Capitalism—generating the incentive and means to build stronger, sturdier buildings, even some with technologically advanced seismic-design (earthquake-proof) features—would have prevented tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of deaths in Haiti.
Jonah Goldberg writes,
“If a similarly powerful earthquake were to hit much more densely populated San Francisco or Los Angeles, the death toll would be much lower. That’s an amazing thing when you consider that American cities are crammed with skyscrapers while Port-au-Prince’s skyline was, for the most part, one story high. Indeed, as others have noted, when a 7.1 earthquake hit the Bay Area two decades ago, 67 people were killed. Meanwhile, the Haitian death toll is almost unknowable, but almost certainly over 100,000 and climbing.”
This is no mere case of hind-sight’s 20/20. Socialism and the corruption that attends welfare-Statism in Haiti have consistently rejected free markets and the prosperity that come with them for decades. Walter Williams documents Haiti’s combination of 1) lack of economic freedom, 2) rampant corruption, 3) catastrophic crime, and 4) denigration of private property rights. He notes, “Haitian President Rene Preval is not enthusiastic about free markets; his heroes are none other than the hemisphere’s two brutal communist tyrants: Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro.”
Chavez and Castro? Perhaps Pat Robertson was not so far off. Haiti has indeed made a pact with the devil—incarnate in the political style of Chavez and Castro.
Williams concludes, “Haiti’s disaster demands immediate Western assistance but it’s only the Haitian people who can relieve themselves of the deeper tragedy of self-inflicted poverty.” Indeed.