We Can End AIDS Mobilization on Economic Justice and Human Rights
I feel like I know the two most incredible secrets in the world. They are so juicy that they have to be shared. The first? We can end the AIDS pandemic. Seriously. I’m not kidding. I’m not using hyperbole. This isn’t a plea to get you to use a condom or come to an AIDS Walk. Last summer, scientists published the results of a definitive U.S. government funded study proving that if people have access to treatment, they are 96% less likely to transmit the virus. Economists took this information and did some modeling. They realized that if we invested a little bit more money into getting a small number of people who are HIV+ on treatment AND we scaled up investment in prevention and services such as housing in a very modest way, well, within 30 years, AIDS would go from being a “pandemic” to a disease with just a few hundred cases in the world.
You’ve been told the secret: We can end AIDS in 30 years just with a little more funding. Not hundreds of billions of dollars. Simply continue funding at the rate that we were three years ago with modest annual increases accounting for inflation. So what are you going to do with this information?
I know what you are thinking, “Oh great! To end AIDS we need more money, but there’s a recession. We have no money.” Here’s my second juicy secret: If there were a tiny tax on Wall Street transactions in the speculative market, we would have hundreds of billions of dollars every single year to fight AIDS, climate change, provide jobs, and pave a few roads while we are at it.
Yep, a “Robin Hood Tax” on Wall Street could be implemented and we would have the money we need to end the AIDS pandemic. Right now, speculative financial transactions are not taxed. Period. Can you imagine never paying sales tax on something you buy? Well, if you are a big bank or a massive “whale” sized hedge fund, you can buy in bulk bets on stocks, currency, etc. without paying a penny in tax. Or make that less than half a penny. You can make billions in profit without giving back a cent to our country.
There is a movement afoot around the world to fix that. The Robin Hood Tax would be placed on these risky transactions at a rate of less than .005 – .5% (right, way less than a penny) and could generate up to $350 billion per year. I said billion and I said per year. You see? There is money out there to end the AIDS pandemic.
We actually had a Robin Hood Tax for decades in this country. The banking industry lobbied against it in the 1960’s. They have spent the 40 since years then convincing us that it was a bad idea to have that money to pay for education, housing, jobs, and healthcare; instead that money should be used as profits for those at the top of the financial industry. Well, we are learned bunch and we are not buying their lies any longer. We need this money to preserve our social safety net. It’s time for Wall Street to pay their fair share and give back to Main Street.
The Robin Hood Tax isn’t a tax on individuals. It’s a tax on transactions. It won’t affect you and I at the ATM or even our investments (and yes, unless you are a bank, or a tradebot, I do mean “our”). It will slow down the dangerously fast moving part of the financial market. We have tradebots who hold stocks for an average of 11 seconds. Those bots might be out of business-a good thing if you consider that this kind of wild trading heavily contributed to our current economic crisis. Still, it generates hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue.
Unfortunately, while it is official U.S. policy to create an AIDS free generation, the funding has not followed the promise. So, on July 24th, we will be marching down K Street in Washington, DC to demand a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street to end AIDS (and do a whole lot more for Main Street). We will be visiting and occupying the offices of lobbyists and corporations that fund political inaction that keeps this brilliant idea from becoming a reality. The March for a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street to End AIDS is one of five branches of the We Can End AIDS Mobilization. We are meeting on the west side of the Carnegie Museum, right across from the Washington Convention Center. Go to www.robinhoodtax.org for more information about the Robin Hood Tax and www.wecanendaids.org to help us organize one of the largest political mobilizations of people living with AIDS and their allies ever. So put on your green tights—we will provide the hat and mask—and be a Robin Hood hero on July 24th in Washington, DC.
 A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that has spread through human populations across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic. With 33 million people around the world living with AIDS, it is a pandemic.