The Contra Costa Democrat

An electronic publication of the Democratic clubs and organizations of the Mount Diablo region. [Mount_Diablo]

This contains cultural, historical, educational, recreational, and Democratic political information for Central and Eastern Contra Costa County and is brought to you by your fellow citizen members of the region's Democratic clubs.

The miracle of Mauritius Government

Suppose someone describe a small country that gives free education up to university level to all its citizens, school transportation for children and health care operations without including heart- cost for everyone. One might think that your country is incredibly rich or is on track to fiscal crisis.

After all, the rich countries of Europe realize increasingly that can not afford a college education and are asking young people and their families who bear the costs. For its part, the US has never tried to provide free university education for all and it took a bitter battle to ensure that poor Americans have access to health care, a guarantee that the Republican Party is now working to repeal the argument that the country can not afford it.

Like other emerging, Mauritius faces the loss of competitiveness of the exchange rate.

In the last decade, the archipelago has built a strong social network and a diversified economy

But Mauritius, a small island nation in the eastern coast of Africa, is not particularly rich nor addresses the budgetary ruin. However, in recent decades it has been dedicated to successfully build a diversified economy, a democratic political system and a strong social safety net. Many countries, including the United States, could learn from their experiences.

On a recent visit to this tropical archipelago of 1.3 million, I had the opportunity to see some of the progress made by Mauritius, achievements that may seem surprising in light of the debate that occurs in the United States and elsewhere. Consider home ownership. While American conservatives argue that the intent of his government to expand the proportion of homeowners 70% of the country’s population was what caused the financial crisis, 87% of Mauritians own their homes. No housing bubble.

Now a painful number: Mauritius’s GDP has been growing at more than 5% annually for nearly 30 years. Obviously there must be some trick. Mauritius must be rich in diamonds, oil or other valuable product. However, Mauritius has no exploitable natural resources. Indeed, when its independence from Britain, which came in 1968 approached, his future was so disappointing that the Nobel James Meade laureate economist wrote in 1961: “It will be a great achievement if you find productive employment for its population without a serious reduction of the level of life … the prospects of peaceful development are scarce. ”

As if to prove Meade wrong, the Mauritians have increased per capita income of less than $ 400 at the time of independence to more than $ 6,700 today. The country has gone from sugar monoculture to a diversified economy that includes tourism, finance, textiles and, if current plans are successful, high technology.

First, the question is not whether we can afford health care or education for all and ensure a greater proportion of homeowners to mauritius apartment. If Mauritius can, also be the United States and Europe, which are much richer. It is rather how to organize society. Mauritius has chosen a path that leads to higher levels of social cohesion, welfare and economic growth and a lower level of inequality.

Second, unlike many other small countries, Mauritius has decided that most military spending is a waste. America does not have to go that far: just a fraction of the money the country spends on weapons that do not work to fight enemies that do not exist greatly contribute to creating a more humane society, including the provision of health care and education those who can not afford them.

Third, Mauritius recognized that without natural resources, its people were its only asset. Perhaps that appreciation of human resources is also what led Mauritius to realize that, especially because of the potential religious, ethnic and political differences in the country, which some tried to use to induce him to remain as a British colony – universal education was essential for social unity. So was a strong commitment to democratic institutions and cooperation between workers, government and employers, the exact opposite of disagreements and divisions that currently grown conservatives in the United States.

This does not mean that Mauritius has no problems. Like many other emerging market countries that have been successful, Mauritius is facing a loss of competitiveness of the exchange rate. And as more and more countries intervene to weaken their exchange rates in response to US attempts to carry out a competitive devaluation through quantitative easing, the problem worsens. Mauritius is almost certainly also have to intervene.

Moreover, as is the case in many other countries, Mauritius is concerned about imported food and energy inflation. Respond to inflation by increasing interest rates simply exacerbate the difficulties represent higher with high unemployment rates and a type of even less competitive exchange rate. It will be necessary to consider direct interventions, restrictions on capital inflows of short-term, taxes on capital gains and stabilizing prudential banking regulations.

Mauritius Miracle dates to independence; however, the country still carries some of its colonial legacies: inequality in land and wealth and high vulnerability to global politics. The United States is one of the islands of Mauritius, Diego Garcia, as a naval base without compensation, as officially the lease to UK, who not only kept the island of Chagos, in breach of international law and the United Nations but expelled its citizens and refuses to allow them to return.

Now the United States should behave properly with this peaceful and democratic country: recognize the rightful ownership of Diego Garcia, renegotiate the lease and redeem the sins of the past through a fair payment for the territory they have occupied illegally for decades.


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