From Richard Ebeling:
Real Economic Reform for a Hurting Haiti by Richard M. Ebeling
Our televisions screens have been full of those tragic pictures of the devastation and human hardship that has been caused by the earthquake in the Caribbean country of Haiti.
Governments and private relief agencies are mustering their efforts to bring assistance to the survivors of this natural disaster, which may result in a death toll of possibly up to 100,000 people, according to some initial statements coming out of that country.
Private charitable agencies have historically shown themselves to have a greater degree of flexibility, creativity, and adaptability to handle these types of emergencies than governments in the context of the conditions in the affected area.
But besides that, governments – however well intentioned and helpful their relief aid may be for victims of these disasters – often start thinking “bigger thoughts” about the need and desirability of a more permanent political helping hand in the nation affected.
Such voices are already appearing in the form of former president Bill Clinton, who is now serving as the U.N. special envoy to Haiti. On the January 14, opinion page of The Washington Post, Clinton writes about “What We Can Do to Help Haiti, Now and Beyond.” He calls for a join effort by “governments, businesses and private citizens” to rebuild and move Haiti on to a path of future economic growth and prosperity.
We have been reminded that Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. At a time when many countries in the less underdeveloped areas of the globe have been rising out of poverty over the last several decades, Haiti, however, is one of those countries that has continued to stagnate with a 50 percent rate of unemployment of the work force and with 80 percent of the population estimated to be living below the poverty line before the earthquake. At a time when more and more countries are becoming industrialized and economically more diversified, over 65 percent of the people in Haiti still depend upon low productivity farming for their meager standard of living.
The government, not just for decades but also for more than two centuries, has been notoriously corrupt, brutal and tyrannical. If there is any instance of Frederic Bastiat’s notion of “legalized plunder,” under which the powers of government are applied to steal the wealth of some for the benefit of others who are politically well connected, it is Haiti throughout it’s sad history.
Billions of taxpayers’ dollars from the U.S. and many other countries have all gone down a huge government rat hole that has lined the pockets of the rulers and their political cronies in Haiti. And, now, President Obama has announced that U.S. taxpayers will send an additional $100 millions to Haiti over the coming months and years. Unfortunately, there has been no lasting benefit and sustained improvement in the wretched conditions of the Haitian people from all this politically redistributed largess.