Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Haiti earthquake: Send in the reinforcements [updated]

What a tragedy. Haiti didn't need an earthquake. It's a great blow to the poorest nation in the hemisphere, and without the disaster relief infrastructure the chaos of the coming days could be its own form of aftershock.

Obviously the U.S. will send aid and relief workers, but we should do more than that: For a small fraction of what the United States is spending to bail out banks and auto firms we could help Haiti rebuild with reinforced concrete. Because that's what I keep thinking when I look at these awful pictures coming from Haiti: Where's the rebar? It's like the lack of mosquito nets in malarial Africa: Such a simple thing, and it would save so many lives. This is the 21st century -- and yet people around the world are living and working in buildings that are certain to crumble when the earth moves.

When I was doing research on earthquakes a few years ago, a geologist told me: "Earthquakes don't kill people. Buildings kill people." Meaning that these natural disasters aren't purely natural. The planet's crust is shattered by faults, and if you live near one, particularly one that is predicted to break in the near future, you need to live in reinforced structures so that the roof doesn't fall on your head.

Of course if you also live in poverty and are trying to survive just another day, it's impossible to invest any extra (that is, non-existent) capital in your buildings. In many developing countries there are, in fact, building codes, but enforcement is squishy at best, easily subject to corruption. But it's in the interests of the world community to help poor countries build stable societies, and "stable" may mean literally that, to have structures that can stand some level of ground motion.

Brian Tucker of Geohazards International told me about five years ago that in the next quarter century some 2 billion people will be added to the world's population in cities -- just in cities. Many are in the developing world in places subject to earthquakes. The Haitian tragedy will not be the last such event in the near future.

Look at Mexico City, with nearly 20 million people living on a drained lakebed that liquefies and magnifies the seismic waves when that subduction zone breaks off the coast. Mexico City's last major earthquake was 1985; it can, and will, happen again, and the Mexicans hope they will at least have a minute's warning as the seismic waves roll in from the coast. We'll see.


Update, 1:50 p.m.: In the boodle, several readers have taken issue with my assertion that the U.S. should devote resources to helping Haiti rebuild. The gist of their comments is that this would be just a waste of money, and that we have our own problems, etc.

For example, here's brattykathyi1: "With the money we could waste helping Haiti we could do something novel like aiding the victims of Katrina or perhaps repair the decaying bridges across our nation. Any and all monies sent to Haiti would just be a waste of resources. It wouldn't change anything in that cesspool."

Here's my response: No, we can't solve every problem in the world and patch every pothole. I would not suggest sending pallets of cash to Haiti. But I do think that country is one big shovel-ready project, that a large percentage of any funds earmarked for rebuilding efforts there would stay within the U.S. (I doubt, for example, that Haiti has a steel industry, though I am ready to stand corrected on that), and that Haiti has a standing and stature by dint of proximity that makes its stability more in the U.S. national interest than the stability of a small country in a different hemisphere. We're neighbors. Helping Haiti with smart and targeted relief and aid is the RIGHT thing to do.

Onward: Let's go to some actual data.

According to this excellent report from the Congressional Research Service, Haiti ranked 9th in 1998 among countries receiving U.S. foreign aid, but had fallen out of the top 15 by 2008. Israel is the largest recipient of American aid, which includes military aid. Fairly close behind Israel in 2008 was Afghanistan, followed by Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Iraq, Kenya, South Africa, Columbia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Georgia, West Bank/Gaza, Mexico and Sudan.

Now let's look at the section of the report [see page 20] that discusses where the money that we "give" to other countries actually goes. In fact, we buy American:

Most U.S. foreign aid is used to procure U.S. goods and services, although amounts of aid coming back to the United States differ by program. No exact figure is available due to difficulties in tracking procurement item by item, but some general estimates are possible for individual programs, though these may vary from year to year. In FY2008, roughly 87%, or $4.1 billion, of military aid financing was used to procure U.S.military equipment and training. The remaining 13%, $614 million, was allocated to Israel for procurement within that country.

Food assistance commodities are purchased wholly in the United States, and most expenditures for shipping those commodities to recipient countries go entirely to U.S. freight companies.

Under current law, three-fourths of all food aid must be shipped by U.S. carriers. On this basis,a rough estimate suggests that more than 90%--or nearly $1.85 billion in FY2008--of food aid expenditures were spent in the United States.

All told, foreign aid is about 1 percent of the federal budget.

In FY2008 we spent eight times as much on interest on the national debt as we did in aid to the rest of the planet.

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 13, 2010; 8:24 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Looking for a truly Earthlike "Earth"
Next: Haiti earthquake search and rescue


My brother was teaching at Berkeley when the Loma Prieta quake hit the Bay area in 1989. I remember it well.

My donation to UNICEF has already been made.

Stop reading this, go to the relief links on the home page, and send help to Haiti now.

Posted by: kguy1 | January 13, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Alas, there are millions and millions of poor across the globe that live in dwellings that are just stacks of rocks and many of those live in fault zones. That is why the death toll from earthquakes is so high.

I remember talking to an Indian friend of mine about a team of western engineers that demonstrated how installing a wire grid inside those dwellings for a cost of about $40 and the suggestion that it should be done in those regions where it would help. He looked at me like I was insane because the concept of $40 for most Indian families was as accessible as a trip to the moon.

Haiti has more doable numbers but I wonder how much long term interest exists. Haiti is a place that most people like to ignore since the problems there seem so intractable.

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 13, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Wonderful kit Joel.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 13, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

And for a small fraction of what we send to Haiti we could have single-payer health care in the US. Time we take care of our own people.

Of course, if the bankers want to send their annual compensation as a gift to Haiti they are free to do so.

Posted by: Maddogg | January 13, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Would someone like to give us a total to date of aid that USA has provided to the world in the last 30 years? I think the bottomless pit of aid/money sent to Africa over the years is close to a trillion dollars. Look how things have changed in sub-Saharan Africa. Outside of South Africa & maybe one or two other countries, everything stays the same or gets worse. All the USA & the West hear from Africa is excuses & requests for more aid. Of course the overpopulation never slows down for a second. Unemployment is 80% in Haiti. The last thing they need there is MORE poor people. Perhaps the USA is supposed to subsidize the world's poor ad infinitum? We don't have any issues/problems here that need attention & money.

Posted by: uncivil | January 13, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

We have a front page alert.

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I think I will post a reminder that I put the recipe for mulled wine on the last kit.


Posted by: dmd3 | January 13, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

No kidding. MsJS, be prepared to make a run for it.

slyness, wanna help me prep the bunker, just in case?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 13, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

At some point we're going to have to revisit these national borders. The very concept of a sovereign "Haiti," occupying the western third of Hispaniola and composed mostly of the descendants of destitute slaves, is absurd.

These tiny nations simply don't have the capacity to absorb problems and compete at a 21st century level. You'd never create them if you were starting now. New Orleans could more or less survive Katrina because the rest of the USA could pick it up. But Haiti lacks that. It's like taking a 5th grade class and telling one kid that for the rest of the school year he can only use the materials he currently has in his bookbag, while all the other kids can go to the library or get help from their parents. Which kid do you think will quickly fall behind?

Posted by: simpleton1 | January 13, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

It's ok, MsJS, sometimes we get interesting new boodlers this way. As it is, I'm proud to have been a resident of Fairfax County since 1963 and our rescue team is a wonderful example of tax dollars well spent.

Posted by: VintageLady | January 13, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Haiti doesn't need financial relief, it needs humanitarian relief right now. Send in the rescue crews and doctors for now, but because of Haiti's history of crooked government leaders, we shouldn't be sending in money.

Why is it, that in a "sea" of island countries offering resorts and vacation entertainment industries, Haitians still live in poverty and squalor?

Even with the overthrow of Haitian President Aristide back in the early 90's, Haiti is still corrupted.

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | January 13, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Not to ignore the tragedy in Haiti, but provisioning the bunker reminded me that I had posted last week that I was going to make a king cake. Well, I made two over the weekend, and they came out very well and were not very labor intensive. The recipe was from

The dough would be very easy to mix in a bread machine if you have one. I did a combination of Kitchen Aid/hand mixing. The recipe calls for proofing active dry yeast, but in 2010 just about everyone uses instant yeast and dumps it in with the flour to skip the proofing step.

I didn't put the raisins in the filling, and I used milk and lemon zest in the frosting instead of water.

It was a big hit with both my kids and my coworkers.

Posted by: Awal | January 13, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Simpleton, and on what authority would you rewrite borders?

Posted by: dmd3 | January 13, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

VL: I agree. Others will monitor the situation and make the call.

Awal: Awesome news about the king cakes. And thanks for the link.

Simpleton: I don't follow your logic regarding the absurdity of the Haitian nation or its borders.

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Good morning. I'm a trifle disturbed by any suggestion that small countries which appear no longer viable from some standpoint or other could or should be abandoned or somehow changed into different countries - if that is the suggestion; it is hard to tell. I find singularly unpersuasive the idea that if "we" (the global we? the royal we?) were starting out today, we would have drawn borders differently. I also think the idea is subject to a very quick slippery slope. Why stop with the borders of small countries, or those which appear to be economically challenged? What is to stop us from re-ordering world borders to more conveniently fit, say, religious beliefs, or the demands of global corporations?

As I recall, attempts to re-order borders in the last century or so, based on larger or more developed countries' beliefs or ideas of appropriateness, haven't worked too well.

