Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Overheard in the Office:

RX: "Haiti's bankrupt. The quake damage was twice the value of their whole economy."

Me: "Huh. So the country's basically totalled, then. Just write it off."

RX: "What do they do then? Saw it off the Dominican Republic and tow it to the island junkyard?"

Me: "I think Haiti is the island junkyard."


Anonymous said...

Come now Tam, that is an insult to respectable junkyards everywhere.


JD said...

The sad thing is that we're on our way to being just as broke...

Anonymous said...

Sigh, which the American taxpayer is going to be on the hook for, billions of dollars to what end.

There are times when I am all for being isolationist...

Turk Turon said...

Couple of trillion dollars in TARP money and that'll buff right out.

Anonymous said...

Watching the NothingButCrap network news tonight, whereon they mentioned the estimated loss to be about Thirteen Billion Bucks!

Since one could buy the whole damn island and everybody on it for a couple mill, the only way that's true is if that's how much *we've* lost there in the past month.

Tam said...

"Couple of trillion dollars in TARP money and that'll buff right out."

Turk wins the internets! :D

GuardDuck said...


Yep, was gonna try something funny, but just can't follow up Turk.

breda said...

Completely unrelated, but WOW, you have the most disturbing catnip ad running in your sidebar right now.

Ed Foster said...

I was in Cap Hatien way back in the foggy past, on a Carib cruise, courtesy of my Uncle Sam. Cheapest rum I've ever bought, and the worst hangover.

We were briefed by these two guys who looked like the Blues Brothers, except the Blues Brothers didn't have 1911's in shoulder holsters.

They were Ton-Tons, the local secret police. To become a Ton-Ton, you had to be a Voodun, a witch doctor. The head witch doctor was Papa Doc, the dictator.

We were told to look for the red line on certain signs, and not to go past it. If we did, we weren't coming back. Not even if there were 20 of us. One of the gentlemen informed me that my pale blue eyes were full of magic, and would be eaten by some lucky person before morning.

Even allowing for Good Ol' Boy humor at the expense of some 19 year old Marine and Navy tourists, not really my kind of town. A dirty, sleazy place, with mutiliated kids begging for change, and, I can't remember the name of the philosophy, but a voodoo belief fresh from Africa that there was no guilt, no individual responsibility.

Anything less than optimal I felt like doing was O.K., because if I decided to steal, rape, or murder, it was because an evil spirit took possession of me. I was only a helpless puppet. A sick place, filled with sick people, and it ain't the germs I'm talking about.

The Dominican Republic was next, and it was amazing. We had been shooting at those people three years before, but they couldn't have been nicer. A guy in my squad, Manny Martinez, was Cuban, and he took over as tour guide.

Sure there were areas where you held on to your wallet, and people you avoided. That happens in every place. But by and large, some of the truely nicest people I have ever met. Smile and treat them with courtesy and they'll give you the world.

It's not race. Dominicans come in every shade, from blond to black, and they all seem to have class and good humor.

But the half of that island that is Christian and Spanish speaking is a place where mostly good people mostly get along. A tropical paradise where, should you stick a seed in the ground, it explodes into food.

Half the island is too lazy to stick that seed into the ground. They would rather steal from someone else, or stand in line for American freebies. I have to blame 50 years of Yankee welfare for creating that sewer. Dominicans work, Haitians pick your pocket. After clubbing you.

A sucky culture, made far worse by the arrival of the "It's not your fault" fundamentalist Christians out to save another soul from the witchdoctor in Rome, buying those souls with cornmeal and spam.

As soon as another church sets up a block away with better goodies, they go there. After services and distribution of freebies, they wander home looking for something to steal, do a little voodoo to make things right, and make some more welfare recipients.

My brother Ray ran the medical end of the Haitian program at Gitmo. He had 40% HIV positives for patients, because their standard means of having fun was promiscuous anal sex. Unprotected because it felt better for the user.

The Bantu cultures regard us as stupid, because the way we do it, you make babies, and have to put up with women for something that's quicker and easier with another male or a hooker.

