Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My ridiculous dream for Haiti

Let me begin by saying this post is stupid - filled with paternalistic, ethnocentric, over-simplified, utopian naivete.  But I would love to do it sometime.

We are talking about Haiti - what do you do with a place like Port-au-Prince?  It has been a year and a half and the presidential palace is still a wreck, the national malls are tent cities and people are basically in the same shape they were a week after the earthquake.  After returning from there last week, I have an idea that is both brilliant and ridiculous . . .

First, we send in the army to surround the city and courteously but assertively move people north of the city to a massive base that we have set up to house 4 million people.  This is no bad deal - fresh drinking water, showers, electricity, room for your family to live.  We take them to this base for one year.  During that time we find out who has the aptitude for being teachers, bankers, salesmen, plumbers, electricians, craftsmen, artists and chefs.  We then spend the rest of the year in intensive education efforts to give them a new life in their respective fields.  Eight hours a day, five days a week we invest in these people.  Those not willing to learn are not allowed back into the city.

Second, with everyone safely outside Port-au-Prince, we completely level the city.   Bringing in the Army Corps of Engineers we clear the rubble and begin building a completely new city.  Over the next year we pave new roads, create business centers, market centers, agricultural zones, industry parks, wharfs, air fields, everything a burgeoning city needs to grow.  Then we stock it all - the fields are freshly fertilized, the schools have an abundance of textbooks, the commercial centers are all online and ready for commerce.

Third, we move them in - settle the farmers in first to start producing food.  Get the commercial zones fired up and then settle the people in their new apartments and condos and houses.  Assign them the jobs that they will perform in which they have been newly trained.  Stand back and watch it all begin to breathe new life.

The cost?  I estimate 100 billion dollars.  Cheap when you compare it to the amount we pay in federal aid, disaster aid, drug enforcement, immigration enforcement and all the other 'enforcements' that drain from our federal budget.  And once the new city starts to take off, all we ask is for a percentage of the GDP from the successful new city over the next hundred years so that the following year we can invest in a new place that desperately needs help.

Sound foolish?  Am I dreaming?  Is it arrogant?  Or is it something that you wish could work as well?  It is a desire that is rooted in ancient dreams of someone stepping in and saving us from the poverty that we are in.  It is as old as the idea of salvation - repugnant to some, but a beautiful dream nonetheless.

1 comment:

  1. Great analogy of salvation, which is foolishness and arrogant to some. And in the coming Millenium, seems like something Jesus, as King, would authorize, implement, and see to completion.