Perhaps we should just accept that there's this island with two small countries on it (much like most continents contain several different countries), that one of the countries has been devastated by a natural disaster, and go from there.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 13, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

“…but we (U.S.) should do more than that: For a small fraction of what the United States is spending to bail out banks and auto firms we could help Haiti rebuild with reinforced concrete”.
Haiti’s problems (other than this Bush-caused earthquake) is in its dictatorial and communist history. So now the solution is more international socialism?

Posted by: jahoby | January 13, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

To sum up my tedious post above, just ask "Does probability matter? Does size matter?" One's answer might determine whether one finds it worth while to give disaster aid to a small, absurd country in unexpected and immediate dire need.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 13, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Maddogg, there you go. I don't think that Single Payer is a small amount, but the tragedy is on the order of 46K Americans a year who die because they lack health care coverage.

We should remember that number when the Haiti disaster hits that number.

Unlike having a wall cave in on you, Americans die quietly by the thousands from a vast array of treatable conditions that lead to their deaths.

... of course, leaving quality of life, to the side.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 13, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I-mom: Reading your post I am reminded of some of the imaginative gerrymandering that takes place every 10 years as part of the Ewe-Ess congressional redistricting process.

Not always a pretty picture.

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Merging Haiti into the Dominican Republic would be as much a mess as merging Quebec into the US. Maybe even more difficult than merging New Hampshire into Massachusetts.

Haiti isn't a lost cause or failed state. It's got terrible problems, but there's lately been a bit of resort development and remittances from the Haitian diaspora seem to be doing good.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 13, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

How many US dollars has Israel committed to the Haitians?

Posted by: Emmetrope | January 13, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Bush-caused earthquake? Haiti's communist history?

Okay, this is a joke, right? bc, is that you pranking us, you little devil. Ho-ho. Jeepers, I gotta admit, you had me going there fior a minute.

Bush-caused earthquake. My, oh my. *wiping tears of laughter from eyes*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 13, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The U.S. dispenses more aid to other countries than any other nation in absolute terms, but as a percentage of gross national income we are far from the most generous donor. Looked at in those terms, the Brits give more than twice as much as we do, and Sweden gives over five times as much.

Posted by: kguy1 | January 13, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Not one single dime that is given to the Haiti government ever reached the people.

How is that going to change today?

Giving help to the people, isn't the same as giving money to a corrupt government that has never helped anyone but themselves to the bucks.

Obama is not wise to the reality of Haiti.

Posted by: dottydo | January 13, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

"merging New Hampshire into Massachusetts"

That's just crazy talk, DotC!


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 13, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

DotC: What would we call the result? New Hampsachusetts? Massahampshire?

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Hi everyone.

Let me clarify -- there's nothing inherently necessary about Haiti as it is currently formulated. It's the result of historical forces largely outside the control of the Haitians who live there. Don't fall into the logical fallacy of assuming that because something exists, it should necessarily exist in the form it's in. Haiti, like most nations on earth, is at least part historical accident.

And it's a silly accident. Haiti can't take care of itself, as 200 years of history demonstrates. It's too small, too poor, and too deep into that pit to get itself out. Would you want to live there? Would you want to be a Haitan citizen? Would you create Haiti if you had a chance to do the Caribbean from scratch? Then why is it fair to make certain people live under those circumstances simply because they were physically born in that space and we were not?

Also, don't assume that when I talk about revisiting national borders, I'm talking about a more powerful, quasi-imperialist force summarily redrawing the borders of weaker states to the former's benefit. I'm not returning the 19th century. Rather, I'm being a bit more utopian (and much more unrealistic). I'm suggesting that at some point we -- the royal "we" of the global community of human beings -- may hopefully eventually realize that the ridiculous inefficiencies and inequalities created by some of the present national borders should be revised.

Obviously Haiti is what it is and we have to deal with it as such. But it's a bad situation and we can clearly see how it could be improved. If you find that argument unpersuasive, fair enough.

Posted by: simpleton1 | January 13, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

We could merge Wisconsin and Texas. Then we'd have cheese and crackers.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 13, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

With the money we could waste helping Haiti we could do something novel like aiding the victims of Katrina or perhaps repair the decaying bridges across our nation.
Any and all monies sent to Haiti would just be a waste of resources. It wouldn't change anything in that cesspool.

Posted by: brattykathyi1 | January 13, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I think it is telling that even the Palais Présidentiel collapsed. It really rocked. And only in this absurdly complicated country a President could live in a Palace...
The first Presidential residence was destroyed in 1912 when the Presidential Guard's ammunition magazine, located underneath the building, set off and detonated(probably by accident). President Cincinnatus Leconte, his grand-son and about 300 soldiers of the Presidential Guard perished in the disaster.

The new PP is supposedly modelled on various Warshington DC monuments.
Before 12 Jan 2010:

And after:

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 13, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

One needs to keep in mind that the biggest earthquake recorded in the U.S. was the New Madrid event in 1811. By today's reckoning, it was a Richter 8.2 event. It actually changed the course of the Mississippi River.

Posted by: ebtnut | January 13, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

That said, I will be making a donation to Doctors without Borders.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 13, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Simpleton1. That is clear, and how I took your original post as well.

Haiti's problems are reflected all over the world, viz. Africa and the former Soviet block. Those countries, after some deadly upheaval, did indeed redraw their own boundaries. Whether that improves things (since much of the new structure is determined by ethnic/religious/linguistic communalism) remains to be seen, but it is certainly not without precedent that a region would reform under its own impetus, not imposed by any superior imperial or institutional authority.

Posted by: Yoki | January 13, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Simpleton1, your post reminded me of why other countries do not like or trust us.


Posted by: -bc- | January 13, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Reposting the link to CqP's friends who are already in Haiti:

Click on How You Can Help to make a donation. This is a 501(c)3 organization.

Mudge, I cleaned the bunker kitchen and bathrooms over the weekend. Threw all the old stuff out of the fridge. I'm headed to Costco shortly, so I'll stock up on comestibles and drinkables. See you in, say, an hour and a half.

Posted by: slyness | January 13, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

NH plus MA equals Masshysteria.

There are people suffering in Haiti, donate to an organization that helps them. I agree the country is and was a mess but save the political discussion for a time after those poor souls have been rescued, treated, fed and housed in some manner.

Posted by: badsneakers | January 13, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Given that the DR doesn't want Haiti in that way, what are the practical options for Haiti? Cuba? Jamaica? Turks and Caicos? Colombia?

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, I suggest sending rebar to Haiti and some folks are outraged at the thought of such a COMPLETE WASTE OF MONEY. Everyone should take a deep breath. No, we can't solve every problem in the world and patch every pothole. I would not suggest sending pallets of cash to Haiti. But I do think that country is one big shovel-ready project, that a large percentage of any funds earmarked for rebuilding efforts there would stay within the USA (I doubt, for example, that Haiti has a steel industry, though I am ready to stand corrected on that), and that Haiti has a standing and stature by dint of proximity that makes its stability more in the US national interest than the stability of a small country in a different hemisphere. We're neighbors. Helping Haiti with smart and targeted relief and aid is the RIGHT thing to do.

Posted by: joelache | January 13, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse


Why don't you make a donation to American Citizens Without Health Care?

Maybe the televison networks and cable companies can do hourly stories of American's dying with health care coverage. They can do it in color too. I'm sure it would guarantee single payer. I wonder if the networks are to busy gawking?

Posted by: Maddogg | January 13, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't think sending aid to Haiti requires any justification, doing nothing or saying the citizens of Haiti do not deserve help certainly does require justification, and the need to aquire a heart, in my most humble opinion.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 13, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm not feeling so generous. America is broke. Let the dollar flush Chinese send aid and show what mensches they are. How about South Africa? This black majority country is relatively rich: perhaps they should help out their brethren in Haiti. Or is there something to all this I just don't get?

We should send condolences, that's about it. Obama should not give away scarce US funds just out of racial solidarity. That's opportunistic and criminal.

Posted by: greg3 | January 13, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Well said Joel and dmd!

Posted by: badsneakers | January 13, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

A list of charities sincerely concerned folks can donate to. I like cQp's,

which Slyness points out, is already there.

Posted by: VintageLady | January 13, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what aid China will be sending to Haiti?

Posted by: tanakak | January 13, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, 'wasn't me.
Perhaps it was some manifestation of dark energy popping out ot the aether, and then disappearing, leaving nothing but those telltale trails through heavy water like neutrinos.


Posted by: -bc- | January 13, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Why is that, bc?

Posted by: simpleton1 | January 13, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"We should send condolences, that's about it."

*disgusted. Ashamed to be a member of the same species*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 13, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

This is surprising. I would never have expected Rush to comment under so many names and yet not use his own.

Posted by: kguy1 | January 13, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Back around 1950, I think the rump Republic of China on Taiwan was about as poor as Haiti and had no prospect of feeding, much less integrating, the horde of refugees from the new People's Republic. The mainland's prospects didn't look any better, and didn't improve until well after the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

I haven't read what seems to be an important recent book on the pernicious effects of foreign aid in Africa, nor analyses that figure that portions of the Third World are more or less doomed to yet further collapse and have to be written off.

Haiti's environmental problems are monumental--forests destroyed and no doubt reefs and fisheries, too. Agriculture seems to have collapsed.

Still, Haiti may have some hope. I suspect that sharing Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic is a good thing. The DR is rated "free" for 2010 by Freedom House, Haiti as "partly free" (in the same category as Venezuela and Colombia). DR has come a long way since the Trujillo dictatorship, Haiti somewhat less far since Duvalier. The UN presence in Haiti seems to be for the good.

