Ever since deregulation caused a worldwide economic meltdown in September 2009 and everyone became a Keynesian again, it hasn’t been easy to be a fanatical fan of the late economist Milton Friedman. So widely discredited is his brand of free-market fundamentalism that his followers have become increasingly desperate to claim ideological victories, however far-fetched.
A particularly distasteful case in point. Just two days after Chile was struck by a devastating earthquake, Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens informed his readers that Milton Friedman’s “spirit was surely hovering protectively over Chile” because, “thanks largely to him, the country has endured a tragedy that elsewhere would have been an apocalypse…. It’s not by chance that Chileans were living in houses of brick–and Haitians in houses of straw–when the wolf arrived to try to blow them down.”
thanks to espow for sharing this article, which argues for haiti’s right to reparations. hell to the yes, i say. also i adore naomi klein (i think). also hampshire is asking for me to return “the shock doctrine” bc its been recalled and this brings the sadness.
Haiti’s vulnerability to climate change is not only–or even mostly–because of geography. Yes, it faces increasingly heavy storms. But it is Haiti’s weak infrastructure that turns challenges into disasters and disasters into full-fledged catastrophes. The earthquake, though not linked to climate change, is a prime example. And this is where all those illegal debt payments may yet extract their most devastating cost. Each payment to a foreign creditor was money not spent on a road, a school, an electrical line. And that same illegitimate debt empowered the IMF and World Bank to attach onerous conditions to each new loan, requiring Haiti to deregulate its economy and slash its public sector still further. Failure to comply was met with a punishing aid embargo from 2001 to ’04, the death knell to Haiti’s public sphere.
This history needs to be confronted now, because it threatens to repeat itself. Haiti’s creditors are already using the desperate need for earthquake aid to push for a fivefold increase in garment-sector production, some of the most exploitative jobs in the country. Haitians have no status in these talks, because they are regarded as passive recipients of aid, not full and dignified participants in a process of redress and restitution.
A reckoning with the debts the world owes to Haiti would radically change this poisonous dynamic. This is where the real road to repair begins: by recognizing the right of Haitians to reparations.
Soon after almost every disaster the crimes begin: ruthless, selfish, indifferent to human suffering, and generating far more suffering. The perpetrators go unpunished and live to commit further crimes against humanity. They care less for human life than for property. They act without regard for consequences.
I’m talking, of course, about those members of the mass media whose misrepresentation of what goes on in disaster often abets and justifies a second wave of disaster. I’m talking about the treatment of sufferers as criminals, both on the ground and in the news, and the endorsement of a shift of resources from rescue to property patrol. They still have blood on their hands from Hurricane Katrina, and they are staining themselves anew in Haiti.
Within days of the Haitian earthquake, for example, the Los Angeles Times ran a series of photographs with captions that kept deploying the word “looting.” One was of a man lying face down on the ground with this caption: “A Haitian police officer ties up a suspected looter who was carrying a bag of evaporated milk.” The man’s sweaty face looks up at the camera, beseeching, anguished.
Is the Haiti Rescue Effort Failing? yes, i think it b.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the importance of the first 72 hours following the 12 January disaster. But already much of that crucial time has been spent attempting to assess the situation. The structures usually responsible for dealing with civilian emergencies have been unable to respond effectively due to widespread destruction of national and international power structures.
(This means the UN and the Haitian government as well as the US effort).
Lacking outside support, civilians have worked communally to try to save their own families. Supplies were sent but many have yet to get out of the airport. Troops have not been assigned to help deliver water or guard medical facilities. There is a fear of the wrath of a people that are pissed off at hearing about aid and money donated, and then seeing nothing trickling down into their neighborhoods.
And there is a deeper fear — a political fear. With President Aristide, the man the US considers too radical for its tastes, anxious to return, there is fear that a possible revolt against the lack of help could turn angry and political.
Hillary Clinton keeps telling the Haitians that we are their friends — but many doubt it. They know that Aristide’s Lavalas party is the most popular in Haiti and wants a more profound transformation than the US wants to allow. It had been banned from taking part in scheduled elections next month, that are likely to be canceled now. Haiti’s president Preval is weak and dependent on US largesse.
They also know that in the aftermath of earthquakes, like the one that rocked Manaqua, Nicaraga in the 1970s, there can be revolution. They don’t want that to happen in Haiti. They also know how volatile the country is, in part because of neglect by the West over the years.
as if i could think about anything else right now. dear god, if you exist, please make america stop sucking the life out of this place.
“US corporations, private mercenaries, Washington and the International Monetary Fund are using the crisis in Haiti to make a profit, promote unpopular neoliberal policies, and extend military and economic control over the Haitian people.” (please click to read)
Bob Moliere, an organizer within the popular political party Fanmi Lavalas was killed in the earthquake. His wife, Marianne Moliere, told IPS News after burying her husband, “There is no life for me because Bob was everything to me. I lost everything. Everything is destroyed,” she said. “I’m sleeping in the street now because I’m homeless. But when I get some water, I share with others. Or if someone gives some spaghetti, I share with my family and others.”
It is not this type of solidarity that has emerged in the wake of the crisis – and the delayed and muddled response from the international community – that most corporate media in the US have focused on. Instead, echoing the coverage and calls for militarization of New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, major media outlets talk about the looting, and need for security to protect private property.
One request from Erwin Berthold, the owner of Big Star Market in Petionville, Haiti, reflects this concern for profit over people. Berthold told the Washington Post about his supermarket, “We have everything cleaned up inside. We are ready to open. We just need some security. So send in the Marines, okay?”
another earthquake for haiti. this is horrible. really so bad. so so so bad. i think i need to start learning haitian creole. and printing flyers. and begging people for money.
FYI this is what an aftershock is. i remember aftershocks in india after the jan 26 2001 earthquake. not as bad as the earthquake. but they were also not nearly as big as the earthquake, as is the case in haiti…shit.
Impact of aftershocks
Aftershocks are dangerous because they are usually unpredictable, can be of a large magnitude, and can collapse buildings that are damaged from the mainshock. Bigger earthquakes have more and larger aftershocks and the sequences can last for years or even longer especially when a large event occurs in a seismically quiet area; see, for example, the New Madrid Seismic Zone, where events still follow Omori’s law from the mainshocks of 1811–1812. An aftershock sequence is deemed to have ended when the rate of seismicity drops back to a background level; i.e., no further decay in the number of events with time can be detected.
Land movement around the New Madrid is reported to be no more than 0.2 millimetres (0.0079 in) a year in contrast to the San Andreas Fault which averages up to 37 millimetres (1.5 in) a year across California. Aftershocks on the San Andreas are now believed to top out at 10 years while earthquakes in New Madrid are considered aftershocks nearly 200 years after the 1812 New Madrid earthquake.