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Bloviating Zeppelin: Asking The Tough Questions: Haiti & Elsewhere

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Asking The Tough Questions: Haiti & Elsewhere

I may have to apologize in advance for the following. I suspect a few of my readers will be surprised with this post but, in my opinion, this country is "past due" asking the following questions with regard to our fiscal largesse.

I'll address these questions here and now. Likely you'll not read of them anywhere else. And you'll probably not care for my answers.

What begged my mental tickler file on this? Easy: Haiti.

My first question:

1. Does the US Know How To Offer Aid?
A: I submit it does not. I submit it would rather just have recipients receive the checks or shipments and then satisfy our emotional fantasies. They should be gracious and then shut up.

2. Does the US Expect That "Well Intentioned Aid" Will Reach Its Targets?
A: Of course. The US, as insulated as it is, has little if any true idea of the current detailed political heavings involved in the individual square meter(s) where aid may be dropped or proffered.

3. A Little History?
A: Developed countries have spent, historically, the equivalent of trillions of dollars on developing nations.

A: Very little if anything.

5. What About China? They've Received Almost NO Aid From Western Countries!
A: Yet, despite this, China has seen massive improvement and is now an industrial, business and manufacturing powerhouse.

6. So: What Won't We Address?
A: Culture. Plain and simple.

7. What Are You Intimating, BZ?
A: I'm saying, not intimating this: some cultures are Winners, and some cultures are Losers.

8. The Bottom Line?
A: Some cultures are more progress-resistant than others. Some cultures will never come around. Some cultures -- and some nation-states -- have little if any work ethic, progress viewpoint, history of success, embracement of values, morals, discrimination, judgment.

9. Then Some Cultures Don't Deserve Help and Must Rise Or Fall On Their Own?
A: In my opinion, yes. And that would include Haiti.

10. Doesn't That Relegate Some Nations To Corruption And Despair?
A: In another word, yes. One person, one nation, one philosophy, cannot be all things to all people. Before there can be change, there must be a fundamental desire to change. Alcoholics, junkies and equines all know a common axiom: "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink."

Change will come to only those who wish it. And deserve it.

11. In The Meantime: I'm Keeping My Dollars At Home.
A: Judgmental? Yes. Pragmatic? Always. You want to fly to Haiti and personally help? Wonderful. You want to donate your own cash to various organizations? Be my guest. Just keep my federal tax dollars out of it. I am simply tired of spending billions with no resultant progress.

12. How Can You Be This Indifferent And Even Hateful?
A: We refuse to see the light. We refuse to see that, with some cultures, they can't change. What accounts for the difference between Haiti and the DR? I'm just tired. I'm done. Our US cash is finite. Taxpayers' pockets, my pockets, have bottoms. My patience has an end. I pay for the world. And the world still doesn't understand, nor do Americans, that if the United States crashes then the rest of the entire planet is in jeopardy. There is NO OTHER NATION to come to the assistance at any given point on the rest of the globe. And listen up, America: THERE IS NO OTHER NATION THAT WILL COME TO OUR AID in our time of peril.

There are big things in store for the US, nasty things waiting in the wings. They're not pretty, they won't be pleasant, and they'll affect the entire world. In comparison, I'm not much worried about Haiti.



Blogger Just John said...

An unpleasant, albeit accurate, assessment. We can't make poor nations rich with handouts, no matter how much hollyweird would like to.

Mon Feb 01, 12:17:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

And, of course, JJ, it's not just Hollywood. Actual, good people are trying to help and that's wonderful. But federally, it's time to draw the line.

Realistically, there isn't one nation on the entire continent of Africa that could be called stable and isn't undergoing its own versions of strife, hate and discontent, save perhaps SA and, even then, it's not in fabulous shape.

South America fares better but is far from ideal. Violence and unrest seethes on that continent as well. Various island chains, portions of the former USSR and, well, you get my point.

They all need saving. And it can't be done. Not by us.


Mon Feb 01, 07:26:00 AM PST  
Blogger peedee said...

Your so right and it makes me sad to acknowledge it. GREAT post.

Mon Feb 01, 08:35:00 AM PST  
Blogger mrchuck said...

Remember the "story" of Bre'r Rabbit?

Then you remember the "Tar Baby" part of it.

Yeah, that is literally what Haiti is,,, A TAR BABY.

Pun intended.

Mon Feb 01, 08:48:00 AM PST  
Blogger JINGOIST said...

BZ, Haiti truly is a dilemma, isn't it? Our common Judeo-Christain ethic is both a help and a hindrance here.

On one hand we have the never-ending NEED that is the human sewer called "Haiti." Why flush money down that fetid sewer?

On the other hand we give to the "helpless" because we are Commanded to.

Jeez, I think it's time for a beer.

Mon Feb 01, 11:11:00 AM PST  
Blogger TexasFred said...

