June 11, 2009
Posted: 2007 GMT
There have been two major stories today that we have covered. The failure of the G8 to keep its aid pledges to Africa on the one hand, and Ronaldo being transfered for $130n from Man U to Real Madrid.
We had a long debate about these stories and how to cover them. I argued strongly that they should be juxtaposed – two faces of the world – the hundred million dollar transfer contract for Ronaldo and the poverty and lack of money from G8 countries to meet aid pledges to Africa.
There is no direct connection between these two events – except of course, what they say about us all.
The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has a rough rule of thumb – to be effective their programmes operate on the basis of saving a life costing five thousand dollars.
By that raw number alone the ronaldo transfer fee would save probably 26 thousand lives. That comparison becomes even more extreme when you think the same amount ofmoney would buy 26 MILLION mosquito nets.
It wasn't long before some of senior people suggested I was being unfair making comparisons between governments with aid and companies making profits.
Yup – perhaps this is unfair. It is not an either or situation – and if the money wasn’t spent on Ronaldo it wouldn’t be sent to Africa. I am comparing apples and organes
What I am interested in is what is says about us as a society that can accept both situations and not bristle at either. Market economics may be the best way to run an economy – but it does sometimes produce some very distasteful results. Is it offensive?