Haitian update

Has a new dystopian form of urban organization been invented, or rather reinvented in the Western hemisphere, namely the aid-supported tent city?:

A large but unknown number of people in the camps are choosing to stay in them. Life is better there than in the sprawling, gang-infested slums. Camp-dwellers pay no rent. Nor do they have to pay for sanitation, because latrines are often provided by the aid agencies, or clean water, since that is often supplied by the agencies or by the government. Medical services are also easier to find and, again, probably free, courtesy of agencies like UNICEF or charities like Médecins Sans Frontières. A cholera epidemic makes that all the more vital.


De-facto "charter cities" in tent form? Maybe it shouldn't be just a temporary solution.

I had the same thought as Slocum. Sounds like it might not be such a bad thing.

I think this just shows how awful life is in Haiti.

This sounds similar to the UNWRA-supported Palestinian refugee camps, except they've been there since 1948.

Yeah, what Bob said. It's worth remembering that the Palestinian refugees, rather than accepting resettlement (which they felt would be tantamount to ratifying their dispossession,) actually built reasonably sturdy structures right on top of their original tent cities. And those tents, in turn, were often laid out according to the original neighbourhoods of their towns and villages in the part of pre-1948 Palestine that became Israel. So even today, a 16-year-old Palestinian in Lebanon can often tell you what part of Israel he's "originally" from, though of course the last person in his family to actually live there is a grandparent or great-grandparent.

I'd be curious to know if the Haitian camps are also laid out according to pre-earthquake neighbourhoods.

Why is this dystopian? Good medical care, clean water, and nice sanitation. Sounds good to me.

For a while, maybe. As the article notes, the dystopian aspect is the lack of self-sufficiency and the corrosive effect that seemingly endless supplies of "free" have on people and nations. It allows the oppressive and incompetent government to thrive, because there is no internal or external pressure for reform. It starves locals of economic opportunities, since no one can compete with free, and the people receiving the aid are soon entirely dependent on the good graces of their patrons. And then it ends, and everything fall apart.

Again. Especially in Haiti, again.

Why not just start replacing the tents with buildings?

With sub-prime loans from Bank of America?

from tent city to Mega-City One in two generations.

Aren't there a fair number of very poor communities in the US with a lot in common with this? Not the tents, but whole communities that can exist only because of a continuous stream of aid from outside? The first question to ask is, what happens when the aid stream stops, say because of some economic collapse or other disaster? The second question to ask is, do you eventually end up in a kind of resource curse situation, where hardly anyone can expect to do better for himself by working (given his environment and genes and culture and upbringing) than he can by finding a way to somehow attach himself to that stream of aid?

I wonder if this is humanity's future, as machines, genetically enhanced humans, or extreme outlier humans filtered through a meritocracy do all the really useful work, and normal humans have little or nothing of value to add. (What would a Culture orbital look like, the day after the godlike AIs decided they were tired of providing endless goodies for their carbon-based pets?)

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