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The Wright Perspective℠

Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

Maps, Money, and Haiti

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

I love to do little social experiments from time to time. I know that a Wal-Mart in the middle of Alabama is probably not the best place to obtain a scientific sampling of public opinion, but the results are always quite fascinating.

My last experiment was on Haiti after the recent earthquake. With a globe in hand, I went up to several random people and asked, "Excuse me, but could you tell me where Haiti is?" Only two out of ten knew its location. When asked if they had donated money to Haiti, those who said yes were usually the ones who didn't know its location. None that I spoke with were familiar with the history of Haiti.

Location: Go south from Florida to Cuba. Go 50 miles east from Cuba and you hit an island. The western tip of the island is Haiti, with the rest of the island being the Dominican Republic.

History: Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the people of Haiti have been suffering in poverty for many years before the earthquake. Much of the population of 10 million were already homeless and starving. In 2003, it was estimated that 80% of Haitians lived in poverty. Most are illiterate, a large number of them suffer with HIV/AIDS, and many of the children of Haiti are used as slaves. Rebuilding Haiti? There isn't anything in Haiti outside of the capital to rebuild - it was all slums in the first place.

Haiti has a long history of corruption, and is rated as the most corrupt country in the world. Last year over $2 billion was spent on bribes, which equals about a fourth of their entire GDP.

The people of Haiti still urgently need our help, but I think the world should ensure that the money actually makes it to the people who need it, and not just perpetuating their misery by providing fuel for more corruption.

Why is the US so eager to help Haiti? Hmm. Could it be because a deep water port is needed to serve as a refueling station for that part of the world? I hope I am wrong...

Best regards,

-- Gary Wright II

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