published Monday, August 19th, 2013

Smith: Learning from Bono: Capitalism ... a cure

By Robin Smith

Who said this:

“Aid is just a stop-gap. Commerce, entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid.

“In dealing with poverty here and around the world, welfare and foreign aid are a Band-Aid. Free enterprise is a cure.

“Entrepreneurship is the most sure way of development.”

Ever heard of Paul David Hewson? I’ll bet you’ve heard of Bono, the lead vocalist of the Dublin-based band, U2.

The 53-year old Nobel Peace Prize nominee known for his devotion to the impoverished people of Africa and the countless initiatives he has begun and assisted, Bono is regarded as a champion of international aid to the world’s second largest and second most populous continent.

His philanthropic bent is driven, according to his own biography, by his Christian beliefs. A few of his projects include a clothing line with production based in poor communities to “promote fair trade and sustainable growth,” partnering with global brands in the RED campaign with a portion of sales going to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and work with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to effectively utilize foreign aid awarded through the Millennium Challenge, circumventing government corruption and fostering policies of free enterprise.

But how does a rock singer — who in a June interview said, “It’s very annoying following this person of Christ around, because he’s very demanding of your life,” — also equate foreign aid to a temporary fix and capitalism as “a cure” to the ills of poverty?

How can this man, so committed to the elimination of poverty reject the notion of giving and identify the solution with the parable — give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime?

Even President Barack Obama seemed to share these sentiments recently in Chattanooga: “Jobs are about more than just paying the bills … more than just statistics … A job is a source of pride, is a source of dignity. It’s the way you look after your family. It’s proof that you’re doing the right things and meeting your responsibilities and contributing to the fabric of your community and helping to build the country.”

But why do we see so much of our foreign aid being pilfered by corrupt government dictators and bureaucrats with so little reaching the poor, the hungry, or the infirm?

Why do we have a system in the United States that focuses on distributing fish rather than ensuring the skill of fishing?

Sadly, in a big government system, the “ruling class” views the efficiencies of central planning as the pathway to seemingly produce prosperity. In reality, having millions of government dependents who believe an agency or bureaucracy is responsible for their daily existence destroys dignity, crushes the innovative spirit of the creative and extinguishes the fire that burns within a productive, industrious individual.

The pattern of both prosperity and poverty is found in the Law of the Harvest: You reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow, and of the same kind that you sow.

To assist the poor, is Bono correct in saying: “Job creators and innovators are just the key, and aid is just the bridge”?

And how does Bono address his critics?

“… They’re the same people: cranks carping from the sideline. A lot of them wouldn’t know what to do if they were on the field … will always be in opposition, so they’ll never have to take responsibility for decisions …”

Spoken like a man who isn’t worried about tickling the ears of the voting public.

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm.

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librul said...

Woop de Doo - a rock singer following a zombie while preaching capitalism as a cure for poverty...and it's only Monday!

August 19, 2013 at 7:17 a.m.
Facts said...

If our President would decide to get off the golf course and look at a real jobs program that took people off food stamps into a community college or certificate program that led into a job, we'd see that this article is based on a law of nature: work is always better than entitlement.

But, I'm assuming this President has any desire to govern. Like so many of the angry Tea Party members on the right, the left only wants to campaign, push their philosophy and neglect the notion that there is a balance between complete anarchy and complete state control.

August 19, 2013 at 8:13 a.m.
soakya said...

Don't really follow Bono but the last I heard he was a socialist, has he finally seen the stupidity of his past ways.

Robin, you wouldn't know capitalism if it jumped up and bit you in the butt. You and the rest of your republican friends believe the public-private partnership that we see is capitalism. You believe taking 717 million taxpayer dollars and funneling to VW is capitalism. Right, tell me I'm wrong.

Just this weekend I read a article where Berke is setting aside 500 thousand dollars in a redevelopment crony capitalism scheme for developers to build rental homes because the " "The market right now is huge for rental," if it's so huge let the developers risk their own money. I thought capitalism was an economic system where the capital owned and invested came from the private market. But no they spread the risk to taxpayers because the investors today want to enjoy all the rewards(profits) while spreading the risk to you and me. Tell us Robin is this capitalism as you would define it?

August 19, 2013 at 8:27 a.m.
TheCommander said...

