I wonder how many people remember the Great AIDS Scare of the 1980s. The deadly disease first came up on the radar screen in the early 1980s, most prominently among the gay community in San Francisco. People were dying after long and painful illnesses that compromised the immune system’s ability to fight off infections in the body. Quickly generating considerable publicity through gays in the Fourth Estate and Hollywood, at first, due to myopic attention, it seemed incredibly to be a homosexual-specific epidemic.
A major problem with the disease was the discovery that it can very rapidly be transmitted to many others via sexual contact, regardless of their sexual orientation. It was a disease affecting the human body, and it simply didn’t care about the sexual orientation of the body’s owner. (The most important social factor was actually self-indulgent promiscuous behavior, without fear of pregnancy.) Despite many straight people also infected with AIDS, by the end of the decade gay and lesbian groups were well organized and very vocal about the disease, and some were even inferring that those without the disease were actively contributing to the “extermination” of those with the disease, i.e., of gays and lesbians, by the slow pace of progress. Since nothing drives American politics more powerfully than “victims”, conspiracy theories “against gay and lesbians” abounded. Directly affected lobbies were very loudly demanding far more major political, financial and medical attention from the government.
So, naturally, as with every very vocal interest group in America, great political attention became quickly focused on the problem. Since it was a particularly complex virus, and one that defeated the immune system’s normal defenses, it then took quite a while, but trainloads of taxpayer money eventually came up with a set of medications to keep most people from dying and to keep the disease under control. The drugs now on the market can reduce the virus to very low levels, preventing the onset of AIDS symptoms and greatly reducing the risk of transmittal to others. Those drugs are now available world-wide, and especially, thanks to the George W. Bush Administration, to depressed regions where infection is most prominent, such as throughout Africa. (See Footnote #1.) Unfortunately, there is still no cure, which makes it all the more important that only “safe sex” be practiced and that drugs available be used to the maximum extent possible by all those who become infected.
The scare, and the vitriolic rhetoric, in the US gradually subsided. AIDS is still around, of course. About 16,000 Americans die of the disease, and 50,000 more become newly infected – every year. That’s a LOT of people. But, with all that available knowledge about the disease and all the proven medication now out there, why do so many people still become infected, even die, in the US?
Although publicity is now very muted, the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDCP) says there are now 1,200,000 Americans infected with the AIDS virus, and that number is climbing.
About 28% (336,000) of those infected have been successfully treated.
But, incredibly, only about 40% (480,000) regularly follow the necessary drug regimen to suppress the disease.
The other 60% (720,000) don’t.
Why? About 20% (240,000) of the 1,200,000 don’t even know they have the disease. It would seem that if you choose to be promiscuous, then you should know that you have a very high likelihood of contracting the disease .. and thus incur a responsibility to get yourself tested frequently.
But many of the rest are just willfully ignorant, or lazy. Also, many of those who do know they are infected but are not receiving treatment, or are not following the regimen, are poor, black or Hispanic.
It would seem that those who made so much great noise during the 1980s and 1990s about themselves could be using at least some of that organized noise today to get that 60% number among others down to 0% as fast as possible. Because, until that happens, those with the disease are a real threat to all of us who are not yet infected.
And, believe me, this country already has far too many self-inflicted real threats all around us without this one, too.
Is this yet ANOTHER case of that very familiar “American me-ism”, that everything’s just fine as long as “I’m ok”, and to hell with anyone else? “My group is being adequately “addressed”, so I’m happy.” Where does this absurd notion that “as long as Big Daddy Government is on the case, the problem is now permanently institutionalized, so we no longer have to be concerned” come from? Whatever happened to personal responsibility?
If you have a proven ability to garner really major focus to help your own group, do you not have a responsibility to use that same ability to help others?
Is it possible to make willful negligence with regard to major societal threats a prosecutable criminal offense – among those most knowledgeable of the subject and most capable of making a difference .. but don’t? Lots of people are dying out there.
