Why Haiti Is So Hopeless; And A Very Modest Proposal

Does President Barack Obama have any more
idea what to do with Haiti after the horrific earthquake
than did President Woodrow Wilson when he

sent the Marines in
back in 1915? Obama has put his
byline on the January 15
Newsweek cover
Why Haiti
, but he can`t seem to come up with an answer
to his headline question beyond
Obamaesque self-absorption
“We look into the
eyes of another and see ourselves”.

(He has seized the opportunity to

amnesty a lot of Haitian illegals
in the U.S… But
increasing Haitian immigration has been a little-noted

Obama preoccupation
for some time.)

If we`re looking for something to do for
Haiti that will help it in the long term, it`s just not at
all clear how. (I do make a very modest proposal at the end
of this article). The 1915-1934 U.S. occupation built some

, but

isn`t exactly remembered
as ranking up there with

Iwo Jima
as the Corps` finest moment. The long run
effect of U.S. rule through mulatto surrogates seems mostly
to have paved the way for

Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier
`s disastrous 1957-1971
black power government.

suggestions I`ve heard over the last week: handing Haiti
back to France; handing it over to the Dominican Republic,
with which it shares the island of Hispaniola (but little
else besides deep mutual antipathy); and to Canada. I
personally might choose to make it a protectorate of an
Republic of Quebec.

truthfully, all these suggestions are fanciful. There`s no
chance that the international community will declare the
first-ever black republic an official failure.

Haiti will nominally keep on keeping on—under the purview of
the U.N. and the U.S. taxpayer.


Malthusian poverty
is the default state of mankind. Its
rapidly growing

is kept fed by the more than

10,000 foreign charitable organizations
active in the

Commentators have been competing to come
up with ever more complex explanations for
Haiti Is So Poor
.  The
single most important cause is probably that Haiti attained
its independence as early as 1805, culminating in

a massacre of the remaining whites,
before the end of
the slave trade. Despite theoretically being a
French-speaking, Roman Catholic, Western Hemisphere country,
remains culturally rooted in Africa.
Wikipedia`s article
on the

History of Haiti
notes [January 17, 2010]:

all times, a majority of slaves in the colony were
African-born, as the brutal conditions of slavery prevented
the population from experiencing growth through natural
increase. African culture thus remained strong among slaves
to the end of French rule, in particular the folk-religion

, which commingled Catholic liturgy and ritual with
the beliefs and practices of


, and


Indeed, Haiti isn`t even particularly poor
for a country with an

African culture:

sub-Saharan African
countries have

per capita GDPs than Haiti`s $1,300, with
last at $200.

Most Haitians speak

Haitian creole
rather than French. Although the creole

many French words
, the grammar is more African, so most
Haitians are cut off from French literary culture.


, with its black magic curses, makes up much of
the substance of Haitian religion, with West African
deities, such as the stylish and ominous
loa “Baron Samedi”,
demanding placation.

Thus Duvalier, a brilliant black doctor
and sociologist turned maniacal dictator, used his study of
voodoo and his

resemblance to the popular depiction of Baron Samedi
convince the black masses that he was a powerful sorcerer
and take power from Haiti`s mulatto elite.

Unfortunately, Duvalier began to believe
his own propaganda about the power of voodoo. For instance,
as Time Magazine reported in 1963, when Duvalier had a falling out with

Clement Barbot,
the head of his notorious goon squad,

in voodoo-entranced Haiti the whisper went around that no
one could kill Barbot. He had the strange power, they said,
to change himself into a

black dog
and escape at will. In Port-au-Prince,
Duvalier`s policemen went around shooting black dogs on

The Living Dead
, July 26, 1963]

Much of the educated classes emigrated,
leaving Haiti


Papa Doc died in 1971, making his somewhat
less sinister son, Baby Doc, the 19-year-old
President-for-Life. This playboy squandered his popularity
with the black peasants in 1980 by marrying a daughter of
the mulatto elite, a stylish

Lena Horne-lookalike
with expensive tastes. By 1986,
Baby Doc was in exile in France.

