ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Lower Barriers to Free Trade to Reduce Poverty

This op-ed in the WSJ is perfect. There are a multitude of problems in Africa, but one of the surest ways to improve their situation is to remove the subsidies that the developed nations pay to its agricultural segment.

Note to US farmers - you can compete through innovation.

Who's Stingy?
July 6, 2005; Page A14

Of all the earnest good intentions offered about African poverty in the lead-up to this week's G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, the most powerful wasn't from a concert stage accompanied by a guitar riff. It was President Bush's challenge to Europe regarding the farm subsidies that cripple African agriculture.

In an interview broadcast in Britain on Monday, Mr. Bush said the U.S. would "absolutely" drop its system of farm subsidies if the European Union eliminated its $40 billion a year Common Agricultural Policy. Now, that's a radical idea. It certainly trumps the calls by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and others to double official development aid to sub-Saharan Africa or to forgive more debt. Getting rid of U.S. and EU farm subsidies -- and the protectionism they entail -- would do far more to address what liberals like to call a "root cause" of poverty.

Too many African exports, particularly farm commodities, are kept out of Western markets by tariffs, import quotas and price supports for domestic producers. Open those markets and encourage better African governance and, as history has proven over and over, you'll unlock the door for poor nations to generate wealth and free themselves from dependence on handouts. But don't expect the leaders assembled in Scotland to rally behind Mr. Bush's idea; they aren't about to take on powerful domestic interests.

Instead, it's so much easier to demand that American taxpayers pony up ever more money. But as even the likes of rockers Bono and Bob Geldof have acknowledged, the U.S. has hardly been stingy. Mr. Geldof told Time magazine last month, "Actually, today I had to defend the Bush Administration in France again. They refuse to accept, because of their political ideology, that he has actually done more than any American president for Africa. But it's empirically so."

Last year U.S. bilateral aid to Africa was $3.2 billion compared with $1.1 billion in the final year of the Clinton Administration. The Treasury Department says nearly one-quarter of every dollar in development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa last year came from the U.S. Last month Mr. Bush committed another $674 million in humanitarian aid to the region, which exceeds the entire U.S. budget for sub-Saharan aid in 1997. Amid such facts, it takes nerve for such former Clinton officials as Susan Rice to lecture Americans as ungenerous, as they've been doing for weeks now on op-ed pages.

And it's good to see that the contribution of the US to solving the problems of Africa are being recognized by some of the glitterati. Bush has done so much more than previous administrations on this matter. Just like he has done so much more for R&D in environmentally friendly technologies - but the Left keeps howling about Halliburton & Kyoto and doesn't acknowledge the facts.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler