Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hey Benin, this gift's a lot bigger than you are!

Other than being located on the continent of Africa, what do Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have in common?

Their individual economies, at '07 average exchange rates, are all smaller than the $48 billion in aid money being appropriated over the next five years to 'fight'* AIDS on the Dark Continent.

Of the sub-Saharan nations, only Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa (and Sudan if it is counted as such, which is understandable since most of its wealth comes from the sub-Saharan southern portion of the country) have annual economies that surpass the amount to be doled out by the US.

The total economy of sub-Saharan Africa in exchange rate terms in '07 was $808.8 billion. The AIDS bill totals nearly 6% of sub-Saharan Africa's annualized GDP. So it's sort of like another nation giving the US $820 billion over half of a decade. That'd be a donation exceeding what has been spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the same period of time.

That's a staggering amount of money from an African perspective. Apparently the revelation that the AIDS pandemic has been overblown hasn't been bad for business.

* This verb choice irritates me, as fighting AIDS is--excepting those who are born HIV-positive--as easy as avoiding the behaviors that transmit the disease.


Sleep said...

Why are people so cold when it comes to HIV? Is it really all that bad to ask the average American to put out $100 each year to help save people's lives?

Anonymous said...

If it's as easy as that, why is it such a problem?

Audacious Epigone said...


Closer to $30/year in this case. I'm naturally disinclined, but the point wasn't to make a value judgment, just to think about how large a sum it really is.

For whatever it's worth, I've seen multiple Congress critters claim this is the single best bang for the buck in terms of foreign aid the US has going. The US is seen in a positive light in sub-Saharan Africa, although I'm not sure how terribly helpful that is.

Anonymous said...

AIDS is the easiest disease not to get. But any kind of money spent to help Africans(whether in Africa or in the US) is basically flushed down the toilet.

al fin said...

Sleep makes a common mistake: You are not "saving their lives", sleep. You are prolonging their lives, which may be a good or a bad thing.

Anyone who is either pro-abortion choice or pro-death penalty must admit that there are times when prolonging life is counter - productive.

Of course, any physician can go on for many hours about such situations, from personal experience.

Anonymous said...

All that aid money, and then you have something like this going on:

Sleep said...

Clearly these HIV patients DO want to prolong their lives, as they are not all committing mass suicide. The least we can do is help.

Audacious Epigone said...


The frustration many people have with regards to AIDS is that they are committing suicide, at least indirectly, by living so recklessly.

There are also influential media personalities that proudly attack obvious precautionary steps as a sinister design of colonialists.

Indra Maghavan said...

Sleep, you are more than welcome to send Africa a check. Support as many black AIDS carriers as you want. Even try to convince any other dumb Americans that helping the overcrowding in Africa is a good idea, if you want.

But what makes you think you have the right to make me send my money??? I have a hard enough paying for health care for my immediate family.

Why should I spend money on Africans, of all people, who have no problem averaging 6-7 kids per woman and doubling their population every 30 years???

Seriously, waste your own money if you want, but government "gifts" means you are wasting my money too, which is not cool.

Audacious Epigone said...


Media personalities in Africa, that is.

Anonymous said...

So, how about trying to answer the question? If it's so easy, why is it a problem? Guess your position doesn't make sense. Except as racism/homophobia. Oops! I wasn't supposed to tell.