Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Revisiting Haiti

I periodically revisit old issues posted on this blog.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Five years ago this week, Haiti was hit by an earthquake.

The magnitude of this quake was comparable to the one that hit San Francisco during a World Series game in 1989. The 40 to 1 difference in per capita real GDP between the United States and Haiti translated into a 1000 to 1 difference in earthquake deaths.

Chile was hit by a much larger earthquake around the same time as Haiti. There are some mitigating reasons, but Chile is a lot more developed than Haiti, and the there were 300 times more deaths in Haiti than in Chile.

Lots of people reflexively blame problems in places like Haiti on exploitation by the rich. If anything, the exploitation seems to be going the other way.

And Haiti’s problems are not for lack of help. Consider David Brooks’ second argument from this article.

Why revisit this now? Because Congress is looking into where all the aid money for Haiti actually ended up. Their former ambassador to the U.S. alleges that most of it did not end up helping Haitians very much.

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