Bunker Mulligan "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~Mark Twain

February 29, 2004

Human Aid

Filed under: International — Bunker @ 8:20 am

There are 7.5 million people in Haiti, and their GDP is (per capita) $1400. The per capita income is about $400 (depending on which resource referenced) which is 28% of GDP. The US per capita GDP is $37,600 and our per capita income is $32,000, or 85% of GDP.

Government revenues in Haiti are $273 million. Government expenditures are $361 million. They receive $120 million in foreign assistance, and have a national debt of $1.2 billion. I don’t think it requires a lot of analysis to understand what has happened in Haiti under Aristide.

Bush 41 helped put Aristide and a “democratic” government in power. At the time it made sense. Aristide was a priest who preached peace and democracy, and he had a loyal following. When Aristide was forced out of power by military coup, Clinton helped put him back. He is now gone once more. And the country is probably worse off now than before. He’ll go off to exile and live in luxury, a priest who obviously renounced his vow of poverty.

This is a mixed bag of supporters. There are those, like the Baathists in Iraq, who want to continue the government and its institutions as they now stand for personal reasons. There are democratic supporters, sincere in their support of the only representative government they’ve known. The opposition is a mixed group as well. As always, there are the hard-core leftists (communist, socialist, Leninist, Marxist, whatever you want to call them), drug cartels, anarchists, and people simply fed up with Aristide, but who want to keep a democracy in place.

Clinton sent soldiers in to restore calm once before. I think we will end up doing the same once more. The environment there is more like Somalia than Iraq, but far more compact with friendlier surroundings. But if we want to really help, it will cost. The infrastructure needs to be refurbished, and the environment established to be conducive to industry and trade.

Tonight we have the Academy Awards. I won’t watch. But it would be a wonderful gesture if all those millionaires involved would make a commitment tonight to donate $1 million each to the reconstruction of a truly representative government in Haiti and the social services they insist our government should provide.

I won’t hold my breath.

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