Okay, I give: How do multimillion dollar concerts help fight poverty in Africa? It is great that Sir Paul, Sir Mick, and all the other oldies but goodies are still fab (heck–it’s great that they’re ambulatory!). But what did the Live 8 concerts actually accomplish?

Fortunately, Simon Jenkins of the London Times explains: 

“Live 8 is clearly an echo of Live Aid, [Sir Bob] Geldof’s money-raising spectacular for Ethiopian famine in 1985. Live Aid was a spontaneous response to what television presented as a crisis. Its outcome has been hotly debated, most recently by David Rieff in this month’s Prospect magazine. Showering money, trucks and food on Mengistu’s Ethiopia entrenched a vicious regime and aided one of the most cruel forced migrations in history. Ethiopia was never short of food.
“Live 8 seems to acknowledge this critique. The ’20m it raises will go not on poverty but on itself. Not a penny will go to Africa. Indeed a potential fundraising opportunity, which might at least have bought a planeload of anti-Aids drugs, has become an exhibition of high-tech media co-ordination and a celebrity fiesta. Geldof has given up on money. He rephrases Lennon’s ‘All you need is love’ as ‘All you need is awareness.’”

Unfortunately, the awareness of these aged stars is severely limited: most of their prescriptions to end poverty in Africa would actually contribute to making it permanent.

More aid, for example, without drastic changes in the way it is awarded, would probably end up where much of it has gone: in the pockets of African despots.

Without getting into the issue of whether debts should be cancelled, I want to note a good piece on Live 8 in the Scotsman:
“If the G8 leaders accept that there is a genuine desire among their electorates for change and adopt the policies advocated by Messrs Geldof, Brown and Blair, and articulated in their Commission for Africa report, will it make the public happy? Possibly. Will it solve the problems that beset Africa? Probably not. African leaders have to play their part, or it will all be for nothing.
“Cancelling the debts of 14 nations is a worthy gesture, but it will only be effective if linked to strict anti-corruption measures. Geldof says that Africa is not mired in corruption, but the evidence is against him. Doubling aid sounds good, but there is no evidence that it works. Hundreds of billions of pounds have been poured into Africa and it is poorer now than it has ever been. The money is mopped up by leaders who use it to place more distance between themselves and their own people. If they know they can rely on western cash to prop themselves up, why worry about making themselves accountable to the people?”
By the way, if you want some really lively observations on the Live 8 concerts, IWF friend Charmaine Yoest was one of the bloggers who went to the concert in Edinburgh: 

“We also saw some protestors, but most looked silly — one young man had pink tulle wrapped around his neck; his female companion had on what appeared to be a skirt made of aluminum foil — rather than threatening. Others just looked like punks spoiling for a chance to rumble. One kid looked to be only a little older than the Dude (who is only ten), but he was already smoking and had multiple body piercings. The scowl on his face said, to me at least, ’I’m worried about Africa’s debt repayment.’”