Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What If Haiti Is Never Rebuilt?

The media coverage of vast devastation and human suffering in Haiti has conveyed a sense of urgency seldom seen before. The outpouring of support included an unprecedented TV special simultaneously picked up by numerous networks and cable outlets that generated more than fifty million dollars. Americans also used texting to automatically generate contributions at a level never before seen.

As horrific as the tragedy has been in the island nation, it is already slipping from people's concerns as the "news fatigue" factor kicks in. Anytime there is a disaster of great magnitude caused by nature, people of this country are quick to respond. Likewise, there is also always a rumbling from some people about "helping our own" rather than giving to others beyond any I have seen before.

Perhaps because of the magnitude of the destruction in Haiti, or the massive fundraising that has occurred, there seems to me to be a significantly higher level of opposition to Haiti relief than I've noticed during other disasters. There may be racial and socio-economic factors at play, but I think most of the resistance to long-term aid to Haiti is driven by a different motive.

It is one thing to provide immediate assistance to those in need of medical attention, food, water, and temporary shelter. It is quite another to suggest that America has a duty to help rebuild Haiti.

The people of Haiti have lived at the lowest level of poverty in the Western Hemisphere for decades as the bottom of the barrel definition of "Third World" conditions. Those conditions existed because the people of Haiti have done nothing to correct their leaders. Haiti has no economy to rebuild. It lacks the structure of a society, or the cultural mores to promote the general good. There is no agriculture, manufacturing, service industry or tourism in Haiti. Haiti has long been a nation of deadbeats run by a handful of thieves.

If America were to rebuild Haiti what would be built? No farms or factories of any significance were destroyed. In essence, aside from a few poorly constructed office buildings, schools, hospitals and hotels, the only building of significance that was destroyed was the palace. Most of the structures that were destroyed were poorly constructed housing and shanties. Because the people of Haiti have allowed themselves to be ruled by corrupt and self-serving people there were no meaningful building standards, or worthy infrastructure. You didn't hear about the public water treatment center, or the bridge and highway system being wiped out because they didn't exist in any meaningful form. In many ways, Haiti has been culturally bankrupt and lacks the collective will to live otherwise. The Dominican Republic, while not a perfect state, has used self-determination and market forces to create a far better society for its people on the same island.

People who suggest that by building modern, safe homes, hospitals, schools, workplaces and roads in haiti will somehow keep anti-American influences such as Muslim radicals, and South American communists from gaining a foothold I ask, so why weren't those forces successful prior to the disaster?

I agree we should provide all the medical assistance, first aid and humanitarian provisions needed by the people of Haiti. If Haiti is to be rebuilt, let the people of Haiti do it, or invite outside private enterprise to determine what can economically flourish there. If the land is too barren to support agriculture, the people too poorly educated to support commerce, and the political will too low to take back their destiny, I do not think it is America's place to rebuild that nation's housing, roads, and economy. Until the people of Haiti are willing to work toward their own future, it is wrong for the U.S. to assume we can create a better place there.