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June 29, 2005


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It's good to see that they did not short change the tax cut portion of the actions taken.


What I find instructive about this article is that economic development can be done without reducing everything to a zero-sum game...so if governments can keep taxes at a level that encourages investment, while improving access to education and health care, a great deal can be done to elevate the day-to-day life of folks in a given society.

The problem in Africa is that the conditions for investment are engineered to fleece those nations to the greatest extent possible...forget about the whole "Rule of Law" issue - because western governments have as much to do with the political/military instability as the Africans on the ground. The pre-conditions for Western investment are generally slanted to not only reduce risk, which is understandable, and to maximize profit, which is also understandable, but these conditions are also slanted to effectively negate (or greatly reduce) the chances of Africans emerging as players in the sectors in which capital and infrastructure resources are invested.

This, I believe, is where the shortcomings of 'the foreign policy practice and knowledge of black folks in the US' have the greatest consequences. In the absence of a viable internal advocate - with the ability to impose "sanctions," African leaders are at the mercy of negotiating against a coordinated front. The international battle linking Brazil, the Caribbean and Africa against the US over agricultural subsidies is one area where a concerted effort by US-based Blacks could have a major impact - but I believe we are light-years away from that type of action.

It would be interesting to see which Irish-Americans, if any, played a significant role in bringing some economic vitality to the Emerald Isle.

Sean Doherty

Mr. Friedman should also add to his list of things to make a successful country:
- Vitrually no military spending
- Have a population smaller than any US state
- Export the uneducated to the US, UK and Australia

One sordid little secret that Friedman doesn't want to mention is that in Ireland, you pretty much MUST know your career path by age 13 if you want "free" education.

As part of their nationalized and free education, secondary-level education is very specific. University admissions require high grades in fields related to your chosen profession, so in order to get those grades, you must start studying in those specific fields when you're young.

If you didn't know you wanted to be a computer programmer at age 13, and did not start taking math and science classes, you'd never score high enough on your "A-level" math and science examinations for admission into a free computer science program. The result? No future in Ireland. You can't become a biogist in Ireland after preparing to be a computer science major and failing.

There are no free liberal arts programs in Ireland. Education is pretty much job training. No "finding yourself" in Ireland.

You can't decide at 16, after 2-3 years of one curriculum, that you want to do something else with your life. "Free" education won't pay for that.

The Irish take aptitude exams as a 13 year old, and based upon how well you do in certain areas, fields of study are offered for secondary education.

Since there is no "profit" to be made in Irish education, free government education is the only game in town. You don't like their methods, or don't do well within their confines, you have choice left but to leave the country.

As a result, large numbers of very intelligent Irish youngsters never attend college/university, because they didn't know at 13 years of age what I didn't figure out until I was 26. Having little to no professional future in Ireland, they head off to foreign shores where opportunities for education are more flexible.

So, Ireland ships out temporarily unproductive workers, and ships in engineers from China, India and Pakistan who will work at lower costs than native Irish.

Sound like a country that values it's citizens?

Friendman advocates that free education was a significant key to their success. Their "free" education, however, severely limits the freedom of choice young people in Ireland have.

As bad as our education system is here in the US, we at least still have the freedom to learn what we wish as we get older. That's a luxury that "free" education does not offer.

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