I suspect that Guatemalans might make good consultants for Haiti's reconstruction. They suffered a horrific quake in 1976 that collapsed adobe and concrete block buildings. Since then, new construction has been reinforced with lots of steel reinforcing bar.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 13, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

While I happen to agree with Mr. A, this blog is part of the Opinions section of the paper. Not everyone is going to agree and the paper has generously provided this comment space for them to present other views.

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I've always thought of the process of redrawing borders as war.

There's something to be said for providing as much assistance as you can so that your neighbor won't need to turn to your adversary for help.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 13, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

As far as I'm concerned, JA can make as many comments as he likes, he's people, too.

Even better, he could contribute some manfood to the bunker, something heavy and fragrant and tender, in case we have to hunker in the bunker.

Posted by: VintageLady | January 13, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Are these commenters actually exchanging cake recipes in this space? Are you kidding me? And back to the subject - there are many other ways we could be spending that money right here. Why the either/or argument? We will aid Haiti, and thank God the people here calling it a "cesspool" aren't in a position to make that decision. The bailout money, whether it was necessary or not in the writer's view, has absolutley nothing to do with the aid Haiti needs now or the rebuilding they'll do later.

Posted by: madlyf | January 13, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Will back boodle momentarily; This news about Haiti:

The Medicine for Peace clinic in Gros Morne is relatively fine: hospital and clinics standing. People are very worried about the PaP colleagues and clinic workers; as of noon today, no contact at all.

The outlying areas expect an influx of the walkable wounded and others shortly. Food will be a huge problem because garden season is not underway. Gardening will be interrupted, which poses a future threat for summer and fall and next winter.

MFP reports an uptick in small donations. Thanks to boodlers, and others.
This is how they function: little amounts adding up. Clicks do count.

One suggestion: support these small, boots-on-the-ground activities you know about. The widow's mite principle applies. Another one was mentioned last kit....

Another great need now is French speakers among the aid workers....moving those deployed from Francophone Africa is not easy. Some Lousianans affixed to Catholic Relief Services are staging now.

The devastation may eclipse Hurricane Mitch.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | January 13, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

It should be noted that the world is responding to the need for help in Haiti, the US is far from being the only nation helping. Haiti has been receiving help from many nations in the past and is continuing to do so.

A few examples, (note Canada is missing but we are always overlooked :-))

Posted by: dmd3 | January 13, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes I just made a donation too. America let's go all out to help Haiti after the immediate needs are met such as search and rescue and setting up triage hospitals can't we help knock down and remove the debris from all the unstable buildings then as a condition of rebuilding help the government implement earthquake resistant buildings code requirements for rebuilding and supervise and pay for the rebuilding.

America/Americans think Iraq and now Afghanistan are our main concern. (Let's do get out of Afghanistan.) However the real problem is the breakdown of the family.

Fatherlessness is now at 70% in our inner cities. A shocking stat but true. Fatherlessness results in very high school drop out rates, high rates of child abuse and women abuse, growing up to be abusers, drug abuse, much higher suicide rates, violence against ones neighbors and peers, high rates of incarceration. All caused by Fatherlessness.

The ongoing economic disaster in Haiti before the earthquake is an example of what happens to a society when the Father's do not take responsibility for their children.

Posted by: msmithnv | January 13, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

FYI, I've added to the kit...

Posted by: joelache | January 13, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, CqP, for the update.

madlyf: We comment. We eat. And sometimes we comment about what we eat.

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

"Good evening, all.

All reports I've seen re. the quake that struck Haiti today indicate a great deal of destruction and injuries. I'm sure that the the US government and international relief organizations will be sending support ASAP. They're our neighbors, time to head over and help...


Posted by: -bc- | January 12, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse"

Simpleton1, I'd posted that bit before I'd read your explanation. I still don't agree with it, but I understand where you're coming from.

Unfortunately, I don't think humans are any more ready for a world government that manages resources equitably in this century any more than it was in the last. The Soviet Union collapsed as it tried to adapt, while China and Cuba seem to have devolved into a long-term hostage situations (of it's own citizenry), held together by the force of militaristic totalitarian governments.

You're right - Haiti is not a great place to be. And when there's some stability there, after the victims have been treated and the wreckage cleaned up, perhaps the Haitian citizens there can decide for themselves what they want to do next.


Posted by: -bc- | January 13, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

My reaction was exactly the same - let's bulldoze the shanties and replace them with simple but effective reinforced concrete "homes" - not talking about palaces. Us US contractors but they have to hire haitian workers. that gives able-bodied men a job but minimizes corruption. Problem with aid to third-world countries is, if you do it yourself, it's over-complex and overly expensive. If you outsource it to the country's government or to local contractors, the money goes down a rathole of corruption. Anyway, that's my two cents.

A stable, prosperous Haiti is in our national interest, folks. It was a basketcase before the earthquake and now it's an utter Hobbesian nightmare. I woudln't be surprised if the death toll ends up exceeding 1 million people. Let's show some humanity.

PS: I'm a conservative Republican.

Posted by: jay4811 | January 13, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Aid now.
All new commenters should know that the huge majority of regular commenters here have strong humanitarian values and support US aid to Haiti pronto. And they know that others know that, and are doing what they can in other venues such as donating to the appropriate charities or have already done so. So if they talk about cakes, they have the right to do so.

In re: the inchoate new comments:

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 13, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

My contribution is already at the Red Cross; in the long haul, a lot more than cash is needed, but right now, human beings are hurting and hungry and at risk of disease...first things first.

Posted by: Socrates2 | January 13, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Joel says:
"Obviously the U.S. will send aid and relief workers, but we should do more than that: For a small fraction of what the United States is spending to bail out banks and auto firms we could help Haiti rebuild with reinforced concrete."

What a trite bit of populism, Joel.

Just one injection of realism: Unless the U.S. actually controlled all the aspects of "rebuild[ing]", literally from the ground up, the effort and money would be mostly compromised by the almost total lack of law in the country.

Everyone's heart and hopefully some of their money goes out to the Haitians but rebuilding a country of ten million from the ground up would require substantially more than the naive Mr. Achenbach puts forth.

Posted by: spamsux1 | January 13, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"Build Change is an international non-profit social enterprise that designs earthquake-resistant houses in developing countries and trains builders, homeowners, engineers, and government officials to build them."

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | January 13, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, spamsux... Three hundred billion dollars (less than $1,000 per American, and much less than we've spent on the bailout and/or the Iraqi military adventures) would buy 4 million $75,000 homes. And I really doubt that it would actually cost $75,000 per home.

I'm not suggesting that Americans could or should spend that kind of money on that particular project, but it's certainly doable.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 13, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Well, I am suggesting that they could.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 13, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

What they needed was birth control, a lot of it, and a long time ago.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | January 13, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

This may have been posted already but I can't work my way through all the comments. It causes my blood pressure to rise in an unhealthy way and I begin to think uncharitable thoughts.

At any rate, Partners in Health is probably a good organization to donate to for those so inclined (also an interesting note from one of their relief workers on their home page):

Direct donation page:

Posted by: cowhand214 | January 13, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Joel, resorting to facts...well, that's just cheatin'.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 13, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

You certainly would not want to rebuild what they had.
And you certainly would not want to rebuild something better and turn it over to the same people who built Haiti-hell to begin with. So what does that leave?

They might want to consider selling most of the island to investors, and moving most Haitians back to Africa with a little dough in their pockets. Seriously.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | January 13, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

cowhand214 - You don't have to suffer all the truthful comments, just use cntrl/F, dummie.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | January 13, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm sensing a lot of anger. When I lived in West Palm Beach, one day we took a drive to Belle Glade on Lake Okeechobee and the living conditions were just miserable. And these were the people that came to the US to cut our sugar because our tariffs essentially priced Haitian sugar out of our market.

Our hands (and by 'our' I mean 'ADM, the Fanjuls, and any politician that takes their money') are dirty with the poverty of that country. We have starved Haitians so that our sodas can have HFCS.

We owe the Haitians more than some used clothes and canned goods and water purifiers. We owe them a stable market for their goods. We owe them open door textiles policies that will let them sew our clothes. We owe them development loans that do more than employ large multinationals to pour concrete for useless public works projects. We owe them the opportunities we would want our children or brothers and sisters to have.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 13, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Every year since 2000 this country's aid to Israel has exceeded $2.5 billion. Some years it's gone above $4 billion. How about as a one time deal we give Israel's 2010 aid money to Haiti and Haiti's scheduled aid money to Israel. That way it costs us no more and Haiti gets lots of help.

Alternatively, Haiti could sign on to play defensive tackle for the Redskins...

Posted by: kguy1 | January 13, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Achenbach shows his ignorance of basic economics with this statement: "I would not suggest sending pallets of cash to Haiti. But I do think that country is one big shovel-ready project, that a large percentage of any funds earmarked for rebuilding efforts there would stay within the U.S. (I doubt, for example, that Haiti has a steel industry, though I am ready to stand corrected on that) ..."

Sending cash is EXACTLY the same, economically, as sending goods and services. There is no difference. If you give $1 million of concrete, steel, or construction labor to Haiti, that is precisely the same as giving $1 million in cash, from the US's perspective. I'll grant you that it may be better from the Haitian perspective not to send cash (it's harder to steal or waste concrete than is to do the same with cash) but the argument that Achenbach is making is wrong: spending money on US businesses doesn't help the US economy if the products of those businesses are then given away OUTSIDE the US economy. You might as well just give the money to US businesses and say "spend it, it's free, don't produce anything at all."