We as a nation abandoned capitalism almost 100 years ago as powerful corporations and big government fell in love with each other to the detriment of the American people. I can't believe our founders nor Adam Smith ever imagined a corporate enterprise to have a lifespan of 50 to 150 years like some of our American and European corporations have had. Capitalism demands the life of any corporation to be shortened by competition from someone else's innovation. Yet the situation we have today is not so; today we have men at the helms of these corporations that are not capitalists by nature. They are in many cases as bureaucratic in their thinking as their counterparts in government are. That is why I keep saying over and over: Corporations LOVE regulation. Corporations LOVE the minimum wage. Corporations LOVE welfare in ALL forms. Corporations LOVE OSHA. Corporations LOVE the EPA. You liberals are believing the lie that they resist these things!!! They do not; They lobby to tailor regulations to insulate themselves but make no mistake: they invite regulation. Our corporations are not run by the Krafts, Carnegies, Fords or JC Pennys anymore. These men and women are not found in business at our largest corporations. Notice that Robin Smith cannot distinguish between capitalism and sustainable development when in fact they are diametrically opposed to one another.

August 19, 2013 at 11:57 a.m.
conservative said...

My goodness Commander!

I read Ms. Smith and didn't see where she even used the word corporation/corporations even once. I did a search, still not once.

However, you used corporation/corporations 11 times!

Why are you attacking her?

What is your solution to the problem you perceive?

August 19, 2013 at 12:14 p.m.
soakya said...

I believe thecommander is just expanding on the private-public partnership that Robin and the republican party would consider capitalism. I believe thecommander is suggesting that large corporations love regulations because they can overcome the regulations but many small business's will not be able to and eventually they will go under, creating less competition. Robin Smith and the republican party is barely more conservative than Barack Obama.

Conservative, if you don't mind me asking where do you stand on the private-public partnership? Especially the PILOT agreements, TIFs and the massive incentives?

August 19, 2013 at 12:41 p.m.
conservative said...

It would not be fair for me to answer someone who thinks that he knows the mind of another even if may be right.

To answer your question, I would have to know what you mean by private-public partnership.

If you own a business then you probably are in the partnership you don't like. If you work for someone else then you support that partnership as well with your labor to make that corporation a profit.

I loathe the mostly costly and unnecessary and burdensome regualtions imposed on business.

However, if one starts and runs a company, I do not fault him for obeying the laws and rules and regulations imposed on him in order for him to engage in business and make a living.

August 19, 2013 at 12:56 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Who in his right mind can argue against having a decent job as opposed to a hand-out?? Of course it's preferable to have a decent job! But where are those jobs coming from? Certainly not from the Republican camp. What have those nay-sayers and status-quo loving do-nothings proposed in the way of job creation? Oh, I forget...they are just waiting for the magic of the free market to kick in and do its thing. Waiting for the "job creators" to finally start creating jobs from those tax breaks they have enjoyed these past 10+ years.

Job creation has not exactly been high on the list for Obama and Dems either but they have learned by now that it's impossible to do much more than talk about any new proposals because the Repubs are just going to shoot them down and vote 100% against them anyway.

Our infrastructure is in the toilet and, like it or not, it's going to take money to fix it. All the austerity in the world is not going to magically erase the deficit and create money. In fact, more austerity is only going to create more austerity. We could invest the money now, create jobs (temporary ones, yes, but many of those would last for years) for people to get the necessary work done, and more money would in turn be pumped into the economy and more real, lasting jobs could then be created. The longer we go with our infrastructure deteriorating the worse it's going to get and the more money we will have to spend down the road. The government CAN, and SHOULD, in times like these, create jobs, even if only temporary ones. Where do you conservatives get off thinking that that is such a bad thing?

As for what Bono says, who gives a rat's ass? I don't care whether he's a capitalist loving Ayn Rand disciple or a card-carrying member of the Communist Party, it makes for a pretty weak argument any time the thrust of your article revolves around what some celebrity says or does. Not that he's not entitled to his opinion or his platform from which to state his views, but what he says or does is not exactly a game changer in any way.

August 19, 2013 at 1:49 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Just because we libs think it a good thing to have safety nets in place for the disadvantaged, the poor, and those who have hit temporarily on hard times doesn't mean that we believe in a perpetual "nanny state" where aid is constantly given. It's unfortunate that some few take advantage of the welfare system but it serves a far greater purpose for those who truly need it than it does as a trough for moochers. The vast majority of Americans would much prefer to have a decent job over just squeaking by on a mere subsistence level of welfare money and food stamps.