I don't, and won't give money to ANY overseas aid group...

When the tsunami hit Malaysia I sent ZERO, they are NOT our friends, they are a MUSLIM nation...

I have sent NOTHING to Haiti relief, no matter how much we send, Haiti is, and always will be, a festering dung heap!

Mr. Chuck: A TAR BABY... LMAO

Mon Feb 01, 11:57:00 AM PST  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

I am neither indifferent nor hateful towards Haiti and Haitians... the US has yet to learn that the way we think recovery works actually doesn't work very well. We have been to Haiti before, put down hard work, good institutions, and then see it all fall apart on us. That was from Woodrow Wilson to FDR. We cannot 'make' things work from the outside. We cannot 'make' an infrastructure if there is not a culture to support it.

It doesn't work that way, from the top heading downwards.

It is piss poor policy to help another Nation without a strong culture and community by showering them with gifts that cannot be supported. It doesn't work in the US in dysfunctional urban settings until you involve the local population in wanting to change things. It doesn't work in Haiti for the exact, same reason. Good intention has nothing to do with it... wanting something that will be sustainable and helping people learn how to do it for themselves matters more than all the money, all the good will, all the good intentions, more than anything that can be done from the outside.

Charity works so well because those involved in it are intent on making that change and scrimp, deprive themselves and work damned hard to do that. The most efficient organizations on this planet are not governments nor even corporations, but private charities strongly dedicated to their mission. Not a mission to hand out, but to help people with a hand up to something better. You do not put down good works, but teach how good works are done and helping those who cannot do to learn how to do for themselves so you don't have to.

If you can't do for yourself and you depend on others to do for you, you are bereft of all hope during any disaster, any misfortune, anything that deprives you of outside support. Expecting others to take care of you, to save you means that you are not looking to save yourself. When survival time hits you must work to survive. When you are not working to survive you are not concentrating on surviving. That means you are not surviving. Soon you will not be around because you did not survive.

Some things are just that simple.

We do not teach Haitians how to fend for themselves, to survive on their own without largesse from outside or political payoffs inside their country. That makes them dependent... not independent individuals. Whenever I hear the call for a government program in the US, it is a call to make us more dependent on government, to have us stop fending for ourselves, to stop learning how to survive.

You end up dead doing that.

It is just that simple.

Hope is not a strategy.

Mon Feb 01, 02:45:00 PM PST  
Blogger Ron Russell said...

You have said something that many will never accept, but my friend you have gotten it entirely right. Many of the the new emerging states are waiting with out-stretched hands for money coming from the west. The leaders of these poor countries will line their pockets and basically say to hell with the people.

But this is not the entire issue. People in these third world countries for the most part have no desire to be like us. And as you point out the work ethic, the life styles are totally different. Aid to these countries has, as I see it caused more problems than it has solved. Many have grown dependent on food shipments from the United States and other western powers. A glaring case is North Korea--there without our food the communist government would have already collapsed. As it is we feed the people while those in charge use what little money they have to maintain their military and control of the people.

And look at the African states----the only state their that is not controlled by dicators is South Africa (wonder why)! All others have corrupt sysmtems support by funds from the west. The natives in those countries have for the most part given up on farming and providing for themselves and moved to the cities and wait for handouts from the government which waits for money from the west to provide the bare necessaties for its people. The goodwill of the west has brought nothing but misery to the dark continent---actually most of the countries were better off under colonial rule, but I would not advocate a return of that system for it was unjust. These poor people need their freedom, and the west is only making them slaves to corrupt governments.

Mon Feb 01, 03:24:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Jingoist: that's one of my primary points and why many of my standard commenters won't write words here now. They're caught. Caught between their emotions and what they know as the real workings of Life. And they don't like it. It slams Reality just a bit too close. We Americans are really GOOD people. But beyond that, we sometimes just don't want to know too many of the details. And it's the details wherein the Devil resides.

TF: you're nothing if not blunt. But you and I both know that whatever diminishes this country diminishes the entire globe. I wish MORE people understood that linkage.

AJ: amazing. You summed it. "Hope is not a strategy."

Ron: absolutely true. And even South Africa has fallen upon difficult times because the World has insisted that it come under modern strictures.

There will be change when realizations occur as to the reality of the systems with which various geographic locales operate.


Mon Feb 01, 05:01:00 PM PST  
Blogger Old NFO said...

JJ got it in one... All one has to do is look at the collapse of the countries in Africa to understand that corruption and tribal politics are NOT a good basis to a country's success.