If we want to help Haiti, and we should, then we should help. But don't pretend that spending money on Haiti creates some magical economic stimulus here at home.

Posted by: rowerinva | January 13, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to all newcomers with a working heart.

To the others.....sigh.
But I won't give up hope:

I'll third cowhand214 and CqP's suggestion to give to Partners in Health, though I'm off to shop at Medicine for Peace (thanks CqP!)

Posted by: DNA_Girl | January 13, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Even though I think it is the right thing to do,period it is even more of an economic necessity to help Haiti start re-building with real funds right away after the clean up. They have a population of nearly 9 million people, where are they going to try and make a living? Humanity has a will to live and I would bet that 1,000s will do all they can to head to the US. We should do all we can to create a livable and sustainable situation there in order for them to have hope and perhaps build a new Haiti that can strive.

Posted by: pkperez | January 13, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"spending money on US businesses doesn't help the US economy if the products of those businesses are then given away OUTSIDE the US economy."

Huh? What about jobs providing those services and creating those products?

Posted by: guez | January 13, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

"Send them back to Africa."

Well, if that isn't a new nadir in troll comments, I just don't know what is. Just kinda takes my breath away. Take over their country and send them back to Africa.

Welcome to the Marketplace of Ideas.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 13, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

rowerinva - You're spectacularly incorrect. Mind-bogglingly, glaringly, freakishly so.

If I (in my guise as Uncle Sam) collect $10,000 from you and your neighbors in taxes, and send it to Haiti, then that money is gone from your little village economy. But if I spend $10,000 in your neighborhood buying goods and hiring a few of you to come work for me in Haiti for a month, then that money is not gone from your neighborhood, and can be recycled through your economy. The productive effort that went into creating that wealth was already expended in either case, and is a sunk cost.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 13, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The Canadian charity CECI has been in Haiti for more than 40 years. They already have teams in place (not in the right place, but that will change) in the Gonaïves area that were dealing with ways to reduce the region's vulnerability to hurricanes and floods. The English website hasn't been updated but the French side has a special earthquake donation page.

In the monumental irony department Canado-Americano-Haitian author and recent Prix Medicis winner Dany Laferrière was on the public radio recently (Sunday, Monday?) talking about a literary event that was to happen in Haiti this 14-17 January. Étonnants Voyageurs was supposed to highlight the good points about Haiti's culture i.e. talking about Haiti outside of a disaster relief context. It's been cancelled.
Mr. Laferrière and a couple of other Canado-Franco-Americano Haitian authors were already in Haiti but they were lucky, no one was hurt in their hotel's collapse.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 13, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

bobsewell says:
"I dunno, spamsux... Three hundred billion dollars (less than $1,000 per American, and much less than we've spent on the bailout and/or the Iraqi military adventures) would buy 4 million $75,000 homes. And I really doubt that it would actually cost $75,000 per home.
I'm not suggesting that Americans could or should spend that kind of money on that particular project, but it's certainly doable."

Haiti needs rebuilding from the ground up.
Water, sewer, electric and public, private and business housing. Hospitals, schools, power plants... the entire country is decrepit.

In any case, with your and Joel's outlook, why don't we rebuild every country's substandard housing?

Encouraging honest, free, democratic governance is the best path to a society's rise from poverty.

When people won't do for themselves, it is not our obligation to do for them.

And as I said above, "Everyone's heart and hopefully some of their money goes out to the Haitians but rebuilding a country of ten million from the ground up would require substantially more than the naive Mr. Achenbach puts forth."

Posted by: spamsux1 | January 13, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I know, spam. I was just having fun playing with numbers.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 13, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Jerry Falwell says that Haiti has so many problems because Haitians made a pact with the devil 200 years ago to get rid of the French. To paraphrase Scottynuke, "Sigh."

I don't believe in God, but if I did, I would be asking the deity to recall Mr. Falwell to Heaven ASAP so that some remedial lessons in charity and brotherly love could be taught.

Posted by: Wheezy1 | January 13, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Setting aside the racist subtext, sending nine million Haitians back to Africa doesn't sound like it would solve any problems as much as move them. There is a reason Haiti merits the 'in the western hemisphere' qualifier when discussing the poorest nations are earth.

Also, humanitarian aid is far more economically stimulating than say defense spending. When you buy food from American farmers and send it to poor starving people, people are kept alive and the farmer makes some money. When we buy weapon systems, lots of material resources are consumed in making products that at best won't kill people if they aren't use.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 13, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Helping Haiti to recover is the right thing to do. Just as soon as we fix the terrorism thing and get banks back on their feet.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | January 13, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps if a neutron bomb were to accidentally go off in a large mid-western city like Midland City, we could relocate Haitian refugees to the now empty buildings. And we could also swap recipes.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 13, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The NYT sez it was Pat Robertson, Wheezy, but still...


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 13, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Just to add to the donation discussion, Slate reran this today:

Posted by: MoftheMountain | January 13, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Not to start another *storm... Jerry Falwell has already met his maker. But judging from his actions on this earth, I doubt he stayed there long.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 13, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Yes, TBG, I expect he was rather surprised at his reception. OTOH, what do I know?

Bunker is open and ready for bidness. Food and beverages are reaching their appropriate temperatures, WiFi is up and running, games are out on the tables. Enjoy, folks!

Posted by: slyness | January 13, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I just looked through the photo gallery on our site -- wow, it looks even worse today than it did last night. Whole neighborhoods leveled.

What the kit should probably have noted is that the very first order of business is to get search-and-rescue on the ground and in action.

Posted by: joelache | January 13, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I heard the Fairfax urban search and rescue team was on its way this morning.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 13, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The two USAR teams on their way from the US may have may 75 people in each group, I think. That would include the medical folks as well as the rescue technicians. It's not going to be a lot, starting out. But something is better than nothing.

Posted by: slyness | January 13, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I was born in Haiti. However, the basket case of the Western Hemisphere got there by their own doing. A few facts:

1) Haiti was the wealthiest colony in the WH in the 1700s -- providing more than 20% of the GDP of France.

2) They have gotten to where they are through two centuries of corruption and government mis-mamagement.

3) They have the highest population density in the WH, because they have put no resources into family planning, resulting in 9 million in a tiny, agrarian country.

My sincere sympathies to the people who have lost loved ones, and for the property losses in a country that can ill afford them.

However, this country needs to get its corruption act together, and move to making voluntary family planning avialable to those families that want it.

Posted by: wobbleman47 | January 13, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"They were under the heel of the French...they got together and swore a pact to the Devil," Robertson said. "They said, we will serve you if you get us free from the French....But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing or another."

And why do the Republican candidates pander to these folks?

I can barely comprehend the thinking behind the postings here critical of sending aid, but really? REALLY? And this guy has followers? Wow.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 13, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Obama is blowing more money on wars and now he wants to send aid to Haiti.

My rec is to funnel all that money to American's who need health care. Money better spent.

Maybe the networks and cable shows can spend several hours everyday inside a home of a person who is dying from lack of health care insurance.

Posted by: Maddogg | January 13, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for the post, Mr. A.

Based on the front page story,
( ),
basics like water are scarce. There seem to be a lot of 'very first order of business' priorities at the moment.

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Joel, for the Kit addition. I admit I'm also surprised at the umbrage and worse expressed over the simple suggestion to get those folks some rebar. I don't think you're suggesting that we have an obligation to rebuild every developing or Third World country from the ground up. The way I took it, since Haiti's going to be rebuilding from the ground up anyway, you were suggesting some smart aid down the road by helping make the rebuilding more effective. If you grant the principle that we should help Haiti (and I see that many new posters don't) then I don't see why this is troubling.

Madlyf, sure that was a cake recipe. Hang out here awhile and you'll see all sorts of good stuff come by.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 13, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Gawker has video of the Pat Robertson and his Haiti comments.

That codger was disgusting when he was clogging up the Virginia Beach UHF spectrum in my childhood and he has only gotten worse.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 13, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

maddog, you've made that point about American health care versus Haiti aid several times now. Would it help if someone acknowledged it? Here you go.

Got anything else?

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 13, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Re: Pat Robertson

I can only quote my all time most favorite line of Jack Nicholson (once again) from As Good As IT Gets- "Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here."

Posted by: kguy1 | January 13, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

TBG beat me to the video, but Robertson is still a fear-mongering vicious hypocrite.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 13, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Maddog, I've noticed that with the brouhaha, the media isn't devoting enough time discussing WHY the reform is needed in the first place.

I would like to see the pressure put on the Republicans a lot more to justify their obstructionism. If it gets ratings, even the talk show idiots will jump on the bandwagon of health care.

"Sicko" by Michael Moore-- even if you hate the guy's guts, watch this documentary. He's talking to live people, not paid windbags.

I got upset this morning looking at what kind of budget I'd need to turn a business profit and realizing that health insurance would be my biggest expense to budget for as a single person without leverage-- and by budgeting I mean I also have to plan for loss of income should I actually be sick enough to use health insurance.

Yeah, I'm going to be one of those people who dies early thanks to the lack of health insurance reform. I wonder how I could get Canadian citizenship?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 13, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

For those who are interested, a current report on the situation from Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders.

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

BobS, excellent concise explanation of the multiplier effect at 3:06.

