Dear Wash. Post: Haitian Tragedy Magnified by Lack of Economic Freedom

Editor, Washington Post

1150 15th St., NW

Washington, DC 20071

Dear Editor:

Regarding "Tens of thousands feared dead" (Jan. 14): The ultimate tragedy in Haiti isn't the earthquake; it's that country's lack of economic freedom. The earthquake simply but catastrophically revealed the inhuman consequences of this fact.

Registering 7.0 on the Richter scale, the Haitian earthquake killed tens of thousands of people.  But the quake that hit California's Bay Area in 1989 was also of magnitude 7.0. It killed only 63 people.

This difference is due chiefly to Americans' greater wealth. With one of the freest economies in the world, Americans build stronger homes and buildings, and have better health-care and better search and rescue equipment. In contrast, burdened by one of the world's least-free economies, Haitians cannot afford to build sturdy structures. Nor can they afford the health-care and emergency equipment that we take for granted here in the U.S.

These stark facts should be a lesson for those who insist that human habitats are made more dangerous, and human lives put in greater peril, by freedom of commerce and industry.


Donald J. Boudreaux

Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a Business & Media Institute adviser.<?xml:namespace prefix = u1 />

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