Today, AIDS activists chided Rep. Chaka Fattah and Sen. Arlen Specter in the most bizarre way possible, probably because it's April Fool's Day or something.
They came dressed as Publisher's Clearing House "officials," as the press release calls them, and delivered a $9B check to the legislators, saying it was the amount Congress had promised to give to AIDS programs. In 2008, the presser says, Congress voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize the U.S. Global AIDS Plan.
Activist Antonio Davis said: "People with AIDS in developing countries aren't going to get money to pay for life-saving medicine by hitting the jackpot. Doctors aren't going to be able to buy the supplies they need to diagnose HIV by winning the lottery. And Congress isn't going to come up with the $9 billion by winning Publisher's Clearing House. It's up to Fattah and Specter, as members of the Appropriations Committees, to fight for $9 billion for global AIDS in 2010."
Them's fighting' words.
And now it's time for...PhillyNow plays devil's advocate:
"People with AIDS in developing countries aren't going to get money to pay for life-saving medicine by hitting the jackpot."
True. And they probably won't get money any other way, either. The Council on Foreign Relations, an international, nonpartisan think tank, says that in 2002, corruption cost all of Africa $150 billion a year. In 2008, $22.5 billion in aid was given to the continent. Yeah, it's sickening.
AIDS activists are looking for Congress to make good on their $9B promise. People suffering from AIDS need adequate medicine and care. No one is disputing that. And no one is disputing that these activists, the people who are fighting the good fight, should be commended. But when nothing's being won, maybe it's time to change up the strategy.
"Doctors aren't going to be able to buy the supplies they need to diagnose HIV by winning the lottery."
Nope. But they can continue or start fighting the widespread corruption in developing countries (corruption anywhere, really), which occurs on all levels, all scales. Bribing a cop in Africa ain't no thing. Maybe bribing a doctor isn't, either.
And Congress isn't going to come up with the $9 billion by winning Publisher's Clearing House. It's up to Fattah and Specter, as members of the Appropriations Committees, to fight for $9 billion for global AIDS in 2010."
No, it isn't. It isn't "up" to Congress to throw money at Africa, knowing most of it will end up in the hands of the rich and greedy. It's up to ALL of us, most especially Africa, to get rid of these money-hungry dictators who are keeping their own people down. These are god-awful crimes against humanity. And the fact that this mess is still happening—after countless studies and news articles have publicized the problem—is testament to the U.N.'s and other humanitarian organizations' failures.
How about we stop throwing money at Africa all together? The U.S. can't be everyone's big brother, not now anyway. We've got too many problems of our own. It's unfortunate that Congress promised the funds and then went back on its word. But isn't that what politicians do? Besides, Specter is busy flip-flopping on civil liberties and trying to win re-election, among other things.
If you'd like to learn more, head to the 1:30 p.m. rally today at Walnut btw Broad and 15th.
A liberal came to Philly today – alone – for a hearing on the Webcamgate controversy. We are pleased to meet the acquaintance of this civil-liberty-respecting senator.
Specter is dragging his peeps up to Philly to deal with Webcamgate. Is Specter, who has a history of civil liberty-eradicating secrecy, really the advocate we need here?