Barack et al. Get It.
October 31, 2009, 5:12 pm
Filed under: overtly political

Sometimes there’s a story that makes me tear up a little bit.

HIV is not a death sentance, it’s a chronic condition communicable through bodily fluids.

Post-Africa there were only two things I believed in. The first is Trade not Aid. I don’t mean fair trade goods, I mean lobbying to lift the unduly restrictive portions of GATT and TRIPS so impoverished countries don’t have to become net importers. It’s the single most important thing wealthy countries, who hold most of the cards at the bargaining table, can do to alleviate poverty in Africa and South America.

The second one is a radical attitude change about HIV. It’s not a gay rights issue, it’s a human rights issue. It’s eerie to go to communities where a generation is missing. Stigma is a huge problem and if we’re going to tell anyone else how to get it done, wealthy countries need to stop referring to HIV/AIDS as a death sentence and allowing it to have a disproportionate presence in certain communities.

I don’t talk politics around places I’ve been much because, and this is going to sound like I’m a jerk but relates more to my inability to communicate ineffectively, I meet very few people who get it. I’m sick of the Bono mosquito net version of aid, I’m sick of people who think the UN is a positive force in the world, and I’m sick of people who think the key is more money and more foreign NGOs telling people how to get things done. Poverty is as universal as ignorance, look to how you treat peope in your back yard and see projections into international relations. Stop taking pictures of foreign slums and go look at what low income housing in your own city looks like.

Then, think about how with the resource factor of X you still get people living like Y. Look for common denominators and accept blame readily: stereotyping and xenophobia, over attribution to cultural differences, political apathy, political activity without education, self interested behavior, superfluous community structures excluding the un-likes. Political correctness won’t save you and may impede the conversation. Call a spade a spade and let the spade speak.

I probably still don’t get it. But at least I’ve sat in a lot of rooms with people who do get it. In some respects, the recession appears to have been an excellent cull of the politically and religiously mandated projects tending to crop up all over. Because converting the savages went so well the first time?


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