2010 January 17 Sunday
Corruption Caused Haiti Death Toll

Why did an only moderate sized earthquake kill so many people and collapse so many buildings in Haiti? Corruption kills. Virtue is essential for good government.

The death toll in the massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti Jan. 12 is expected to continue to rise in the coming days, likely in large part because of corruption and resulting shoddy construction practices in the poor Caribbean nation, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder seismologist.

The earthquake hit about 10 miles west of the capitol city of Porte-au-Prince, which has about 2 million inhabitants, said Professor Roger Bilham of CU-Boulder's geological sciences department. The earthquake occurred along what is known as a "strike-slip zone" similar to the San Andreas Fault in California, where one side of a vertical fault moves past another one, he said.

"Porte-au-Prince is probably one of the worst constructed cities in the world, and even the presidential palace collapsed," said Bilham. "An earthquake near a major city on one of several faults bounding the edge of the Caribbean Plate is one that many of us were expecting sooner or later."

Send in some uncorruptible Finns as building inspectors for the rebuilding. Of course, assign two Xe Services (formely Blackwater) bodyguards to each of them for protection.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 January 17 12:03 PM  Chaotic Regions

Bobby said at January 17, 2010 12:47 PM:

And here I was thinking that an earthquake caused the deaths.

Apparently, this is your first and only post about this human catastrophe and it blames the darkies for their demise.

Good to know where your heart is.

Mthson said at January 17, 2010 1:08 PM:

Bobby, is it fair to say whenever an event involves people of African descent, White people turn off half their brains?

"On Oct. 17, 1989, a major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 struck the Bay Area in Northern California. Sixty-three people were killed. This week, a major earthquake, also measuring a magnitude of 7.0, struck near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The Red Cross estimates that between 45,000 and 50,000 people have died. This is not a natural disaster story." -NYT, David Brooks.

Mthson said at January 17, 2010 1:14 PM:

This event seems to be one more good argument for charter cities: http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_romer.html (Thanks to the previous commenter on this site for mentioning the idea.)

The humans in Haiti probably wouldn't mind having a modern city with modern building codes and a modern airport on their island right now.

Bob Badour said at January 17, 2010 1:21 PM:


What part of "stepping out of the box" eludes you?

Coverage that sticks to a very boxed-in, orthodox script abounds elsewhere. What would it serve to repeat that script here?

Personally, I am curious and concerned how much dysfunction the US plans to import after this tragedy. I know Canada is gearing up for thousands--perhaps tens of thousands--of new immigrants from Haiti. Canada is less of a concern to me, however, because I concluded it is a lost cause quite some time ago.

patrick said at January 17, 2010 1:28 PM:

Haiti is a politically unstable country with no natural resources; it has never had an effective, honest government or a functioning economy. Why exactly is this outcome a surprise?
Corruption leading to shoddy construction and consequent deaths in natural disasters is a problem in middle-income (borderline developed) countries like Italy, Turkey, or China, so think how much worse it is in a failed state.

mr c said at January 17, 2010 2:24 PM:

i'd love to hear the lefist explanation for the fact that the dominican repub is nowhere near as chaotic as haiti, yet port au prince and santo domingo are maybe 100 miles apart. they share an island and it's mad max in haiti and DR isn't crying for the world's help.

Mthson said at January 17, 2010 3:14 PM:

"Haiti is a politically unstable country with no natural resources"

No natural resources? Wouldn't it be a tropical paradise if it wasn't run so incompetently? It seems reasonable to say locked-in, mountainous countries like Bhutan, Tibet, and Afghanistan genuinely drew short straws, but a tropical island sitting close to the biggest economy in the world and not far from Europe seems to have won the lottery from a geographic perspective.

YT said at January 17, 2010 3:32 PM:

I read 2 DR workers who came into Haiti to help got wacked. I can't imagine why...Haiti is a dump and populated by people who eat dirt cookies. And that's on good days...Has Lootie shown up yet?


Anyone else want a beer?

Suntory said at January 17, 2010 7:06 PM:

--"Haiti is a politically unstable country with no natural resources"

No natural resources?--

Well, yeah. Japan's in the same shape. An island with nothing.

patrick said at January 17, 2010 7:25 PM:

I said it was a politically unstable country. Never had a functioning government- at least Trujillo and Balaguer in the Dominican Republic were the sort of dictators who "made the trains run on time."
I know the DR has more European ancestry in the population than Haiti, but also probably more than some of the English-speaking Caribbean countries, which are paradise compared to Haiti- so "HBD" can hardly be the only explanation, to say the least.

Randall Parker said at January 17, 2010 10:23 PM:


My heart? Try using your brain. If more people used their brains to analyze root causes of problems we wouldn't so many tragedies for your heat to get worked up about.

nano said at January 18, 2010 12:45 PM:

Well look at what liberals have done to Samoa (link is to Peter Schiff vlog):

AMac said at January 18, 2010 9:09 PM:

Along the lines of using one's God-given powers of analysis to, well, analyze the situation, Steve Sailer has an insightful column on the Haitian earthquake, here. He discusses Haitian political and cultural history and compares it to developments in the Dominican Republic.

As usual, Sailer provides links to buttress his unplusgood statements of fact, which makes him doubleunplusgood in some quarters. As we know.

Mthson said at January 19, 2010 12:47 AM:

Steve Sailer's masterful on these matters, as usual. It's been a couple of years since I was last a regular follower of his blog, but I should have known to check for his view on the Haitian earthquake.

O'Brien said at January 19, 2010 10:24 AM:

As usual, Sailer provides links to buttress his unplusgood statements of fact, which makes him doubleunplusgood in some quarters. As we know.

Get your Newspeak right. That's ungood, plusungood, and doubleplusungood. Get it wrong again, and you're going straight to Room 101.

Good link, though.

Trent Telenko said at January 27, 2010 7:57 AM:

>>Bobby, is it fair to say whenever an event involves people of African descent, White people turn off half their brains?

Pardon me, but what crap.

Corruption in building standards is absolutely lethal in earthquake country, and it is a direct reflection of the culture where the housing was built.

One of the underestimated causes of the fall of the Soviet Union was the Armenian earthquake that flattened all the huge apartment complexes the Soviet System was partial too. Apartment complexes that were sub-standard for earthquake country due to both central planning and corruption-shoddy construction standards.

The utter failure of the Soviet civil defense system compared to American military relief efforts into Armenia was noted at the time by both US Net Assessment war planners and the Soviet People. Who both drew the correct conlusions about the state of the Soviet system in the aftermath.

China's recent earth quake that had thousands of school children die in corruption-shoddy schools. It was only by doling out billions of yuan in blood money to the parents that revoution was averted.

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