Haiti Should Just Stop Being Poor.

Jonah Golberg has a great idea for how best to help Haiti. So stop your measly text donations now and give Haiti some "tough love."

Golberg doesn't spell out a tough love prescription, but it must have something to do with correcting the lack of work ethic he sees in Haiti's "poverty culture."

Even if blame lies everywhere except among the victims themselves, it doesn’t change the fact that Haiti will never get out of grinding poverty until it abandons much of its culture.

When Haitians leave Haiti for the U.S. they get richer almost overnight. This isn’t simply because wages are higher here or welfare payments more generous. Coming to America is a cultural leap of faith, physically and psychologically. Arnold Kling and Nick Schulz note in their phenomenal new book, From Poverty to Prosperity, that low-skilled Mexican laborers become 10 to 20 times more productive simply by crossing the border into the United States. William Lewis, former director of the McKinsey Global Institute, found that illiterate, non-English-speaking Mexican agricultural laborers in the U.S. were four times more productive than the same sorts of laborers in Brazil.

Why? Because American culture not only expects hard work, but teaches the unskilled how to work hard.

It's too bad we never realized this before. Haiti should just abandon its poverty. I'm sure he's right and it has nothing to do with the fact that Haiti had to buy its freedom from the French. Unlike the United States its entire population had been enslaved, so its not as if they had been allowed to amass personal wealth. And I'm sure it has nothing to do with its continued indebtedness, America's occupation of Haiti in the early part of the last century, or restrictive trade policies. And America's "intangible" assets have nothing to do with its education system or general wealth. Just our frontier spirit.

Right. Haiti just needs to pull itself up by its bootstraps.

-- Monica Potts

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