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Haiti: How Would You Fix It?



January 14, 2010 – Comments (14)

I just finished reading this article about why Haiti is always on the short end of the stick. I had no idea to the extent Haiti was already damaged goods before the earthquake. My, God! That is one scary place.

A number of us enjoy playing the part of armchair quarterback. Let's put our knowitalliness to the idea of how we would repair Haiti. Where would we start? I have no ideas yet on where to begin but I will put my coconut to the task tonight. I know nothing in real life will come from this exercise. However I think this would make for a better use of my time than doing a crossword puzzle.

And in order to post a comment you first must agree that you will keep your ideas and criticisms constructive. Who would like to throw out the first idea?

14 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On January 14, 2010 at 4:00 PM, tfirst (46.35) wrote:

What's to do? The earthquake caused 3 billion dollars worth of improvements.....

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#2) On January 14, 2010 at 4:09 PM, FleaBagger (27.34) wrote:

I wonder if tfirst considers that to be constructive. Anyway, I just wanted to point out that Haiti's position as the poorest country in the world had something to do with why the quake was so lethal and damaging. In California (substantially wealthier than Haiti), buildings are built differently, and rescue services better equipped, so that when quakes of similar magnitudes happen there, there is far less death, less injury, less property damage, and quicker recovery.

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#3) On January 14, 2010 at 4:23 PM, tfirst (46.35) wrote:

Well I think that when the locals are shooting and robbing the people involved with the relief effort and the authorities are powerless to stop it, the only help the people deserve is transportation out of the area.

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#4) On January 14, 2010 at 4:27 PM, lemoneater (57.13) wrote:

Well, organizations like "Doctors Without Borders" were already in Haiti trying to educate people and encourage better health practices. Also I know of some missionaries, but not many. It is hard for any country to be wealthy no matter what their resources when violent crime (murder, kidnapping etc.) is common. What can an ordinary person do against organized thugs? Prosperity rarely thrives without peace.

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#5) On January 14, 2010 at 4:45 PM, davejh23 (< 20) wrote:

"Anyway, I just wanted to point out that Haiti's position as the poorest country in the world had something to do with why the quake was so lethal and damaging."

Exactly.  Multiple level residences built with bricks you can easily break with your hands and no steel structure are not designed to withstand earthquakes.  Most of these buildings are built without any architectural review, engineering, etc...  You can't even buy earthquake insurance on brick homes with no framing in the could, but it's ridiculously expensive.  Being the poorest nation in the world, I don't think they can change this situation quickly without major support for rebuilding from outside the country.  More wealthy countries in South America face the same challenges.  Has anyone been to Sao Paulo before?  A similar earthquake in Sao Paulo would kill millions.

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#6) On January 14, 2010 at 5:17 PM, nottheSEC (80.95) wrote:

  I do not think perhaps is the time but in exchange If allowed to say I will... if anybody wishes to contribute directly Wyclif Jean of Fugee fame has the Yele Haiti Foundation. go to or text "YELE" to 501501 and $5 will be charged which will go directtly to help.

 The inherent problem with most countries is corruption one way or another.(In the US we are fortunate enough to keep ours at a actionable,unfortunate, minimal and controllable level)  Poor countries cycle from democracies who steal while smiling at the people then later "socialist" promising food and ouster of the corruption to the masses. They get elected in a coup or election.and become dictators and AGAIN steal the money. Rinse, Repeat.

 Sad really the only solution seems a dictator who becomes benevolent after expellling the corrupt. IMHO all.

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#7) On January 14, 2010 at 5:25 PM, silverminer (29.68) wrote:

After addressing humanitarian needs, I would initiate a new agrarian era for the country, where the vast majority of citizens become directly involved in subsistence activities. Food will be scarce in many parts of the world during this decade, and agriculture with a surplus could be Haiti's gradual ticket to prosperity. At the very least, the population would enjoy better nutrition than existed for many citizens before the quake, and a self-sufficient lifestyle sounds like a better fate than living in the slums of Port-Au-Prince.



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#8) On January 14, 2010 at 5:41 PM, davejh23 (< 20) wrote:

"I would initiate a new agrarian era for the country, where the vast majority of citizens become directly involved in subsistence activities."

This could be a good idea, but I don't know if they have the resources for it.  It's a small country, with less than 1 acre per person, and I imagine that a good portion of the land is not useable farm land.

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#9) On January 14, 2010 at 6:14 PM, Recover22kplan (33.56) wrote:

They should beg France to take them back  - Karma for Haiti - Very sad.... but a reality - They are horrible to thier own children, I would count myself lucky to be among the dead if I were a child there, better off those innocents to be with the Angels in Heaven than to suffer another day in Haiti as a child.

