Bono Agrees With Manager: ISPs Are To Blame For The Downfall Of Music

from the blame-the-enabler dept

About a month ago, we wrote about how Paul McGuinness, the manager of U2, was repeating an earlier rant blaming pretty much everyone but the recording industry for the recording industry's troubles. Basically, the rant could be summed up:
All of these other companies actually had the foresight to see where the market was heading with digital music, and they built up businesses that made money! The actual recording industry, however, did not foresee any of this, did not build up the business models -- and, in fact, stuck to the old, increasingly obsolete business model so stubbornly that it actually pissed off many fans. Therefore, it's clearly the fault of those who accurately prepared for the changing marketplace, and they should give lots of money to the companies that deliberately chose to ignore these trends.
Well, that may be a bit of a paraphrase, but I think it's pretty close.

Anyway, despite him ranting on in such a misguided fashion for quite some time, U2's Bono has been too busy saving the world to weigh in on the matter... until now. Valleywag points us to the news that Bono has written a letter to NME Magazine, where he, too, claims that it's all the fault of these damn ISPs and tech companies building real business models that make the market for music more efficient and open up all these new opportunities to profit. However, he does choose to contradict his manager on one point: arguing that McGuinness is wrong to claim that Radiohead's experiment with pay-what-you-want for music backfired and hurt the industry. Bono claims that the experiment was "courageous and imaginative." The same, however, cannot be said for all those tech companies that actually enabled that courageous and imaginative experiment to take place. They're obviously just exploiting the musicians.


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  1.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 1st, 2008 @ 3:07pm

    I saw a cover band in La Linea in Spain a few months ago. I think that through my drinks (there was no cover charge), I must have given more to U2 than anything I ever gave to U2 directly as I never bought one of their albums. Yet, I bought Radiohead's album, NIN's albums, Saul Williams and Girl Talk's album all because of the "pay what you want" model.

    The only the that ever amused me about U2 was the fact that the Morales remix of "Even Better Than The Real Thing" that entered the UK chart was, in fact, better than the "real thing". Other than that, Bono is the poster boy for how badly wrong the music industry's gone, with rich, out-of-touch stars trying to poke their noses into political issues rather than simply make music. I'll bet U2's lost far more sales due to their political opinions than anything related to P2P.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 3:21pm

    Bono is a dried up fool who really has no idea what goes on in the world outside of his tacky designer sunglass encased bubble.

    Newsflash for Bono: It's your crappy music that is helping to destroy the music industry that you know.

    While Bono slips even further from the top, other, more 'with-it' artists are taking over his spot and only getting more and more popular. For instance, nerdcore hip-hop artist ytcracker, which releases his albums on itunes+torrent trackers, and has a bunch of free songs on his website.

     

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  3.  
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    ehrichweiss, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 3:22pm

    Fuck Bono and U2

    One only need to see where U2 sued the band Negativland into bankruptcy, along with all the lies and deceit they piled on to make it seem like they weren't involved to know that Bono and U2 are a bunch of assholes.

    F U2.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Fuck Bono and U2

    Yeah.

    I bet all that extra PR really sucked. No-name band being sued by one of the biggest bands of the time launching them into the public eye.

    I can see how they'd hate that.

    You do know the EP in question was re-released (under a new name) by the band with U2's blessing, right?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 4:21pm

    More reason for me to believe Bone-O is all about himself. He's full of crap to say he's helping underprivelaged people. Fame hungry sausage lover. I always knew he was nothing but a fraud!!!!!!!!!!!!1

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 4:25pm

    "Bono is a dried up fool who really has no idea what goes on in the world outside of his tacky designer sunglass encased bubble."

    Yeah his work to fight the spread of AIDS in Africa means nothing. He's done more to better the world than any geek on here who tries to justify the theft of music.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 4:42pm

    Fight the spread of AIDS?

    Since when was AIDS a contagious disease? AIDS is the byproduct of bad lifestyle choices. There's no cure for stupidity....Oh wait, yes there is, AIDS.

    F**K Bono.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 4:46pm

    Sorry ... I don't read Bono's comments that way. He didn't say he agreed with McGuinness' wild claims - he only stated that the trend away from the "old" business model (that they depend on for revenue) is "disturbing" ... as would be expected, especially when you consider that tech industries are profiting form that change.

    Unlike a lot of bands, U2 didn't make their money playing live ... they put their profits from record sales into elaborate live shows that almost bankrupted them. IIRC, the Zoo TV tour cost the $250k a day to put on...

    Don;'t get me wrong - I'm as forward thinking as they come, but hey... cut other people some slack!

    Not everyone can adjust to change in Internet time.

