Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rainy Days and Philosophy

"It's a rainy day and I can't go out and play..."
Remember that old Sesame Street song?
I like rainy days...they are conducive to heavy thoughts and philosophy. With nothing much else to do, you can get wrapped up i your own head and solve all the world's problems.
At least I can!
Not to say there is nothing much to do around here.
I have the two upstairs bathrooms to clean, I need to put clean sheets on the bed in the empty room upstairs (If you ever run a rooming house, remember, rooms with neatly made up beds rent faster!) I am doing laundry, already swept down and cleaned our laundry room, still have the kitchen to clean. Already swept and mopped the living room and hallways and cleaned the downstairs bathroom.
So, like I said, nothing much to do .

Now onto philosophy..
I play a little music (todays selections include Beethoven's Sonata No 9, Sammy Davis, Jr singing Candyman, several selections from De Peche Mode and Show of Hands and Cage The Elephant), write a couple of letters to relatives (Hi Mom!), do my bank deposits and book-keeping and think about how to make things better.
I WANT to make things better. Not just for myself, but for others. But I have come to realize that some people do not want to make things better for themselves.
It would require effort--that they are not willing to expend.
It would require motivation--that they do not have.
It would require ambition--which they do have, either.

You can do things for others, hand them, yes, literally HAND them the tools and means to pull themselves out of whatever morass they are in, and they will still wallow in whatever misery they have grown accustomed to.
I am thinking about this because of the tragic earthquake in Hati.
And I reflected on Hurricane Katrina, and Rita and Ike.
There are people in my area that have STILL not *recovered*  from Katrina, or Rita. Loads of people are still weeping over Ike.
People were given thousands of dollars to buy new household goods, given trailers to live in, houses were rebuilt or repaired, yet they still need help.
What the hell did people do before the government took it upon themselves to rescue people, communities, even whole states from the results of natural disasters?
How did people survive? How did they continue on with their lives?

They took a deep breath, buried their dead, wiped the tears from their eyes, got back up and *soldiered on*, as my dad used to say. They rebuilt their homes, helped their neighbors rebuild, planted their gardens and worked harder to regain what they had lost.
Notice that nowhere in that sentence is any arm of the government mentioned, nor anything about international  aid.

I am not heartless. I am not saying we should stop sending aid to Haiti. But lets remember that the US has been giving aid to Haiti for decades. We have had troops there for over a dozen years.
It is still a cess-pool of political corruption, a hunting ground for child predators and modern slavers, and a morass of the worst poverty in the western hemisphere. Education and literacy are not priorities for most of the population. They worry about getting something more substantial than cardboard over their heads and a meal on the table.
It should not have taken an earthquake to get the basic issues there addressed.
But the earthquake DID happen.
There is much tragedy there. Many people killed, families seperated, homes destroyed, etc.

Camps are being set up, which in Haiti have the very real possibility of becoming permanent fixtures in the landscape. That should not happen!
While people are in the camps and tent cities being set up for them, get some warm bodies and bull-dozers on the ground.
Let the people bury their dead, and then bulldoze the destroyed areas. Bull-doze them into a land fill area or the ocean or where-ever the rubble can be pushed. Just level it flat and bare!
Re-do the entire and sewer lines, water treatment, roads, electrical lines.
The whole shooting match, so to speak.
Before anyone whines about expense, trust me on this, it will cost less to do this than to attempt to "shore up" the sad remnants of Port-Au-Prince and fix up what is left.
Bring in lumber and concrete and cinderblock and rebar and the other things that will be needed to rebuild.
Put the people to work rebuilding it themselves.
Make them *do* for themselves.
Give advice, make sure there is clean water and food during the rebuilding process, but have the citizens of Haiti rebuild their country themselves.
Give them one year of help, advice and supplies.
Then walk the hell away.
Let Haiti know, hell, let the entire WORLD know that this is a "social experiment" and how the citizens of Haiti handle it will affect how the United States hands out help in the future. If Haiti insists on regressing to their previous corrupt behavior and status quo, then set definite limits for helping any other country in the future.
In the US, if a state is hit by some sort of disaster, provide help in the same manner. One year maximum. The local population must be involved in rebuilding. That's it.
And none of that bullshit of rebuilding in flood zones or where wildfires hit every year or mudslide areas. If three or four houses were already destroyed at a particular spot, why would anyone think it was sensible to rebuild on the same spot?

So...there's where my head is at this rainy day...solving the issue of foreign relief aid during disasters...
Now, I have to go scrub toilets.
Have a good rainy day...

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