Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nation Building in Haiti?


Megan McArdle:

…in the short term, the initial reports make it seem like we're going to have to impose some sort of order just to distribute aid. At this point, we can assume that people are already dying from lack of medical care, clean water, and relief supplies, and the losses will mount geometrically as days pass. But there is no one to tell anyone what to do, and no way to tell them, as all communications seem to be knocked out. Until they're restored, Haiti is effectively in the eighteenth century.

But in the longer run, what do you do for a country that already had one of the worst-functioning governments in the world? Half the budget was provided by foreign aid before the earthquake. For the next few years, we will effectively hold government power there, whether we want to or not, because we'll probably essentially be providing all of its funding, and can threaten to turn the taps off unless things go as we demand.

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