Friday, June 24

Project 1061

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has sponsored a bill, #1061, that threatens to end US aid to Ethiopia unless private property rights are respected. The bill is concerned with the thousands of Ethiopian Americans who have had their property stolen by nationalizations from the Dergue onto the EPRDF.

This bill came to the notice of most in terms of an Eritrean constituent of the Congressman:
"I see no reason why, if you have a corrupt government that refuses to compensate U.S. citizens, why we should be providing aid to them,' Rohrabacher said. "If they'll steal from a private citizen, they'll steal from our government programs."
In the very best traditions of patriotic American liberal democracy as well as ample concern for the 'home country' of Ethiopia, a natural partner of the bill is Project 1061 which is dedicated to the Bill's passage.

The most clear message of the project beyond the just cause of those individuals is the primacy of private property rights in any healthy society. Ensuring human rights and economic rights is a process that is inexorably rooted in the posession of property rights.

This subject has been an ongoing obsession for ethiopundit and we are delighted to see it has taken its proper place not only in debate but in policy. Ethiopia's neo-communist government is based on the denial of property rights which necessarily assure the EPRDF's dictatorship and corruption places of primacy in national affairs.
The organizers of Project 1061 include Americans of Ethiopian ancestry, Ethiopian Americans, Ethiopian nationals, supporters of human rights and others dedicated to the protection, preservation and promotion of private property rights in Ethiopia.

The Project is supported by the Task Force for Project 1061, and includes business men and women, academics, medical, legal and other professionals, students and others who share the twin core values of the Project. Although project members have diverse backgrounds and widely differing political, social and religious beliefs, they are united in their belief that H.R. 1061 can play a fundamental role in promoting freedom in Ethiopian society better and their dedication and commitment to the enjoyment of property rights for all Ethiopians.
Their declaration of principles includes these points
the Ethiopian government has been incapable of addressing the root causes of poverty: Land remains state property and private ownership in land is limited to leaseholds. Economic development remains bogged down in a tangled and corrupt bureaucracy which thrives on ethnic politics and favoritism. A pseudo-privatization program has done little to spur domestic or foreign investment.

Private property rights in Ethiopia continue to be violated by the government through arbitrary takings, takings for non-public purposes, denial of just compensation and significant bureaucratic interference in property use. Large numbers of Americans of Ethiopian ancestry whose properties were nationalized, expropriated and confiscated by the Derg find have found little justice despite the passage of three decades.

In the new century, Ethiopia can aspire to overcome debilitating poverty and its consequences only if it promotes, supports and expands the private sector, embraces the free market system and actively cultivates a culture of private entrepreneurship.
Please visit the website. Every page and link is a factual, considered and thoughtful primer on the link between property rights, human rights, economic rights and unlocking the potential of too long crippled Ethiopian society.

Responding to this effort the Ethiopian Embassy characteristically accused the Congressman's constituent of having a "personal, political agenda." Well ... yes, he wants his property back and a corrupt dictatorship refuses to give it back. Aside from killing or imprisoning him or his family that is about as personal and political as it gets.

Additionally, the Ethiopian Embassy seemed confused that " that he does not believe the Ethio American relation[s] is dependent on a single person's claims." This confusion is quite understandable because for an Ethiopian government representative worrying about any human outside of the revolutionary aristocracy is an entirely alien concept.

The Ethiopian Embassy represents a government that denies 70 million people every manner of political, economic and human rights and thinks nothing of shooting them down in the streets and seeing them suffer famine.

This Congressman is clearly a friend of all Ethiopians because he is supporting them on one of the most crucial subjects of their economic and political development. The Ethiopian government uses foreign aid to enrich itself and to cultivate Western donors as its constituency while ignoring Ethiopians.

A form of sanctions against the government is necessary. Perhaps a Zimbabwe style regimen against the ruling revolutionary feudal class would be of value along with as set of Ethiopian Sullivan Principles to guide foreign aid in supporting democracy in Ethiopian instead of making common cause with the ruling class.

The problem of course is that the government has 70 million hostages against the 'good behavior' of Ethiopians abroad and friends of Ethiopia. The issue of sanctions still can not be avoided in Ethiopia just as it was not avoided in another setting of apartheid - South Africa of the 1970s and 1980s.

The degree of delight we have taken in Project 1061 is almost impossible to quantify because of the importance of private property rights for freedom and for a free market.The following examples of our first year of blogging show how dear the subject has been to us:

Our Land From the Tiller series of posts deals with the importance of property rights.

Our Democracy and Freedom series of posts looks at the prospects for basic human and political rights and not only finds them lacking but these parts, Revolutionary Feudalism, Wretched of the Earth, and Defending the Revolution show that absent property rights are harbingers of dictatorship and destitution.

Our Aid and Investment series shows how the entire economy is geared to aid and the future is geared to fantasies of massive aid to cover up the expected failures of communist policies and structurally determined levels of corruption never before seen in Ethiopian history.

Our Reds series shows that Ethiopian governance is based on Marxist-Leninist-Maoist doctrine long abandoned or always ignored by decent governments across the globe.

Our Economics series shows that the economy is in a horrible state and that it has absolutely no prospects of improvement under the policies of the current government. Current governance ignores every basic lesson of history and economics in favor of the enrichment of the aristocracy and in the service of a brutal will to power.

<< Home