No one made Haiti poor


By Stephen Pollard
January 18, 2010
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Tim Worstall has an aposite comment on some of the trite comments which have been doing the rounds about Haiti:

Folks, no one “made Haiti poor”.

Certainly there have been actions by all sorts of people of right
and left, thugs and even the well meaning, which have made Haiti poorer
than it should be or could be. Everything from supporting grossly
incompetent dictators to demanding reparations and stupidity about
trade.

But the sort of poverty that Haiti is enmired in is not something
that is made. This is the natural state, this $1 or $2 a day
disgusting, foul, entirely a blemish upon us all, level of destitution
is something which is the result of something not being made.

It is the result of wealth not being made. That may well have been
the result of actions by all sorts of people of right and left, thugs
and even the well meaning. Everything from supporting grossly
incompetent dictators to demanding reparations and stupidity about
trade.

But the basic point remains. They’re in the Malthusian trap. GDP per
capita is (at PPP) around $1,300. That’s not notably different from
England in 1600. Indeed, it’s not notably different from England in 900
AD, from the GDP per capita in the Roman Empire.

Haiti’s poverty is not something that man hath wrought. It’s the result of what man hath not wrought.

In the longer term what they need is just what everyone else needs
and has needed. Economic development. More factories, more trade, more,
dare I say it, of that liberal capitalism stuff that dragged our own
forefathers up out of the horrors of that $2 a day destitution.

 

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