Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A Response to a Reader About the "AIDS Tax"

Today, in a response to my comments about Chirac’s proposed AIDS tax a reader wrote--

I think Mr Chirac's policy to be a good start. I was surprised by your comments. It may be hoped to establish a precedent whereby citizens of the wealthy nations pay somewhat towards the healthcare costs of the developing nations. The logical extension would be to also tackle the paediatric bacterial infections, TB and malaria (additional to WHO projects like Roll Back Malaria). Indeed, I suggest you watch for further announcements on these matters. As such, we are conducting a significant review of the international public health policy in collaboration with a committee headed by Dr Jules Lajaunie of the Pasteur Institute, also jointly with the European Union Directorate XII team, headed by Dr Luc Coreff, and observer status of the USA Department of Health and Human Services. It shall be reporting in April to our minister, Mr. Philippe Douste-Blazy, and I believe also the USA Health Secretary Mr. Leavitt.
Mrs. Dr. Laure-Elisabeth Flohic

Assistant Undersecretary for International Programmes, Ministry of Health and of the Family, Paris, France

I think we need to understand why I object to something so seemingly altruistic and superficially generous. Mr. Chirac’s taxation scheme specifically calls for either a “levy that could be imposed on international financial transactions without hampering markets” or as an alternative “raising the funds by taxing fuel for air and sea transport, or levying $1 on every airline ticket sold in the world.” Herein lies Mr. Chirac’s discernable myopia on this particular issue.

To begin with it is impossible to add a centralized international taxation upon global markets without negatively affecting the free interaction of said markets. A levy upon any transaction will cause a chilling effect upon exchanges leading to an obvious slow down of the market systems that are needed to keep alive the global profits that produce the opportunity to invest in health-care to begin with. Mr. Chirac’s assurance that financial transactions will not be hampered is pure conjectural fantasy, loaded with delusional misperceptions that permit him to make such an obviously flawed and ignorant assertion. Another oversight, in this particular aspect of the plan, as Japan's vice finance minister for international affairs, Hiroshi Watanabe, has astutely pointed out is that a prerequisite for the tax to have a chance at success is an assurance of 100% global cooperation. If there are countries that do not participate (as there surely will be) business will simply move to their tax-free havens in order to avoid the tariff and maximize profits, thereby reducing the efficacy of the overall scheme. Mr. Chirac will, in essence, create a fiscal selective pressure whereby countries that do not participate are selected as niduses of burgeoning business growth. Lastly, the concept of taxing the already devastated airline industry (which somehow in Chirac’s plan subsists separately from global markets and local economies) is a misguided and poor one sure to have the same effects on global markets listed above.

Seeing as how Chirac’s plan dealing strictly with HIV/AIDS would have such negative repercussions on the global economy as a whole, how then are we to lump on to said taxation rate the large burdens of “the paediatric bacterial infections, TB and malaria” that we wish to solve by levying an international tax that, through an as yet undefined leap of logic, exists without a measurable effect upon the global market? By any account, tackling a single one of the aforementioned issues would amount to an exponential increase in the rate of taxation necessary to adequately meet the public health needs demanded by a global tax. Though the concept sounds altruistically feasible and even necessary, it is impossible to implement the idea without destroying/stagnating global markets and thereby undermining the production of capital that forms the fiduciary basis of the global public health infrastructure. It is a self-defeating ideology (as most socialist ideals tend to be and have repeatedly been proven to be).

The way in which countries can deal with the problem of disease in the developing world is not (as I have attempted to demonstrate) the levying of an international tax, rather it is through discretionary spending on developmental aid. Allowing for individual governments to allocate portions of their particular budget for distribution to areas of need (i.e. Bush’s South African AIDS pledge) is the fiscal manner in which global health needs can be efficiently addressed while unfettered markets are left to continue to produce the profits that permit the investments. Governmental oversight of semi-free markets (as within the US system) will allow the corporative competition necessary in order to drive the production of novel drugs, vaccines, and potential cures (as it has done time and again), while orphan drug laws provide the key government investment in less profitable arenas. The key is to allow an unhindered local and global market to produce the profits that drive the competition, the capital that funds the investments, and the economy that allows for discretionary spending upon charitable developmental aid.

2 Comments:

Blogger Crazy Blonde Bombshell said...

You know that thing that always gets me with the U.S. always helping other countries. Is the fact that as we do things like the AIDS tax, and we forget that not all the people in the US have health insurance. We have college kids who haven'g gone to the Doc's office since they left Ma & Pa insurance plan. Now since STDs spread like wild fire in that age group. A lot of them don't even know they have something. Girls right now have such a high risk of cervical cancer and thier not getting check ups. A little scary......... I am from Germany, where everyone had health care due to the government stepping in. Lets try to fix our problems here at the home base before we try to fix everyone else. Don't get me wrong, I am all for decreasing the AIDS epidemic. Just think that we have enough shit in our own back yard to worry about before we start fixing someone elses.

1:05 PM  
Blogger just*plain*ju said...

Absolutely nothing to do with your post...but you commented on my blog, and I just wanted to say...it's probably not a good thing you slept through college...'specially if you already are and/or are going to be a doctor.....that kinda scares me a little...lol

1:36 AM  

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