Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti's problem is overpopulation above all else

Conservative NYTimes columnist David Brooks wrote a column on Haiti. Well, of course. Everyone's writing a column on Haiti. Liberals want to provide succor. Conservatives tut-tut about Haiti's dysfunctionality. Here's my comment on Brooks' column:


The underlying tragedy is overpopulation. Just look at Haiti's stats.

In 1950 Haiti's population was 3.1 million. Last year it was 9.8 million. Haiti's population has tripled in 50 years. Tripled. And Haiti has the highest birthrate in the New World.

Odd that Mr. Brooks failed to note this as a possible contribution to Haiti's desperate state--which was desperate before the quake.

The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, has the same population size living on twice as much land, and Dominican average income is six times that of Haiti. The Dominican Republic is lush and verdant, as Haiti once was. But the Haitians have cut down 98% of the Haiti's once-abundant forests. The uncovered land has lost much of its topsoil, turning much of Haiti into semi-desert.

Of course it didn't help that France demanded and got crippling reparations for over a century after independence. But that doesn't explain why it has been consistently one of worst-managed countries on Earth. Note that there are 800,000 Haitians living illegally in the Dominican Republican, but no Dominican in his right mind would move to Haiti.

If Haiti still had a population of 3 million instead of nearly 10, this quake wouldn't have toppled Haiti into the abyss.

China's one child policy, constantly decried by American politicians both left and right, had kept China from mass starvation. Haiti, dominated by a church that forbids any form of birth control device, including condoms, is what China might have become without that policy. The Dominican Republican has an equal percentage of adherents of the same medieval religion, so obviously other factors contribute to the stark difference between the two societies. Neither is indigenous BTW. European diseases killed off most of the native Tainos long, long ago.

Note that over the last 50 years Haiti's people have greatly reduced the island's ability to support them. Hence the constant efforts of Haitians to move into Dominica and do to it what they've done to their own country, as well as constant efforts to move anywhere else they can get to.

So aid efforts will be fruitless in the long run unless they're tied to Haiti adopting China's one child policy, along with providing free abortions to anyone of any age--no questions asked--and free sterilization as well. Americans with tender sensibilities will flutter their hands at the barbarity of such infringements on people's rights.

They haven't seen Haiti. One of the downsides of our comfortable middle class existence here is that most of us have never gone to sleep hungry, or not in a bed (unless we've chosen to go camping). I've traveled fairly extensively in the third world, and I've seen what overpopulation does to the land, to the sea, to the people. It creates misery and it turns forest into farmland into desert and the fishermen's nets come up nearly empty.

The stats I've quoted are easy to verify. If you think something less draconian than harsh population reduction will work in Haiti--propose away. But you will realize, somewhere in your mind, that the gentler measures you're proposing won't work--and you're only proposing them to make yourself feel good.

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt. Haiti's worst enemies are those who help them stay the same. In the mental health world such people are called enablers.

Brooks is right about Haiti's society being dysfunctional--and one that's bad for 95% of its inhabitants. But Brooks quails from the measures it would take to fix Haiti. And of course the Democratic establishment will do no better than Republicans like Brooks.

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