It is not liberalism or welfare for the poor that has crippled this nation. It is the corporate welfare of the past 30+ years, the shipping of all of our good jobs overseas, the tax havens that the corporations have been taking advantage of, and their countless tax loopholes that enable them to pay ZERO dollars, in many cases, of income tax. It is the redistributing of wealth (that conservatives scream bloody murder about when it's distributed more proportionately) UPWARD and rigging the system in favor of those at the top that has put us in, and is keeping us in, this downward spiral.

August 19, 2013 at 1:54 p.m.
TheCommander said...

Conservative, I believe the word capitalism is a dirty word in both parties today. Both parties have converged their thinking around the idea that government's main purpose is to create a job for us, create affordable healthcare for us, provide retirement, etc... I simply don't believe that and the more they try to do it, the more likely that we will never achieve those very things.

There is an unholy alliance between government at all levels and big business regardless of party. Begin watching newspaper articles about business carefully and you will begin to notice how many times you see the words "partnership' between government and private enterprise. Sokya is correct: These partnerships lead to PILOT deals, tax abatements of various kinds, subsidies for certain favored industries, etc... The Chamber of Commerce using the little known Industrial Development Board in a municipality creates these tax free enterprises with very little risk to the corporation involved. Look at the property tax records in Hamilton or Bradley or any county and you will notice that the single largest landowner is always the IDB which almost no one knows even exists. You will see the properties of these large corporations listed at zero value. Therefore, these companies are consuming public services and paying no tax!! Even worse, many are receiving subsidies and their actual investment was financed by 40 year bonds issued by the local IDB and hopefully paid off by the terms of the PILOT agreement. It is so bad that we have apartment developments going up using HUD loans that are non-recourse and only require 1% down!! The bankruptcy rates on these loans are extremely high as you can imagine. Amazon, Wacker, Maytag, Peytons, VW own nothing! This is not capitalism. Did you know that Duracell just entered into a PILOT agreement in 2012 in which they promised the creation of 60 new jobs? Fast foward: An announcement is coming very soon on job reduction through automation. I believe in capitalism which in its most basic sense means that you risk YOUR OWN money, not mine. You keep the reward or you suffer the loss, period! The chance for profit is your ONLY motivation. I believe if we can ever begin to separate government from business, we can begin solving our nations problems. I get mad at the Bob Corkers, Lamar Alexanders, Haslams, and my local Republicans more so than the openly progressive people because like Robin Smith, they call for "small government" and "free enterprise" but then support government public/private partnerships like Hemlock and Solyndra, etc.. at every turn. It is a lot and I know I did a poor job of explaining myself so please keep asking me questions and I will try to answer. I think it is worth talking about.

August 19, 2013 at 2:44 p.m.
TheCommander said...

Rickaroo said, "The vast majority of Americans would much prefer to have a decent job over just squeaking by on a mere subsistence level of welfare money and food stamps."

Don't you think that depends on how long the person is on welfare? I know of a friend's sister-in-law who has been on welfare her whole adult life and lives "comfortably" in a trailer. I contend that you could give her a $200,000/yr job, tell her she only has to go to work 3 days a week for 5 hours a day and she would stop showing up after the third week and go back to the welfare she has been on. It is an assumption on my part of course.

Am I wrong? If we agree that corporate welfare changed corporate behavior for the worse, then why wouldn't it also be applicable to the individual in a similar manner?

Just asking; please try to avoid hurling insulting names at me unless you feel it is absolutley necessary!

August 19, 2013 at 4:22 p.m.
MyGen said...

A few observations: I don't recall that Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander or Robin Smith supporting "Hemlock and Solyndra". Phil Bredesen was Governor when Volkswagen got its big incentive package along with Hemlock.
Saying that "capitalism is a dirty word" must mean that you support the social state for the common good as being best. Government does not create jobs. Only companies making profits create jobs. Leftist government takes from producers and redistributes to those who don't produce.
I'm in agreement with Facts that both the left and the Tea Party right operate on anger. You both only support those exactly like you and attack all others. Really pretty interesting that you're more similar than different in that way.

August 19, 2013 at 4:28 p.m.
conservative said...

Sorry Commander, I'm not going to read all that.

I very seldom read long comments even from those who agree with me.

I love to see some of the long winded Liberals write. They actually believe someone is reading them.

August 19, 2013 at 4:33 p.m.
klifnotes said...

The Commander said... We as a nation abandoned capitalism almost a 100 years ago.

