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A Cut for Population Control Money?

Congress spends over and above Bush’s requests

Official federal spending on overseas “population assistance,” which means population control, has a slim chance of dropping significantly in fiscal year 2007.  The Bush Administration proposed only $357 million for such family planning programs early this year, a significant reduction from the $425 million it typically proposed in previous years.

Of course, the usual suspects, unimpressed with the conclusive evidence from secular scientists that birthrates are in free fall in most of the world, immediately geared up to increase the amount in Congress.  Since Congress failed to finish work on spending bills before adjourning for the fall campaign season, the matter is still up in the air until a post-election November session.  But it doesn’t look good.

It is difficult to calculate how much of the federal budget goes to reduce the populations of Africans, Latinos, and Asians abroad.  Much of the money dedicated to HIV/AIDS prevention, maternal health, economic development, and other programs actually serves to promote population control.  Billions of dollars every year from the United States alone gets spent on these goals, and billions more from the European Union.

Lest I seem too mean-spirited, let me say that these programs also do much good, saving lives in the Third World.  Yet it seems population reduction results from our foreign aid more than increase, though due to increased longetivity, Third World populations haven’t quite begun to decline yet as Europe’s already has—and any biologist knows that a long-term declining population is a sure sign that a species is in trouble.

Just looking at official population assistance figures for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States spent $429.5 million in FY2004, $437.3 million in FY2005, and an estimated $435.6 million in FY2006 (Congress likes to spend more than the President requests).  This year, Bush asked for a lot less.  He wanted $357 million for FY2007, and didn’t ask for any extra money for the UNFPA even though Congress keeps appropriating funds for it.  As authorized by the Kemp-Kasten provision of law, Bush has been withholding funds from UNFPA because of its support for China’s forced abortion and sterilization policy, and he finally eliminated it as a line item.

In May, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee increased the Bush Administration’s amount to $432 million.  That how it stands now, since the House passed in June HR 5522, the FY2007 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.  All appropriations bills originate in the House, not the Senate.

The Senate has yet to take action on HR 5522.  In fact, Congress passed only two out of 11 appropriations bills before leaving Washington to campaign.  It is now no longer unusual for Congress to keep wrangling over spending bills well after the new fiscal year for them has begun.

The Foreign Operations Appropriations bill should be passed by Congress in mid- or late November.  It seems likely that Bush’s bid to decrease population control funding in an era of rapidly declining birthrates will fail.

This despite the alarming trends in the Third World.  The old myths won’t die.  Even small-town newspapers repeat them constantly.  “Family planning has been so effective that, because of efforts to educate women and couples about contraception so that they can choose to have the number of kids they want at the time they want them, birthrates have fallen in many developing nations,” celebrated an article in the Augusta, Ga. Free Press this month calling for even more population control.  “In Mexico and Egypt, for example, birthrates have been halved in the last 35 years….”

The article doesn’t mention that Mexico is committing suicide—her birthrate is now below replacement level.  And Egypt’s will probably follow suit within two decades.

Says the anti-population growth Population Action International, “Whatever one’s view about population as an issue, few people fervently wish the world were home to a lot more human beings than it is.  Some may wonder if another Mahatma Gandhi or an Albert Einstein or a Mother Theresa missed out on being born due to the declining global birthrates of the past few decades.  But most know that such a question is fundamentally unanswerable and don’t stay awake at night thinking about it.”

The more people there are, the more likely it is that a genius will be born.  Of course, it is true that the question above is fundamentally unanswerable.  We don’t know if we are missing a great man or woman because of population control.  But we do know what we will be missing soon: workers.  According to the pro-population control United Nations, the proportion of the world’s population between 15 and 24—those who are about to enter or who have just entered the workforce—will decline from 17.9% today to 15.3% in just 20 years.  At the same time, those 65 or over will go from 7.4% to 10.5%.  And the trend will continue indefinitely afterwards.  Thus the global labor squeeze will begin.

U.S. taxpayer dollars should not be spent on making it worse.

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Written By

Mr. D'Agostino, former associate editor of HUMAN EVENTS, is vice president for Communications at the Population Research Institute.

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