Elon Musk once again proved himself king of the trolls when he told the UN that he’d be happy to donate the $7 billion if they claim to need to end world hunger if they could tell him how they’d spend it and open their books to the public.
Bloomberg reports that, when he made his offer, “Musk was responding to comments by David Beasley, director of the UN’s World Food Programme, who repeated a call last week following an earlier tweet this month asking billionaires like Musk to “step up now, on a one-time basis.”
Here’s that tweet:
Congratulations to @elonmusk for passing up @JeffBezos as the world’s richest person – worth a whopping $221B! 🥇 Elon, to celebrate I’m offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity: help us save 42M people from starvation for just $6.6B!! Offer expires SOON.. and lives do too.
— David Beasley (@WFPChief) October 19, 2021
Musk, apparently, couldn’t help but respond in his usual, joking way:
If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 31, 2021
But it must be open source accounting, so the public sees precisely how the money is spent.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 31, 2021
WFP refers to the World Food Programme, which would theoretically be “solving” the world hunger problem with Musk’s money.
Beasley, however, later corrected himself, saying that:
“$6B will not solve world hunger, but it WILL prevent geopolitical instability, mass migration and save 42 million people on the brink of starvation. An unprecedented crisis and a perfect storm due to Covid/conflict/climate crises.”
“I can assure you that we have the systems in place for transparency and open source accounting. Your team can review and work with us to be totally confident of such”
So he still wants Musk’s money, but he doesn’t want Musk getting the impression that it would actually be used for, well, solving world hunger.
The problem, and probable reason for Beasley’s retreat, is that, while Musk is one of the world’s greatest businessmen and has proven himself adept at solving complex problems, the UN bureaucrats have not. In fact, as Elon hints in his second tweet, the UN is mainly known for running corrupt, ineffective programs.
AEI had this to say about fraud at the WFP:
It’s been a month since the leaking of a scathing evaluation of WFP’s Somalian relief program written by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia. The body, created by the UN Security Council, alleges that three Somali businessmen who held about $160 million in WFP transport contracts were involved in arms trading while diverting the agency’s food aid away from the hungry. A New York Times report also claimed food was being siphoned off by radical Islamic militants and local UN workers.
Allegations had been simmering for months. The WFP suspended the contracts of the three businessmen but continues to deny there were serious problems. It has tried to frame the findings as unfounded or exaggerated.
[…]Somalia is not the WFP’s only controversy, only its most recent and most public. Its operation in Ethiopia, which is one of the largest recipients of food aid in the word, is reportedly in disarray, with the transport companies controlled by the country’s authoritarian government at the center of the controversy. According to the U.S. State Department, in 2008 only 12 percent of food aid (most of it overseen by the WFP) made it to its intended recipients in the poverty-stricken eastern region.
The trucking situation is little better in Afghanistan, where reports suggest that WFP is paying two to three times more than commercial rates, taking large chunks out of the $1.2 billion, three-year relief effort. The WFP has admitted that it inflated its shipping costs in North Korea by funneling business through dictator Kim Jong Il’s government.
In each case the WFP has denied the magnitude of the problem. But the responses miss the point. Why hasn’t the WFP, which portrays itself as a model of transparency, opened its books so the international community can exercise appropriate accountability and oversight? And what actions are other international agencies requiring of humanitarian aid agencies to ensure transparency?
And that’s just the beginning. Accusations of UN fraud and corruption everywhere from Africa to the nation of Georgia have spread and appear to be largely verifiable.
So, Musk’s demand for transparency makes sense. He wouldn’t want his money being used in a corrupt manner and, whatever Mr. Beasley claims, it doesn’t look like the WFP as it currently operates would spend his money well.
Musk’s tweets came shortly after Tesla rose above $1 trillion in value, increasing his net worth to around $331 billion. It remains to be seen if the UN can clean up its act enough to accept his money.