Beyond Branding

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July 03, 2005


I was very encouraged to read about a 225,000-strong protest in Edinburgh calling for an end to poverty. Thirty thousand children die each day from poverty—that’s one every three seconds—and a great deal of poverty is concentrated at one of the birth­places of civilization, Africa.
   One protester called for the forgiveness of African debts, with ‘no strings attached’. It got me thinking.
   While I’ve read more books on globalization and public policy than I ever have before, I agree in principle of no strings attached, that karmically something advanced in that spirit will be returned properly. But returned to whom? The first-world nation offering the forgive­ness? It’s the old argument of handouts not solving poverty problems; education is the key.
   All over Africa are smart, innocent people who do want to work them­selves out of their problems, but they are met by corrupt govern­ments—need I mention Zimbabwe? The one thing stopping “the American Dream” from taking hold in these nations is corrup­tion at the top levels.
   So strings are needed. The debts can only be forgiven if the selected nation can show they have a path to rid itself of the causes that put them into the crap to begin with. And that path needs monitoring, because it’s a cinch that the most corrupt are also the most desper­ate—and those nations won’t partic­ularly be ready to help their people. Once you talk about installing democracy, there are leaders who will resist it—unless they can be convinced that they, too, will benefit.
   The answer must lie again in branding, not just of the G8’s proposal, but for the affected countries: ‘Your President has negotiated this for the benefit of all.’ Show real changes, not artificial propa­ganda. Ask for forgiveness from the people. Tell them this new step is a new leaf for everyone. And we in the first world need to convince those leaders that the G8’s proposal to end poverty can benefit themselves by being lauded by their people. Then, democracy and education need not be such a threat to them, and prosperity for all is a good thing.
   I know, this is a simplis­tic summary of what needs to be done. But right now, I won’t record the contents of a book on this page—there’s enough in the first Beyond Branding to show how some things can be done at a corporate level, and I might just leave the above for another title …
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