Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The President on Independence, Freedom, and Food Security

Last week President Obama addressed the people of Ghana, west Africa, at the end of an extended overseas tour. I was pleased to hear and later read his address, which focused on the importance of independence and democracy among Africa's nations. Pointedly, Obama encouraged the Ghanaians to pursue self-sufficiency in food and fuel, while pledging continued US aid.

But, said the President:
"Aid is not an end in itself. The purpose of foreign assistance must be creating the conditions where it's no longer needed. I want to see Ghanaians not only self-sufficient in food, I want to see you exporting food to other countries and earning money."

On the topic of energy, Obama re-tuned "sea to shining sea" imagery to an African rhythm:
"From the Rift Valley to the North African deserts; from the Western coasts to South Africa's crops -- Africa's boundless natural gifts can generate its own power, while exporting profitable, clean energy abroad."

Continuing this theme, the President offers more support for self-sufficiency while delivering also a prescient warning:
"The continent is rich in natural resources. And from cell phone entrepreneurs to small farmers, Africans have shown the capacity and commitment to create their own opportunities. But. . . Dependence on commodities -- or a single export -- has a tendency to concentrate wealth in the hands of the few, and leaves people too vulnerable to downturns."

So here and elsewhere in his address Obama makes the link between local and regional independence, self-sufficiency and self determination, economic diversity and finally, freedom:
"Opportunity won't come from any other place . . .It must come from the decisions that all of you make, the things that you do, the hope that you hold in your heart.

"Ghana, freedom is your inheritance. Now, it is your responsibility to build upon freedom's foundation."
I was so pleased to note and to share these words, of course, because they should apply equally to us, the President's own people. It would be a shame to recommend such good policies for others if contemplating or pursuing other programs at home.

So, more local and regional independence, Mr. President! Self-sufficiency in food and energy first, then surplus for export. And economic diversity: the widest possible variety of agriculture, manufacturing, and value-added services to ensure America does not someday become "vulnerable to downturns."


Anonymous said...

He also said "No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt."

I'm not suggesting that our port authorities are corrupt - but the lowest business/corporate tax rate in the US is 25%. Personal income tax rates for a lot of small to medium business owners are also higher than 20%. Raising taxes on corporations and business owners is probably not going to have a positive effect on our economy either...

Matt Mullenix said...

I saw that, too. But maybe he meant that no business would like to be taxed ONLY 20%.

Small joke there. But my own LLC is taxed somewhere in that range, with state and federal skimming considered.