And we have George W. Bush, in part, to thank. In 2003, when he occupied the White House, Bush launched the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to address the global HIV/AIDS pandemic in partnership with 80 other countries. The foreign aid supported the free distribution of antiretroviral drugs for sick adults and medications that prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to infant. From 2003 to 2010, the United States committed about $46 billion, which also helps combat malaria and tuberculosis.
Bush put together this initiative with bipartisan support. Those were the days when the opposition party that was out of power — then the Democrats — put the greater good ahead of partisan politics. We hope that tradition is once more revived as Obama seeks continued funding for this worthy program.
But the editors engage in moral and factual evasion. The money Bush spent was not his. It was taken by force from the American citizens who earned it. By the editors’ logic, criminal cartels that use their loot to build playgrounds for the children of their communities should be lauded as moral heroes, their crimes forgiven, and their victims forgotten—except that in Bush’s case the crime and the victims are not even acknowledged.
True humanitarianism is not built on legalized theft. An good moral model for would-be do-gooders is the national response to the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927. That massive relief effort—recounted by Margaret Hoover in her book American Individualism—was funded entirely by private donations, not federal tax dollars.
It is morally perverse, grossly unjust, and horribly dishonest to credit welfare state politicians like Bush for leading “worthy causes” paid for out of the financial hides of people whose rights to property and personal judgement have been trampled. There is no “greater good” than the sanctity of the individual and his inalienable rights—rights protected equally for all people at all times. Those who approve of the violation of individual rights—in this case, the forced confiscation of $46 billion worth of Americans’ earnings—forfeit all claims to the moral high ground, no matter the alleged results.
Rather than continuing the program, Congress should start thinking about the taxpayers they’re supposed to represent: End Bush’s immoral program, and leave Americans free to decide for themselves what, if anything, they want to give to this cause.