Mon Feb 01, 06:33:00 PM PST  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

Tribal basis for government does work: Scotland, Ireland, England, Denmark, Norway, Sweden all were tribal societies that formed Nations while keeping tribal based social customs for centuries, including law. With that said these Nations come from accountability within their tribes and, by extension, locales, provinces and Nations. The King of Sweden understood as far back as the 10th century that it was the local Lawgivers holding the annual Thing that made law for all within Sweden, and that the King was included in that. Without the backing of the Lawgivers, the King faced doing what he wanted without local support... and that often ended at sword point for the King.

A place with far more diverse tribal idenity is Iraq. It is not Sunni/Shia divide, but at least 10 major tribes and over 600 sub-tribes or clans that handle local law and custom. The Kurds, themselves, account for a few major clans, while other tribes can range from one or two clans to as many as 70. The change in US COIN operations recognized this and allowed local law and custom to grow within a framework of sub-provincial domains (cities, agricultural districts, suburban districts) where the concept of federalism came into play. Any higher level could try to over-rule local levels, but those higher levels were kept accountable by the local levels and rarely want to interfere with other locales. Iraq gets a federal system by default, we just built a reasonable infrastructure to give great politica leeway across all the small portions of the Nation. Iraqis, however, had come to the internal conclusion that they were Iraqis, first, members of their tribe, second, their clan, third... and religion gets put down there in the weeds after the top three.

African tribes are more top-down structured and not bottom-up like the Iraqi Arab and Kurdish tribes, which was a shock to al Qaeda who were used to bossing around African tribes by forced marriage. That got you accolades in Africa, and it got you dead in Iraq. And Iraqi women are a terror to their men at home... I've read of cases in Fallujah where young terrorist suspects cracked under the awful threat that their mother was going to be called to the station. Far worse than waterboarding, having to live with an irate Iraqi mother.

That metamorphosis in Africa, from top-down tribe to bottom-up tribe has not reached wide swaths of the Continent. Similarly, in Haiti, the top-down tribal structure has put in place an elitist structure that, while it has morphed over the last two centuries, has remained as a structure. The key to Haiti is not building hospitals or roads, but civics lessons and vocational education. Until you can get a society where people look to themselves for help, first, and can actually value manual skills that can be taught and learned as valued trades, and not under the thumb of the elites, you will not get change in Haiti. Equitable laws and equitable administration of same is part of that, but cannot be forced from the outside, only held accountable from the inside.

We know this can happen, as Nations built on tribal basis have taken root and succeeded, and their structures are telling for the successful ones. Local culture will vary the particulars, but the overall structure of bottom-up accountability and self-government starting from the individual are prime. Without those you will not get a Nation that can hold together save by force.

Tue Feb 02, 04:51:00 AM PST  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

7. What Are You Intimating, BZ?
A: I'm saying, not intimating this: some cultures are Winners, and some cultures are Losers.


It's refreshing to have someone else state what I've been harping on for years.

Developing countries are a money bit. And that money from developed countries is throwing money away. All the money in the world won't solve cultural problems, which are the root of the social problems in undeveloped nations. Building a society has to start from the bottom up, not from the top down.

Tue Feb 02, 05:27:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

AOW: BINGO! PRECISELY! Money CAN'T change social patterns ingrained for generations and years.


Tue Feb 02, 03:02:00 PM PST  
Blogger Tim said...

The cynical nature of the responses here only proves that there are a lot of bitter people who read this blog. While I agree that "shitting money" on Haiti all at once is the wrong way to go, we should not stand by and watch thousands of people die or suffer and not try to help in some way. I've heard it said that America is a great country because we are a "good people". Certainly you would not know that from the comments here.

Tue Feb 02, 07:08:00 PM PST  
Blogger Greybeard said...

Doesn't it get tiring, consistently pointing out the obvious to idiots?
Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, feed him for his life.
Let's quit giving and start teaching.

Wed Feb 03, 01:47:00 PM PST  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

I say nothing about how the money is pissed away... I suggest that putting down infrastructure that can't be maintained locally is not a good thing to do. I suggest reading Foundations On Sand: An Analysis Of The First United States Occupation Of Haiti 1915-1934 by Peter L. Bunce, 05 JUN 1995. Not only is it a seminal paper on COIN but a good review of the topic of Haiti and US involvement therein when we tried to build a Nation from the top down via good works and failed.

Suggesting that we not repeat the mistakes of the past is not ignoring human suffering. I support helping Haitians past the immediate emergency and contribute for that to get relief supplies to the island. After that comes the hard part of not doing the same old thing and failing time after time. That requires that we read our own damn history and learn from it so we don't leave the place in a situation where the next disaster that strikes finds the people as unable to cope as they were for this one.

That is not cruel nor mean spirited. If we can teach Haitians a modicum of self-reliance they may not need as much saving the next time something bad happens and may even begin to avoid some of the interim problems of their society. That is actually a lot better than dropping things down to make us feel good immediately... and costs less while helping more.

Or is money the only measure of our fortitude and compassion?

Wed Feb 03, 03:15:00 PM PST  

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