I, too, am astounded at some of the less charitable reactions here. Since when is providing disaster assistance predicated upon the receiving country having a perfectly functioning government? Although I agree that providing the help with tangibles such as food, water, and housing is a much better idea than just tossing money to the less-than-perfectly functioning government.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 13, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Er, back to Haiti. 100K dead all at once is pretty bad. Their system can't absorb it without some help--just like our cities would be in deep crap if we had 100K die in one day, thousands more likely hurt. They'd need help too.

This is old-fashioned neighborly goodwill, like barn-raising bees. This is why we live in communities and develop governments-- so nobody, in theory, has to do it all on their own when disaster hits-- and that means going out and hunting food, pumping and cleaning water, etc.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 13, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the response, bc.

Posted by: simpleton1 | January 13, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I also think it does to point out that most government expenditures come from separate budgetary envelopes. Spending X million on foreign emergency aid does not mean that that money comes out of some other pocket, such as health care or domestic emergency response. Not helping Haiti doesn't mean more help for Katrina victims or any other cause dear to our hearts.

Posted by: Yoki | January 13, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I know it is easier to help those in distant lands. Sort of macho too.

Haiti does not need our socialism.

Posted by: Maddogg | January 13, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Hey Yoki! Yep, one more reason to luv Canadians. Spoke with a Canadian client yesterday, who told met that there should be plenty of room up there for me once I make my decision.

I, too, am aghast (yet, alas, not surprised) at the insulting and truly uncharitable postings here.


Posted by: -ftb- | January 13, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, my essential romantic anthropomorphism made me laugh at "barn-raising bees". I know perfectly well to what you refer, but my mental image is very different.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 13, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely! And there is a guest room in a luxury condo with your name on it, to use while you get settled, ftb.

Posted by: Yoki | January 13, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps we really shouldn't do anything for those people in Haiti who are dying under fallen buildings or waiting to die the next time they fall down. What a waste of resources! After all, they'll just spend it on rum. Better to spend it on the survivors of Katrina, whose lives are not in immediate danger and so they can actually get some value out of it. To heck with jurisdictions, government procurement regulations, and local sovereignty in Louisiana. Let's get right to it! Forget about Haiti!

It would be nice, I suppose, if we could spend resources on BOTH Haiti and Katrina reclamation. However, after all these years of "starving the beast" (technically, it's really more like feeding the beast more and more and more while encouraging the growth of a tapeworm so that the beast cannot usefully process its food, but this metaphor is starting to get really nasty) -- anyway, it's not like we have enough national wealth to fix one devastated city and to ALSO help some of the most desperately poor people on the planet become marginally less poor and make their lives slightly more tolerable as well as trying to help fix things so that the next natural disaster will be somewhat less devastating. You've gotta pick just one, people!

Still, these harsh decisions do leave a lingering sour taste in my mouth. After all, what's gonna happen the NEXT time there's a problem in Haiti? Probably the survivors will just start whining again. Frankly, I'm beginning to wonder if a more "final" solution is required...


For the benefit of the satire-challenged, let me just note that the appalling preceding paragraphs are a satiric expression of horrified anger, rather than a serious policy proposal. I apologize for the over-the-top character: quality satire takes time and reflection and is best not written in the shock occasioned by an astonishingly callous comment (see quotation in the Kit update).

If you find yourself in agreement with the plain text of anything I said above, other than the tapeworm simile, then I must ask that you seek psychotherapy before your psychopathic tendencies are unleashed, to the detriment of yourself and your fellow humans.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 13, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Want to know whether the Earth is about to open wide and swallow you up? Check it out on the Digital World Tectonic Activity Map:

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 13, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

maddog, you have chosen your handle with great perceptiveness.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 13, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I worked in Haiti in 1990 and for a year in '95. Haiti is an unbelievably poor country with a rich culture and resourceful people, but as long as the population continues to grow, it is doomed.

I've seen families with 15+ children who couldn't feed them. Many, many children live on the streets. I once went to a funeral for a nine-year-old girl. The priest eulogized her for five minutes and spent the next hour telling people that they would go to hell if they used birth control, and that the aid agencies only offered birth control because they hated black people. True story.

Posted by: iona123 | January 13, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

SciTim -- you know I am still *hearting* you. You never fail.

Ivansmom, I burst out laughing, as in my view, barn raising bees are, well, um, you know . . . . tough as nails! Very, very funny, and it was much the same thought I had.

And, dearest Yoki, you are a true blue boodle friend. And the next time you come down here, my guest room (cluttered that it is) is always open to you.

Posted by: -ftb- | January 13, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, the World Bank just announced $100M to Haiti, in addition to all its program dollars. That's a wee bright spot.

Posted by: Yoki | January 13, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Maddogg writes: "Haiti does not need our socialism."

I'm not always the greatest dot-connector, so can you help me understand how providing support to those in need constitutes socialism? Or how helping others in distant lands is macho?

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that on-the-ground report, iona123. Sad, sad, sad as well as wrong, wrong, wrong.

The bit about going forth and multiplying? We've done it and need to stop. Here, again, is another place where progress depends on women's rights to education and control over their own bodies.

When he got home, Mr. T noted that the LA County USAR team was probably sent because of its earthquake expertise. The Fairfax team went to Turkey after an earthquake there a few years ago, so they have earthquake experience as well.

Posted by: slyness | January 13, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Haiti also needs a network of birth control clinics and the Catholic Church there should stop interfering with birth control effort.

Posted by: ThishowIseeit | January 13, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

"Obama should not give away scarce US funds just out of racial solidarity. That's opportunistic and criminal.

Posted by: greg3 | January 13, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse"

Wow! That's unbelievably racist! How about, out of species solidarity? Or simple decency? Admittedly, qualities with which greg3 may be fundamentally unfamiliar.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 13, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

In Haiti, the people who are suffering the worst are not the ones who have corrupted the government. They are largely poor and powerless; they have been victims of regimes that are little more than organized criminal gangs. Now they are victims of environmental degradation and disaster. If you use their evil circumstances to condemn them and refuse help, YOU are making them victims again of your prejudice.

Haiti's wealth went to the white planters, not the Africans brought against their will a slaves. Plantation economies don't provide the skills and institutions to promote the emergence of strong democracies. If you look across the swath of former plantation colonies in the Americas, you generally find oligarchies riven with economic and political inequalities. Haitians largely lack the tools to change their own lot.

Large families are common as insurance against poor health and high risks of infant/child mortality in poor countries lacking social security systems to take care of aged parents. Including the lack of education for girls and the Catholic Church's condemnation of most forms of birth control, Haiti's 50th place ranking in fertility and 70th place in population growth seems moderate.

Finally, there is something to simpleton1's raising the issue of the status of small states like Haiti. The nation-state is a contingent form of political organization which arose in particular historical circumstances in Europe. Haitians are perhaps less and more than a nation. Haiti was always a part-economy, never self-sufficient. The processes of economic geography (cf Paul Krugman) argue that small economies like Haiti are likely to fall farther and farther behind larger and more developed economies. Many of these countries are already highly dependent on the earnings of migrants abroad. Quicker or slower, our concepts of identity and citizenship are adjusting to reflect new configurations. I'm not going to propose adopting or annexing Haiti, but we should be thinking about new forms of international relationships. One example is the development in former Pacific island countries/colonies of Free Association. The form originated between the Cooks and New Zealand, but was adopted also by the former Micronesian territories of the US:

Posted by: j2hess | January 13, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

The USGS rated Port-au-Prince as a relatively low-risk area for earthquakes. Santo Domingo is rated worse.

Someone pointed out Haiti's high birth rate. I remember reading a grim assessment of Costa Rica's birth rate when I was in college about 40 years ago. The country seemed doomed to become as poor as Haiti. The birth rate proceeded to drop, just as it has in Mexico.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 13, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

We've been through the poverty/birth rate decline curve here before. Once people have money in their pockets, they quit having gaggles of kids. The best birth control is a decent standard of living.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 13, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Why is everyone a buzz about Haiti? We always send their people packing from our shores!

Better to spend our money on American's.

Posted by: Maddogg | January 13, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Note on the idea of "compact of free association": Puerto Rico calls itself an "estado libre asociado" or associated free state. The legislation setting up the arrangement is, to my knowledge, only in English,where the term is "commonwealth".

Not that this has anything to do with US states calling themselves "commonwealths".

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 13, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

For Shriek's #1, when I heard the song and read the story I thought of this:


It is a song of sadness

Posted by: omnigood | January 13, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yes, we should certainly set up a Fissaparous [two meanings, both appropriate] Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for long-term (emphasis: long-term) aid to Haiti.

Do you think Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean are available to find out why earthquake warnings were ignored? They could form a commission, call for testimony from expert witnesses. Do you think that this report--hours of work--would be ignored a decade or so later?

Five scientists presented a paper during the 18th Caribbean Geological Conference in March 2008 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, stating that a fault zone on the south side of the island posed "a major seismic hazard."

We've got plenty of availble housing to send to the distressed island community. Those Hurricane Katrina trailers cost billions and sit vacant and unused at 21 different storage sites around the country.

And ice, certainly the Haitians could use some ice for their perishable foods that are soon to arrive. Let's spend $12.5 milllion to truck it over hell's half acre in the U.S., then hold the ice in storage, then simply set it outsie and let it melt--one of the San Antonio tarmacs could be used again to turn million-dollar ice to slush.

And the household goods--and possibly rebar meant for Haiti--we could give it away to other Caribbean island nations, much like our own U.S. FEMA gave away about $85 million in household goods meant for Hurricane Katrina victims to 16 other states--at a cost of $85 million.

