Before the comments on “Haiti’s Last Chance” (5 Feb 10) were deflected into the dysfunctional governance structure quagmire, Larry G. asked:

“well in the case of Haiti, we think their GDP is too low – for the resources they have. That’s the implication, right?”

“You’ve got two countries on the same island with about the same resources but one of them the GDP is four time higher.”


Discussion of the Haitian earthquake makes it PAINFULLY clear how hard it is for almost everyone to focus on the magnitude of Fundamental Transformation necessary to achieve a sustainable trajectory for civilization.

Almost everyone hopes that reality will go away, and that they can just retreat into the cocoon of illusion and Myth spun by the political clansmen and promoted by advertising and the lobbing of Business-As-Usual Tiger Riders who benefit from Mass OverConsumption.

Larry G. who demonstrates clear thinking and good instincts on many topics, obviously misses the point of the original post and most of the prior comments, including his own. Groveton who often exhibits a broad base of experience and insight searches for fly specks in the pepper. Comparing earthquake faults in California with ones in Haiti?

Perhaps everyone needs to refresh themselves on the two overarching principles Jared Diamond distilled from an examination of diverse societal disasters in Collapse. See “Collapse, An Appreciation” 8 August 2005. Understanding Guns, Germs and Steel will also help.

As Jim Bacon points out, in the original Haiti string, Diamond specifically mentions the ecological disaster that is Haiti and the difference in remaining resources and ecological buffers that distinguish Haiti from The Dominican Republic. (For an interesting perspective, see Kent Mountford’s “Nation’s fortunes often grow, fall along with their forest resources” in the February issue of Bay Journal.)

The impact of Spain’s ‘management’ of its colonies and the abandonment of Haiti by France made ‘all the difference.’ France’s other major Caribbean colonial venture turned out much better. Martinique / Guadalupe is a ‘Department’ of France, a relationship that is similar to Statehood for Hawaii but profoundly different from the US of A’s relationship with Puerto Rico.

By the way, France is also AGAIN this year, the worlds best place for humans to live according to Living’s Quality of Life Index. As readers of The Shape of the Future know, EMR has reservations about such surveys but there is substance and continuity in this one. It focuses on parameters that those in the middle of the Ziggurat are concerned with, not the Architectural Digest crowd or the 12.5 Percenters.

The US of A is seventh best country in which to live and losing ground. It is behind France, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand and Luxembourg in that order. This in spite of having per capita expenditure of energy and other key resources that is twice or three times the consumption rate of some of the other nation-states. In addition, the US of A has some indicators of citizen well being much farther down the list than seventh – happiness, health care and infant mortality for starters.

In fact, the Seventh place ranking is a residual impact of having consumed so much Natural Capital in the past 150 year (much of it translated into the glory of prior GDP growth) and the illusions spread by advertising, entertainment and media about ‘the good life’ experienced by those depicted.

Just so Larry understands:

“well in the case of Haiti, we think their GDP is too low – for the resources they have. That’s the implication right?”

No, No, No.

GDP is a rear view mirror measure of citizen well being. Humans must evolve A NEW METRIC OF CITIZEN WELL BEING – PART FIVE of TRILO-G.

“You’ve got two countries on the same island with about the same resources but one of them the GDP is four time higher.”

No, No, No.

The two quasi-nation-states ARE on the same island – and so in 1492 had similar potential – but they do NOT have the same economic, social or physical resources.



The official body count is 211,000 and now Bill has worked himself into the hospital.

Bill: Take care of yourself BUT DO NOT SCREW UP


Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


17 responses to “MORE ON HAITI”

  1. I'm always amazed and impressed by the rise of Japan from a smoldering heap at the end of WWII… and a nation not flush with natural resources and many of their products – made not from natural resources but recycled ones.

    We whine on and on about why Sony and Hitachi TVs are made "overseas" with cheap labor but last time I checked – the GDP and standard of living in Japan was pretty competitive.

    But I'm constantly reminded by Jarred Diamond's tome that sought to explain why some countries are successful and others not…

    I never can quite figure out what EMR would actually have Bill do in Haiti but I'd bet money that EMR will be seriously disappointed … virtually guaranteed… If Bill knew how to fix Haiti.. heck.. we could bottle it as the preeminent failed-nation elixir and bribe back all the disaffected who have signed on with Al-Qaeda.

    Want to rescue Haiti?

    Legalize POT, teach them how to grow it and give them an exclusive franchise in Virginia.

    Bill could become the senior tester.

  2. Anonymous Avatar



    Economy, Environment, Equality

    Humans need equal access to the economy and to the environment.

    To do that the economy and the environment must share equal billing.

    Which boils down to the right to live and make a living. To live and make a living requires that you consume natural resources, which is why everyone must have equal access to the environment.

    In order to live and make a living you have a right to keep what you earn and the right to be protected from stealing by others.

    We have government in order to protect those rights, mutually, which means no one has the right to more protection than the next. Don't expect to take more than you are willing to give.

    Some people would like to prevent that from happening, so they form gangs to give their turf more protection than the next guys.

    They give the gangs names so that individuals can feel connected to sometihing larger and more powerful than themselves. The Rockets and the Jets, Crips and MS13, Republicans and Democrats, Social Christians and HAMAS.

    It is nothing but different flavors of thugs who have forgotten or were never taught that you cannnot, ever, get something for nothing.

    Unless you get away with stealing it.

    Economy, Environment, Equality.

    It is all the metric you need.


  3. Anonymous Avatar

    " House Bill 1188, introduced by Rep. Curry and passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Monday constitutes a statutory right to trespass on private property and overturns decades of Colorado case law and state statute.