Since then, American Presidents have
spasmodically hired and fired Haitian dictators. At the
request of the

Congressional Black Caucus
, Bill Clinton
invaded Haiti
in 1994 to restore the black radical defrocked priest

Jean-Baptiste Aristide,
who had been overthrown in 1991
by mulatto military leaders. The Bush Administration
apparently more or less

Aristide in 2004 and

sent him into exile
South Africa
. Bush turned nominal power over to a
shadowy band of “rebels”. UN
were brought in to occupy the country and
keep the gangs from running quite so amok.
 Now the Obama
Administration appears to be the main

de facto power

in Haiti.

A new book edited by Jared Diamond, Natural Experiments of History,
focuses heavily on the

of Haiti and the neighboring Dominican
Republic that Diamond began in his last bestseller,

. Diamond, the author of the
Guns, Germs, and
, is both smart and about
90 percent honest. That makes him the one-eyed man in
the kingdom of the blind that is contemporary intellectual

Diamond`s January 15th article in the
leftwing U.K. Guardian,

A Divided Island: The forces working against Haiti
summarizes his thinking on how Haiti`s quantity and quality
of population have hurt Haiti compared to the D.R., which
has a moderate per capita GDP of $8,200. It`s dry, but more
frank than most of what you`ve heard:

“But Haiti`s area is
only slightly more than half of that of the Dominican
Republic so that Haiti, with a larger population and smaller
area, has double its neighbour`s population density.”


Tyler Cowen

that until a decade ago, when kidnappings
became routine, he hadn`t been afraid of crime when he
visited Haiti because the population density was so
“There`s just not enough room for anyone to mug you, at
least if you exercise due caution. Nor, for that matter,
were there very many beggars, since usually there was no one
to beg from.”

goes on:

combination of that higher population density and lower
rainfall was the main factor behind the more rapid

and loss of soil fertility on the Haitian

, Diamond praised the D.R.`s old

Rafael Trujillo
(1891-1961) for stealing much of the
forestland and exploiting it cautiously in a rational
manner. Dominican kleptocracy helped avoid the tragedy of
the commons that contributed to the ecological ruin of
Haiti, where the common folk chop down all trees for cooking

goes on to point out,—cautiously!—another advantage the D.R.
has over Haiti: it`s whiter.

“A second social and
political factor is that the Dominican Republic – with its
Spanish-speaking population of predominantly European
ancestry – was both more receptive and more ­attractive to
European immigrants and investors than was Haiti with its
Creole-speaking population composed overwhelmingly of black
former slaves.”

The relative whiteness of

isn`t widely understood in the U.S. because
we are mostly familiar with the largely black

Dominican baseball players,
such as
Sammy Sosa. But Dominicans generally tend to look more
like the American-born Dominican mulatto slugger
Alex Rodriguez than the black slugger
Manny Ramirez. The current

of the D.R.

looks like
fat guy
in the Laurel and
movies crossed with
Muhammad Ali,
and he`s the only one of the

last five presidents
with any clear black ancestry.

Trujillo had

an explicit policy
of whitening the Dominican Republic`s
population through immigration from Europe—and

expelling Haitian illegal immigrants.
He was the only
national leader actively to

Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany during the


“Hence European immigration and investment were negligible
and restricted by the constitution in Haiti after 1804 but
eventually became important in the Dominican Republic. Those
Dominican immigrants included many middle-class
businesspeople and skilled professionals
contributed to the country`s development

summarize Diamond, Haiti has more people per fertile acre of
farmland and less human capital per capita.

human capital can be purely cultural. Thus another former
sugar-growing black Caribbean country,

, independent since 1966 although

Queen Elizabeth II
remains the official head of state,
has a per capita GDP of $18,900, an average life expectancy

74 years


Lawrence Harrison
, head of the Cultural Change Institute
at Tufts University,
told me
in 1999:

“The culture of slavery, as well as
zero-sum traditional African culture, powerfully sustained
by a religion (Voodoo) without an ethical code, are palpable
to any foreigner who has lived

[in Haiti], as I did for two years. Barbados, which I have visited several times,
remained a British colony until 1966, by which time it had

substantially absorbed
British values, attitudes, and
institutions. The Barbadians are sometimes referred to as
Black Englishmen or Afro-Saxons.”