Think we should give money to the Haitians who survived? Maybe we could even get that Bakersfield group of citizens to get involved, much like they did in the fraud scam for Red Cross monetary disbursement to help relieve hurricane victims.

Maybe we could get that federal "sheriff" who oversees how stimulus funds are supposed to be spent to donate some of his time to oversee the Rebar Aide Rebuilding Effort (RARE).

Posted by: laloomis | January 13, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

A shame. Perhaps the Haitians - victims of distaster after disaster with foreign nations bailing them out only to see Haitians returning to corruption and overbreeding (poorest, most corrupt, highest population density country in the Western Hemisphere) - will behave different after this one.

But I doubt it.

We will help, simply because we are wired to do so in disasters, but I wouldn't expect a new and better Haiti to emerge from the ashes of Port au Prince. This isn't San Francisco emerging after an Earthquake or Tokyo coming back after the firebombing...this is like New Orleans..only 10 times less capable and 10 times more corrupt.

Joels "rebar" idea is nice...but consider that waaay down the road. For now the focus is on clearing the rubble, providing basic things, guarding stuff from being filched by organized groups, and putting people in tents or under tarps.
Remember that only 8-12% of past foreign aid reaches the people there. The rest is diverted to NGO "overhead" and Haitian officials. If we just give them rebar, I guarantee that without controls, the gangs will take most of it from construction sites, bribe officials to declare rebar was put in the concrete, and then sell 70-80% of the rebar to a scrap yard for pennies on the US aid dollar. Where it is then exported to India or China to make new rebar that actually IS used in buildings.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | January 13, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

When it comes to other nations, we still _owe_ support to Liberia, & have neglected that country far too much.

Geographically, there's an opportunity in this disaster to do a lot of good there. The place is leveled. All the old games & gangs & problems fell down too. So there's opportunity for change we should take.

As for helping, on a personal level I'm still working on helping US citizens in American Samoa. They're part of the USA too, and still need our help.

Posted by: Nymous | January 13, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I spend some time in an undisclosed location and see what happen.

The thing is, helping Haiti is not only a moral imperative, it is sound policy. It is an opportunity to save human lives and demonstrate that we are good people by doing good things. As for the economics of it, there is a difference between the short term and the long term. Helping Haiti build safer houses, I suggest, is a pretty good investment.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 13, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

In my three posts now, I will place the three groups mentioned earlier who are active in Haiti now and before the earthquake.

Cowhand suggested Partners in Health

I looked through the site this afternoon and find that I know the work of one partner; One Harvard School of Public Health unit works on climate change and infectious disease. I edited for two of the principals there, for Kyoto negotiations. Thanks, Cowhand for the recommendation.

(Two organizations up in the next two posts; tried this in one post earlier but comment was held for flagrant linkification.)

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 13, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Next recommended aid group comes from SD, a Francophone Canookie of long boodle-posting status. His group features a key quality: French-speaking. And, technical ability about disasters.

CECI, in Haiti for 40 years:

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 13, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

"We've been through the poverty/birth rate decline curve here before. Once people have money in their pockets, they quit having gaggles of kids. The best birth control is a decent standard of living.
Posted by: yellojkt"

The problem is that overbreeding populations can go in three directions -

One is that they still have resources, something to offer to the global economy, develop and population breeding declines with new prosperity.

Second is that a country gets wealth, but believe prosperity means they can have larger families to satisfy religious and cultural wants. The birthrate and those surviving to breeding age actually went up in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Mexican immigrants & Haitian immigrants to the USA, and Palestine with tons of internally created wealth or the augmented wealth from foreign aid (the Palestinians)

Third is the classic Mathusian trap. Overbred nations that are so poor they believe they must have more kids for security, making them poorer, which causes further overbreeding and poverty - until their population would naturally crash but for the food, medical help of concerned "do-gooders" who "save each and every child". The end result is we now have several nations on "life support". Permanently parasitic on the goodwill of others, in surivival mode, getting worse each year as more excess population is added.

Haiti is in the 3rd category.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | January 13, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if posters who choose to use this catastrophe to vent their about their pet policy peeves or Haiti's general poverty have a firm grasp of what happened. By accounts I've read, Port-au-Prince and the little infrastructure that existed is flattened. It's a city of at least 2 million people (some estimates as high as 4 million) now living in rubble.

In the next 24-48 hours they are going to need massive amounts of heavy vehicles to clear roads, drinking water, medical supplies and personnel, generators and fuel (you can't run the relief, rescue and medical operations in the dark, and those lost hours will mean many more dead). You then still need to find short term shelter, sanitation and food for a million homeless. They will not get nearly what they need, especially in those first couple of days. But the bad drinking water, sanitation, and poor nutrition afterwards can kill many times more people than the quake itself.

You want perspective? Imagine the stadium in New Orleans after Katrina with well over million people and nowhere to go but the sea.

We as individuals may be relatively helpless in those crucial first days but governments know the clock is ticking on human lives. Those that can, usually intervene immediately in our names. I find
myself untroubled by their activism. Thousands are dead and will die from want, no matter what you do. However, consider under the circumstances that anything you do to help will probably save some lives.

I fail to see the relevance of concerns about corruption given that relief organisations won't be able to buy anything they need in Haiti and goods are going to have to be shipped in. Nor do I see any connection to local needs. Millions require only the most basic food, water and shelter. Without it, what they will go through makes any so called domestic privations a joke. And for those generous souls who feel this is an appropriate moment to point out Haiti is overpopulated, you are right. So presumably you will be inviting refugees from the earthquake to live with you as every person removed from the disaster area improves all the survivors' odds. I assume you didn't have the other method of population reduction in mind.

Apologies if my bluntness offends.

Posted by: qgaliana | January 13, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Doctors without Borders is on FB -- donate via this platform OR call
No donation too small.

Next up, Medicine for Peace, the group I have worked with.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 13, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

And this (I just confirmed with a web search) also on FB:

From a cellphone, text "HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 13, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Bless you qgaliana. Well said.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 13, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Medicine for Peace
Haiti Program for many years, centered in Gros Morne, with connections in PaP. Already moving resources -- medical people and supplies toward PaP....

Donate here:

MFPeace has a long standing support for torture victims program. MFP workers help torture survivors heal from their wounds both physically and mentally -- spiritually, also. Active in Central America, Kosovo, and now with an office in Hyattsville, MD -- good group. We sometimes talk about torture in this, I add the detail.

Ok, done. -- the kindness of the boodle very much outweighs some of the odd and unsetting commentary here today.

Donate to the charity of your choice. Feels good. Doesn't require that we solve Haiti's range of problems today. Doesn't require that we agree on global or local policy positions. Click or call. Does a body good. More than one.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 13, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

qgaliana, thank you a great post.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 13, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

And bless you cQp.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 13, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I'd much rather see funds being used to help re-build Haiti than being squandered by the military on "classified" new ways of raining destruction on the world.

The victims of this natural disaster did nothing to deserve their fate and those among us with any compassion will donate what we can to try to make a difference.

My prayers go to those who are suffering in Haiti.

Posted by: dlkimura | January 13, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse


Thank you.

Posted by: dlkimura | January 13, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Keep the contacts coming cQp as long as you can and thank you. It's much more productive than my rant (which at least lowered my blood pressure).

Posted by: qgaliana | January 13, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Carrier USS Carl Vinson has been dispatched from Norfolk, and the USNS Comfort hospital ship will depart Baltimore, maybe early next week. The Navy is also sending what they are now calling a "large-deck amphibious ship," which is really one of our amphibious assault ships or amphibious warfare ships of the LHA, LHD or LPH cateogy, of which we have a total of 12. Basically, the Navy is omitting the words "assault" and "warfare" from their descriptors, but that's what they are. Of course, the ship isn't going there to assault anybody; it's going because these ships are basically helicopter carriers as well as troop carries and mobile planning/warroom com centers (all of which is good). Pretty much bc and I speculated this morning. En route, the Vinson is going to embark a lot more helos than usual (my guess is we're stripping the entire East Coast of everything with rotors, and good on 'em). Whether the Vinson will debark some jets to make room I don't know but I'm guessing it will. (There's no reason to take them, anyway.) The Coast Guard is sending two cutters, and there's lots of smaller stuff being assembled. So it appears we're making a major military effort, which I'm more than pleased to see.

Brian Williams is reporting from the airport, with Al Roker and Ann Curry. Roker says he's seen planes from Canada and Brazil landing with relief workers or supplies. So the Haute Mainers are on the scene, too. Three cheers.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 13, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Two ships are being prepared to go as well Mudge HMCS Halifax and another one (forgot the name).

Tearful press conference from our Haitian born Governor General, spoke from her heart.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 13, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

'mudge, Haiti and Canada have a long, fond history together, born out of a shared language (French) and legal system (civil). We were there in the darkest days of Bébé Doc (if anything, crazier and more dangerous than Papa Doc) and the misery he put the Haitian people through. We've had RCMP there for years transfering know how to local police forces (a slow slog, to be sure); we've sheltered thousands of refugees, and Haiti has been one of the biggest recipients of bilateral aid from Canada. Mind you, we don't put but a smidge as much money into aid as the US, but that is because we don't have much to begin with. So you can question our effectiveness, whether in policing, technical assistance or in immigration policy, but you can't question our commitment to the country. I'm not a bit surprised we're among the first to land. Haiti, c'est moi, basically.

