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Friday, January 7. 2011
I happen to know two people who are venturing to Haiti next week, one acquaintance and one friend, to do good works, mostly of a medical nature. They do not know eachother.
Haiti is in a state of anarchy. It was anarchy before the earthquake, which is why it could not deal with an ordinary catastrophe. They tried socialism, but how do you do socialism without producers to take money from? There have been hundreds of NGOs in Haiti, and billions of dollars given, and it all goes into a black hole. Nothing happens. God knows where the money ends up. Switzerland or the Caymans, probably.
Haiti is the sort of disastrous place that draws people who want to do good works. As the whole world grows more prosperous, there are fewer and fewer outlets for such folks. For non-profit types, going to work in Haiti is analogous to getting your combat medals.
In my view, Haiti's problem is the culture - not earthquakes or cholera or the endemic rape or Voodoo or hurricanes. The Dominican Rep, next door on the same island, is flourishing, lovely, and generally civilized and safe despite their rural poverty.
- How do you transplant a new culture to a population of 10 million poor people?
I advised these folks to read Graham Greene's classic The Comedians, but they had done that already.
So I advised them to watch Masked and Anonymous.
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Without rule of law and property rights they will never attract capital or capitalists. They get universal poverty.
Over the course of my long life, I have watched many rescue efforts for Haiti being launched and collapsing into failure. As you say, Bird Dog, this is something internal to the whole people and government of the island, a certain kind of sickness which causes every well-meaning effort mounted on their behalf. The island of Hispaniola, on which Haiti is located, is also home to the Dominican Republic, a lovely and flourishing civilization divided from the Haitian sickness only by a geographic border.
I've often thought how can one half of that island be so sick, and the other so well? Do we have an answer?
"I've often thought how can one half of that island be so sick, and the other so well? Do we have an answer?"
I don't know but I think it might have something to do with what I'll call "social attitude". Let me explain by contrasting my experiences in both Haiti and Bosnia-Hercegovina while a Canadian Forces officer.
Both countries were a mess with their infrastructures utterly shattered. But Haiti's was ruined by neglect while Bosnia's was ruined by conflict.
The moment the fighting halted in Bosnia, people cleaned up the streets, got the kids back to school, fixed up the telephones, got the markets going again and just generally attempted to normalize things as best as they could.
In Haiti, what infrastructure there was didn't work because it simply wasn't maintained - telephones, mail, power and sewage (a patrol around downtown Port-au-Prince after sunset was an interesting, surreal, almost Mediaeval experience combining darkness with smoldering piles of ordure and refuse; the smell was quite particular!).
Absent fighting each other, the "social attitude" of Bosnians of all stripes quickly kicked in to try and tidy up the mess they'd made. The Haitians seemed entirely hapless, and without any collective attitude at all to grapple with the entropy and decay surrounding them.
Hmmmm. "How do you transplant a new culture to a population of 10 million poor people?"
Quick answer would be a serious case of lead flu (but they are disarmed aren't they?), followed by the inevitable post chaos cholera, dysentery, typhus, malaria, and sundry other culture levelers.
Unfortunately (or, more likely, fortunately) the U.S. would not let that happen, but jump in with assorted military assistance to maintain the status quo plus medical and environmental "hearts and mind" operations to prop up the quo despite the shaky status.
Jeez. I am getting cynical in my old age.
Yeah. A new culture!
I lean toward giving each and every person over 13 years old a firearm, and telling them to protect what's theirs, and not to steal from anyone else.
There are those who will try, but if everyone is armed? Bad idea, mostly.....The odds are not in your favor.
If they have to have anarchy, let everyone be in the same state for a while, instead of some anarchists being more equal than others, and we'll see if they develop some discipline.
I'm figuring they would.
I would like to take a position somewhat contrary to your view. Your first three questions are of course reasonably answered by anyone willing to take a high altitude view of the problem.
