Saturday, January 23, 2010

Of Forests and Trees...

I was just watching Cashin' In on FoxNews (Cheryl Cassone is a sexy beast!), where I had occasion to hear two of the guests say more or less the same thing vis-a-vis bringing Haiti into the Stone Age from it's current chaos, and justifying the massive amounts of American aid to Haiti pre-and-post earthquake. Paraphrasing:

Prosperity and recovery will not come [to Haiti] until you are able to create a stable, responsible government, and a permanent infrastructure (to bring clean water, sanitation, transportation and communications to the Haitian people). Until that day arrives, the Haitians will require our "help", and the private sector is unable to provide that sort of assistance; only government can

The implication here is that all of this "aid" that has been flowing into the island for the better part of two decades was somehow being used to do "good". Considering we're watching barely-a-nation disintegrate into a bloody mess of human misery faster than the cheap cement that couldn't withstand an earthquake, I begin to question just what "good" was being done by any government that there is so little to show for all this "investment"? What happened to all of that "aid" so that there are no hospitals? No means of maintaining public order? Armed gangs roaming the streets robbing orphanages? No heavy equipment to rescue survivors?

Two reasons why I find the attitude that only government is capable of solving these problems to be a load of crap;

Reason Number 1, it is an excuse to continue pouring money into a bottomless pit for no tangible results, except for a selected few. I understand that this is all the rage in Washington, D.C., but for those of you who have not been paying attention to Tea parties and Massachusetts special elections, the days of throwing money that has been washed through several layers of bureaucracy at intractable problems are over. If they aren't over, perhaps we're beginning to at least see some people seriously rethink the proposition. The "aid" that isn't siphoned off by graft and corruption is apparently not even barely adequate to provide Haitians with minimal services. If government isn't capable of doing even this at a minimum level, even in a Third-world shithole, then what makes anyone think that the same government, even with different people in charge, is the answer? All the aid in the world (even aid that benefits the U.S. Businessman and politician), all the "government" you can conjure up in your fevered imagination, will not help Haiti because of Reason Number 2;

The problem in Haiti (apart from the immediate issues caused by the earthquakes) are not financial, administrative or legal; they are cultural. Haitians expect to treated like cattle, and so they are. They have stood by and let generation after generation of politician and criminal destroy their society, and sent the message that corruption pays. Until this underlying culture of dependence and resignation is replaced, the corruption, instability and poverty will continue. Replacing that culture is something only Haitians can do and it doesn't require loads of charity. They must simply demand that their society operate by a simple set of civilized rules, and then be diligent in ensuring that those rules, and their consequences, are fairly enforced. it will not be easy, but it can be done.

Without a cultural tradition which recognizes and respects individual rights and liberties, there can never be a government which will be anything except a corrupt kleptocracy, or a murderous tin pot dictatorship, and Haiti has had both. Such governments are incapable of providing security or even "infrastructure" to anyone.

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