- - Sunday, January 29, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire seethed the edict puts “ideology over women and health.” She favors a policy that requires Americans to fund activities that they find morally offensive. So much for “pro-choice.” If Planned Parenthood wants to fund organization that fund abortions abroad, their donors should put up the money, not unwilling taxpayers.

It is also hypocritical in the extreme that groups like National Abortion Rights Action League and Planned Parenthood favor funding entities like the United Nations Family Planning agency. This is the U.N. entity that for years supported infanticide, forced abortions, sterilization and other ghastly anti-women policies in nations from China to India to many African nations in order to reduce population growth. The U.N. “family planning” office praised China’simmoral one-child per couple policy as “effective.” Yes, and Pol Pot was effective at holding down population growth as well.

This is a great start, but Mr. Trump should take a much bolder step. Stop all non-emergency foreign aid now. Every poll of the last two decades shows that voters hate foreign aid and for good reason. The programs don’t work to bring development to Nigeria or Mexico City anymore than domestic aid programs have revived inner-city Detroit or Milwaukee.

Why are American taxpayers funding birth control or for that matter any overseas family planning programs in foreign countries at all? We can’t even afford our own government health programs, and we are supposed to fund condom distribution programs in Asia and Africa? This one program alone spends over $500 million a year.

Foreign aid, when including military aid, costs at least $100 billion a year. Liberals say this is a trivial amount given that the entire federal budget exceeds $4 trillion. How is $1 trillion over a decade trivial?

One of the world’s experts on foreign aid is William Easterly, an economist at New York University. He has noted that the developed countries could save as many as 5 million deaths from malaria and other preventable infectious diseases at a cost of less than $5 per life saved. This would simply require bed netting and cheap medicines. But it doesn’t happen.

Meanwhile, Mr. Easterly notes that the western world spent almost 25 times this amount — over $2 trillion from 1950-2000 — and what did it buy for all this spending? As Mr. Easterly puts it: “The west spent $2.3 trillion and it couldn’t even get $4 bed nettings to poor families to prevent malaria.” This is almost inhumanely irresponsible misallocation of taxpayer dollars.

Or think about this: according to the Cato Institute, the western nations, mostly the U.S., spent $500 billion on aid to Africa “and yet the typical African country is no richer today than 50 years ago.”

It’s worse than that: the relationship between foreign aid and economic growth rates in Africa was negative over the period 1970-2000.

Why do these programs so tragically fail? Many reasons. One is that the money flows through organizations and economic groups that are often hostile to free enterprise and empowering individuals and entrepreneurs. Government bureaucrats are the problem, not the solution in poor nations. They are corrupt and intercept money and spend it on themselves. The west put tens of billions of dollars behind Millennial Development Grants to try to bring economic development to the former Soviet Union nations, but the aid had almost no effect in bringing prosperity.

The money was directed by Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard, who is in many ways hostile to tax cuts, government spending reductions, and deregulation. He failed. What a shock.

Foreign aid, we now know, fosters dependency not self-sufficiency. Just as the welfare state here at home has created cycles of poverty in families, it has the same effect abroad. Local initiatives don’t take shape because the attitude is: the foreigners will take care of the busted pipe or the downed power lines.

How did India and China and other Asian Tiger nations develop so quickly? As the Heritage Foundation “Index of Economic Freedom” points out, they moved to free market economics at a rapid pace and shed government controls. As Heritage economist Anthony Kim puts it: “They privatized state owned enterprises and lands. They encouraged entrepreneurship. They cut taxes and red tape.”

The development process is not complicated. It requires all of these reforms. America should be exporting sound economic ideas — free market capitalism — not taxpayer dollars. Not another penny. It’s high time to stop funding the vast foreign aid empire that has gotten rich off of other people’s misery.

If the returns for certain aid programs are as positive for women across the globe as Sen. Shaheen and others think they are, then surely the millionaire and billionaire donors to Planned Parenthood will pick up the tab. Let’s see if any of these programs can pass a market test where the advocates can persuade charitable donors to fund what they do. The left would rather lobby Congress for these dollars rather than persuade their own contributors of their value. Maybe because there is no real value — and these programs do more harm than good.

The best way to promote prosperity abroad is to fix America’s problems first, then to serve as a beacon of freedom and opportunity for the rest of the world. If we lead, the rest of the world will follow.

• Stephen Moore is an economic consultant at Freedom Works and a Fox News contributor.

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