Taking the time to put together right kind of aid

It has been just 18 months since the launching of the corporation that administers the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), President Bush's initiative to award aid to countries with a demonstrated commitment to ruling justly, investing in people and encouraging economic freedom. Expectations are high, and some are impatient to see results.

But of the 17 countries selected by the United States as eligible for funding, two countries have had their compacts approved by the board of the Millennium Challenge Corp., while several other applications are in the pipeline.

It is easy to blame the "red tape" of a new bureaucracy for the pace ("Partners for peace?" editorial, June 7). But the fact is that it takes time to do it right.

Indeed, what could distinguish the MCA program from many other bilateral or multilateral assistance programs is the extent to which each country's civic and community groups, including those representing women and those located in rural areas, are being encouraged to participate in developing the proposals. I believe that this will be critical to the program's success.

One lesson we have learned in our 60 years of development experience around the world and in our own country is this: Development programs are most effective when they involve the direct participation of citizen groups and local communities in assessing problems, prioritizing investments and identifying practical approaches to projects.

This consultation involves a complex process of convening meetings of diverse groups representing the various social sectors, and it is a process that takes time and money.

But it is the kind of a process we take for granted as American citizens.

Why should we expect any less of our partners abroad?

Ken Hackett


The writer is the president of Catholic Relief Services and a member of the board of the Millennium Challenge Corp.

Focus police efforts on greater threats

Seldom does a politician do something that has an immediate impact and corrects some governmental incursion or foolishness. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s ban on the use of night-vision goggles to catch drivers who aren't wearing seat belts is one of those rare instances ("Governor drops curtain on night sight experiment," June 7).

Does it make sense for driver and passengers to wear seatbelts? Absolutely.

But should one ounce of time and effort be wasted on going to such extreme measures to catch these lawbreakers when there are so many more harmful acts going on around us 24 hours a day? I think not.

If the police have that much free time, we would be better served if they would sit near the parking lots of our favorite bars, watching for people stumbling to their cars to drive off drunk.

Someone who is not wearing a seatbelt is primarily jeopardizing his or her own health.

A drunken driver is not only endangering himself but every innocent soul who comes near.

Eric Wilkes


Hobbling an effort to save lives, funds

Explaining why Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ordered the state police to stop using night-vision goggles to catch folks not wearing seat belts, his spokeswoman said, "The governor feels the police, not technology, should enforce our safety belt laws" ("Governor drops curtain on night sight experiment," June 7)

What's next, ban the police from using radar guns? Strip the computers from their cars so they can't do warrant checks?

Using Big Brother as a bogeyman, what other laws might the governor prevent the police from enforcing?

The seat belt law was passed to save lives and taxpayer money, since the dollars to transport and treat many of the seatbelt-free folks who get their heads split open comes from us, the taxpayers.

The governor's action helps keep Big Brother's silent hand in all of our wallets.

Al McKegg

West Friendship

Don't let state police create a police state

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s outrage over the use of night-vision goggles to enforce seat belt laws ("Governor drops curtain on night sight experiment," June 7) should serve as a reminder to the officers of the Maryland State Police that they work for the Maryland State Police, not the Police State of Maryland.

Wayne Croft


Globalization adds to our prosperity

Fearful European voters are certainly voicing their anxiety about globalization ("The French disconnection," editorial, June 1).

Yet fear should not be allowed to override sensible economic policy, either in Europe or the United States.

The globalization of business is not a theory but an established fact: Commerce now moves across borders at the touch of a computer button. Western nations continue to prosper because of - not in spite of - the free flow of goods, services, capital and ideas.

The United States, with its history of entrepreneurship and its flexible economic environment, is well-positioned to succeed in this era of globalized business.

Indeed, as European welfare states are forced to overhaul their entrenched economic cultures, the United States enjoys a head start in the intensified global competition.

It would be folly for American policy-makers to draw fearful lessons from the recent European elections.

Instead, balanced U.S. economic policies can continue to show our European counterparts how to unleash the creative power of business to generate jobs and wealth in ways that, in the long-term, will benefit every nation.

Larry Harding


Slots compromise is really sensible

After viewing KAL's Sunday editorial cartoon (June 5), I was struck by one thing: the fact that the cartoon suggests that opposing slots is sensible governing.

It would seem to me that sensible governing would consist of passing a slots bill that helps preserve Maryland's horse industry and the jobs it creates.

Sensible governing would also require the governor to agree to raise certain taxes to govern "sensibly."

Further, the governor needs to end his insistence on only placing slots at certain locations. Let the people who want slots get slots. Put the parlors in their neighborhoods.

The problem, as I see it, is that neither side is interested in sensible governing and is only interested in scoring political points at the expense of its opponents.

Good governing requires compromise, not blind ideological loyalty.

The sooner the governor and the house speaker realize this, the sooner sense can return to Annapolis.

Ed Weglein


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