(Still, that raises the question of why
Barbados has a lower crime rate and a higher literacy rate
than some other ex-British colonies like Jamaica. The late
Robert MacNeil`s PBS series The Story Of English suggested
that selection played a role:
was the first main port of call for the slave ships. It is
said that unruly slaves from the least domesticated tribes
were progressively shipped up the `claw` of the West Indies
until they reached Jamaica.”


Barbadian blacks were cut off from fresh infusions of
African culture when the British Parliament voted the end of
the slave trade in 1807. Sugar plantation owners could no
longer afford to work their slaves to death and replace them
with new slaves from Africa. The British government carried
out an orderly emancipation, with compensation for
slaveowners, in the 1830s.

90 percent of Barbados` population is said to be
Barbados has a fairly large mixed race middle class who
typically call themselves
“white” (for
example, the Barbadian pop singer
who is considered black in America, recently complained
Was Bullied At School For Being White
and espouse traditional white standards.

Ironically, more than few of these West Indians who call
themselves white in the Islands have gone into the civil
rights business as black leaders in the U.S. For example,

Obama`s “African-American” Attorney General

Eric Holder
called America
“a nation of cowards”
last year for not talking enough about race, is a
light-skinned Bajan-American.

Economist Thomas Malthus`s

are severely out of fashion in the Industrial
Age. But what else is Haiti going to do besides subsistence

There has been some growth in
manufacturing jobs in Haiti. But the
industrial juggernaut makes that unpromising.

Call centers for France? Perhaps, but
Parisian French isn`t all that widely spoken. (In contrast,

has begun to compete
with India in the offshore

call center

Tourism? Back in the day, Bill and Hillary

there. But almost nobody goes to Haiti
anymore. The poverty is just too depressing for tourists. As
Rev. Dr.
Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.
famously pointed out in
President Obama`s favorite sermon,

The Audacity to Hope:

is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more
food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a
year, where white folks` greed runs a world in need,

in one hemisphere, apathy in another
hemisphere …”

therefore, much of the logic of Malthus applies to Haiti.
Only outside charity and emigration keep it from starvation.

One obvious step that could help Haiti in
the long run has, unfortunately, dropped almost into the
realm of the unmentionable these days: increased funding of

population control efforts.
(Full disclosure: I`m a

Third World birth control used to be a
fashionable progressive cause. When I was a kid,

Paul Ehrlich
, author of
The Population Bomb,
made about

20 guest appearances
on the
Tonight Show with
Johnny Carson
. The Rockefellers and George H.W. Bush
were strong advocates of the need for Third Worlders to
reduce their fertility.

today, it`s hard to find much on Google about Haiti and

to a 2001 World Health Organization report:
“Among sexually
women, 13% used a modern method of contraception
and 4% relied on traditional methods”

And the
other 83 percent?

appears that Haitian women now wisely want to reduce the
number of children they have—Haiti`s total fertility rate is
said to be down to

3.8 babies
per lifetime, the same as

Saudi Arabia`s
. But Haitians need to bring their
fertility down to European below-replacement rates for a
couple of generations to allow the land to recover—and the
people, hopefully, improve their
“human capital”

Let`s make long lasting

Depo Provera
contraceptive injections free to Haitian

got any better ideas?

[Steve Sailer (email
him) is

movie critic

The American Conservative

His website


features his daily blog. His new book,