The problem is that the answers do not translate into any sort of positive action. In essence, they require a commitment to long term influence, or barring that a military intervention. I am particularly thinking here of the USA and not international, lest we become too broad in our focus.
My impression of the way your questions and post are phrased implies that is that there is no hope, therefor no action justified unless there are immediate solutions. I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, but your view is generally echoed by many intelligent people who have not studied the matter in detail. If the questions can't be answered then obviously no action can/should be taken.
I do take particular exception to your last question: "- And who asked you to do that, anyway?".
Jesus said (among many) regarding the poor and helpless:
"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matthew 10:42
So that is who said to do it. Our kindness toward Haiti following a devastating earthquake has nothing to do with improving their government (good luck with that) or changing their culture. Lets leave that to the long-term change team. Just feed the people, fix their bodies, and show them Jesus Christ. The macro view folks will have nothing to change if enough population is killed and communists take advantage of a frustrated an helpless population. They are there now... wonder who is sowing the seeds of riot?
The real work in Haiti is being done by churches with limited resources. You could find them with a little internet time. Our tiny church and friends shipped enough food to keep 100,000 on an island from starvation for 8 weeks until reasonable normality resumed. Ours is rebuilding 20 or so churches, some of which have 1000+ Sunday attendance. Ours runs an orphanage. Also supplies the only boat service to the island and has a successful program to encourage entrepreneurship.
Many, many churches are doing the same and only humbly mention the need. There is considerable sacrifice in the USA: money is tight, volunteers are of course not paid for large amount of time in-country, and personal hardship is significant for stateside folk.
Help or don't help, it's up to you. Asking semi-rhetorical questions helps no one.
Sadly, Haiti is inundated with help. Help is Haiti's greatest curse, that, and being so close to Miami from whence help so easily cometh.
I know, because I spent several years working in P.au.P for an aid agency, and now I can't get those years back.
"Culture is religion externalized." - R. J. Rushdoony.
If so, Haiti needs a serious religious overhaul. It is spiritual in nature. All the bad behavior flows from that.
best way to "cure" places like Haiti is to completely cut them off from the outside world (so no "aid", "relief", "disaster recovery", no taking in their people as "assylum seekers", no trade, etc. etc.) for a few decades to a century.
That way they either change into something self sustaining, or they die out and you can resettle the land.
Easier to do with an island than with Iran or Africa, but needed in all those places.
And no, North Korea isn't an example that that doesn't work. It's not cut off completely from the outside world. The US, South Korea, Japan, and China keep the regime there (and the culture and state it imposes) alive deliberately (or through stupidity) while criticising its every move.
Cut them off? Hmmm, I don't quite think that would work. In 1994, they had yet another crisis of some sort. The ship I was stationed on patrolled the waters off the coast. It was an FFG which is 450 feet long and has a crew of 225. In one day, we rescued over 800 Haitians that were fleeing Haiti on whatever they could find that would float.
We transported them to Gitmo. There, I heard that 95% were eventually sent back to Haiti.
Mostly because nobody wanted them. The ones that eventually made it to Florida created a Little Haiti in the Miami area which rivaled Little Havana for the amount of violent crime.
Either we help them on their island, and contain them to their island or we will have to deal with them in the U.S.
Recently talked to a person with strong ties to Russia. Asked him why/when Chechnya will be brought under control. He said as long as the generals and powerful people profit from the drug/slave trade that transits that area, it will never be brought under control. I think the same could be said for Haiti. It is a notorious warehouse, avenue, for the drug trade. It would not surprise me if a slave trade also transited that area.
You touched on an important point that must not be lost. The Domincan Republic is doing well even though the disaster that is Haiti is next door. The reason??? Their border is actually guarded. They will NOT let you or anyone else cross from Haiti into the DR. They will shoot you if you try. They have genuine border security. AND the DO NOT allow anchor babies!!!!
Hey! More great news!
It looks like Africa will soon have a new failed state of its own we'll all end up paying for: