This is an assignment I wrote for school. It is a sort of economics stimulus package for Africa.
When asked to give an invention to another country and time, I began to think what invention could create benefits to third world countries? What separates the United States from these counties? The invention would need to have social, political and economic impacts that would change the way countries operate. Then I came upon the idea that has helped create today’s free world: the idea of the American Constitution.
A constitution basically is a contract between the government and its people. This holds the government fundamentally accountable to its people. The people in turn give up certain things, likes taxes and certain rights: and in return receive services, such as roads and schools back. But, more importantly, the American Constitution creates political, social and economic paths to develop a nation and allow in to become more successful. To give this to the Nations of Africa as they emerged from colonial rule may have prevented much of the strife that exists there today.
Many African countries suffer from massive internal conflicts where tribes are fighting tribes. This is similar to the situation faced by the United States after the Revolution. The Articles of Confederation had created powerful states and an impotent national government. Soon different states began to try and vie for power. New York (state) almost went to war with Massachusetts. Such internal strife needed a solution, and the Constitution was created to ease these problems. By creating a Bicameral legislature the US was able to give each State a say, yet also allow for population centers to have a great say. They were able to give people a large say in politics, rather than an elite few. Also they allowed “revolutions” to occur without bloodshed. The first occurrence of this occurred in the Adams vs. Jefferson Election. Both men had fundamentally different ideas on how a government should have been run. Jefferson wanted states to have more power, while Adams believed in the power of the central government. On very few occasions had a change in government, yet when Jefferson defeated Adams, no one took to arms. A peaceful change of power had occurred, which had been almost unheard of in the modern world at that time. These political changes would provide for stability, which would allow the African Nations to implement other changes to benefit thier country.
With these political changes, a new social order appeared. The Constitution set up a system for resolving problems and delivering justice. Instead of differing laws crossing state borders, one was under the same rules everywhere. There were set ways of punishing criminals and dealing with property. This system still though was not completely rigid. Using English Common Law. Laws were able to adapt to changing environments and allow for some flexibility. With this the gap between rich and poor was lessened. All were under laws. This creates less social tension, and created only one rebellion in 200 years, as opposed to 3 between 1776 and 1789. Also, the Constitution allows for many religions and beliefs to co-exist, which is a problem in Africa. By separating Church and State, this issue can eventually be less severe in Africa. Another important factor in the Constitution is its ability to change. This is vitally important. As a country's views and needs change, so does the Constitution. This means social problems can be dealt with without reworking the entire Constitution. Re working things like voting rights and fundamental rights has been vital in keeping the Constitution as modern as possible. This means a stable way of life for the African people. This social stability and political stability set the foundation for another kind of growth, economic growth.
In microeconomics one looks at what makes an economy more successful. Usually it involves three major factor, Political stability, incentives for working hard, and freedom of choice. The Constitution laid down all of these. The incentives create by the Constitution were not really created by then Constitution; rather they were not taken away. It didn’t take many years to start a business, and a man was very rarely hampered by government interference. One was allowed to work and earn more. That meant that People would try to be more efficient because it would benefit them directly. An incentive created in the Constitution that was important was the idea of the patent. It allowed for people to benefit from their ideas for a certain amount of time, thus it was more profitable to become advanced. All this lead to economic growth. When we are free to choose what we do with our money, invest it or spend it. Constitutions create laws that try and prevent corruption. Corrupt politicians make it much harder to do business and also much more expensive. Yet if a country has laws in place, it can run its economy more efficiently. A more efficient economy leads to more investment from foreign sources. More foreign investment means more capital for starting businesses and thusly and expanding economy. Expanding Economy’s do require government oversite in certain areas, like education and financial laws, which are allowed to be taken care of in the Constitutions. To show how much this can help a nation, just look at South Korea. In 1960 (after the Korean War) the government there adopted something like the Constitution. 39 years later they had maintained a 10% annual increase in per capita GDP rising from $1256 per person in 1960 to $12,560 in 1999.
As is shown above the best invention we can give anyone is not so much a machine but rather a good way to rule. Then we give a person an opportunity to be successful if they want to. By giving the country a Constitution, you give them a choice at their destiny. No machine does that. It is like the old saying “If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, if you teach him to fish, he can feed himself forever”. We are not giving these people a temporary fix, rather we are giving them a tool to become more powerful and improve the living conditions that surround them.