Skip to comments.Haitiís real crisis is poverty (Ya THINK?)
Posted on 01/22/2010 6:25:32 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Haitis humanitarian disaster has rightfully elicited an outpouring of support from around the world. But the tragedy should also elicit outrage because the massive destruction, suffering and loss of life were largely avoidable.
Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods that have regularly afflicted Haiti, have plagued mankind throughout history. As the world has become wealthier, the ability to cope with such calamities has grown; annual deaths due to such disasters have declined by 96 percent since the 1920s.
Economic growth has made it possible for countries around the world, increasingly including developing nations, to mitigate damage done by acts of God. Growth typically brings sturdier construction, insurance schemes, better infrastructure, a more diversified economy, an improved ability to respond to emergencies, access to savings and credit, and so on. Unfortunately, growth has bypassed Haiti. Despite receiving more than $8.4 billion in foreign aid since 1980, Haiti is poorer today than it was 30 years ago.
Haitis poverty80 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 per dayis especially tragic given the strong link between poverty and vulnerability to natural disasters. A study by the Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters looked at a recent 30-year period comparing natural disasters in the worlds 10 richest countries to those in the 10 poorest countries. The center found that the average annual number of victims per 100,000 population per rich country was 36; for the poor countries it was 2,879 even though rich countries experience the same amount of disasters.
Why is Haiti so vulnerable? Its insular economic policies and dysfunctional institutions have kept Haitians poor. While developing countries around the world have successfully implemented economic reforms and significantly increased growth by participating in globalization, Haiti has not. It ranks in the bottom half of nations listed in the Fraser Institutes economic freedom index, and its rating has barely improved since 1980. The sustained lack of freedom goes a long way in explaining the precarious nature of Haitians lives.
I was able to observe as much on a visit to Haiti five years ago, not long after a popular uprising ousted autocratic President Jean Bertrand Aristide, whom Washington re-installed to power in 1990s as part of a democratic nation-building effort.
I witnessed the extreme degree of Haitis dysfunction. Hardly anything worked properly. Piped water delivery was unreliable or non-existent, so Haitians everywhere carried jugs or relied on water delivered by trucks. Electricity service was sporadic, so Haitians who could afford it relied on their own gasoline-powered generators; the rest went without light or used kerosene lamps. A visual inspection of the capital Port-au-Prince at night suggested that only about a third of the grid was in working order.
Public security was not only unreliable; it was dangerous. More than a couple of credible businessmen and civil society representatives recounted personal anecdotes about being kidnapped for ransom by the police. The money they paid in exchange for their freedom, they explained, went directly to Aristide. (Only nine countries in the world have more corruption, according to Transparency International). Crime was widespread, the police were considered just another armed gang, and those who could afford it hired private security.
There has been some improvement in security and foreign investment since then, but not enough to make a difference. Property rights are neither recognized nor protected by the state for the vast majority of Haitians. Bureaucratic regulations are stifling. According the World Bank, it takes 195 days and costs 228 percent of average income in legal and administrative fees just to legally start a business.
Ordinary Haitians labor heroically to survive. Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto recently calculated that 99 percent of Haitian businesses operate in the shadow economy. Prohibitively expensive formal laws push poor Haitians into the highly inefficient informal sector, limiting their potential for wealth creation.
As Haiti moves from emergency to reconstruction, calls for massive, long-term aid programs will only get louder.
The promise of aid is belied by its dismal record. Aid has helped keep Haiti poor. It has sustained poor government policies. It has led to debt, not development. The World Banks qualification of Haiti as a country so highly indebted that it required debt forgiveness, is an implicit admission of aids failure: all of Haitis long-term debt was due to aid and government backed development schemes.
Lets not add to Haitis misfortunes by getting it back on the aid treadmill.
Instead of relying on such largesse, Haiti should use the crisis as an opportunity to unshackle its citizens by dramatically increasing their economic freedom. The key to Haitian prosperity will be the willingness and ability of Haitians themselves to implement far-reaching market reforms.
Ian Vásquez is the director of the Cato Institutes Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. He is a member of the Mont Pèlerin Society and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
3.8 to 4 babies per woman. No economy.
Mark Steyn talked about some American students there setting up a goat farm. He said it was pathetic that the Haitians were incapable of setting up a goat farm.
They want someone else to do everything for them.
Destroying and bankrupting Florida.
Poverty is not a problem - it is a symptom of a larger problem.
......3.8 to 4 babies per woman. ......
The survival rate is too high
No, it is not poverty, its the poverty mindset and culture. You have to change those first in order to get to prosperity. Not likely to happen in Haiti.
socialism doesn’t work, never has.
Because they have no free-market system because they are run by dictators.
Karl Denninger, writing about this, turns around and criticizes Royal Caribbean for having a resort there surrounded by razor wire.
Hey, Karl. What would be better, for RC to pull up their stakes and not stop there, thus cutting off any and all funds they pay to the country.
Or should they stay and continue to protect their interests, which keeps their customers coming back, which keeps money flowing to Haiti, and which, perhaps, may inspire some of the inhabitants to emulate the free-market system and try to make things better for their country?
The guy is such a dolt sometimes.
On our news this evening they were having coverage of Vikings fans in New Orleans and they were showing the 9th ward and there was an older black lady who said she sure wished obama would give some attention to them.
I for one think we should stop all foreign aid and consider this we have to borrow money and pay interest on it to send it abroad. It’s insane robbing us to pay for the world. Haiti is unsustainable they have too many people in too small an area and they have rendered the land useless. Senegal offered them land they should think about taking it.
30% of all children under five do not survive.
Clinton brought back the corrupt dictator and is now on CNN asking for money, what a complete piece of garbage this man is!
As for aid, I just read that aid feeds one million people a month! The country does need to learn to stand on its own two feet, but I doubt this crisis will change anything.
Or, Pat Robertson is right.
Too many people, too few resources.
It is a symptom of a corrupt government and a people who have no morals. Haiti is incapable of governing itself effectively because you cannot find enough honest people to run the place. ALL of the African countries were better off economically under colonial rule.
Haiti’s real problems are cultural, moral, and religious. That is it in a nut shell. Poverty is a result of cultural, moral, and religious failure not its cause.
Yes. Look at Singapore, wealthy and well-ordered because it was designed by an Englishman, embraces free-market capitalism and doesn't tolerate social disorder. How much natural resources does Singapore possess? Probably less than Haiti.
What I foresee happening is a complete US takeover of Haiti, because they have no funcional government, no strong social institutions, and no clue. This seems likely to turn into a gigantic disaster for the US, and 0bama, as he gets involved in the impossible task of nation-building. God help the Haitian people!
Bingo! Until we look in the mirror and admit that, our war on poverty in the U.S. and around the world will continue to fail.
Thanks for the link. It disappoints me so that Freepers carry on the attacks initiated by the media on Christians without regard to basic facts.
The result: we can’t talk about the problem in Haiti or with Islam.
Someone’s got to be poor, and better that it’s them than us.
Haiti’s real crisis is socialism, and the misery it brings.
Not only that, but it is actually destructive. How can a farmer compete with free food from the US, for example. Hence local agriculture destroyed.
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