    Currently, HB 1188 would grant commercial river outfitters the right to enter private property without first getting the permission of the landowner, if they choose to portage on stream banks while river rafting."


    We can't even figure it out in Colorado and Virginia. Why would we even bother to try to sort it out in Haiti?

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    "Back in 1954, the county approved the Spanish Ante tract of Shell Island, three miles southeast of West Pass, for residential use. In 1990, the county passed a comprehensive plan that designated Shell Island’s use as conservation/recreation only. In 2004, the county zoned the area as public institutional, which allows only for docks, campgrounds and other public uses but prohibits residential building.

    Last week, Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet ruled in favor of a group of Spanish Ante property owners who want to build homes on their land, agreeing that the 1954 platting supersedes the subsequent land-use designations and zoning. But it likely was a victory of no substance, similar to being awarded a dollar in damages. All the plaintiff has is the satisfaction of being right."


    Where is the rule of law when you win in court and still lose?


  5. Anonymous Avatar

    "I'm always amazed and impressed by the rise of Japan from a smoldering heap at the end of WWII"

    I'm not. They did it by ignoring intellectual property rights.


    Umm, recycled natural resources are still antural resources. It takes additonal resources to recycle them. They only recycled those things that made economic sense to recycle.

    And they placed their steel industry at the northwest corner of the country where the prevailing winds allowed them to use the Pacific Ocean as their pollution control device.


  6. Anonymous Avatar

    I thought Denmark was way high on the list of happiest peoples. Why no mention of that one?

    60% taxes maybe?


  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Somewhere there is a startling space shot of Hispaniola showing almost total deforestation on the Hatian side.

    Hatians burn firewood because they are too poor to burn dung, charcoal, or kerosene.

    Poor people wreck the environment. You want to wreck the environment, just make people poor.


  8. Anonymous Avatar

    “Larry” said:

    “never can quite figure out what EMR would actually have Bill do in Haiti …”

    I do not want to steal Professor Risse’s thunder here but if you bothered to read what he has written you would not be in the dark.

    I suspect he would first divide Haiti into functional Regions and then assign a senior officer to each Region. (See his 24 March 2003 column “Three Questions”) and he then would follow a modified version of HANDBOOK (PART TWELVE of TRILO-G) for each Region.

    Working to achieve Balance in each Region would be the goal.

    Forget nation-building. One big problem in Haiti has been a Central – does Jim Bacon not call it a “Keleptocracy” of something like that?

    “Larry” went on the ask:

    “Want to rescue Haiti?

    “Legalize POT, teach them how to grow it and give them an exclusive franchise in Virginia.”

    Well perhaps most favored region designation and sell it to medical marijuana.

    This is better than most of the ideas “Larry” puts out.


  9. why do I think AZA and folks like him/her are EMR's alter ego?

    no matter….

    at least something concrete emerged:

    …"… divide Haiti into functional Regions and then assign a senior officer to each Region. "

    we're talking about geography here – right?

    here's a map:

    here's another:

    notice the extensive road network by the way – courtesy of the US during their occupation in 1915….

    so…… AZA…. how about taking a stab at locating a couple of the candidate functional areas…..?

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    "Assign a Senior Officer."

    yep, that sounds like EMRs brand of "democracy" all right.

    I like my brand better, all boils down to two simple rules, rigidly enforced.


  11. One of the problems with 'contests' for #1 status between countries is bias in the selection of statistics to use. For instance, the infant mortality rate isn't a valid comparison since most countries do not count death at birth in those numbers but have a period of time from an hour to in one European case, a day before considering a death to be infant mortality. The US counts it regardless of time and regardless of the birth being premature. This makes the US number look far worse than the other countries simply because its defined differently.

  12. if the premise is that international comparisons are not possible because of difference in the definition – that's not entirely true if when the data in compiled those differences are taken into account – which they are in any legitimate international ranking.

    for instance, the Wiki article says this:

    " Infant mortality is defined as the number of infant deaths (one year of age or younger) per 1000 live births."

    then this:

    " UNICEF uses a statistical methodology to account for reporting differences among countries. "UNICEF compiles infant mortality country estimates derived from all sources and methods of estimation obtained either from standard reports, direct estimation from micro data sets, or from UNICEF’s yearly exercise. In order to sort out differences between estimates produced from different sources, with different methods, UNICEF developed, in coordination with WHO, the WB and UNSD, an estimation methodology that minimizes the errors embodied in each estimate and harmonize trends along time."

    This won't ever be 100% statistically correct but I think any blanket statement that comparisons are simply not possible at all would also be incorrect.

    The ultimate purpose in rankings is to recognize differences an to investigate the reasons why – and if factors are found, to influence policy changes…

    when you start off saying that you can't compare… then you're really cutting off the rest of it that you really need to be doing.


  13. Anonymous Avatar


    Here you make a good point.

    In his latest book, Professor Risse explores the issue of measuring happiness.

    Happiness and safety are the two critical criteria.

    The NYT has a recent story about Households coming to value experiences over possessions in the happiness equation.

    The end of what EMR calls Mass OverConsumption? It is atleast a start.


  14. sorry.. I don't know how to handle a compliment!

    you know the military have a phrase called "situational awareness".

    It's a absolutely vital skill that you must have before you can make a plan …..

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    "Happiness and safety are the two critical criteria."

    Sounds pretty close the the idea that you must be allowed to live, and in order to do that, your work and your property must be protected and safe.

    It all boils down to property rights.


  16. well.. according to Ray.. you could do a chart showing the connection between property rights and happiness…


    how about it Ray?

Leave a Reply