Kandahar to Port-au-Prince


“To be or not to be? That is the question.” William Shakespeare.

It’s easier to explain to an inquiring child why the sky is blue in a scientific sense than explaining to most of us the mechanics behind the political and economic world. Apparently, there are more questions than answers.

The numerous aid workers and agencies in Haiti didn’t bring positive pre-quake results. There’s no real physical infrastructure for water and sewer, few schools, no banking system, little or no investment for products and jobs and a government in name only. The “we really care” attitude by do-gooders only succeeded in flushing a few billion dollars down the sinkhole. While the Creoles beat Napoleon’s army in a classic guerrilla campaign, (he was occupied beating up Austria, Italy and Spain, to be fair), and started their own brave new world, they never got past the toddler stage of nationhood since 1805.

An honest post mortem of this admittedly noble aid response will conclude that the usual suspects—foreigners, Americans, capitalists and sugar cartels—weren’t the problem. The Haitian government never got past its immediate gratification of ripping off the common folk to maintain a faux lifestyle reminiscent of Louis IV (L’etat, c’est moi). Add a major quake, lousy or no building standards, a culture of dependency and blaming others for their lack of foresight and you get a sense of Stone Age precariousness before humans supposedly got a little bit smarter. All the benign foreign aid efforts didn’t address the root cause of the misery; i.e., a primitive culture led by somnolent leadership unwilling to adapt to the 21st century. Only a complete removal of their failed system will produce real results. It won’t happen because of ethnic squeamishness, a fake respect for their failures and a false hope that things won’t turn out the same after the hullabaloo. It won’t happen.

Moving on to Afghanistan, the other country that Canadians are supposed to care about deeply but don’t. Maybe it would make sense to start our inevitable withdrawal from that quagmire to a place somewhat closer to home. Nice beaches, warm sands and the use of one of our official languages make Haiti a much preferred locale for wasted tax dollars than that heroin-based, lethal to Canadians’ economy country on the far side of the planet. Our soldiers could be much closer to home plus they’d have the added benefit of some real gratitude. Dealings with the gangs of Port-au-Prince appear to be a better choice for troop life expectancy than Kandahar. We said we were leaving anyways, so what better excuse than now?

Of course, with Parliament prorogued, we’re not sure if there’s anyone in charge in Ottawa (but do make sure your tax planning is in progress: Revenue Canada never sleeps). The good news is our system of local governance gives us the basics and we don’t really need some far-off place on the Rideau to get by.

But, there’s the rub. Under the Conservatives, federal spending is at an all-time high and despite no representation with taxation, we know who’s on the hook for their profligacy. Add the new Harmonized Sales Tax, which makes everything more expensive and we got our own problems without having to save the rest of the mostly dysfunctional world again.

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