Posted by: Yoki | January 13, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Hillary has cancelled her western Pacific tour and is returning from Hawaii to work on the relif effort; DefSec Gates has cancelled a visit somewhere to stay and work on it. So we are going all out.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 13, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

May I suggest that maddogg is merely being provocative without any real convictions? (no bets on whether a future post will assure us maddogg reeeeeely means it, cross its chest)

A Coast Guard cutter from Guantanamo is already on scene ( ) providing recon and limited evacuations. The article suggests the cutter is also providing ATC for the port airspace, which leaves the airport's full capabilies in question for now.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 13, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

What is ATC, Scotty?

Posted by: Yoki | January 13, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

air traffic control, Yoki.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 13, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Of course! Thanks. Stoopid Yoki.

Posted by: Yoki | January 13, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't question Canada's effectiveness (or in anything else) in a million years, Yoki. But dmd reminds me that your smashing GovGen has Haitian ancestry as well. Glad you are sending ships as well.

Ships are uniquely helpful in situations and locales like this for a variety of good reasons. First, they are virtually self-contained, so they don't have to "live off the land" and take away scarce resources. Second, unlike a land-based garrison, they don't need much perimeter security, because they are anchored out or at least to a dock. (You can surround an embassy or a compound; foot soldiers and mobs can't surround a ship.) Third, they are highly mobile, even over short distances, whereas moving a base camp or an embassy or garrison or whatever, is nearly impossible on a crash basis. One could fill the harbors there with 50 relief ships without drawing a single ounce of resources away from the landside: food, water, shelter, electricity, whatever. Zero drain, optimal contribution.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 13, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

The cutter's captian said the approach to the port was open (yay!) but that the docks had larely collapsed. Major issue there -- call out the Seabees!

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 13, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, EYE question our effectiveness all the time :)

Good point about ships.

Here is something which has absolutely nothing to do with anything (except ships) that I learned about project finance. For very unstable countries, investors and lenders like to build private generating stations on barges off-shore, because in the case (very common) that the local utility defaults on paying for the power, the creditors can just swoop in and haul them away to be used elsewhere. Cool, eh? At least from the lenders' perspective.

Posted by: Yoki | January 13, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, Scotty, imagine trying to conduct ATC for an airport flying in that much stuff all from the ops room of a 200- or 300-foot cutter. Man o man.

Brian Williams said the airport terminal had no power, and big cracks in it; didn't say anything about the tower. Said lots of people arriving (meaning Americans) expecting to find aircraft to take them out.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 13, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

"One could fill the harbors there with 50 relief ships without drawing a single ounce of resources away from the landside: food, water, shelter, electricity, whatever."
-- Curmudgeon

It also makes practical sense, as there seems to be little, if any, food, water, shelter, or electricity in P-a-P to draw on.

Scotty: I stopped reading maddogg for that reason.

Yoki not stoopid. Yoki beautiful.

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Excellently said, qgalliana. Thanks also to CqP, Mudge & everyone with constructive information and suggestions. That is, most of y'all.

RD, splendid to hear from you. I figured you were sequestered somewheres.

I am the only able-bodied human in the house; the Boy is sick and getting worse; Ivansdad is sick and (thanks to modern medicine) will get better within a couple of days. We hope. The rabbit is fine. I am a trifle fatigued. The dogs, outside, are fine but removed from the action.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 13, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Computer problems all morning put me behind all day. Tried to back boodle but after just a couple comments I couldn't bring myself to do it.

What world view allows people to suggest we as a nation should only turn inward and take care of ourselves?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 13, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

MsJS & scotty, me too. I just wondered if maddog was a one-trick pony or had more than one trick.

Yep, Yoki not stoopid.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 13, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

qgaliana, good post.

Exactly, this is an extreme situation that would devastate even the most rich nation to get sufficient emergency aid in a timely manner-- New Orleans was bad, but people had warning and some time to evacuate.

With a quake there is NO warning. This really is a case of "doing all quickly, never mind politics."

Because you know, quakes can happen anywhere. Even insanely big ones.

We could have the big one hit the Eastern seaboard, and believe me, we will ask for and need major help in that case; we don't have buildings built to high-enough quake codes everywhere on the East-- too many historical buildings.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 13, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

qgaliana, I am in awe of your post.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 13, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Ivansmom! Yep, I was actually commuting to a facility that is, evidently, about 15 feet too close to my house to qualify me to stay in a hotel. Made for ridiculously long days. I am exhausted and kinda punchy. Not that anyone could tell.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 13, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

qgaliana-you have soothed my soul, thank you for your "rant."

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 13, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

In the middle of life, a sweet interruption: Went to an impromptu wedding tonight, after supper at church. A Sudanese couple were married almost on the spur of the moment. The groom is a young man we have sheltered and encouraged and watched succeed in college. I haven't heard the whole backstory, but they were waiting on the bride's Social Security number to arrive, which happened today. So they got a license and were going to go to the magistrate tomorrow, but one of our ministers said, we'll do it here! So, in about an hour and a half, they did. Complete with pipe cleaner hearts made by the kids, flowers from Harris Teeter, and a solo. We all had tears in our eyes. Blessings and good wishes to David and Rachael!

Now, back to earthquakes. Thank you, qgalliana, for your comments.

Posted by: slyness | January 13, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Mr. A's original kit concept was to include seismic-resistant features when rebuilding Haitian buildings.

For an interesting love-hate relationship regarding seismic-resistant building codes, I invite you to web-search Memphis, Tennessee's experiences.

Memphis lies within the New Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid) fault zone. This zone is considered a low-probability-high-impact area, meaning the likelihood of a noticeable quake is low, but when it occurs it will be a doozy.

Because of the low probability, developers have resisted more expensive, stricter codes since at least the 1960s. Nonetheless, gradual changes have been made. Some of the newest buildings in Memphis, like AutoZone's headquarters, are quite sophisticated in their construction.

I just wanted to point to a stateside example where the decision to implement stricter building codes was not so clearcut or immediate.

Posted by: MsJS | January 13, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

qgaliana, excellent rant! My heart aches for the people of Haiti and maybe even more for those, some of whom we've seen here today, who are so devoid of empathy. It must be terrible to have no soul.

I know #2's house in Costa Rica was built with earthquakes in mind, not sure what exactly they did but I feel better knowing that. Having seen PoP on Google Earth, I wonder how there are as many survivors as there are. Nothing but buildings, hardly any green space, for miles and miles and miles.

Posted by: badsneakers | January 13, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Earthquakes can indeed strike anywhere. There have been about 34 in central Oklahoma in the last few months. Granted, most of these were of the 2.x and 3.x variety. Still, one wonders.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 13, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

If I was a big solar energy company looking for some good publicity and opportunity to catch the attention of the world, I'd put together a proposal to swoop into Haiti and build mid-scale rural solar generation facilities to actually give Haitians something they lack: electricity. Wiki says last year only 12.5% of Haitians had electricity.

Incredible. Here's hoping the world puts forth its best effort.

Posted by: steveboyington | January 13, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Solar Electric Light Fund is there, now.
And, SELF pairs with Dr Paul Farmer of the Parters in Health program.

Further you can give to SEFL in a number of countries, including Haiti.

I have known about SELF and partner programs -- particularly the Bhutan program -- since the early 90s.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 13, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

How lucky am I? I met TBG (my more-vivacious-but-slightly-evil twin), and CqP (my better self), here on the Boodle. I say nothing of dbG and dmd, lest I embarrass them.

I've been aware of (and occasionally involved in) SELF since, oh, about the early 90s.

I can only say, "Awww, shucks," to MsJS and Ivansmom, tonight. Thanks friends.

But before I get all sloppy, let's have a rousing chorus of that great Rugby song, "Oh why was She Born so Beautiful?"

Posted by: Yoki | January 13, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

But *only* the chorus, please. My rugby-playing brothers never sang the verses around me, and that was a good decision.

Posted by: Yoki | January 13, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

On Haiti:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | January 14, 2010 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Oh DNA_Girl.

My sisters and brothers are suffering.

And my heart is pained.

Posted by: Yoki | January 14, 2010 2:19 AM | Report abuse

Here's the thing. I remember the Sponsorship scandal, and the Airbus thing. So??

It isn't Haiti, nor Africa.

Posted by: Yoki | January 14, 2010 2:27 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all. Hey Yoki.

Couldn't sleep. Hard time looking at the photo attached to Bill Clinton's comments on the editorial page. It's painful just to look at the rescue worker looking at the victim. God Bless each and every one of those workers, what they are doing is tougher than anything I have ever had to do.

qgaliana, you are welcomed to come and lower your blood pressure on the boodle anytime. Boodling is good therapy for all sorts of aches and pains. :-)

Posted by: VintageLady | January 14, 2010 3:19 AM | Report abuse

Listening to BBC is really painful tonight.
Please give if you can. It will make a difference.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | January 14, 2010 3:33 AM | Report abuse

For many years the parish I belonged to (and I guess I still do) sent a cargo container of donated goods and a team of volunteers to a school in Haiti every year. When they could, they brought up workers from the school to explain the good work being done in Haiti.

It is heartbreaking how desperate people are there year-round and not just when the all-too-frequent disaster comes around. On the other hand, it takes so little to make a tremendous impact.

I donated money to Catholic Relief Services ( because I know they do good work and have people on the ground in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

We must respond in times of need but remember that the poor are always with this and need our help even in the best of times.

One of the most moving science fiction novels I have read is 'Beggars In Spain' by Nancy Kress. As technology widens the gap between the wealthy nations and the poorest of the poor, we must remember that we are all human and everybody deserves compassion and dignity no matter what their circumstances.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 14, 2010 5:30 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. I hope we will meet the needs in Haiti, and quickly. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could rebuild the society as we rebuild the infrastructure? I hope that will be a goal, to make it a better place.

