Category: Archive

Bono rocks the house

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

For once, however, the rock star was not top of the billing. He was there to introduce a lecture by Jeffrey Sachs, renowned economist and author of the best-selling book “The End of Poverty.”
“Well, Edge, back to being a warm up act,” he called to his bandmate from the stage of the packed out the Skirball Center for Performing Arts at NYU’s downtown campus.
Donning jeans, a denim jacket and his trademark tinted glasses, the singer made an unlikely academic and the crowd loved it. At times he struggled to make himself heard over the cheers and roars of approval, whilst in audience, Edge tried his best to address the mounting lineups of fans on either side of his seat.
However, the Dublin-born rocker was quick to allude to the real star of the show. Describing Columbia professor Sachs as “my friend, my teacher, my rock star,” Bono called himself a “Sachs Groupie.”
“Our generation is the first who can look at Africa and say we’re not going to stand for it,” he said.
“Jeff has shown us what we need to do. It’s a difficult but solvable equation. His new book is a blueprint for how to get the job done.”
Throughout his speech, the singer also praised Patrick Moynihan, the forward thinking Irish-American senator whose legacy was inspiration for the annual lecture series.
“Patrick Moynihan said that statistics are the plural of anecdote,” said Bono.
“It’s a great line, he should have been a songwriter.”
Sachs had a few compliments of his own to pay, describing Bono as — “the world’s poet laureate.”
“He’s a genius at bringing emotion through music,” Sachs said.
He highlighted the importance of Bono’s high-profile involvement with the “Make Poverty History,” campaign.
“This man not only tells it so beautifully, but he knows what he’s talking about,” Sachs said.
“Any rock star can get themselves invited to a senate once. Bono is constantly in the halls of power, and he’s making a difference.”
Sachs too had high praise for the late Senator Moynihan, who once lectured him at Harvard.
“My first summer at Harvard, se gave us this list of reading — it was impossible,” Sachs recalled with a smile.
“But I knew what I was reading was so important. It was one of the things that got me committed to this line of questioning.”
He urged the audience to do their duty in helping to put an end to extreme poverty in the third world.
“Our generation is stuck in a moral predicament,” he said.
“We are the first generation that can actually see the end to extreme poverty. We have to do it because if we don’t, we’ll so diminish the value of life that everyone will be at risk. The smallest and most modest efforts by us could do more for peace than any military spending. Seventy bucks per capita would pull this off.”
Citing the example of drought-stricken Malawi, where 200 children out of every 1000 dies before they reach five years of age, Sachs appealed to the audience to take immediate action.
The world is very unsafe like this,” he warned. “I’m not a hugely generous guy; I just want people to have a chance.”

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