What really caught my attention, far from the effect on New Zealand (and the possible demise of our own family farm), was the effect protectionism had, and still has, on developing countries, and the direct effect it has on the environment. This really stirred me. How can these countries develop with no income, income that can only come about from trade?
I had to tell someone; something had to be done about this, it seemed so simple. The media and public didn't seem to follow this 'economic logic'. So who to tell?
Those who know me, know I am a (deeper than most) fan of rock music, and at the time was really into U2 - to say the least.
I’ll do it, I’ll write a letter to the band, and I change the way they think. Yes! At least that’s what I thought. At the time U2 were nearing the end of the 1993 Zooropa tour and would be coming to my town, Christchurch, in a month or two.
I entered the hotel, and walked straight up to the reception and I placed the four letters on the counter, in front of the receptionist, (each separately addressed to each member of the band) and kindly asked if he would see that the letters would get to the band.
He said, ‘I’ll see what I can do.’
I left the letters, just hoping that he would pass them on. That done, I wanted out. My bubble had been popped. I felt like a fool. Humiliated. I just wanted to forget the whole thing.
The concert was fantastic. We were right up front. I soon buried the memory, and then after got on with my life, tried to forget the stupid thing (maybe?) I'd done.
I bought the magazine (shown below), and with a tear in my eye, and a smile on my face, I reed the feature article – quietly knowing inside, that even if they didn’t get my letter to them (only four people will really ever know that, right?) at least I put my money on the right horse(s).
It is my thoughts that both Bono and Bob Geldof have been robbed of a Nobel Prize, they are both deserving – as they both changed the world, opened our eyes over the years, to the misery of others. It seems the likes of the European Union (yes, the same European Union, with the damaging Common Agricultural Policy), that have beaten them to it.
I find it a little ironic that as the economies of Africa are finally growing – for the first time in some fifty odd years – that next to none of this progress can be attributed to the developed (rich) countries. Not for all the aid, the money, words, and wishes they ever threw at them. Instead, it has come from one of the fundamental economic forces; it due to another developing country trading with them – it is due (mostly) to China.
The poverty in Africa will, as long as the EU protect, stand as the failure of the EU, and now that the EU is basically bust!, the question must be asked, who will save them, the EU that is? Who is going to, not 'bail them out', but 'trade them out'. America? No, they're spent too. They are going to have to turn to the developing world, there's the opportunity.But as long as the EU doesn't buy their food, or value-added finished goods, at the market price - and in light of African-EU trade history - then Africa and the developing countries should rightly question whether or not to buy from European (trucks and phones). But instead, buy Chinese (trucks and phones).
There are three things that I feel I got right with writing that early letter: the issue; the right people to write to; and lastly, I chose the right career, teaching, one where I can make a small difference.
And Bono, 'you too' got it right.