From A White House Fact Sheet Released On Thursday

The information below is from a fact sheet released from the White House on Thursday.  Follow the link above to read the entire fact sheet.

FACT SHEET: U.S. Support for Strengthening Democratic Institutions, Rule of Law, and Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa

The United States strongly supports the great strides many African countries have made to ensure good governance, rule of law, and respect for human rights.  We commend the progress they have made to broaden political participation and improve governance, and will remain a steady partner as they continue to work to strengthen electoral processes, ensure transparency and accountability in government, and provide security while respecting and protecting universal rights and fundamental freedoms.

In addition to our ongoing diplomacy and our efforts in multilateral institutions, in 2012 the United States – through the U.S. Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – provided more than $292 million in support for these efforts, including in the following priority areas:

Supporting Civil Society and Independent Media

Civil society and independent media play a critical role in any vibrant democracy.  Across sub-Saharan Africa, the United States supports efforts to ensure civil society organizations and independent media can organize, advocate, and raise awareness with governments and the private sector to improve political processes, transparency, and government performance.  Examples include:

  • In Kenya, the $53 million Yes Youth Can program empowers nearly one million Kenyan youth to use their voices for advocacy in national and local policy-making, while also creating economic opportunities.  In advance of Kenya’s March 2013 general elections, Yes Youth Can’s “My ID My Life” campaign helped 500,000 youth obtain National identification cards, a prerequisite to voter registration, and carried out a successful nationwide campaign with Kenyan civic organizations to elicit peace pledges from all presidential aspirants.
  • In Tanzania, the United States has dedicated $14 million to strengthening government accountability institutions and linking them with Tanzanian civil society watchdog groups and civic activists in a constructive partnership to further government transparency.  The program focuses on improving access to information for Tanzanian citizens in four key development sectors:  health, education, natural resource management, and food security.
  • The United States will soon launch a program in West Africa to build the capacity of civil society organizations to responsibly advocate on land tenure issues, including land rights, working closely with governments and the private sector to improve responsible natural resource utilization and the protection and advancement of human rights and economic development.

In plain English, this means that the United States is giving Kenya $53 million to set up national identity cards to be used for voter identification in elections. The purpose of this program is to ensure an honest election and promote peace.

If voter id cards ensure an honest election in Kenya, why aren’t they necessary in America? I particularly like the part about civil society and an independent media playing a vital role in a vibrant democracy. I wonder if the White House reads its own press releases.

 

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Look! A Shiny Object!

I was listening to the news this morning and heard the criticism of Governor Romney’s speech in Israel. I wondered what he had said that had caused the problem. The press reported that the Palestinians were upset because the Governor commented that the culture of Israel provides a fertile ground for economic prosperity. That statement really doesn’t seem all that offensive. I knew that the Governor had stated that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, and wondered if that were the real source of the problem. Anyway, I went to Governor Romney’s campaign website to read the speech. The attacks on the speech are another example of the mainstream press’s “Look–a shiny object over here! Don’t look there!” campaign for President Obama.

Governor Romney’s speech outlined some of the political and cultural ideas that have allowed both America and Israel to prosper. Those ideas included democracy, the rule of law, God-given rights, and free enterprise. I can understand how the Palestinians would be upset at these concepts–generally speaking, these are foreign ideas to all of the Arab countries in the region.

One of the things that under-girds national prosperity is the rule of law as it applies to property rights. A man is less likely to improve his property if he does not own it. Also, property rights give the average citizen a means to acquire an asset that will increase in value (generally real estate increases in value) and gain some measure of wealth that he can pass on to his family.

Another thing not mentioned in the Governor’s speech that plays a very important role in a nation’s prosperity is the use of all human resources. When a country excludes women from participating in the work force and excludes the voices of women from government, it decreases by half the flow of ideas and innovation into the economy and into the government. I am not saying that every woman should work or be involved in government, but I am saying that every woman who has something to contribute should be allowed to contribute it.

The corrupt governments of the nations that surround Israel do not encourage prosperity for the average man. The well-connected steal the wealth of the country and the average citizen lives in poverty. The culture of respecting your fellow man and helping him become prosperous is not part of that society. That may be the biggest reason that the culture of Israel creates prosperity and the culture of the Arab nations surrounding Israel does not.

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