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Workers’ Paradise

Check out all the great jobs Haitians get to fill by being spared the capital investment made possible by saving, free markets, and free trade. And here.  And here.  (HT Kerry Dugas)

I sent the following letter a few days ago to USA Today:

Wyclef Jean deserves applause for his efforts to improve the education of Haitian children (“Don’t forget long-term goals for Haiti,” July 15).  But in his sensible call for Haitians to focus on the long-run, he misdiagnoses Haiti’s core problem.

Contrary to Mr. Jean’s argument, neither poor education nor a despoiled environment without sufficient trees is at the root of Haiti’s woes.  These troubles – along with Haiti’s inadequate infrastructure – are merely symptoms of a deeper problem, namely, Haiti’s appalling lack of secure property rights and market institutions.  For example, according to the Economic Freedom of the World index*, property rights in Haiti are the least secure in the Americas – less secure than even in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela!*  (Is it, then, any wonder that no one in Haiti has incentives to plant and protect trees?)  Also, according to the World Bank, legally starting a business in Haiti requires, on average, 195 days and costs 228 percent of the average Haitian’s annual income in administrative fees.**

What Haiti needs most is a freer, more-entrepreneurial market based upon the rule of law and secure private property rights.

Donald J. Boudreaux

* James Gwartney & Robert Lawson, Economic Freedom of the World, 2009.

** Ian Vasquez, “Haiti’s Real Crisis Is Poverty,” January 21, 2010.