     

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  9.  
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    Ed, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 4:57pm

    New Music Model empowers musicans

    This story is old news. Who cares if recording companies are around tomorrow. Artist can record CD quality stuff on individual tracks, send them to a great producer, get a great mix and then use self empowering social network sites like BETA Music (http://www.betarecords.com) to give away / sell their music online. Gone is the day where some record deal made us buy a band like U2 because they were the only ones who got hand picked and marketed. Today its all about the artist connecting with fans and fans paying for the right to play their music anywhere, at any time, without the need for an archaic CD. Bye Bye Britney, hello real music.

     

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  10.  
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    Tim Bevvil, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 5:42pm

    Tell both sides of the story accurately.

    Writer said.."All of these other companies actually made money..." Hmm. I know iTunes made money, but what about "all these other" companies. I thought early start-ups in the digital download arena failed to make profits, in part due to the dominance of iTunes. AOL Music, MSN Music, Virgin, Real Music Store (LOL), I mean--what innovators are making money at this? Walmart and iTunes.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Fight the spread of AIDS?

    Wow.

    The internet really brings out the best in you.

     

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  12.  
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    Frank Shook, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 7:19pm

    In defense of The Music Industry...

    As Bone-headed as he sounds, there might be a kernel of truth to what Bono is trying to express: ISPs filled a gap that The Music Industry couldn't fill quickly enough with an antiquated business model.

    I'm a music lover who is still thankful to the music industry for wonderful work throughout the ages. But, as with any business today, the Music industry faces 'Walmartization', wherein the business as a whole is reduced to mere commodity status because, in the name of some higher Good, opponents think consumers deserve only the cheapest possible thing despite the intrinsic value of making something BETTER.

    The Music Industry was founded on the model of making money for "getting the word out". It's a distribution vector for musicians who, otherwise, might not have a chance. The Industry built the whole thing, from recording studios to stamping houses to radio stations. At times they have been portrayed as vicious for lopsided contractual arrangements with artists but. still, they are stakeholders in the belief that the talent of some artist may bring money. It's a risky business model that's contractually beneficial to both parties.

    Underneath it all the CD is to blame for the problems of The Music Industry. Its emergence marks the birth of digitization and, at the time, The Industry was at the crossroads of technology that they couldn't possibly fathom as so easily 'ripped' as today. There is no inherent copy protection in a CD because its inventors couldn't possibly foresee the rampant proliferation of the CDROM reader, the CD burner or big, cheap hard drives. Adding insult to injury, amateur recording has progressed to such a level that practically anyone with a little investment in a computer is suddenly Tom Dowd (legendary producer of 60's-70's acts like Eric Clapton)!

    Let's be fair: The Music Industry is a business founded on getting paid for a product that has some intrinsic value. Opponents somehow believe that it should all be free. But how? Studios are willing to risk money to refine, promote and distribute what they bet is the next big thing. Musicians are expected to perform according to a contract that they read and signed.

    Of course, there's always the Indie way or maybe striking out totally on your own. If you're talented, I hope to somehow stumble on your stuff. Maybe you have a chance with NPR!

     

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  13.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 1st, 2008 @ 7:26pm

    Re: Tell both sides of the story accurately.

    Writer said.."All of these other companies actually made money..." Hmm. I know iTunes made money, but what about "all these other" companies.

    You're focusing on too narrow a market.

    ISPs made money. Digital music players made money. Consumer electronics firms made money. Concert promoters made money. Sellers of recording equipment made money. Musicians made money.

    The only ones making less money seem to be those selling plastic discs.

     

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  14.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 1st, 2008 @ 7:37pm

    Re: In defense of The Music Industry...

    As Bone-headed as he sounds, there might be a kernel of truth to what Bono is trying to express: ISPs filled a gap that The Music Industry couldn't fill quickly enough with an antiquated business model.

    Actually, that's exactly what *we've* been saying. But that's not what Bono is saying. He's *blaming* those ISPs for filling the gap, whereas we think that's a sign of a healthy market.

    The Music Industry was founded on the model of making money for "getting the word out". It's a distribution vector for musicians who, otherwise, might not have a chance.

    No, you mean the *recording industry*, not the music industry.

    And, yes, that was why it was founded, but given the new tools of distribution and promotion, the business model needs to change -- and there are plenty of ways it can and is changing. But to blame those who helped enable the change for the fact that others did not make that change is not constructive.

    Let's be fair: The Music Industry is a business founded on getting paid for a product that has some intrinsic value.

    Whoever said otherwise? But the question is what is the product with that intrinsic value. It's always been a physical good made valuable by the intangible content.

    What's happened these days is the content has been freed from that physical good -- and a scarce product has been turned into an infinite product, which changes the economics.

    Opponents somehow believe that it should all be free. But how?

    No, not "should all be free" but *will* be free. That's basic economics. It's not a statement of how things should be, it's merely pointing out the actual situation.

