Last April a Voice of America story reported the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition published a report on the bare minimum necessary to fight Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It would need $20 billion over the next three years to meet the health-related Millennium Goals, but it said the budget is likely to be at least $7 billion short of that. More than 30 million people around the world are estimated to be HIV-positive. According to the United Nations, more than half of the 9.5 million people who need AIDS drugs cannot get them. The Global Fund says it has saved almost five million lives since 2005.
$20 billion? The Pentagon spends (it refers to its spending as a 'burn rate') $2 million each minute, $2.7 billion every day, approximately $1 trillion every year (if you include the military items that are paid for out of other budgets, such as the Department of Energy (incredibly, the entire nuclear arsenal is a DoE budget item, allowing the Pentagon to fudge and not count it as a DoD expense, and there are other major items like this, including many private contractors--mercenaries--who are employed by the State Department, and including 80 percent of the NASA budget, etc.). If we look at just 2 percent of the US military budget, then, we could seriously help provide AIDS meds to the world. It cost approximately $1 million annually to keep each member of the armed forces in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The war profiteers, of course, make far more than that in executive salaries and risk absolutely nothing. All paid for by working Americans.
More people died on 9.11.01 from AIDS than died in the terrorist attacks. We were attacked that one day and lost good people in a terrible tragedy. The deaths from AIDS were at that level all the days of many years before 9.11.01 and continue, while we spend unimaginable amounts of our paychecks countering that one day and all the mistakes George Bush made as a result, including invading Iraq.
So AIDS is perhaps 10,000 times worse than terrorism for the people of Earth and yet is lucky to get one percent as many funds dedicated to helping the people of our planet. The US is not the only player, just the biggest one. Humankind is so passive and so underinformed. We who are looking at these major commitments are called to educate others until we can start making some informed choices in civil society. We vote on such a small amount of information, choosing people who then represent us and make decisions about how our money, the money we work for, is to be spent.
I just say no. Any one of the 12.3 million orphans with AIDS in Africa (such as the little girl pictured, who is an AIDS orphan) outranks Dick Cheney, or the owner of Raytheon, or the CEO of Boeing, and all the other war profiteers.
If we can gain some perspective, we can make some worthy change.