Disaster Area

Ok, brace yourself kids. This is not going to be pleasant.

I am sick to death of hearing about the relief effort in Haiti.

Not because the sitution isn't dire.

Not because donations aren't needed.

Not because we've given enough or done enough already.

Not because I am a heartless bastard like the members of the "National Alliance for Liberty and Freedom, a coalition of national libertarian, tea party, objectivist, and Ayn Rand groups" - the asshats who run this site...

No, I'm sick of it because it took an earthquake for the aid to arrive.

Long before this disaster, Haiti was recognized as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. According to the CIA World Factbook, 80% of Haiti's population lives below the poverty line, and 54% live in abject poverty. They have suffered occupation and oppression by Western nations (the U.S. occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934) throughout the nation's existence. After they won their independence and became the first black republic in 1804, the slave-trading nations boycotted them and pushed their emerging economy into ruin. In order to lift the boycott, in 1838 they agreed to repay French slave owners for the land they lost in revolution, to the tune of 150 million francs, plus interest. That debt was borne by the Haitian people until payed off in 1922.

They struggle with a mostly agricultural economy that is susceptible to natural disasters, and an imbalance between export crops and food crops that leads to widespread hunger. Illiteracy and ignorance are rampant as only 30% of their children begin to attend school, and of that number only 2% stay in school past the 5th grade. There is a test at the 5th grade called the "sertifica" which students must pass to go on in the public schools. It is in French, so those who speak only Creole (that is the poor, the bulk of the population) have little to no chance of passing it.

They have no infrastructure to speak of. Roads, bridges, dams, sanitation facilities, utility companies, phone lines - all are largely absent in Haiti. Haiti's government is among the most corrupt in the world, and millions in donations from outside the country that were intended for public works have been skimmed off into the pockets of the elites.

What few jobs that are available outside the agricultural sector are largely manufaturing. Rather than pay the national minimum wage of $2.60 an hour, companies base their pay system on piece work, which reduces the actual rate of pay to less than $2.00 per hour. Even this pittance is double the $1.00 per hour typical in the agricultural sector. Historically, unions have been the antidote to this kind of exploitation, but with hundreds of thousands unemployed there is no hope or leverage for a workers movement.

So once the dust has settled, the dead have been buried, the ex-presidents asking for donations go home, the text message donation lines are closed, and the pictures of the devastation stop making ratings, Haiti will STILL be a disaster area – but we only make donations to clean up natural disasters, not the ones we helped make.

2 comments:

Cerus said...

Sadly, this is too true. I keep hoping that this will stay in the news long enough to keep people's attention on how shitty Haiti is now and maybe allow them to see how shitty it was before this. Unfortunately, the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl are coming up, so I believe that soon this sad series of events will be pushed from minds of the public. Switched out for a happier existence of beer and gluttony.

His Sinfulness said...

Indeed. It's likely that Haiti will go on being a disaster area for years to come.

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