27 January 2010

Why we need to help Haiti

The disaster is Haiti has elicited all kinds of response from outpouring of donations and support to moronic drivel such as (actual quotes, with spelling and grammar mistakes left in):

“HELP Hiati!!!!! What about helping Americans who have lost everything due to the poor economy?”

“Why should we help the people of Haiti. All they want is America to help them. They are nasty, lazy people who dell in evil and voodoo. God didn’t like there nasty ways and all the evil and voodoo they perform in the world.”

It is a sad commentary on our society that ignorant people choose to display their stupidity and ignorance so openly. Before you open your mouth and insert your foot you might want to do a little research and try using that brain of yours. Most things are not as black and white as you think they are.

To blame all their problems on corruption is easy and fits into a nice little box most simpletons can comprehend. Is there corruption in Haiti? Yes. Is there corruption in the United States? Yes, and I would argue that corruption in the United States is more pervasive and overt.

To claim some stupid notion that voodoo had something to do with it just reinforces how small minded you really are. Facts cited by other comments show that Haiti is a very Christian nation. There are many Catholic, Episcopal, and Baptist groups from cities across the United States that sponsor churches, schools, and orphanages in Haiti. The fact that Haiti retains some of its history and voodoo culture in no way means that god is cursing them - it enriches their own culture.

Haiti is a victim of history. Part of that history involves the United States and mistakes our country has made in Haiti. Ever hear of the Iowa pigs that our country tried to bring to Haiti because we thought that the native pigs were bad? Well, that was a stupid idea – the Iowa pigs could not acclimate and died – there was never anything wrong with Haitian pigs. Our policies impact countries like Haiti. For example, you can buy imported rice cheaper than locally grown rice.

Whatever our own situation may be (and it is bad, I do not discount that) we have a duty to help Haiti. Whether you like it or not, we should be willing to help our neighbor. A superpower’s power is not dictated by how many missiles or guns one has, but the ability to have compassion and to mobilize and help those most in need. Any idiot can make war. It takes a smart person to build something productive and positive. Would you rather have a country known for destroying things or one known for lending a helping hand in crisis? I prefer the later.

I have been to Haiti several times over the last year and a half. The last time I was in Haiti (November 2009) I thought that some improvements had been made. The roads were in better condition. The people seemed to me to be more optimistic. There was a peaceful transition of government. Some debt had just been forgiven. I think Haiti was really getting it and moving forward; small steps, but steps in the right direction. This earthquake has really set them back. I am very sad for the country and I will be doing whatever I can to help them get back on track.

It is easy to discount Haiti. When I was traveling back one time, a security bag checker saw my biography of Einstein I had been reading. He said that he was a physics student at University and loved Einstein. I gave him the book figuring that he might be inspired by Einstein. The sad thing is that there are many stories like that in Haiti; smart young people with education but no outlet for that education because the opportunities are not there. They want to succeed. We need to give them the opportunity to do so.

My wife has a theory: Somewhere in some village in some developing country is a child that may end up finding the cure to cancer or unlocking the mysteries of the universe or making some other awesome discovery. We should be striving to help people in need and not turning our backs because it may be inconvenient for us.

02 September 2009

Why I am Angry

The Kansas City Star’s front page article recently was about anger of town hall meeting participants. They only partially got right why people are angry in the first place. I agree that many people are acting rather stupidly by comparing Obama to Hitler, but our anger is very real and the actions of a class of morons should not diminish that fact. I am also disturbed that the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has the gall to call the anger an astro-turf movement. There is nothing fake about the anger; let me tell you why I am angry, and I don’t need some schmuck from a right-wing organization to coach me either:

We, the people, feel we no longer have a voice. We call our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. to tell them in overwhelming numbers that we do not support TARP or a stimulus plan and they refuse to listen and pass those measures anyway. We are suffering through a terrible economic downturn and are cutting back our own spending habits while the Washington, D.C. crowd continues to dole out the pork. They give themselves a pay raise while millions of jobs are being lost. They decide that health care reform is needed immediately, which I agree it is, but they try and ram through complex legislation that they have no time to read, no one really understands and it does not even include the basics like tort reform. It appears that over and over again, legislation is being written by special interests for special interests and not for the people. Meanwhile our national debt continues to increase to an unfathomable $12 trillion, the budget deficit for this year alone is nearly $2 trillion, and we pay over $300 billion a year in interest on debt. A recent Kansas City Star article stated that the latest forecast from 2010 to 2019 estimated an additional $9 trillion budget deficit for a potential national debt of more than $21 trillion. How are we supposed to dig ourselves out of that hole? Washington, D.C. is not making tough decisions for fear of the political ramifications; rather they continue to pass legislation that is dubiously funded by increasing the taxes on the “rich” while ignoring the very real long-term fiscal consequences. They are intent on a carbon cap and trade system, which some have argued will not do anything against “global warming” and it gives away most of the initial credits instead of charging for them (again special interests and their influence). They institute a cash-for-clunkers program that is not well administered and is nothing more than a car bubble akin to the housing bubble. At a time when more and more people are getting back to basics they seem to be running in the opposite direction.

I have no ties to the “invisible hand” supposedly behind all the “manufactured” outrage. I am an independent voter that despises the republican and democrat parties. I worry what the future has in store for my children because I see that they will have it very hard if we continue down the road we are currently on. Our elected officials consistently refuse to change course. It is simply unsustainable to continue to run this country the way they are doing. It is not working and the rest of the world is beginning to see that. And I refuse for my children to be sold into debt bondage because of the ambivalence, ignorance, and arrogance of our elected officials. They seem to be more concerned with getting their names on bridges and buildings than doing the right thing.

Gee, I wonder why we are angry.

“Your silence gives consent.” - Plato