledged for AIDS relief in Africa. While I am pleased, proud and grateful that the White House is giving this issue attention, clearly more is needed. This amount of money is not adequate to meet the medical, housing, and educational needs of the poorest people in Africa, especially as they combat the growing AIDS epidemic, and as they struggle to repay debt to us! This is simply not just!

I would urge you, your Congress and Sec. O'Neill to consider committing to more aid as an investment in national security; countries that are stable and prosperous are far less likely to listen to terrorists like Bin Laden. I would also urge you and Sec. O'Neill to cancel the debt of these impoverished nations so they can invest in their people by establishing infrastructure, clinics, and schools. If we commit to doing enough now, perhaps the next generation will not have to!


and some links


where you can look up your rep's ph # and addy, and find letters to click and send if you like.

All this info is on the site in my sig, Bono's Angels

Thanks for listening

Sherry "Broken Record" Darlin
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Old 06-24-2002, 05:38 PM   #6
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Sherry, hey, no sweat about you sounding like a broken record! The more people we have to "keep us awake" the better! The B-man is working hard as heck, but he can't do it all! We have to make this idea popular, then the heat will really be on the politicos.

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