Which, under that system, really wasn't a bad idea, considering:

Capitalism can't exist without racism.--Malcolm X

Capitalism=exploitation=return-to-slavery. Granted, capitalism already exist and has always been a part of the American structure. However, with no control or balance, or protection for the average employee, employer greed would take over and exploitation would again become legal.

August 19, 2013 at 4:37 p.m.
klifnotes said...

MyGen said...Government does not create jobs.

How do you explain TVA then? Without TVA, Chattanooga would be a gigantic fish bowl filled with water. I'm old enough to remember the floods and people paddling down Broad Street and other areas of Chattanooga in boats.

August 19, 2013 at 4:40 p.m.
TheCommander said...

Conservative, you owe me to read it. you asked the question. Point taken however.

Just remember: Sustainable development, PILOT, TIF, Chamber of Commerce, Public/private partnership.

August 19, 2013 at 5 p.m.
TheCommander said...

Kifnontes, we have had ever increasing employee protections, strong labor unions, strong OSHA, Pension bailouts, 40 hour work week, etc..

Has all this produced the results you wanted? Are you saying that a state of employee exploitation no longer exists because of these things?

August 19, 2013 at 5:25 p.m.
MyGen said...

Seriously, capitalism can't exist without racism? Racism results from free markets? Or another way to say it is that minorities can't function in free markets? Really? Wow. I just realized I am wasting my time. Gone.

August 19, 2013 at 5:30 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

When you think about the obscenely vast amounts of money (trillions of dollars, no doubt) this country has lost over the years on account of so many good jobs being shipped overseas and the off-shore tax havens that allow these companies to stash their money tax-free, and the subsidies and countless tax loopholes that allow them to get away with paying little or even nothing at all in taxes, the amount spent on welfare and food stamps combined pales in comparison. And even then, the amount spent there goes right back into the economy. The money made by the rich seldom if ever serves any useful purpose but to further enrich the already rich. Oh sure, they might create jobs for their butlers or cooks or pilots of their private jets, but....c'mon. Few if any of them create real jobs. Rather their money is more often than not reinvested, where they pay a ridiculously small tax on its earnings (and conservatives claim that the rich are being taxed to death! Yeah, right.) They pay far less than the average middle class worker who actually has to WORK for his/her pay.

When I hear conservatives complain that the excesses of liberalism have bankrupted this country or that we libs want to redistribute the wealth by "stealing" from the rich and distributing it to the "moochers" I can only shake my head. For the past 30+ years the system has been rigged in favor of big business and the rich, with the money redistributed upward to them. They have had it practically handed to them on a silver platter. All the while our infrastructure crumbles, public education sucks, the recession lingers with unemployment still high, and there is not even the least whisper of any long-term goals for this country, just calls for more austerity and more cuts, as if that is going to magically reduce the deficit. Hogwash. Throwing money at a problem is not always the answer, but...we are going to have to spend money, whether the teabaggers and ultra-conservatives like it or not. It's a matter of HOW we choose to spend it. Money spent on job training, education, research and development, and rebuilding our infrastructure would be money well spent. And the government CAN create jobs, even if only temporarily.

The government-hating conservatives are going to have to get over their ridiculous paranoid fancies that the government is intrinsically bad and can't do anything right. If they really believe that government is so bad, then they need to stop being a part of the system. They need to stop voting altogether. The very Republican politicians who scream the loudest about the evils of government ARE themselves the government! They are right in the thick of it, playing the game to the hilt. So, you conservatives and libertarians who decry the government all the time, stop being part of the system if you hate it so much. Either that, or accept the fact that we have a government, like it or not, and it's not going away, and it CAN, on occasion, do some good

August 19, 2013 at 5:37 p.m.
TheCommander said...

Somone had to design and build those private jets Rickaroo. I have flown on many corprate jets and met many PILOTS who were former air force Pilots. In the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon describes how the opulent wealth of the east flowed west by means of "voluntary taxation" which is essentially poorer people developing skills and crafts to build things that the rich wanted to buy. Also, rich people do not want to "stash their money". That is not how they became rich. Why do we not look at the reasons the rich are stashing instead of investing? It shouldn't be hard to convince a rich person to try to become richer, should it?

August 19, 2013 at 5:56 p.m.
soakya said...

Reinvested in what Rick? Stock or bonds, how about cd's? And what do the people do with the cash they receive for the stock and bonds? I guess they bury it in the backyard in a coffee can.

August 19, 2013 at 6:43 p.m.
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