Max's rebuttal to the Philly Weekly's "Devil's Advocacy"

I'm writing my own opinions here. If other people in ACT UP have other opinions, please post them!

Way back at the beginning of the global financial crisis, Naomi Klein was on the Rachel Maddow show. At that point, she predicted that the insane, corrupt actions of U.S. and European bankers would become an excuse for the U.S. government to become even more pro-bank and pro-capital, at the expense, specifically, of poor people in Africa living with AIDS.

She was right. The United States has repeatedly used the global recession as an excuse to stop keeping their promises on global AIDS. The problem is, the recession was not just an unhappy accident. It was unfettered capitalism doing what it does best -- moving money around until it loses any meaning and just goes to making rich people richer, with no consequences to rich people when the house of cards comes crashing down.

Meanwhile, a slowed-down global economy makes it harder for people all around the world to get jobs, to afford food, to make money off of their own land, to buy medicine, to get to work and school safely, etc.

For some reason, even activists and progressive Americans seem to think that during a recession, we need to look inward and ignore the affects of our action on the rest of the world. That's wrong -- it's short-sighted and bad policy, not to mention morally bankrupt.

Here's why:

1) Fixing the problem of AIDS in Africa is an incredibly important thing to do for all of our political sakes. In Africa, AIDS is a flashpoint of the culture wars. In Uganda, President Museveni, famous for his anti-homosexuality bill, uses his AIDS work as a way to sugar-coat and promote a fundamentalist, homophobic, xenophobic agenda. He curries favor with Christians in the U.S. by pretending to fight AIDS (abstinence-based programs only of course) and then turns around and threatens his own HIV-positive citizens with death.
2) Fixing the problem of AIDS in Africa is an incredibly important thing to do for all of our health. Stopping the spread of diseases makes us all healthier. The fewer times AIDS is transmitted, the less likely it is to mutate and become resistant or more virulent or easier to spread.
3) The problem of AIDS in Africa is fixable. It takes money, which is readily available, even during the recession. The money to provide universal access to AIDS treatment could come from a) foreign governments with an obligation to stop screwing over African countries and start doing the right thing for once meeting the pledges they've already made.
b) a Currency Transaction Levy, which is a very small tax on every single currency trade (the kind of crazy speculative capitalism that screwed people with AIDS in Africa in the first place) which would raise billions and billions of dollars, even if the tax was so tiny that the big banks being assessed didn't even feel it.

The global recession is NOT a time to turn our backs on the people we have hurt the most, it's time to start holding the people who caused it accountable, and doing something to reverse the trend of the rich getting richer on the back of the poor and those infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS.