The Theory of Second Best: Part Deux

Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, was recently devastated by a massive 7.0 earthquake. An earthquake of this size would cripple even the most modern nations, let alone Haiti. This recent catastrophe has many people and governments eager to help. However, a crucial question needs to be asked: after receiving millions of dollars in foreign aid each year with nothing to show, is the “Haitian model” sustainable? Or does it need to be done away with altogether? 

 Peter Leeson and Claudia Williamson argue in a paper that

Many predatory governments do more to damage their citizens’ welfare than to enhance it. In light of this, we show that conditional on failure to satisfy a key institutional condition required for ideal political governance—constrained politics—citizens’ welfare is maximized by departing from the other conditions required for this form of governance: state-supplied law and courts, state-supplied police, and state-supplied public goods. Since departing from these conditions produces anarchy and fulfilling them when government is unconstrained producers predatory political governance, anarchy is a second best.

The main reason for the lack of development Haiti is because the government fails miserably at doing exactly what it is supposed to do: protecting the rights of others. Haiti is nominally a free country but that is hardly the case. After all, it has the same score as Cuba, a socialist utopia, on the property rights index of 10 out of a possible 100. Because the government doesn’t even do what its only legitimate function is, it can hardly be seen as anything else but predatory. 

Rather than continuing this model that is only detrimental, a change needs to be made. And I say let anarchy ensue because as we have seen in places such as Somalia, countries do much much better when they are free of a predatory government. 

The US also needs to stop propping up the Haitian government as it has done to ill effect. Once America does that, the next step should be ending all military aid to Haiti. It sounds soulless, but Haiti will soon be just another protectorate of the United States. And does anyone want that?

Instead, leave it to private and voluntary organizations that do things much more efficiently rather than governments bickering over who is stealing the spotlight. 

Do your part: denounce the Haitian regime, demand US military leave, and donate to the many charities helping out. 

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