Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Devastation in Haiti

I think it will be days before we really comprehend the scope of the devastation in Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere with a congenitally terrible, corrupt government. It's been interesting and heartening to see the immediacy with which various relief organizations have ramped up (though for some it will be more a fundraising opportunity than an extensive exercise in providing relief). On the Register's Orange Punch blog I put up links to a few relief organizations that seem fairly reliable, and here's a HuffPost piece with even more links.

It's probably too early to think of such matters, but one can't help wondering whether this might turn out to be an opportunity for Haiti to start over with something of a clean slate. Unfortunately, the conditions that feed poverty -- mostly terrible government -- are likely to still be in place. Tyler Cowen had an interesting piece discussing some of the reasons Haiti is still so poor. If they are as deep-rooted as some seem to be (Napoleonic Code rather than English civil law tradition, less friendly to enterprise) it could be difficult if not impossible. Maybe if we shipped copies of P.T. Bauer's books to every school and library in Haiti as they are rebuiilt? But would anybody read them?

No comments: