What African Airports Taught Me about Obamacare
In April 2008, I was in Monrovia, Liberia to determine if the company for which I was working wanted to take on the management of the airport, Roberts Field. After 15 years of civil war, the airport – a former PanAm station where 707s and 747s stopped for fuel and food prepared by French chefs before traveling to South Africa or the Middle East – was just returning to operation. As a Space Shuttle emergency landing strip, Roberts Field had the longest runway in Africa.
During a two-week site survey, the director general of civil aviation asked our team of former pilots, a business development director, and architects and engineers to sit in on a couple of presentations to rehabilitate the old terminal building. Other former government buildings in and around Monrovia were also shells, as destitute Liberians had stripped bombed buildings for whatever they could sell to scrap yards. The two-story structure had been gutted down to the concrete floors and columns during the war.
A Nigerian firm was first. The leader took one look at the six white people sitting around the conference table and challenged the director general's choice of evaluators. "African brothers should support African brothers!" The director general ignored the none too subtle and coded racist attack with "You can either give your presentation, or you can go."
My team won the work, developed a master plan for the airport, and hired a U.S.-trained airport manager, and within a year, Delta Airlines began service between Monrovia and New York City, one of the former PanAm routes.
During a 2010 Corporate Council on Africa convention in Washington, D.C., I delivered a 15-minute presentation on what it took to take Roberts Field, an airport that had been effectively dismantled and shut down, to a post-war "functional and safe" airport with Transportation Security Administration approvals for nonstop service between Liberia and America. Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was the first one off a Delta 767 in the first inaugural flight. After my presentation, over thirty representatives from African nations, from Angola to Zimbabwe, lined up to talk to me to see when I could visit their countries and see what we could do for their capital airports.
Every country representative we met, from ambassadors to trade representatives, expressed a need and a desire for our services. Who wouldn't want a U.S. or European air carrier to service his country? I must have made it sound easy. (It was not.)
We looked at other African airports. We racked and stacked them according to some not so arbitrary metrics – primarily, how accommodating the government was. A significant part of the success in the Liberian airport was directly attributable to the personal involvement of the chief executive. Our program manager reported directly to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on a monthly basis. We were a welcome partner in the success of the airport. It was a necessary arrangement to control the rampant corruption at the airport that we had found during our site visit.
I was in no hurry to make the embassy connection to seek official sponsorship and entry into Zimbabwe. However the situation was at their airport, I recommended to my leadership we reject any consideration of rehabilitating or managing Zimbabwe's airport primarily because of its land confiscation policies that targeted white people. The Obama administration had issues with the Zimbabwe government's confiscation policies, but only on the basis that "confiscation of white-owned farms is contributing to the growing hunger crisis in the region." Three thousand white commercial farmers in Zimbabwe were subject to a "fast track" seizure program to redistribute farmland to landless blacks.
In our airport planning meetings, I learned that South Africa was contemplating a similar property confiscation law, and any consideration to evaluate their airports was also rejected. I had plenty of potential work to consider without trying to involve the company in a potential race war on another continent.
Nothing says, "White people are not welcome here" like a racist law designed to use the power of government to take a white person's stuff. It was pretty sobering revelation that if you were Caucasian, the government of Zimbabwe (and soon South Africa) could unilaterally confiscate your property – and everything in it or on it – without compensation, solely for redistribution to blacks.
Zimbabwe's law was an obvious "payback" law. The government of President Robert Mugabe effectively said, "You white people stole our land, we're taking our lands back, and now we're giving your land to landless black people. White people are persona non grata in Zimbabwe. Leave while you can." Government-backed land seizures were "chaotic and often violent" and resulted in numerous deaths and serious human rights abuses.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, how can anyone not see that the government of President Barack Obama channeled Robert Mugabe and effectively said, "The majorities have insurance, we're taking your insurance, and now we're giving your insurance to minorities and even illegal aliens"? "And we are going to charge the IRS to make you pay for it whether you like it or not." Obamacare was a racist-motivated, government-backed insurance seizure, just as if the government came into your house, cracked open your home safe, stole your insurance policy, and charged you many times what your policy used to cost.
In Zimbabwe, the government led a racially driven land grab solely for redistribution to blacks. The South African black-majority government will also lead a racially driven land grab solely for redistribution to blacks. In America, Obama led a racially driven insurance grab solely for redistribution to minorities and illegals.
Republicans in Congress should vigorously reject this racist-motivated law and repeal it with extreme prejudice.