Is this where the self-involved Baby Boomers have succeeded in bringing us? Do we have to start criminalizing irresponsibility?
How about women who made such really great noises about girls’ supposed “poor” school performance during the 1970s and 1980s, but now remain shamefully silent, even despicably deceptive, as boys steadily fall ever further behind girls decade after decade in a “child development system” they purposefully engineered and now totally control .. to suit themselves? Millions of boys are steadily going down the tubes right in front of us.
“Shameful irresponsibility” now seems an especially American trait.
It certainly wasn’t always like this.
Between 1938 and 1955 – before, during and after World War II – in and alliance between scientists and volunteers, the Greatest Generation raised and spent $233 million of its own donated dimes on polio patient care and drug research until Dr. Jonas Salk, working on a version of the disease known as “infantile paralysis” at the University of Pittsburgh, finally came up with a polio virus vaccine … and then didn’t rest until everyone was inoculated through a mass immunization campaign.
Most Americans knew that President Roosevelt had suffered with polio, but the 1952 epidemic was the worst outbreak in the nation’s history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis. Worse, most of the victims were children. Kids lying in forbidding “iron lungs” in crowded hospital wards and walking haltingly with painful leg braces haunted every parent, especially in that post-war “Era Of The Child”. Polio quickly became more feared than the new atomic bomb, and the grass roots March Of Dimes charity took on a life of its own. A poster of a teenage boy carrying on his back a younger boy with leg braces over the caption, “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother,” struck a particularly sensitive cord among those who had fought through World War II. March Of Dimes goals and contribution progress were frequently displayed for the public via large graphic posters and on TV.
After daring to take a major gamble with a large test group, Dr, Salk had a proven vaccine that in 1955 was officially declared both safe and effective. The Salk polio vaccine, at a minimal cost of only production and distribution, quickly went global under the auspices of the World Health Organization. When asked in a televised interview who owned the patent to the vaccine, Salk replied, “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” (It was a different time, with different values.) Just five years later, by 1961 only a mere 161 controllable cases were recorded in the US; the disease was tightly confined and nearly eradicated in the US and was rapidly becoming so throughout the world.
That $233 million was worth about $2.18 Billion in today’s dollars. An equivalent charity contribution toward one target by Americans today, when the US population is more than twice as large as in 1950, would be over $4.5 Billion (in actual money, not just in “promised” money and “administrative overhead”). That’s a lot of cash coming almost entirely out of pocket change.
But in 1950 Americans were also paying $12 Billion (today: $1.13 Trillion) for charity programs to assist war-ravaged people world-wide, in addition to the humongous tax bills from World War II and the subsequent $13 Billion (today: $1.3 Trillion) Marshall Plan to re-build Europe. It was not just their incredible sacrifices for WW II and their building of modern America that earned that generation its “Greatest” title; those Americans also not only created the largest sustained healthy baby and solid economic boom in history, but voluntarily donated a really huge portion of their self-generated wealth very wisely to others. It is very difficult finding any “me” in the Greatest Generation.
The closest equivalent charity today to the March Of Dimes campaign against polio is the American Heart Association* (founded in 1924) – which champions the greatest specific health threat to all Americans. At current donation and population levels, it would take the American Heart Association about nine years to bring in as much as the March of Dimes did in five. (See Footnote #2.)
Except for some minor coordination, government played no role in the March Of Dimes or in defeating polio. The Greatest Generation knew that nothing is as indestructible as a cause that becomes institutionalized in a bureaucracy funded by “someone else”. Since institutionalizing problems in bureaucracies is the surest way possible to ensure their perpetual existence, those Americans were interested in fixing problems and then moving on to other problems, not in providing lucrative employment and power ad infinitum for self-interested leaches interesting mainly in perpetuating problems that pay them and their group so well in so many ways.
Americans today can’t even be bothered to leave their toys alone long enough to have and raise enough healthy kids to keep their stupendously bloated American Ponzi entitlement scheme alive. The only thing that works in our society today is lobbies, the bigger and louder and more institutionalized the better – all demanding that Big Daddy Government “Do something!” (“for me”).
