Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The Case Against (some) Aid to Haiti.

If You Rebuild It, They Will Come ESPN has already cut ties with Paul Shirley over this column, but he's only saying what needs to be said, and should have been said to the survivors of other natural disasters.

It shouldn’t be outlandish to hope that we might stop short of the reactionary word that is so often flung about after natural (and unnatural) disasters. That word: Rebuild. Thus, the tired, knee-jerk cycle of aid/assist/rebuild would be replaced by a new one: Aid/assist/let’s-stop-and-think-before-we-screw-this-up-again.

If forced to do so through logic-colored glasses, no one would look at Haiti and think, “You know what? It was a great idea to put 10 million people on half of an island. The place is routinely battered by hurricanes (in 2008, $900 million was lost/spent on recovery from them), it holds the aforementioned title of poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, and it happens to sit on a tectonic fault line.”

If it were apparent that Haiti would likely rebuild in an earthquake-resistant way, and if a cure could be found for hurricane abuse of island nations, then maybe one could imagine putting a sustained effort into rebuilding the place. But that would only be feasible if the country had shown any ability to manage its affairs in the past, which it has not done.

I was against rebuilding Nawlins. People who build in flood plains deserve what they get. That doesn't mean I don't have compassion for people devastated by these natural disasters. Many of his other points, such as the responsibility of the people of Haiti for their government, echo my own blurts on this blog at one time or another.

Paul Shirley will likely be villified for this column, but he shouldn't be.


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