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An Open Letter to Nahila Campos

10 January 2011

Ms. Nahila Campos
Interim Haiti Recovery Commission

Dear Ms. Campos:

Thanks for e-mailing to me your organization’s press release boasting that “Cleaning Up Haiti’s Debris Creates Jobs and Opportunity for Haitians.”*

Your press release enlightens persons who are so blinkered that they believe the myth that huge earthquakes, such as the one that struck Haiti last year, are unmitigated catastrophes.  Sure, many people are killed by the massive destruction.  But the shining bright side is all the “jobs and opportunity” that are bestowed on the survivors.

Let’s pray that when the current clean-up effort is completed Haiti will be blessed with yet another earthquake – or, perhaps, a category-5 hurricane – so that her people will continue to enjoy “jobs and opportunity.”  With enough devastating natural disasters, Haiti might even become a thriving, industrial, wealthy first-world economy.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

* I searched for an on-line version of this press release, but have (so far) been unsuccessful at finding one.


I suppose the presumption is that, absent the need to clear their homes and streets of rubble caused by natural disasters, Haitians are so well-supplied with all that they could possibly want in life that there are no opportunities for them to work at jobs meeting unmet human needs.

UPDATE: Check out Haitians’ “jobs and opportunity.”

And while I’m updating, why not include this passage from p. 117 of this edition of Keynes’s General Theory?

Ancient Egypt was doubly fortunate and doubtless owed to this its fabled wealth, in that it possessed two activities, namely pyramid building as well as the search for precious metals, the fruits of which, since they could not serve the needs of man by being consumed, did not stale with abundance.  The Middle Ages built cathedrals and sang dirges.  Two pyramids, two masses for the dead, are twice as good as one; but not so two railways from London to York.

For the life of me I’ll never understand why any serious thinker takes Keynes seriously as an economist.