When Disaster Strikes Don’t Count on the Government

When tragedy strikes, there are always people lining up to point the blame, many of these same people try to give reasons the disaster could have been avoided or the impact lessened – even when the tragedy is a “natural disaster.”
I’m speaking specifically of the recent earthquakes that have hit Haiti – that’s not a typo, there have been several earthquakes to hit Haiti. The biggest quake registering 7.0 on the Richter Scale along with six aftershocks being recorded in the two hours after the main earthquake of magnitudes approximately 5.9, 5.5, 5.1, 4.8, 4.5, and 4.5. Within the first nine hours 26 aftershocks of magnitude 4.2 or greater were recorded, with twelve of them magnitude 5.0 or greater. With an estimated 3 million people be affected.
It didn’t take long for some people to make politically motivated statements about this tragic event. From Pat Robertson’s statement about “God’s judgment” to news anchors claiming that more government could have prevented some of the damage. I lost count of the times I heard a “news anchor” mention the fact that Haiti has “no building code”, as if simply having a code could prevent them from falling. The Egyptian pyramids and Roman Coliseum were built without a “building code” and have stood for centuries; as a matter of fact, “building codes” as we know them have only been around for for approximately 150 years. Slate.com points out that, although “Haiti has no national building codes. Some construction companies do voluntarily follow codes like the French or Canadian standards or the International Building Code.” So, to suggest that an added layer of government could have prevented houses from falling is ludicrous, especially considering the number of government buildings that collapsed, including the UN building and Presidential Palace.

However, let us not forget the people that are suffering, trapped, starving and trying to survive. Jim Fedako of Mises.org writes, “Many folks in Haiti have suffered a terrible disaster. And as they dig out of the rubble, bury their dead, tend to the injured and sick, and try to build a future out of what was spared by the earthquake, the readers of this blog should consider our appropriate individual responses.

First: Those folks need our charity. Consider finding a suitable private organization and give, if only a little. Rest assured that charity and liberty go together. And realizing a psychic profit through helping others does add value to your world. (please use due diligence before selecting a private organization. Many NGOs are simply government by other means.)

Second: Do not count aid coming from the US government as a gift on your part.

Third: Remember that government aid is not charity.

Fourth: The recipients of private charity tend to recognize that such aid is the result of sacrifice on part of the donor – it is appreciated.

Finally: If direct aid is not your thing, work toward liberating Haiti with whatever vigor you can muster. The long-term goal must be the end to the evil state in Haiti, with prosperity arriving soon after the state departs. Any effort that accelerates that change will reduce future suffering.

But until that time, and with many folks suffering, it is charity, through private organizations, that will help those in desperate need.“

I’ve chosen to support (and will donate at least 1/2 of FPP’s January profits to) Doctors Without Borders.