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#10) On January 14, 2010 at 6:28 PM, Recover22kplan (33.56) wrote:

It is in the stars and there will be more pain for Haiti to come if it isn't bad enough already - God bless the Military and those helping - God, keep them safe as they are deployed to help Haiti out from thier mire.

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#11) On January 14, 2010 at 7:01 PM, devoish (82.57) wrote:

I have no idea if that YELE Haiti foundation is a ggood or bad charity, but before i gave a cent I would make sure most of the money goes to the charitys mission, not administration. 

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#12) On January 14, 2010 at 7:25 PM, ChrisGraley (28.58) wrote:

The land is not really suitable for variety of crops. They, like a lot of other Carribean countries depend on imports.

Government has mismanaged the country and the crime rate is extremely high. They don't have much of a banking system and the unemployment rate was already about 50%.

The World bank doesn't have anywhere near amount the funds to rebuild them. I'll bet they have about a trillion dollars in damages and they have a GDP of only about 12.5 billion.

A large investment from the private sector could do it, but they won't invest unless they see stability in the country. They didn't have stability before this.

So, what would I do? First they need a babysitter. Either a large country or a group of large countries need to take control of stability until they get back on their feet. They need to temporarily assume control of the government and concentrate on basic human needs, job creation, and public safety. All tax revenue needs to come from consumption and tourism. You need to avoid taxing basic needs as much as possible though, so you can keep the tax from being regressive.

Then you are going to need a huge commitment from the private sector. (particularly banks, casinos and hotels) The private sector is not going to make the investment that is needed without a chance for big profits, so you are going to have to sacrifice some regulation for initial growth.

The plan is to make the Monte Carlo of the Carribean. I would ask for China to take a big role in this development because the have experience in rapid construction at huge levels. The basic idea is to invest enough in the country to make it a 5 star tourist attraction. That won't be enough though so you need to invest in the banking sector as well and develop other service industries that we can export to other countries. This needs to be done as quickly as possible. The reason for the speed is that we will have to accelerate the velocity of money to the point drop the unemployment rate quickly enough to create domestic service jobs.

You are going to need some troops on the ground to act as a police force and you are going to need to have very strict enforcement in the beginning. The hope is that by the time the buildings are built, you've got the criminal element off the street. Hopefully you have employed a huge amount of the population in the construction industry in the mean time. Those people are going to be the only ones spending money in the begining. You need to build around the clock if possible and employ as many people as possible until the tourism starts to flow in. This is never going to be a robust economy. Imports will always be greater than exports, so their best hope is to import as much tourist currency as possible.

If we are lucky enough to get to this point, there will still be problems.

1) A population problem. There isn't a lot of land per person as it is, so once people start making money, real estate prices may be growing faster than wages. You can anticipate this one though and try to build large apartment complexes in the beginning.

2) It will erode economies of the other countries in the area. Tourists that go to Haiti, won't be spending money in their country. The only solution I can think of here is to allow them to invest in Haiti as well and try to funnel some of the construction spending through their countries with the expectation that they will prepare themselves for the drop in revenue.

3) The hardest one for me to take! I have a moral dilema of doing everything that I stated above. Particularly walking in to a country and taking over the government for a population that didn't vote for me. It is necessary, because their government is inept, but does that give me the right to do that? Even if I walk away leaving them a better country than I walked into, do I have the right to take away their right to self determine their destiny? I know that this is common in the world, and even with the most respected governments, but I'm not sure I could stomach it. I could sell it and I know I could get a desperate population to buy it, but good intentions should never override inalienable rights.

Sometimes good medicine is hard to stomach,

sometimes poison is to easy to stomach.

You can't figure out what you drank till after the fact.



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#13) On January 14, 2010 at 8:08 PM, nottheSEC (80.95) wrote:

DEVOISHI doubt you will have to worry about a millionaire Haitian musician and noted activist's charity..Generally though a good website with sound advice. Do not donate to the government cause its very prolly corrupt and SPECIFY to the Red Cross and other international  charities WHERE you want the money spent. Haiti.

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#14) On January 14, 2010 at 8:55 PM, ChrisGraley (28.58) wrote:

tfirst you are obviously young and were never poor.

When you combine poverty with a corrupt government, crime will always be a given. You always wind up with an "Every man for himself!" mentality. You can't blame a man for the environment of his birth.

Every person has the same capacity for good or evil, but victims of habitual evil tend to be experts at how to do it better.

Be glad that you were born into an environment that you don't have to worry about the problems that these people have, but at least be humble enough to admit that you were one of the lucky ones.

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