Litkicks Message Board Archive

The Poet's Eye--Bad Math (first draft) PC (revised)

Posted to Poetry and Politics

Does it strike anyone as strange that during the largest epidemic ever known in the history of man, we squander our wealth and our manpower and our ingenuity on fighting chimeric villians and non-existent enemies?

The UNAids agency reports that Thirty-eight million people around the world are now living with HIV.

Five million new cases were diagnosed last year alone - the largest number in any one year since the epidemic began.

Last year three million people died of AIDS across the world.

Depending on how you want to juggle your math, that means that the AIDS epidemic is somewhere between a thousand and ten thousand times as serious as the 9/11 tragedies in terms of human lives lost.

The current government in the United States, as well as its likely successors, are leading the world in the wrong direction by basing their reason for political existence on the fear generated by a spectacular piece of vandalism in September of 2001 while ignoring the real terror that is loose in the world.

Each time this globe rotates on its axis twenty thousand people die of starvation.

The Poet's Eye sees that we are fighting the wrong enemies. While AIDS and starvation ravage Africa and Asia, we spend a quarter of a trillion dollars to fight useless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and just a few paltry billion to fight the genuine and persistent killers, AIDS and starvation.

Wars on disease and starvation and ignorance don't have nearly the romantic cachet as wars on evil, eccentric terrorists and dictators and mythical deadly weapons. Apathy is a weapon of mass destruction. We worry about having enough flak jackets for our soldiers before we worry about healthcare for our poor.

Across the board, our political and civic leaders were like deer in the headlights after 9/11. Most of them were savvy enough to know that the political landscape had changed. The Bush administration was quick to capitalize on the situation. They set the agenda that would define this nation's course for the next several years. It was based on fear. They crammed the Patriot Act down our throats. They took us into senseless wars. The neo-cons counted on the notion that Americans had watched enough James Bond movies to go for the idea that an evil genius with a mysterious organization and millions of dollars at his disposal could be a threat to our whole way of life. We could call it S.M.E.R.S.H. or C.H.A.O.S. or even Al Queda.

War has no glamor unless you have an Evil Genius or a Cruel Tyrant or a Corrupt Ideology against which to fight. Each individual death from AIDS is not as vocal or telegenic as the deaths of 9/11. As Josef Stalin said, "Then thousand deaths are a statistic. One death is a tragedy." But you would think that 38 million victims would qualify as a significant enough threat to warrant a D-Day invasion of sorts.

The Bush administration pats itself on the back for paying lip service to the AIDS epidemic to the tune of a few billion dollars over the next five years, while at the same time they make it difficult for generic anti-retroviral drugs to be made available in Africa because they are beholden to the large drug companies who seek to protect their patents. If the dope companies have their way, a year's supply of anti-retrovirals will cost $11,000 instead of the the $200 per year for which they can be provided by less rapacious vendors.

It's very akin to hypochondria, the way Americans can imagine creeping diseases like cancer and communism and terrorists to be lurking in their ventricles. They will purchase all manner of remedies including ones containing opium to fight the imagined ailment. This is a case where the medicine is worse than the disease, because it ignores the disease.

The Poet's Eye sees that the real terrorists--AIDS, lack of adequate healthcare, starvation, poor water--will eat our lunch while we are occupied with the ghosts and mosquitos that our leaders ask us to chase.