Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Fault Is Not a Sin

Slate article "A Fault Is Not a Sin" (January 17th, 2010) erroneously claims that one cannot find blame in Haiti's disastrous earthquake.

It's idiotic to ask whose fault it is. The Earth's thin shell was quaking and cracking millions of years before human sinners evolved, and it will still be wrenched and convulsed long after we are gone. These geological dislocations have no human-behavioral cause. The believers should relax; no educated person is going to ask their numerous gods "why" such disasters occur. A fault is not the same as a sin.

Corrections accepts the article's main point, that Haitians are not to blame for the actual earthquake itself. However, they are certainly at least partially responsible for its outcome. From refusal to grow its cash crop to any sacrifice of GDP growth in favor of equity, governmental decisions that impact Haiti's growth path in turn impacts its consumption.

For example, in 1960, Haiti's GDP was $270.7 million in current U.S. dollars. Policy decisions that sacrifice 1% GDP growth per year would cost them $490 million, or 10% of GDP today. This begs the question of how much safer an extra 10% of GDP could have made each person; Corrections expects safety to be a normal or even luxury good.

This leads us to a secondary point:
In the meantime, I urge everybody to think first as a human being, and to give as much as they can to any relief organization at all, but most especially by contacting the newest secular aid group at Non-Believers Giving Aid.
We might suggest that giving aid now creates a moral hazard to all countries at risk of a great catastrophe. Knowing the result of a disaster is not as bad as it would be without future help, we give them less incentive to prepare for a future disaster. It is not immediately apparent that not giving to Haiti now could save more lives in the future by removing a disincentive to growth and self-protection.

No comments:

Post a Comment