Haiti will not die. For one, the suffering has been universally afflicted on all Haitians. This will strengthen their bond more than anything. Even if warlords and gangs form their own fiefdoms throughout the country, the humanitarian efforts, whenever they're ready a year or ten from now, can always tap into that shared Haitian identity, forged through an equally-endured hardship.
An earthquake has no one to blame. Probably as many Somalis died as in Haiti (though not in one day) but we only have ourselves to blame, and each victim left a blood debt on his killer, which "must" be avenged (or it has been avenged, and now the victim's family are awaiting reprisals)
I agree. However, you can get spin doctors and loonies who manage to convince others that some group is to blame. Once they have done that they can manipulate the situation in a direction that pleases them. Witness for example demented Pat Robertson who makes the superstitious claim that the misery in Haiti is a direct result of a pact with the devil when Haiti's people (then slaves) overthrew their French masters two centuries ago.
Oh never mind, found it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59NCduEhkBM#t=0m48s on a show called The Young Turks (TYT).
If you listen to what he says, rather than the commentary, then here is the progression.
1) Haitians were under the heel of the French colonialists
2) Some Haitians [in 1804] made a deal with the devil for release from slavery
3) They were cursed because of that deal
4) Bad stuff has happened to Haiti since, including this earthquake
Note, he doesn't say it's the Haitians fault - though I'm sure he would say it was the fault in part of whichever small group made the pact in (1) 200 years ago. Nor does he say they shouldn't have revolted; just that they did it wrong. He seems genuinely concerned to me. He rightly notes that DR is a lot better off and they share the island with Haiti. This last point makes the tragedy of Haitian poverty as much about politics as anything else.
If you don't believe in the Devil then you can ignore his statement as it will be nonsensical to you. To the TYT guy I'd say that he shouldn't be too shocked - people do "make deals with the Devil". Robertson may also be using it as a metaphor for rejecting the Gospel.
Edit: there is actually some evidence to support Robertson's claim, eg[...]
Edit2: cut and pasted to my blog, http://alicious.com/2010/haitian-revolution-devil-pact/ as is OT here.
The event itself does not, it's true. But there certainly is someone to blame for the shoddy construction standards and grievous lack of preparation. The government is entirely accountable for these things.
Its not exactly Luxembourg over there but they survived.
About 6 years ago, an earthquake centered in the northern part of the island destroyed the nearby towns.
$24,742 Trinidad and Tobago (28th)
$1,177 Haiti (146th)
Poverty is the ultimate killer here. An event like the earthquake just sets the time-of-death. Blame the poverty, and the policies which perpetuate it, sure. Blaming the Haitian government for not buying insurance -- building standards and disaster preparedness -- they couldn't have afforded anyway is silly.
Last night my parents recounted their trip (about 10 years ago) to the Dominican Republic. A lot of Haitian labour work in the DR in the fields etc (usual "immigrant labour" stuff you get everywhere). The average wage was about $1 a day. To put it in perspective in the DR (admittedly in the tourist resorts) you bought Coke for $1 :)
But $1 didn't buy you a lot more even in the non-tourist regions. And Haitians worked there, apparently, because the wages were good!
Calling it a mess is an understatement I think.
(I also showed my Dad this link and he said [rough quote] "it was pretty much a dying country when we went there")
But what is the cause of the poverty. Is it overpopulated for the resources available? Is the endemic use of heroin marring the countries ability to govern itself? Is it being exploited by outsiders who are creaming off the benefit of the natural resources for themselves? ...
And an essay on the topic also relayed via that blog:
Look, my point is that something could have been done to prepare, and was not. Mahmud's talking like it's a no-fault act of god that's going to bring everyone together in a solidarity of fellow suffering - I'm saying, if I was Haitian and I'd somehow managed to survive this disaster, I'd compare to how other countries deal with this kind of thing and probably be more angry than ever.
Update: I am evidently not stating my point very well. I'm not looking for a scapegoat. I'm trying to raise the possibility that these low expectations of government, this disregard for accountability, and this willingness to dismiss gross negligence and incompetence as somehow inherent in these "other" societies are a big part of the problem.
"No-one to blame" indeed. Let me tell you what would happen to the mayor of a Japanese town if he let this happen and then just shrugged his shoulders and claimed there was "no-one to blame".
