Sunday, May 30, 2010

East African Politics

Although the eastern part of Africa is now commonly known as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, geographically and geopolitically, there are altogether 19 territories that constitute it. Currently, Rwanda and Burundi are pushing to be included as part of the main states in this region of Africa. The population here is currently over one hundred million and an area of 1.8 million square kilometers which comprises of natural resources like mines, forests and farmlands. Also a site of breathtaking views and scenes which are targets for discovering, Mt.Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria as examples (Wikipedia, 2007).

Kenya and Uganda were colonies of the British while Tanzania was under the Germans. However, when Germany was defeated in World War II, Tanzania also became a colony of Great Britain. Resistant movements were formed which lead to independence, Tanzania being the first to experience it.

Soon after, the first Federation in East Africa was formed but did not last for long. Different philosophies which they individually followed were the main cause of this downfall. A political union was already underway during this time and the East African Legislative Assembly was then formed (Community, 2004-2006). The EALA manages mostly the budget of the community and handles the affairs concerning the Treaty. The rotary system was introduced and continues to be used (Tordoff, 1967).

To ensure that people adhere to the law interpreted and applied with fulfillment with the East African Treaty of 1999, the East African Court of Justice was formed. The education system in the three states varies only a little. Each state adopted the British way of educating. Most students prefer to go to Kenya which is believed to be where they can attain a higher education.

The East African shilling ceased to be used when the states attained independence from the British. Each introduced its own currency. However, proposals are being made to unify the currency and the market.

Kenya being the wealthiest among the three states as of the present will have to pay duty for goods entering the other two states (Uganda and Tanzania) until 2010 (Wikipedia, 2007). A common system is used for other countries supplying the three. Partner states give equal contribution for the core budget. Mobilized resources from within and outside the region funds regional programs and projects. Having so much in common gives the three states numerous benefits like wider market for goods which in turn would attract more investors. Also, good quality goods will be made cheaper because of competition. An increase on tourism earnings once the Single Tourist Visa is approved because it may be used for the three current member states of the EAC.

One cause of political drawbacks is time. Negotiations and discussions require enough time and sometimes the estimated time frame did not always meet reality. The sequencing may be off and the estimated completion may not be met. Specific country conditions are sometimes forgotten to take into consideration. Another one is decision making. It plays a crucial part and has to be done in legal steps but some operations were not totally measured. Resource constraints also cause delays. Activities require resources to be implemented. Privatization and restructuring were not handled well due to pressure from outside the government. In addition to those mentioned, partner states are not equal in wealth and development.

To achieve the community's goals, peace, security, stability and good neighborliness is also needed. Fundamental and operational principles should be strengthened. There should be no gender discrimination. Work towards a people-centered growth and encourage good governance. Maintain the long standing bond in all aspects by Partner States and relations between the people of the region (Community, 2006).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Politics of Division

Does the average American hold to a consistent ideological policy on every issue? Does the average American agree with their stated political party on every issue? Do political parties consistently hold to their same ideology or platform over the decades? The answer to all is a no!

The ideals of conservatives and liberals are not always constant across all lines. At times, these philosophies have even seemed interchangeable between the political parties. People are confused when they look at traditional definitions of the conservative and liberal and try to reconcile them to the "labels" today. That is because politicians exploit these terms to their own purpose.

"Conservative" and "liberal" are loaded terms because of the rhetoric politicians use against each other. Calling someone a liberal gives an automatic negative reaction from a segment of the public; this is true even though they may not truly understand what the term represents.

The same is true when you label someone a conservative; it is a signal to automatically reject that person and their values. This is the politics of divisiveness. This style of politics is destructive. It is intended to be so.

"Politics" itself has become a dirty word:

The Oxford Dictionary describes "politics" as:

"1 the activities associated with governing a country or area, and with the political relations between states.
2 a particular set of political beliefs or principles."

Compare that to Oxford's definition of "party politics" as: "Politics that relate to political parties rather than to the public good."

Implicit in these definitions is that "politics" is designed to provide for the governing of a country for the public good; "party politics" is not concerned with the public good, but rather the good of the party; the public good is left on the trash heap and the good of the party becomes the goal.

Conservatism and liberalism should not be a "one or the other" choice.

Both philosophies have proven their value to society over time, and both should be part of our future. Both philosophies should be understood, and both appreciated for their contributions. Both can, in fact, be held at the same time. For example, our society needs to move ahead with new solutions to the problems we face (a liberal value), but tempered to whatever degree possible by practices in the past which have proven successful (a conservative value).

In other words, by all means, let us move forward, while learning from the past. However, to do this, we must get past the party politics of division and blame.

Barack Obama did not become President of the same country that he started campaigning for in early 2007. Obama is now the President of a country in turmoil. It is not an enviable position. Where will Obama draw the strength to lead America out of its turmoil?

Obama faces challenges that perhaps no American President has faced since Franklin Roosevelt came into office in 1932. Roosevelt faced a world-wide depression, and a world increasingly threatened by fascist powers in the Pacific and Europe. Roosevelt stood up to those issues; it was not easy and it was not fully completed until after Roosevelt's death. However, America survived those times, and emerged a stronger nation for it.

President Obama now faces a U.S. economy that is in ruins, our confidence shaken to its core. The U.S. military faces a war on two fronts, Iraq and Afghanistan. Afghanistan, once thought won, is threatening to spill over into Pakistan, which in turn, may spill over into India. Iraq could yet still spill over into Turkey and Iran. Combined, these two issues, economics and war, will demand our attention.

Two centuries ago, Edmund Burke said, "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter." President Obama must find a way to lift America's spirit, and gain its peoples' confidence. To do that, he must find a way around the divisive politics that has poisoned the American political system, for Obama cannot solve America's problems alone. He will need a Congress willing to work in earnest to find solutions and compromise. Otherwise, business as usual in Washington, D.C. bodes poorly for America.

The founding of America was a remarkable event in history. America put to the test the question of whether man is fit to rule himself, whether man is capable of providing equality and justice, or is man to be ruled by Monarchy or aristocracy, for his own good. America became the world's first democratic nation. One of the major principles of America is that it is governed under the U.S. Constitution, not by the will of men; the final source of authority is the people, not a Monarch, not a President. The rights of the people were set above all else, to be preserved for all posterity. The opening line of the U.S. Constitution states this boldly and plainly:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (sic), promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Since its inception, there have been those that charge America is destined to fail; and yet, America has survived for over 200 years. However, America will not survive as a democracy, if its people fail in their desire for the principles that founded America: liberty, justice, equality, and virtue. It is a burden that America willingly undertook in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence, and carried it through a bloody Civil War, and two World Wars. Can the American people continue to carry this burden? If it is to be, it must be through the people, for in a democracy, there can be no other.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Politics And Inflation

Across the entire country, the rising price of gas and the record setting price of a barrel of oil has been front page news for the past few weeks, if not months.

This Tuesday morning, when I first arrived at work, I was greeted with the news about a price increase in a different commodity, copper. If you haven't been paying attention, the price of all precious metals has under gone drastic increases just in the last few weeks. Copper in and of itself is up more than 25% year to date, with the lion's share of that increase coming within the last few weeks. Gold, silver, platinum and aluminum have all followed similar patterns.

Wednesday morning, I turned on my television just in time to hear the news that grocery prices were rising. A gallon of milk is now more expensive than a gallon of gas, and I don't have to tell you how expensive that is.

Thursday morning there was even more bad news.

The stock market had taken a severe tumble the day before, and to top it all off, the US dollar is taking a beating around world. It seems that no one wants our currency anymore.

Where am I going with this? Well, the reason that I'm telling you all of this is because it's an election year and I want to make something perfectly clear. "It's the economy, stupid."

Don't let yourself be swayed at the voting booth by political rhetoric about abortion or race or religion or gun control or any other sleight-of-hand issues. Owing a gun won't protect you from political tyrants. There are so many guns and gun owners in the United States and little by little we're still losing our country and our right to self-determination, not to a military coup, but to shysters and swindlers with a pen and a suit.

So I want to urge you to vote with your pocket book. The middle class in this country is shrinking and the amount of people living paycheck to paycheck keeps on growing, and yet, election after election we let ourselves be side-tracked by political issues that have very little impact on our daily lives and our quality of life.

When Ronald Reagan ran for office in 1984, his campaign slogan was "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" I want you to consider that same question now. Except, this time, think back eight years ago, before Bush took office.

If you can honestly answer that you are better off today than you were eight years ago, then I urge you to vote republican. But if everyone who is worse off today than they were eight years ago votes for the democratic nominee, then come the November, we'll have a democratic president heading to the White House with an overwhelming consensus.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Russian Political Conflict

The group of International press has quickly pointed out discrepancies along with the election process in Russia as well as the basic conflicts among the Russia and West into the worldwide political stage. This election process deficit is probably the start of the Russian political conflict, which may affect the business aspect as well as the developing market economy of Russia in the future.

Russia, just like China, is a fast growing economy with several distinctiveness of a market financial system and some distinctiveness of a democracy. Russia's GDP has increased up to six hundred percent from the past eight years and it is now at the 1.3 trillion USD. The growing energy costs account for a few of this increase is certain; however the gas and oil make up only twenty percent of the Russia's GDP. Markets for several products have been continuously rising in Russia and the household incomes became steadily increasing from the past years, which contribute to the increase of consumers demand for all types of goods.

The sell potential, like India and China, is immense. These days, Russia is considered as the biggest European market for eight Asian automobile brands such as Nissan and Toyota. Some experts have anticipated that Russia is going account for thirty to thirty five percent from the total European motor vehicle market in two or three years. Obviously Russia today is one of the fast developing country around the world, but just like the other developing countries, no one could really tell how the present Russian political conflict will affect their growing economy.

The Russian political conflict could be one of the greatest disasters that stop the countries' growing economy.

It was in year 1998, when the Russia experience financial crisis and the political conflicts between the leaders might be one of the factors that merely affect its economic growth. The fact is that many political leaders are too busy on their personal conflicts with their opponents and that they have not been able to concentrate into some important matters such as the problems on slow economic growth.

The Russian political conflict might be one of the largest factors that put the economy of Russia into risk, but due to the efforts made by the people and the government itself, they have already recovered from this financial crisis. In fact in year 2007, Russia has obtained the 7 percent average growth since the economic crisis in 1998.