Now, as the slowly aging Baby Boomers begin flooding into retirement in staggering numbers, lobbies championing their interests in government are rising to threaten even the enormous power in our society of women’s lobbies. (Most of the growth of the retirement lobby, of course, is simply the aging of the women’s lobbies.) These Baby Boomers, of course, will enjoy the most lucrative retirement in the nation’s history – at a cost that will be impossible to ever repeat with future generations. Thanks to the foresight and prolificacy of the Greatest Generation, paying for their parents in retirement had been very easy for the Boomers. But paying for their own retirement will present an unbearable burden to the far fewer children of the Boomers. This is primarily because the Boomers have been so focused on themselves for the past half century that they refused to make adjustments necessitated by their dramatically lowered birthrates and their dramatically lengthening life spans – life spans made possible by the solid foundations laid by their parents.
The Boomer “me-ism” lifestyle choices and entitlement demands required all politicians to embrace truly massive unlimited immigration in an effort to mitigate some of the Baby Boomer irresponsibility, but that option has presented other major problems to our society. Third World babies – future taxpayers – have become our most critically important import, but they do require a sizeable initial investment.
Coupled with the power of huge voting groups, social lobbies truly do an excellent job of perverting an equitable and orderly society. Exchanging adult altruism for childish me-ism, the self-involved Boomers, who have accomplished nothing positive for their society over the past forty years, and all their many “victim” lobbies, have ensured that they will leave their children with dozens of major problems that will never be justly, equitably, fixable.
Wallowing in perpetual victimhood, of course, is the best way to absolve yourself of responsibility. Pity the poor group in America without a lobby; they make a very easy target for all myopic self-serving jerks everywhere. It must be nice to have a million rights with no responsibility, to always have “someone else” to take the blame, pay the bills and do the hard stuff … for “special me”.
Sadly, the number of us who don’t fit that description gets tinier and tinier every day….
Soon EVERYONE will be “special”, and absolutely NOTHING will ever get fixed.
That’s just as well. I simply couldn’t STAND one more “special” “victim”. Blame it on me. I think with logic. I can’t help it. It’s the way I’m wired. It was the way I was raised, and educated, long ago. I make no apologies to anyone for any of this.
But everyone else now just uses emotion. There’s no real thinking necessary. You can go anywhere with emotion. You can even enjoy destroying your “special” self right along with destroying your once-great society. “Everything’s just fine as long as I am happy with me.”
Emotion is the perfect target for propaganda.
Sorry. … target for “marketing”. (Lobbies are sensitive about that “propaganda” word.)
“Now don’t bother me! I want to watch my ‘reality’ shows while tweeting with my friends!”
(“The depth of my “thinking” doesn’t exceed what can be expressed in 140 characters. Besides, why should it? This tweet shows I am special.”)
“Yes you are, Honey. Yes you are. And Big Daddy will take care of everything for you. The world idolizes you almost as much as you do. In that process you call “communicating”, you have trained everyone very well to tell you only what you want to hear.”
Perpetual, institutionalized and very powerful victim lobbies can do that, easily. They can even force “someone else” to fix all your problems – to pay the bills, take the blame and do all the hard stuff, for “special me”, and absolve you of responsibility for anything.
Footnote #1: The availability of AIDS drugs in Sub-Saharan Africa increased 20% from 2009 to 2010 alone. (The US Government’s “Global HIV/AIDS Initiative” has now been folded into to the “Global Health and Child Survival Program”, which had previously averaged about $1.5 Billion per year.) The foreign AIDS budget had increased from $2 Billion in 2006 to $7.5 Billion in 2010 under the Bush Administration. Even during The Great Recession, the 2012 federal budget includes an estimated $28.4 billion for combined domestic and global HIV/AIDS activities, of which foreign HIV/AIDS is funded at $6.9 Billion, and domestic HIV/AIDS at $21.5 Billion – a domestic per year taxpayer cost that is almost 10 times greater than what the Greatest Generation voluntarily donated over 17 years to defeat polio, under a program that had considerably smaller administrative overhead costs. AIDS is now comfortably institutionalized; no more personal thinking, or responsibility, required.