They have been hit with a 7.0 Richter earth quake; even the U.N. and government buildings were floored. Sometimes you just don't have anyone to blame and this is one of those times.
So if you can't afford a 2 story townhouse with earthquake and hurricane proofing you build a one-story that does have proofing and live in 2 rooms instead of 4 but have 2 rooms that are likely to stay standing. If you go for the 4 rooms then the consequences are yours to live with.
There are provisos, if earthquakes and hurricanes haven't ever happened where you live for example.
This sounds incredibly harsh and I, like most, would probably go with the group and build whatever anyone else was building assuming the worst wouldn't happen to me.
God have mercy.
If you want to see something fun regarding this type of mindset, go check Sweden in Malthus' book on population (added in some later edition).
Sweden is today the poster child of the cradle-to-grave nanny state. For good and bad.
Malthus wrote about how self sufficient the Swedes were, compared to the rest of Europe, not blaming and demanding help from the state/nobility... :-)
Civil Order, Access to Water, Food, Jobs, lack of corruption are probably much, much higher on their minds than "Are proper seismic standards being enforced."
I don't suspect the Haitians will be hating their government because earthquake resistance wasn't built into their building code.
If anything, non-wealthy people in a place like Brazil (roughly 95% of the population) probably resent any attempt at building code enforcement by their government as merely another pretense to receive bribes. As much as we complain about politics in the US, rest assured that politicians and thus governments in the less human-capital dependent parts of the world are orders of magnitude worst.
You can't make buildings safer by decree. It takes resources. Haiti is the poorest country in this hemisphere, by far. (The next poorest countries, Guyana or Nicaragua, are each twice as productive by per capita GDP.)
Even with an accurate idea of the chances (but not certainty) of such a major earthquake, the people and government could quite rationally have decided other more pressing needs deserved all of their meager expenditures.
A mud hut may fall down in an earthquake or blow away in a hurricane but is less likely to kill you when it falls over then a brick or concrete building.
Isn't this more about living within the societal means than simply about poverty: If where I live all cars crash or blow up because we lack resources to produce quality cars then one must accept a bicycle or horse and cart for family transport or suffer the consequences, no?
Building codes do not enter in to the equation.
"Let me tell you what would happen to the mayor of a Japanese town if he let this happen and then just shrugged his shoulders and claimed there was "no-one to blame".
Anyway, Japan just sprang to mind as a country with lots of earthquakes, it was not central to my thesis. Feel free to substitute the name of any well-run country in an earthquake zone.
You seem to think that the answer is obvious. Everyone knows that Haiti has severe systemic problems, but it's just not clear what can be done about it in a self-sustaining way.
Look, one last time. Mahmud was saying that no-one's to blame, it was an act of god, can't be helped. I was trying to say that the systemic problems killed those people, poverty killed those people, bad government killed those people. That's what I think and that's all I was trying to say.
What are you talking about?
The end of hate, not Haiti.
Climate change and its perceived influence on the mankind is a very controversial subject, and today most of people's suffering from poverty and misgovernment has nothing to do with it. Advancing your own pet theories using a real-life tragedy as a prop is a bad taste.
It wasn't necessary in the argument, and yes, he was pushing his theories, but it may not have been so completely insulting as: "climate changed caused an earthquake!"
The fact that a lot of people today suffer from poverty and misgovernment is indeed not entirely due to climate change (although there is dutch disease/resource curse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_curse)
However it is not hard to realize that those suffering right now will suffer even more were climate change effects as severe as some scientist predict, is it?
Will the USA take on Haiti and make it a second Puerto Rico? I don't think so; for one, it would be expensive; two, all the Haitians would move to the USA as soon as they could; and there are probably other reasons as well.
So my analysis shows that Haiti will remain a barely functioning country as it was before and it will not "end". After all, Bangladesh has it bad every year due to the extensive flooding and naturally occurring arsenic in the groundwater; but they still exist.
There are currently several thousand US troops in Haiti performing aid activities; I would bet that we could get a UN mandate if so desired.
In the short term it's terrible, but long term a disaster usually spurs rebuilding and economic activity that results in a better situation than what was there before.
Haiti gets a significant natural disaster every three to four years - generally hurricanes and floods, but in this case, an earthquake. So every time they start to rebuild, they get hit again and it all gets undone.
Life goes on, disaster or not.