    Studios are willing to risk money to refine, promote and distribute what they bet is the next big thing. Musicians are expected to perform according to a contract that they read and signed.

    There's still plenty of money being made in music, and plenty of room for smart record labels that actually focus on providing a good musical experience, rather than focus on selling plastic discs.

     

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  15.  
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    Edouglas, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 7:47pm

    Copy protection was actually not ever used because Philips would not allow CD's that included protection to be labeled "Compact Disc Digital Audio". Did not have anything to do with burners not really available at the time.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 10:20pm

    Words of wisdom

    When was the last time U2 made a CD with soul? Seems that the last CDs have been some corporate, focus-group enhanced turdpiles sprayed with Chanel #5 and Oust to cover up the scent.
    Shit is still shit no matter what you do to it.

     

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  17.  
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    mike allen, Jul 1st, 2008 @ 10:30pm

    its control

    To blame another industry for the downfall of another is definaltly stupid. Blaming ISPs who only facilitate a connection is really stupid. ISPs did not invent MP3s nor bit torrants or streaming so you cant blame them at all. The recording industry have pissed off fans to the extent now that fans of music WILL NOT accept any form of control ove what they do with their copy of music, in the form of copyright, it will continue to be ignored.

     

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  18.  
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    Mr. MacPhisto, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 12:34am

    Bono Fan For LIFE!

    I LOVE Bono and have dressed up as Mr. MacPhisto several times for Halloween and also for The Rockey Horror Picture Show.

    I have one question for "The Man": When will you start starring in Broadway Musicals??? You totally have the face for it, and all we need to do is get you on jenny craig for a few weeks. Oh my gosh! You would be perfect in RENT!!! LOL! LOL!

    It's about the MUSIC and not the money!

    HUGS AND KISSES, BONO! XOXOXOXOXO

    ~ Dik Evans

     

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  19.  
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    SteveD, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 1:58am

    A bit unfair on Bono?

    After reading Bono's letter I can't help but think Mike has gone off on a tangent with this one.

    The theme of the letter is clearly to defend the Radiohead experiment going as far as to call it "imaginative and courageous". The impression I got was that U2 was very much in the 'pro-change' camp rather then the 'lets sue all our fans' camp.

    But more importantly it’s a huge exaggeration to interpret Bono's description of tech companies as 'disturbing' as 'exploiting musicians'.

    It’s fairly common for ISPs in the UK to over-sell their capacity and use traffic shaping to throttle the high-demand customers through peak periods. As much as I appreciate my ISP not jumping on the ‘3-strikes’ bandwagon, I know it’s not for concern of my personal welfare. ISPs like high-usage customers because they get to charge them for high-bandwidth connections they rarely achieve, and unlimited monthly capacities. They make a huge amount of money from filesharing, illegal or otherwise.

    Now as much as I normally enjoy Mikes commentary, for an artist to look at an artistic industry failing at the expense of a technology industry and call it ‘disturbing’ isn’t that unreasonable at all.

    It’s a shame that one sentence taken to an extreme has overshadowed the rest of the letter, because without it I’ve no doubt Mike would be praising the guy for supporting positive solutions to the recording industries ills.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 4:57am

    Bono is a douchebag

     

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  21.  
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    Bored, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 6:20am

    Bono the Boner

    Bono is nothing but a mere puppet of the RIAA. Both of which are ASSHATS!

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 7:54am

    who... ?

     

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  23.  
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    kww, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 8:03am

    Gettin Paid

    You work, you get paid!

    It's really simple you friggin idiots. When you put in your hours - you like a pay check to live on eh????

    if your were uber successful, would you like the payday too!

    Stop being so damn selfish and respect the man for who and what he does!

     

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  24.  
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    me, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 9:23am

    bono is a putz

    An egomaniacal greedy hypocrite of a putz

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Critic, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 6:49pm

    IP

    Most all of the rants about this probably come from those who have not had an original thought between their ears. Know what, intellectual property, whether music or software or whatever is worth something. All of you have a choice whether to buy it or not, just like any other product in the marketplace. All of us that used Napster, Kazaa or Limewire stole, whether you want to admit it or not - just as though we'd walked into WalMart and took a CD off the shelf and walked out with it.

    Blaming an ISP is too simplistic, but how many of us are willing to admit that P2P networks were just blatant and outright theft? I don't like the RIAA any more than you, but they have to protect what is rightfully theirs. Are you going to stand by if somebody is ripping you off? I don't think so.

    Does the recording industry need to change? Yes.
    Do they need to give more to the artists? Yes.
    But two wrongs don't make a right.

    If each of us paid for the music and the software that we used, then they wouldn't have such a righteous attitude. Don't like the price of software - find an open source solution and for God's sake, contribute! Don't like to pay for music? Then listen to music that is listener supported by voluntary contributions.

