Saturday, May 06, 2006
We will happily give you one dollar American (less $0.39 for postage, and a modest handling fee of $0.75) if you can guess who delivered the speech excerpted immediately below to an audience in Vilnius, Lithuania. (Hint -- it wasn't Howard Dean):
Democracy starts with citizens casting their votes, but that is only the beginning. Elections must be fair, and regular, and truly competitive. Men and women must be free to speak their minds -- and here a simple test is proposed by the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky: "Can a person walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm? If he can, then that person is living in a free society. If not, it's a fear society . . . .So who was the mystery speaker? You may find the answer hard to believe -- but if Karen Kwiatkowski says it, it must be true!
Protecting civil society and upholding individual freedom requires the rule of law -- and that is at the very heart of government's reason for being. Government meets this obligation by ensuring an independent judiciary, a professional legal establishment, and honest, competent law enforcement . . . .
If the private sector is to thrive and to generate jobs, then entrepreneurs must be free to start companies, to hire workers, and do business without unreasonable interference or favoritism. And the only way for an economy to consistently attract commerce and investment is to root out corruption at every level, and to require openness, transparency, and accountability in the systems of business and government . . . .
No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation. And no one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor, or interfere with democratic movements.