Economy? Let's cut taxes for the wealthy, increase government spending, and build up a record-setting federal deficit. Environment? Let's relax clean air regulations and encourage the purchase of gas guzzling vehicles. Foreign policy? Pay lip service to the UN while waging an undeclared war in the Middle East and ignoring other countries with more advanced weapons programs. You get the idea.
All that said, I want to take a minute to voice my wholehearted support for one of the initiatives Bush touted in his recent State of the Union address. Bush's unexpected proposal to spend $15 billion over the next five years on AIDS treatment and prevention in Africa and the Carribean is more than just another foreign aid program -- it's a moral imperative. As Bush put it,
Today, on the continent of Africa, nearly 30 million people have the AIDS virus, including 3 million children under the age of 15. There are whole countries in Africa where more than one-third of the adult population carries the infection. More than 4 million require immediate drug treatment. Yet across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims _ only 50,000 -- are receiving the medicine they need.Bush's speech only hints at the horror of what's happening. The worldwide AIDS epidemic has already left behind more than 14 million orphans, 92 percent of whom live in Africa. In Botswana, more than 38 percent of the adult population is infected with the virus. (link)
Secretary of State Colin Powell recognizes the gravity of this situation:
Powell called HIV/AIDS "a catastrophe worse than terrorism." He said, "One threat that troubles me perhaps more than any other does not come out of the barrel of a gun, it is not an army on the march, it is not an ideology on a march. It's called HIV/AIDS." (link)Please take time to contact your congressional representatives and urge them to support Bush's plan to increase funding to help fight this global crisis. Health should be a universal human right, and as one of the richest countries in the world the US should be taking a leadership role in financing this sort of initiative.