Footnote #2: The March Of Dimes, along with the high number of children afflicted with polio, really captured the public’s attention around 1950 and would be among even today’s largest charities. Collection jars were literally everywhere where people might have coins in their hand, and those jars filled up quickly, and not just with dimes. But March Of Dimes was only one of the Greatest Generation’s major giving programs; even far bigger were the really huge World War II bills, the Marshall Plan and world-wide programs to assist the war-ravaged and displaced – each measured in Trillions of today’s dollars. Supporting these giant programs was in addition to supporting most of the other charities that still exist today.
Today, the hundreds of American charities pull in around $287 Billion a year in private donations, or about $925 for each American man, woman and child. (Compare this to the $50 Billion dispensed each year by the US Government in foreign aid. See note below. Americans donate almost six times more in global charity than their government dispenses in official foreign aid, but a lot of disproportionate attention gets focused on the 1% of the US federal budget that comes under the title of “foreign aid”.) Despite all the incessant political focus on government taxes (and foreign aid), Americans have always been the world’s biggest voluntary givers, by far. They just prefer to have some choice in where their money goes rather than leave it up to permanently entrenched bureaucrats and vote-buying politicians. Being able to reduce their taxes by their charitable giving is still the smartest rule in US tax law (and one never mentioned by those arguing about taxes, aid or assistance). The charity deduction in US tax law is only an issue for those who see “too much” money going to “someone else”, rather than to “me”. Most Americans give to charity, with those on the lower end of the income scale donating a larger portion of their income than those on the upper end. However, in sheer dollars, the wealthy, including the foundations they establish, contribute a truly enormous share of American charity – to causes they actually support in a free society.
With one exception (Cancer Society), the lion’s share of American charity, especially from among men, still goes to the poor. (But accurately identifying the “poor” is becoming ever more difficult. If you partake of a half dozen government financial assistance and social service programs, while filling your home with expensive electronic toys and feeding your family fast food pizzas and burgers, are you still really “poor”? In America? Or just stupid and lazy and irresponsible? Some, but not all, of the “poor” are poor.)
Top Charities: How is that $287 Billion distributed? United Way is at the top of today’s US charity list with about $3.86 Billion in annual private donations, but United Way, as an “umbrella” organization, distributes its revenue over hundreds of other charities. Next comes Salvation Army ($1.8 Billion), Feeding America ($1.1 Billion), Red Cross ($1.1 Billion), Food For The Poor ($1.0 Billion), American Cancer Society* ($900 million), AmeriCares ($794 million), Catholic Charities ($794 million), World Vision ($780 million), YMCA ($767 million), St Jude Children’s ($676 million), Goodwill Industries ($643 million), Boys & Girls Clubs ($617 million), Habitat For Humanity ($591 million), Nature Conservatory ($527 million), Feed The Children ($516 million), Compassion International ($506 million) and, in 18th place, American Heart Association ($505 million). Americans voluntarily sustain several hundred other charities around the world, most at over $100 million each annually, and an important reason for that is the tax deduction for charity giving. Note that, after the umbrella United Way, the top four charities, and 15 of the 18, primarily serve the poor, and two are dedicated to specific disease groups (cancer and heart).
The March Of Dimes charity still exists, of course. But now it works, naturally, “to improve the health of mothers and babies”, with annual revenues of about $200 million, mainly from foundations, of which about 25% goes to administration and fundraising costs. Now “it takes a village”….
