Tuesday, January 19, 2010

David Brooks on Haiti

Brooks is a columnist for The New York Times. His January 15 piece entitled “The Underlying Tragedy” echoed the piece I posted the other day.

This is not a natural disaster story. This is a poverty story. …

… [Obama’s] going to have to acknowledge a few difficult truths.

The first of those truths is that we don’t know how to use aid to reduce poverty. … The countries that have not received much aid, like China, have seen tremendous growth and tremendous poverty reductions. The countries that have received aid, like Haiti, have not.

The second hard truth is that micro-aid is vital but insufficient. … By some estimates, Haiti has more nongovernmental organizations per capita than any other place on earth.

Third, it is time to put the thorny issue of culture at the center of efforts to tackle global poverty. …

We’re all supposed to politely respect each other’s cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them.

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