    Bono maybe a little off the mark with his blame, but you know what he meant. Get off your soapboxes.

     

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  26.  
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    Steve, Jul 5th, 2008 @ 1:41pm

    Bottom line...
    10 years ago, technology allowed for a major paradigm shift in the way music would be distributed and marketed. The music industry, rather that adapt it's business model to embrace and take advantage of this new tech, decided arrogantly that instead, this new tech would embrace and adapt to it's existing business model or it wouldn't be allowed to exist at all. Creative's Rio mp3 player and the RIAA attempt to stamp it out of existence is a prime example. Napster and MP3.com are others. Napster for example, would never had existed in it's original form had the Recording industry stepped up right away and offered music in the same way at a fair price. They chose not to. They STILL choose not to. Now really, who fault is it now the Industry is in the shape it's in.

     

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  27.  
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    SomeLittleGuy, Jul 9th, 2008 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Gettin Paid

    I'd like to preface my comment by saying that I do listen to the radio. Aside from that I have neither purchased for my own purposes nor downloaded (in any medium) any music in many years. It is purely out of disgust for the music industry and RIAA and "the industry".

    I work very hard every day at my job. I frequently work 60+ hours in agiven week. I expect to get paid for that work. I create content all day long. But once that content is created, I don't get paid for it anymore. It doesn't matter how many times it gets reprinted, emailed, forwarded. I get paid for the time I put in to creating it. Just like many of us do. If someone came in, copied my report, and then turned it into my boss and claimed it was his work, thus getting me fired (ie, taking the value of what i did) I would be furious and rightfully so. But thats not what happens with the RIAA.

    Someone writes a song. They may spend a day or a week or a month writing it (doubtfull they spend a full 40 hour week for more than a week writing just 1 song, but lets just say that they do for humors sake). They get paid for that time worked, that seems reasonable. Then they take that song to some singer and they spend a few hours in the studio recording the song. I think they should get paid for the time they spent in the studio.

    The studio then takes it and remixes it. I think the producer should get paid for mixing it, the building owner for letting them use the space, etc.

    Then they advertise the item and sell the product. Company pays to market the Cd's and to print them and to distribute them. They should be paid for that effort for every CD sold.

    See a pattern here? Actual work happens, a service is rendered, and you are recompensated for it.

    But what actually happens is, the singer spends a few hours in the studio. And then gets paid for every CD that gets sold, every time someone sings the song, and apparently now if the RIAA has their way, every time someone walks within earshot of a radio. They're still sitting on the couch. They aren't producing that song anymore, they aren't even promoting it. They're getting ready to sing the next song that someone else wrote. It's not sour grapes. I understand the economy. But as cheesy as it is, the old RIAA inspired southpark episode making fun of how much money they didn't make is about what it amounts to. I don't feel they deserve all this money they're crying about. Now, I don't think theft is right. But I do feel they're overpaid.

    Unfortunately, being overpaid is not a crime. All I can do is continue to not support them by not listening to their music, waiting till movies come out on TV or when a friend buys it on DVD (or atleast until SAG petitions to require owners of DVD players to buy licenses to seat people in their homes to watch DVD's).

    My biggest problem with calling downloading music "theft" is that the companies didn't have to transport that copy of the music. They "copy" of that song was not made at the expense of the music label, it was made digitally when the song was downloaded (so really the person downloading it was burdening the cost of the hardware/electricity IE manufacturing). There was no transport cost for that copy, there was no cost to the RI for making it, and the musician was already paid for their time in the studio. So, I feel that sueing because people don't have to pay to listen to that copy is somewhat similar to the Car Industry suing people who carpool. They're riding in someone elses car, they should have had to buy their OWN car. That's theft.

     

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  28.  
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    SomeLittleGuy, Jul 9th, 2008 @ 2:24pm

    Re: IP

    No it is not the same as walking into a walmart and taking the CD. See my reply above.

     

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  29.  
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    Paul, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 6:01am

    re: ip

    The vast majority of artists against digital exchange of music are established, successful artists. Most of these artists became successful only because the record label pushed them while denying others the same market access, if even signing these others at all. One case is Broken Social Scene. Their first album was a hit only after people freely downloaded it from the internet. Bono is one of these people that is given a lot of airtime to share his views; he fits right in with mainstream ideas of what is wrong with the world but which are, in fact, incorrect and self-serving. For example, Bono likes to blame the problems of Africa on AIDS while ignoring class issues, such as extremes of prosperity and poverty, and corrupt leadership. Further, Bono and friends treat Africans as if they are children who "need" help; as if these people cannot help themselves if given the opportunity.

     

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  30.  
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    lrobbo (profile), May 23rd, 2012 @ 8:02am

    Re: Fight the spread of AIDS?

    Oh dear, that's a bit harsh lol!

     

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