Haiti has suffered horrific devastation. It didn’t have to.
There was no way to prevent the 7.0 earthquake itself. But estimates of as many as 200,000 dead? That didn’t have to happen.
Economist Donald Boudreaux recalls that in 1989, an equally powerful quake hit the San Francisco Bay area. It caused lots of trouble but killed fewer than 70 people. But Haiti is a much poorer country than the U.S., with weaker buildings and roads, for starters.
Why so poor?
Haiti is not a free society. It’s had one corrupt tyrant after another, recently emerged from the terrorizing rule of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was sent packing in 2004.
Many pundits are saying that the way to strengthen Haitian society over the long haul is torrents of foreign aid. Economist Jeffrey Sachs wants Washington to spend billions on a five-year development plan, which he says it should fund by taxing Wall Street bonuses.
Charity and rescue efforts are wonderful. Government-to-government foreign aid, not so much. Haiti has remained desperately poor despite the massive flow of foreign aid, which, over the years, has mainly subsidized corruption. What Haiti needs is stability. The ability to attract investment. Less propping up of corrupt politicians. Less foreign aid, more freedom.
But a free society is something Haitians will have to build themselves.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.