One of the most troubling things about the AIDS epidemic is that it could have been stopped so easily by rolling out life-saving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) early on. Not only do ARVs prevent HIV from developing into AIDS, they also reduce transmission rates and increase people’s willingness to get tested.
But Western pharmaceutical corporations have colluded in pricing these essential drugs way out of reach of the poor. When they were first introduced, patented ARVs cost up to $15,000 per yearly regimen. Generic producers were able to manufacture the same drugs for a mere fraction of the price, but the WTO outlawed this through the 1995 TRIPS agreement to protect Big Pharma’s monopoly.
It was not until 2003 that the WTO bowed to activist pressure and allowed southern Africa to import generics, but by then it was too late – HIV prevalence had already reached devastating proportions. In other words, much of the region’s AIDS burden can be directly attributed to the WTO’s rules and the corporations that defended them. And they are set to strike again: the WTO will cut patent exemptions for poor countries after 2016.
This dearth of basic drugs has gone hand in hand with the general collapse of public health institutions. Structural adjustment and WTO trade policies have forced states to cut spending on hospitals and staff in order to repay odious debts to the West. Swaziland, ground-zero in the world of AIDS, has been hit hard by these cuts. When I last visited I found that many once-bustling clinics are now empty and dilapidated. Neoliberalism has systematically destroyed the first line of defence against AIDS.
The point I want to drive home is that the policies that deny poor people access to life-saving drugs and destroy public healthcare come from the same institutions and interests that helped create the conditions for HIV transmission in the first place.”
If you live in the United States, there is a good chance that you are now living in poverty or near poverty. Nearly 50 million Americans, (49.7 Million), are living below the poverty line, with 80% of the entire U.S. population living near poverty or below it.
That near poverty statistic is perhaps more startling than the 50 million Americans below the poverty line, because it translates to a full 80% of the population struggling with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on government assistance to help make ends meet.”
“Latino and Asian Americans saw an increase in poverty, rising to 27.8 percent and 16.7 percent respectively, from 25.8 percent and 11.8 percent under official government numbers. African-Americans, however, saw a very small decrease, from 27.3 percent to 25.8 percent which the study documents is due to government assistance programs. Non-Hispanic whites too rose from 9.8 percent to 10.7 percent in poverty.”
One manager at the apartment complex where I worked while in college told me, repeatedly, that she knew I was “Okay” because my little Nissan was clean. That I had worn a Jones of New York suit to the interview really sealed the deal. She could call the suit by name because she asked me about the label in the interview. Another hiring manager at my first professional job looked me up and down in the waiting room, cataloging my outfit, and later told me that she had decided I was too classy to be on the call center floor. I was hired as a trainer instead. The difference meant no shift work, greater prestige, better pay and a baseline salary for all my future employment.
I have about a half dozen other stories like this. What is remarkable is not that this happened. There is empirical evidence that women and people of color are judged by appearances differently and more harshly than are white men. What is remarkable is that these gatekeepers told me the story. They wanted me to know how I had properly signaled that I was not a typical black or a typical woman, two identities that in combination are almost always conflated with being poor.”
More snippets from this article about why people in poverty buy expensive products that they “can’t afford”. When it comes to upward mobility and standards of living, being able to own and wear status markers makes a HUGE difference.
this article is really really good, definitely worth reading the whole thing.
I see “poverty envy” all the time. Privileged people honestly believe being poor is fun and easy. “If Obama gets reelected, I’m going to quit my job and live off government entitlements!” Sure you are. Let me know how that works out.
Having a TV, a fridge, and a coffee maker doesn’t mean you aren’t poor. It means you live in an industrialized nation with a consistent power grid (thanks, government!). My apartment came with a fridge included, I won my coffee maker at a wine festival (true story), and my last TV was carted from my in-laws’ spare bedroom. And I’m not even poor! The Heritage Foundation is desperately in need of a reality check.
(via stfuconservatives) What these tanks fail to mention is that with the changing face of modern basic living and the continuing rise of technological infiltration into everyday life, what once seemed like a luxury item is now a basic requirement for existence on this planet. Maybe a refrigerator would be a luxury item…if many of us still had iceboxes in the garage to store our tinned goods in and the iceman came once every two days to refill it. But that technology is obsolete. The refrigerator is the new ‘basic living.’ And my favorite example of the deliberate omission of the new American life concerns internet access and cell phones. Poor people with smartphones become targets. Poor people with computer access become targets. And yet Internet access has become vital to finding jobs and filling out applications both for assistance and work. A cell phone becomes necessary to have contact with potential employers. We’re asked to believe that what was a luxury item in the 1950s is a luxury item in 2012 and that just isn’t true. Not to mention that I am positive that there are people who go without these goods too—part of the upswing in public library usage has to do with public access to internet for people who can no longer afford service…but still live in a world where it is necessary. But this demonization works because people are so fucking desperate to believe in the welfare myths, the hordes of poor people sucking the hard-working rich people dry of their hard-earned dollars so that they can buy cell phones! And coffee pots! And TVs! Oh my! Luxury is your tax break on your millions of dollars. Luxury is your multiple houses while people go without shelter. Luxury is knowing your millions are untouchable. Luxury is not a refrigerator. (via inautumn-inkashmir)
IN OTHER NEWS, WATER IS WET
I love (read: hate) how it’s not really real when people who live this reality are shouting up and down that this is how it is, this is the truth, this is the world out there and everyone’s still passing around that ridiculous as hell “you can buy healthy foods for cheap” infographic that must’ve been made in 1970 because fuck it doesn’t even touch what real prices are here in 2013. It’s just people talking, it’s just “anecdata” which is a word people use to say “your life experience isn’t scientific enough to count”.
But when the U of Washington or the U of AnyFuckingThing does a fucking study, oh well, then it’s very real. When people who probably don’t have to live this reality go in and come up with some numbers, oh well, then it’s data. Then it’s gospel fucking truth. Then we can recognize a problem. Probably not do anything about it because, let’s face it, the system is doing what it was designed to do. Punish and starve out those already made most vulnerable economically or in other ways.
But we’ll have a study that documents that it was really real because the U of Washington fucking DISCOVERED it. And all those people who were practically shouting the walls down about it? Magically they evaporate and were never there.