There's supposedly always better situation in the future, it is pretty dubious to claim that wars and cataclysms accelerate long term development.
On the other hand, even in a developed nation, a major disaster can end the life of an area -- New Orleans is perhaps two-thirds of its former size and looks unlikely to grow.
In this case of Haiti, a steady and dedicated stream of aid could help rebuild the country, but history has shown that the international community's attention to the desperate plight of that nation has always been short-lived.
Sadly, I fear it will be worse than before, and remain so.
It depends on what you mean. Wars have historically accelerated technology development, at least in the short term.
If you mean development more generally, then no probably not. The civilian technology would eventually get developped, if more slowly without the major push of a war. In the process, people and resources are destroyed.
Tech development is self accelerating (with main constraint being human developers, who's numbers wars and catastrophes reduce, btw).
Conflicts provide some bump, but I would say it's pretty insignificant in the large scheme of things.
However, it would seem to me that that Haitians have no common law system or a customary kind which would permit the growth of an informal economy.
If you're referring to Islam, well, that hasn't saved us, or the Iraqis, or Afghanis .. come to think of it, maybe they're better off without a prominent political religious establishment there. Where there is a will for violence and anarchy, the dominant or pre-existing "laws" only become pretexts, never deterrents, or they become marginalized by "circumstances". You have never seen evil until you have seen religion under the Marshall law of the religious, curbed to the side temporarily, until the faithful reach a given objective, promising to resume their piety later when it's more convenient. (a bit meta here, but I am thinking more of Communism than Abrahimic faiths.)
Haiti is from the exact same Moor embryo that gave birth to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Suriname, and the two Guyanas. Sure, they might not become a world-class economy any time soon, but nationhood is within their collective conscious. Never underestimate the will of a regional minority to rise up: francophone Haitians are in the middle of Spanish and English Caribbean. Give them sometime, they will be back up better and stronger.
I am an individualist anarchist, and is naturally drawn to non-statist paradigm of organization and especially evidence for or against possible non-statist systems.
In any case, your opinion is highly valuable. I now have more information regarding what Somalian think of the situation and society in Somalia, which is often mentioned as a case of real world anarchy.
If there is no law system, then there's no anarchy, and thus only chaos. I found that hard to believe when I hear reports of rising standard of living in Somalia, as well capital investment, among other things.
I was only expressing my belief that there seem to be no alternative system of organization in Haiti would be comparable to Somalia's, thus no hope.
EDIT: this is not to say that there are no civil strides. It would seem to me that foreign interferences from other countries destroy possibilities of peace in the region.
It might so happen that it would be torn apart between its own beliefs and what they are made to believe now more than ever.
That's probably the most astute observation I've heard this week.
Are you claiming that Haiti won't fall apart due to their natural resources or are you claiming that Haiti will fall apart due to substance abuse centered around harvesting their natural resources? How are these related to this article or the disaster itself?
Or because of this earthquake the world should build their infrastructure for free?
Haiti didn't have nothing; it had a very crappy version of most things.
Charge Haiti whatever you'd like to build a basic survivable level of civilization. They'll never pay, but that doesn't matter. The alternative is Somalia in the Carribean.
Given the comments about Haiti's resources it seems it should be quite rich monetarily, certainly enough to pay for the rapid construction of Hospitals and the like. Yes, we'd want to help with skilled workers if sufficient don't exist locally for the timescales sought.
I don't think (hope) that the parent is saying we shouldn't help Haiti, just asking why only help them or help them in preference to others that are suffering as much.
Oddly enough, we tried fixing Haiti a few times, too. It's not very successful, but they don't seem to shoot at us quite so much.
Most pictures show the human suffering, but there are a few that show the destruction to infrastructure. I wouldn't say "nothing" is the right word for what Haiti had, but it's a good description of what's left.
I think he meant what he typed. There's plenty of OECD countries without significant natural resources.
Also, remember that for it to help their economy, that humanitarian aid has to stick around for the rebuilding. If everyone makes a huge push to help right now, but then stops as soon as all the bodies are collected, it will not help.
Of course, even if this DOES improve the economy (and I am not saying it will, just that it does not violate the broken window fallacy if it does) this was a horrible tragedy with an enormous deathtoll.
Of course the net gain is zero, but that's not what GDP mean, I think.
Thank you very much for your exceptionalism.