It was typical to see a 12 year old boy drop trou in a company street and bend over for a candy bar. After a while the MP's got them to go in a tent, but that was as far as they were able to change the activities.

I imagine the arrival of U.S. Government largesse has only made the situation worse. The Adventists and Jehovah's Witless must really have to crank up the volume and go heavy on the canned hams to compete.

How about giving every Haitian family a tent, 3 months of MRE's, a hoe, a shovel, some seed corn and a few chickens, then leaving?

That way, if they all starve, it will be their fault.

Joanna said...

The telling thing for me is that if you ever set foot on Haitian soil, you can no longer donate blood in the U.S.


Provide transport for those who want to get out, and let the rest consume itself. If nature's decided to completely sweep the pieces off the table, it's probably best to let them fall.

NYEMT said...

That catnip ad disturbed me, too.

Anonymous said...

"Provide transport for those who want to get out, and let the rest consume itself."

Whoa, Jo: transport them to where? If you've ever been near Little Haiti (TPFKAM), I don't think you want them in Indy.

Ed's novella above might seem harsh, but he's dead-on. Give 'em a fish or teach 'em to fish and all that; they'll take the free fish every time.

When Haitian flotsam started washing up on So. Fla. beaches, an attempt was made to give them jobs cutting sugar cane or picking oranges...backbreaking work for which ag-business imported Jamaicans and Mexicans by the thousands. How'd that work out? I guarantee you won't find a single Haitian doing those jobs right now. What they did do is turn the western Palm Beach County farm town of Belle Glade into the AIDS capital of the US.

Your various do-gooders will say, "how would you like to do that hard work for minimal pay?" I wouldn't, but then I'm not living in a mud hut in a disease-ridden hovel with nine kids, eating gruel and drinking sewage; and if the do-gooders have their way, neither will the Haitians, but it won't be because they worked their way up, it'll be because we adopted another entire country full of dole-sucking parasites.

I like Ed's solution; some chickens, some seed, some training. But not only would it not work with these people, the folks who live only to hand over your money and your descendants money to others would never hear of it...job security and all that for them, you know.

So, Joanna, nice thought on the evac thing, but if you're not prepared to live it, better to leave it.


Joanna said...

Honestly? I just threw the bit about an evac in there so I wouldn't sound like a total hard-case. Plus I guarantee that within a week, most of Ed's chickens and seeds and what-not would be in the hands of a few power-hungry types, either traded for something of lesser value or stolen outright.

Let it burn; let it lie. Let's face it: If they really wanted to get out, they'd be in the DomRep by now.

Anonymous said...

There is no clearer example of the Welfare State and the Free Market than Hispaniola.

A telling Haitian story for me: when I sold guns in undergrad at a big box small chain sporting goods store in the Midwest, a man from the DR walked in and wanted to buy a holster since Indiana recognizes the licenses of all states and all countries. He pulled out his revolver and put it under his foot as he tried on holsters.

The 19 year old me asked him about the DR. He advised that in the DR you must USE your pistol every day.

I laughed thinking he confused "use" with "need to carry" or "carry". So, I asked him in Spanish if meant use or carry.

He stopped looked at me, looked around and then said "Haitians" like he was talking about zombies or bears or zombie bears.

I haven't had the urge to go to Haiti since then. I've heard that the DR is wonderful and a place I should go.

A place like Haiti makes an angel cry.

Shootin' Buddy

Mark B. said...

It's long been a source of mystification to me how the oldest republic in the western hemisphere morphed into such a pestilent shithole, or perhaps never was anything but. I think Steyn had something when he compared and contrasted British and French (snicker) colonial traditions.


wv: enegrazi -- "Thanks for the colon cleanser" in Italian, maybe?

Don M said...

Just remember that GDP is a single years product. They could be back on their feet in 4 or 5 years if their consumption was moderate and they worked hard.

US Debt is a single years product. Like having a 100,000 dollar a year income and borrowing 100,000 to buy a 100,000 house. You need to be responsible and all, but you need to be responsible even if you don't have that debt. The important thing is what you do with the money you borrow.

Anonymous said...

"...the money you borrow."

