Thursday, October 21, 2010

Aftermaths: Haiti

The aftermath is often forgotten.  People who contemplate final endings often look to the esoteric.  But the normal disaster can do a very good job on its own.
The Associated Press via NPR
Haiti's brittle housing supply was shattered by the Jan. 12 earthquake, which destroyed an estimated 110,000 homes and apartment buildings...
Nine months after the schoolteacher's concrete home collapsed in front of his wife and 4-year-old son, the family and three in-laws are stuck under a plastic tarp that pours down water when it rains. All he wants is to move up, to a working man's apartment in the tree-lined suburb of Petionville. But every place he can even consider costs double or triple the $43 a month he used to pay in rent, even though he and everyone he knows has less money than ever.
"The type of house most people rented before was not built well. Those houses were destroyed, and the ones that are left are too expensive," Tombeau explained with the patience of a man used to walking teenagers through French grammar. "When they find a decent camp to live in, they decide they'd rather stay."
The prices on those that survived defy belief. One senator put up his three-bedroom with panoramic views for $15,000 a month. (Its nine Rottweiler guard dogs are free.) Finding anything similar for less than $5,000 is a steal. Want to buy? A three-bedroom with guest apartment lists for $900,000.
Fer Fal has often commented on the fact that items he could have bought for very little money became very expensive after a crises.
There seems to be a common assumption that power and privilege will go away – or at least change – with a real change scenario.  But we keep seeing that that is often not the case.
What seems to happen is that everyone shifts a category down.  The poor become impoverished, the middle class becomes poor, and the wealthy can still pull of the at least a middle class life style.  The really really wealthy go to one of their other houses.
Because the political powers will generally be in control of most of the long term aid, connections with political power count for a lot: particularly if it is within the executive branch.
So if you cannot accumulate much in the way of great wealth, or much in the way of power, I think it is safe to say your family needs to be prepared to be on its own.

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