*Statistics about the American Cancer Society (founded 1913) are distorted by the incredibly myopic emphasis and publicity over the past forty years from literally everywhere on breast cancer research by America’s plethora of women’s lobbies and professional victims (typical Baby Boomer “me-ism”). The breast cancer campaign has been used for a half century by “feminists” to drive home the “woman as eternal victim” dogma that underpins their continued power (power without responsibility); you can even buy a US postage stamp for the breast cancer cause. On the other hand, while Great Britain has several major charities for prostate cancer research, the US has only the Prostate Cancer Foundation, primarily an American advocacy and information group which takes in about $32 million annually in grants and contributions. That amount is a tiny pittance compared to what breast cancer brings in from everyone, not counting what also pours in to breast cancer research and education from government.
In America, “breast cancer” is a major industry in and of itself.
So is AIDS.
Government funding for medical research by vote-buying elected representatives is very responsive to lobby demands. As all women’s lobbies know so well, despite all the usual blame-shifting to “big business”, whenever you pit “social lobby money with votes” against “big business lobby with no votes” with US politicians, the votes will win every time, and the money is often just as large as that from business. Money going to breast cancer research (and publicity), for example, includes another $630 million in annual federal taxpayer money, far exceeding that going to any other cancer – even though the incidence of both lung and prostate cancer each exceed that of breast cancer and are just as devastating to those inflicted. In 2009 and 2010 the NIH was provided, under federal “stimulus” bills to help an economy in recession with other people’s money, extra funding above already normal levels for all disease research. This resulted in a total during 2010 of $824 million in federal funds for breast cancer; another $4.14 Billion went to “women’s health”, both of which also benefit enormously from charity. (There is no category for men’s health. There is also no money for our “expendable” boys, for anything. They don’t have a lobby.)
Still, domestic AIDS research, at $21.5 Billion in federal funding, dwarfs them all. The deadliest killer of all Americans, heart disease, got $1.56 Billion in “stimulus” 2010 federal funding (plus another $505 million in charity donations to the American Heart Association) – about the same government funds that went to breast cancer.
Note: Foreign Aid is a frequently misunderstood concept. For example, as the primary arbiter of foreign aid, the State Department is provided about $16 Billion a year, but about $12 Billion (75%) of that goes to “Administration”, i.e., paying for all those embassies, consular offices, official representations at other diplomatic organizations and their bureaucrats world-wide. An additional $2 Billion (12%) goes to pay for “Security”, mostly civilian contractor, for all those buildings and bureaucrats. So government aid has a very high administrative overhead cost.
US Foreign Aid is spending on global economic, diplomatic and humanitarian programs by the State Department (DOS), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), among other official government entities. Today the total of all US foreign aid is about $50 Billion, much less than 1% of the federal budget. The major recipients of the $35 billion in economic aid that the US government dispenses today are: Israel, $3 billion; Afghanistan, $2.6 billion; Egypt, $1.6 billion; Pakistan, $850 million; Iraq, $766 million. But beyond these major national aid packages, we give Africa $7 Billion in economic aid each year. We also donate $2 billion to the Western Hemisphere ($400 million of it to Haiti). We give to Asia, apart from Afghanistan and Pakistan, another $2 billion. And we even give Europe about $1 billion. Almost every single nation on earth receives American foreign aid. (Apparently a major perk of being a US diplomat overseas is pumping up your own self-importance by doling out other people’s money to your hosts). None of this takes into consideration the really huge amount of US “foreign aid’ that is dispensed simply though global US military operations, including the really huge cost of defending other nations – a practice that has been especially lucrative to western Europe over the past 75 years – and world-wide purchases of fuel, supplies, equipment and repairs and hiring of local personnel needed just to sustain that global force.
And this is just government money going to foreign aid; it does not include the much larger sums that go to most countries around the world via American charitable donations. Over the past 75 years no other nation, or group of nations, on Earth, including Europe, has contributed more than a small fraction of this sum to others. The differences are so great that the usual practice for other countries is to make big public promises of major “financial commitment” to foreign causes, and then never reveal to anyone publicly that only a small portion of those promises ever were, in fact, delivered.