Monday, September 27, 2010

Vote Bono. Because He Likes Money Too.

There may be a point to Bono. The man may be finally fit for purpose. Bono’s attitude to money is exactly in synch with the spirit of the nation, and we can all come out together in our fecklessness and greed by acclaiming the U2 frontman as Ireland’s Greatest in the TV gameshow of the same name. He is who we are.

At first glance, John Hume would seem the obvious candidate to win from the five nominees (James Connolly, Michael Collins and Mary Robinson (Mary Robinson!) being the three others). Hume’s inclusion among so motley a crew is rather like seeing Mr Lionel Messi on the first eleven of the Dog and Duck in the Sunday League, or Ms Nigella Lawson, pre-Raphaelite tresses confined to a hairnet, heaving bricks of lasagne onto the expectant plates of the masses in the Kylemore Cafe, all the while smiling and saying “Mmm, scrumptious!”

But John Hume doesn’t need some penny-ante TV show to tell him he did his country some service. John Hume doesn’t need to try out. Best then to use the show to come to terms with the real two faces of the nation, and who better to do that than The Fly himself?

Money has always been closer to Irish hearts than either rock or, indeed, roll and Bono’s hare and hounds attitude to lucre is perfectly in synch with the genius of the Irish nation. The music doesn’t matter – as a friend of mine delights in pointing out, the real star of U2 is David “The Edge” Evans, because he has to not only play his own guitar part but he must cover for the hopelessly incompetent bass-playing of Adam Clayton as well. Busy man.

Bono’s attitude to money, like everyone else’s in Ireland, depends on whether the money is his own, or whether it is someone else’s.

When the loot in question is someone else’s, the coin gushes hither, thither and yon, with no-one stressing very much about where it goes or what it does. Consider the story in the New York Post and last week about one of the many charitable causes to which Bono is devoted. Bono’s ONE Campaign, based in Washington, DC took in $14,993,873 in donations in 2008. From that fifteen mil, it gave $184,732 in donations.

That’s 1.2% percent of the loot, for those who are scoring at home.

The ONE Campaign has responded by saying that they are an advocacy group, rather than a wealth redistribution group. What, then, happened to the other $14,809,141? Well, eight million went in salaries. The other six million clams must got have got redistributed somewhere else.

When the money is Bono’s own, however, we discover a horse of a different colour. Edun, the for-profit ethical charity fashion house run by Mr and Mrs Bono has a mission statement to raise awareness of the fashion possibility of Africa, but the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that 85% of Edun’s 2010 fashion lines were made from materials from either China or Peru. And as soon as the taxman started eying the artists’ tax exemption here U2 famously decamped to the Netherlands, the better to hang onto their guilders.

Bono spends other people’s money like a sailor on shore leave but hangs onto his own just a badger will hang onto a wellington once his teeth have sunk home. One life, but we’re not the same, as it were. Who else so exquisitely sums up the State as we’ve been running it?

Vote Bono. You know there's no alternative.