Posted by: slyness | January 14, 2010 7:07 AM | Report abuse

This morning's sunrise doesn't quite match yesterday's, but let us hope each new day brings Haiti more help and more hope.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 14, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more from President Clinton over the coming weeks -- I'm sure he's going to be very very busy.

yello, I contributed to CRS, too. A local group - to us Marylanders, anyway - that does good work where it's needed.

Folks, let your money, clothes, food, and other resources down there where it's needed, as your hearts and minds lead you.
I let my kids help pick where to donate, which was a nice group activity for us.

Ah, off to work for me now.


Posted by: -bc- | January 14, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Just dropped eldest at school, radio was on and they announced that the Canadian Red Cross had receivedd 1M in donations for Haiti yesterday - quite impressive. Also mentioned all the various S&R teams from around the world that are on their way to Haiti, as well as a C-17 full of supplies that took off from here a few hours ago.

Eldest asked me to donate some money from her bank account (unprompted).

Watching the CBC last night as they ran down the Canadian response, comments on the size and speed of it, and then a huge hat tip to the US response.

Gorgeous orange sun rose as we drove to school, eldest remarked that it reminded her of the Lion King.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 14, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I KNEW I heard something when the sun was coming up, dmd... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 14, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Morning boodle! The sun isn't up yet here, but the fog is beautiful as the sky lightens. Nice to see the impulse to give for Haiti relief is overtaking the "post this to your status for an hour" stuff among young people of my acquaintance.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 14, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Just heard from Engineers Without Borders, the UMCP chapter. They report that the U Wisconsin group of five are safe. They are working north of PaP and are busy collecting potable water in plastic containers. to send to PaP.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 14, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

UCFlorida's Engineers Without Borders still has not heard from their group -- five? Working in PaP over the holiday break on sand filtration, small scale water systems.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 14, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

If you don't have borders, your engineering drawings are gonna look pretty messy. Just sayin'.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 14, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Thanks yello :-)

Posted by: DNA_Girl | January 14, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Hola Boodleros!

The Haitian earhtquake has had a major impact here as Chile has a sizeable peacekeeping military and police contingent in the country. The military commander's wife is missing. A number of of Chilean aid workers are missing, too.

Two airplanes with medical supplies and personnel, rescue teams and search dogs are on their way.

Argentina already has a field hospital deployed there.

For turbo prop aircraft it's a 14 hour flight from Santiago and Buenos Aires.

All banks here have opened accounts for relief donations.


Posted by: Braguine | January 14, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

JK - and isn't it nice that they color outside of the lines. :)

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 14, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Brag -- I did not know this reach and spread. Strangely, I am comforted by this bit: the world is smaller, in a good way.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 14, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, bc, your question yesterday about Comfort... I heard that (during the night) much talk but no official command. Carl Vinson has medical staff ...

Medical staffs have been alerted throughout military.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 14, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

CPBoy's high school has a clothing and blanket drive -- actually an annual event. Will be put in a huge shipping crate and will arrive in three months. Local Haitian community does this routinely because the situation has always been a near-crisis.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 14, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

A few cell phone conversations reported on Santiago's TV stations, indicate that Chilean helicopters stationed in PaP been transporting wounded while troops been working on the rubble trying to rescue people. There is a desperate shortage of water. Chilean earthquake experts (Chile is in a very active seismic zone) expect the death toll may reach hundreds of thousands.


Posted by: Braguine | January 14, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

The New York Times has a story on construction practices in Haiti by Henry Fountain. It seems that reinforced concrete roofs are popular because they resist wind. So are masonry walls. But the concrete is likely to be weak (cement is expensive) and there's likely not to be enough rebar. Buildings tend to have enough support to keep from falling under ordinary conditions.

I think some extensive aerial imagery of Port-au-Prince, post-earthquake, is becoming available.

I suspect that Chile's experts will be among the best at guessing the severity of the situation.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 14, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Some aerial photos by Red Cross/Red Crescent crews on the scene.

Apologies if it's already been posted by someone else.

Posted by: MsJS | January 14, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Always sad and disappointing to scroll through a discussion which treats money as more precious and important than human life. Money is only supposed to enable the smooth functioning of a society; in other words, it's only supposed to enable human life. Something is desperately wrong when one starts weighing cash against suffering as if they're even supposed to be put on a scale to begin with.

Not that I have to remind the regular boodlers of this. As always, I'm heartened to find that this place is a harbor of sanity on the wild Internet seas.

Posted by: schala1 | January 14, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Hi schala1! Good to hear from you again, and thanks for the kind words.

Posted by: slyness | January 14, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I would like to mention the excellent and practical Mennonite Center Committee (offices in Canada and the US). NOBODY does boots on the ground rebuilding of structures like this aid group. Keep them in mind now and over the next three years.

Stereotype alert: think Amish barn building. The practical skills of this group -- and the deployment of skilled young people -- is astonishing. I know several young people now in the near 30s who go on these trips: from sandbagging to downed tree removal to termp-tent structures to new construction -- great go to group. One of the historic peace churches, Mennonites have been "soldiers of mercy" for over one hundred years.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 14, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

An eyewitness report:

Posted by: slyness | January 14, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Mennonite CENTRAL....sheesh

American World Jewish Service has projects in Haiti and the Dominican Republic

So many ways to give responsibly and according to personal creed or preferences.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 14, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I am glad you mentioned Nancy Kress, yellojkt. She's great and this sent me off to do some research and I found her blog.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 14, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

The construction situation looks a bit like Kobe, Japan. Buildings intended to survive hurricanes or typhoons, not earthquakes.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 14, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I have come to realize, just now, that I have granted insufficient credit to Pat Robertson for his brilliantly subtle work in spiritually educating each of us to be the best person we can be. I, for instance, have discovered that it is possible to master the urge to wish him ill, just so he would shut up forever and stop humiliating the rest of us by association. I feel better, more confident, more alive, more worthy, for having exercised this self-control.

Pat Robertson: zen master.

Meanwhile, having no appropriate skills to take into the realm of devastation and help directly, I have donated some money to relief efforts through organizations I trust. Once again, it's Pat Robertson who moved me to act substantively, and with greater promptitude than I otherwise might. Thanks, Pat!

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 14, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Elsewhere, in ornithological news, this from the BBC-

"A new species of bird has been spotted in the rainforests of Borneo.
Leeds University biologist Richard Webster first glimpsed the bird from a canopy walkway 35m above ground.
The spectacled flowerpecker, a small, wren-sized, grey bird, was feeding on some flowering mistletoe in a tree. On one sighting it was heard singing.
The bird has white markings around its eyes, belly and breast. It has not yet been given a scientific name because so little is known about it."

My guess is that "Spectacled Flowerpecker" is available as a Boodle handle. Any takers? Anyone? Rev. Robertson, you perhaps?

Posted by: kguy1 | January 14, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

"Promptitude" is a pretty good boodle handle, too, SciTim. Yep, the boodle is a fine safe haven and port in the storm, so to speak. And as we well know, there is a bunker in which to congregate to weather any bad event. Although, you hafta know the password.

Posted by: -ftb- | January 14, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

You're a better man than I am, Tim.

I eagerly await the outpouring of scorn upon Robertson by other prominent Christians who need to seriously denounce him. (I'm not holding my breath, however.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 14, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Surely, Rev. Jeremiah Wright will have something to say on the subject.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 14, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The problem with Robertson is that he gives Christianity a bad name, and he's waayy off target about faith. Hopeless, as a matter of fact. I don't wish him evil, but I do wish he would figure out what God is love really means.

Best I can do on short notice, Mudge. Off to have lunch with Elderdottir, whom I haven't seen since Christmas morning.

Posted by: slyness | January 14, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

In a moment of bravery I read the comments on the Pat Robertson (latest lunacy), in On Faith. I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming vitrol directed at Robertson.

I had expected more support for him, that only a few whackos did made my day. I even enjoyed the over the top attacks on Robertson.

Clearly I am not as good a person as SciTim

Posted by: dmd3 | January 14, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I would like to note that the boodle has been relentlessly on-topic with the kit for the past 24 hours.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 14, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

A look Google Earth's fresh satellite imagery shows shocking damage, but in most areas, most of the buildings appear to still be standing. My amateur guess is that Port-au-Prince isn't like Tangshan, China, which was obliterated by the 1976 earthquake.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 14, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I figure everyone's version of the truth will be seen by someone else as warped. In my personally warped way, this makes others whose views have little or no overlap to my own appear less menacing, odd, distasteful, or whatever.

I can envision that if some of us had a prominent website with a space for commentary we'd see a lot of contrary material posted.

Posted by: MsJS | January 14, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

#44 has apparently asked both #42 and #43 to assist in the Haitian relief effort. I had known about #42, but #43's involvement is news to me.

I have to admit my first response was a mental image of a very unflattering photo that made the rounds post-Katrina. It depicted #41 and #43 fishing in the Katrina floodwaters.

OK, mental image erased. All better.

Posted by: MsJS | January 14, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Here's a semi official rebuke of Robertson.

Posted by: bh72 | January 14, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

fyi, new kit...

Posted by: joelache | January 14, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

MsJS, I have to admit that the cynic in me immediately thought of some celebrity fund-raiser singalong on TV akin to the Simpsons' great "We're sending our love down the well." That is still available on YouTube with a remotely clever search.

Posted by: steveboyington | January 14, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company