- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005

A heavy blow against property rights

The Kelo v. London decision (“Supreme Court backs eminent domain” Page 1, yesterday) demonstrates the kind of abuse liberals are fighting to maintain, proof positive that we are in dire need of the very kind of judges President Bush will appoint.

Had there been just one Supreme Court justice who fails to respect property rights, it would be tragic enough. But five? As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote, “[U]nder the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner.” She added: “Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.”

I call upon The Washington Times to list all real property owned by the five justices who voted against property rights: John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Anthony M. Kennedy. That way, we can organize gatherings at these properties so that we can determine firsthand what might be a better use of the properties. I’m certain that we can come up with a use that would better serve the public than whatever those justices are doing with their properties.

As soon as we come to a consensus, we’ll assume ownership under eminent domain.


Mount Vernon

Rove and the 9/11 liberals

Karl Rove says liberals “wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers” (“Rove’s mockery of 9/11 liberals riles Democrats,” Page 1, Friday)

This is quite true. Look where we were with the USS Cole and the Khobar Towers bombings. We were not looking for root causes. We were trying to treat these as isolated incidents. The same came be said of the World Trade Center bombing.

As far as sympathy and understanding, how often have we heard from the liberals that criminals had a horrible childhood or some other leap of logic?

Finally, listen to Air America radio programming. It’s even funnier than Comedy Central with its shtick of President Bush taking us into an illegal war, Saddam Hussein never having had weapons of mass destruction and the idea that our attack is making them angry at us.

I think Mr. Rove hit it right on the head. Apologize? No. Thanks, Karl, for calling a spade a spade.


Dublin, Ohio

Handouts and prosperity in Africa

In “Poverty that defies aid,” Marian L. Tupy presents some numbers that show the failure of official aid to boost the economies of sub-Saharan Africa (Commentary, June 19). This analysis put me in mind of a time when many African countries were peaceful and prosperous and lived well on their own resources.

I lived in Uganda from 1952 to 1955 when it was administered by Britain as a United Nations protectorate. Virtually all of the land was farmed by small farmers. The exceptions were a sugar estate owned by a Ugandan-Indian family and a few small farms run by eccentric Englishmen.

The Ugandan farmers produced high-quality cotton and coffee for export and all of the food the country needed. A small group of English civil servants and the traditional leaders of the many different tribes ran Uganda and maintained peace and prosperity without any claim on foreign aid. The same story can be told for two other U.K.-administered protectorates, Nyasaland (now Malawi) and Tanganyika (now Tanzania).

We all know what happened when these countries became independent: Uganda suffered a holocaust under Idi Amin and Milton Obote, Malawi was brought down by incompetent and brutal leaders, and Tanzania’s economy was crippled by a benign but misguided left-wing dictator.

My point is not simply to deplore the fate of these countries or to argue for or against foreign administration. Instead, I believe that a crucial question for the proponents of aid for Africa is: Why is it that these three countries, and others in Africa, had the natural resources to prosper in the past but now have to depend on handouts?

We are told that in future, aid will depend on good governance. But is it not possible that if African countries with bountiful land and water resources were to be well-governed they would not need to rely on official aid but could attract private investment?

A recent example of official thinking was delivered by Paul Wolfowitz, the World Bank’s new president, when he was in Nigeria last week. He said he hoped Africa’s most populous nation would soon join the ranks of those that will see their foreign debt burden eased. Although Nigeria is a country with oil exports of 2.3 million barrels a day, vast reserves of gas and excellent rainfall over 99 million acres of cultivated land, Mr. Wolfowitz thinks it should be allowed to default on its loans and no doubt ask for more.



Israeli departure will sap Gaza’s economy

When Israel departs Gaza later this summer, Palestinians formerly employed by the departing Israelis will sit home with nothing to do, according to a laborer interviewed by The Washington Times (“Mixed feelings on settlers’ exit plan,” World, Wednesday).

The burgeoning friendship related in the story between a Palestinian and the Jewish boss who lets him ride around in a dune buggy will evaporate. Infrastructure will be demolished by bitter Israelis such as the Jewish farmer who says he’ll destroy his greenhouses rather than give them over to the Palestinian Authority.

Also, though the farmer would preserve the infrastructure if his Palestinian employees were allowed to take it over, it would be uncharacteristically generous of the thoroughly corrupt Palestinian Authority to allow this to happen.

When the Jews depart Gaza, all that will be left will be the festering hatred that pervades the tattered remnants of contemporary Palestinian culture. One has to be a devotee of diplomatic alchemy to believe that removing the pacifying elements of economic sustenance and daily civil interaction from this hate-filled land will enable peace.


Oak Hill

Vietnam’s persistent poverty

In the article “Vietnam on the path of reform” (Op-Ed, Tuesday), Prime Minister Phan Van Khai claimed that Vietnam has graduated from the list of the 50 poorest countries in the world as a result of its economic reform during the past 10 years.

But data published by the World Bank in April 2005 do not appear to support this claim.

According to the World Bank’s 2005 World Development Indicators database, the gross national income per capita of Vietnam was $480 in 2003, which ranked 134th of 174 countries with available data. Vietnam was tied for the 40th poorest nation in the world in 2003.

In East Asia and the Pacific, Cambodia and Laos were the only nations having a lower GNI per capita than Vietnam. About one third of the Vietnam population is unable to make more than $2 a day, the international poverty line currently used by the United Nations.


Covina, Calif.

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