You mean borrow as in an expectation of repayment?


Hope, she do spring eternal, yes? But I wouldn't be making any plans for that repayment money (with interest? you're killin' me, man!).


Ed Foster said...

Anonymous AT, Joanna, and Shooting Buddy, I'm in agreement with you all 100%.

And Joanna, like you, I only threw in the seed and chickens thing because I didn't want to seem a hard case. You know as well as I do that they would be all eaten in 5 days, with the eaters sitting down and whining for more.

I live in the middle of several thousand acres of shade tobacco, used to make the wrapper in high grade cigars. It's 100% huminity and 115 degrees under those nets, and I worked as a picker back in highschool. Talk about a walk in hell, or in the case of working shade, a crawl.

You can't get American kids to work shade for love nor money nowadays. For a dozen years or so, they brought in down-scale Jamaican field hands, little if any different that the typical Haitian.

Scads of great Jamaicans around here, most of them cream of the crop, but they're literate, predominantly small town people with a fun easy way to them, and a good work ethic. They refer to the nasty bastards out in the fields as "Maroons", and the ambulances filled with machete carved bozos rolled nonstop from payday (Thursday) until Sunday night around here, when the Rastas finally ran out of money.

Now they bring in Indians from southern Mexico, way down near Chiapas and Oaxaca on the Guatemalan and Belizian borders. Again, I know first hand the aching agony, dehydration, and heat exaustion that brutal job entails.

Every morning they're waiting at the bus stop, freshly scrubbed and with knife edged creases pressed into their work shirts and jeans. A fair number of them are women, and they are treated with courtesy and respect.

I buy my food alongside them at the local Stop and Shop, and marvel at the quiet class and gentle good humor of these marvellous people.

No, I don't want them to become Americans, because we are already more than full. But with an honest guest worker program, I would be proud to have them as neighbors from May through October, and wish those good people all the good fortune they deserve.

And I doubt there is any real difference between a Mexican jungle and a Haitian jungle. Except the people.

Joanna said...

"And I doubt there is any real difference between a Mexican jungle and a Haitian jungle. Except the people."

I don't think there is a Haitian jungle. Everything west of the DR border is bare dirt. In photos, it's like someone sliced away the top layer of the land and left it open. It's eerie.

Ed Foster said...

Ma'am, point well taken and completely conceded. Locusts, human variety.

But it's still warm, wet, and fertile, if anybody wanted to use it. We quarantine Cuba, why not Haiti?

Anonymous said...

Pull out, and let the sinkhole rot.

See Ya

Mikee said...

Will they sell it at auction?

Joanna said...

Heath: I don't have a problem with rushing water, food and medical supplies to a disaster-stricken area, especially if we're already halfway there.

It is not, however, our responsibility to get them back on their feet. Past that first response, if they don't get back up on their own, it's probably never gonna happen.

George said...

The scorched earth that is Haiti is the result of a dirt poor culture that uses charcoal for cooking and heating. Where does charcoal originate? As trees. Cut down the trees, make charcoal, watch the topsoil wash away in the next hurricane. Note ... they get hurricanes every year.

So ... Haiti has no real arable land. Yes, the tropics are fertile as hell ... but not if the topsoil's been washed out to sea.

I fear that if the West were to rebuild a new earthquake-resistant city for the Port au Prince residents ... streets, houses, hospitals, government buildings, prisons, media facilities, all the components of a modern city, build an expanded port to serve cruise lines and what little manufacturing/assembly is done, a better airport, and ... and ... and?

Haiti still cannot feed itself, cannot govern itself except in a simplistic, brutal dictatorship, cannot educate itself (its illiteracy rate is astoundingly high), cannot heal itself of the ravages of HIV/AIDS, parent its children, etc., etc., etc.

And ... as others have said ... Haiti always has the the relative success of the DR beside it. (The DR does sit on the favoured side of Hispaniola in terms of the trade winds. Still, the DR did not denude its countryside to make charcoal.)

There is no happy ending for Haiti ... only a continued, awful Hell on Earth existence.

There's an American MGEN there. Give him the country.