The reporting pattern for natural disasters seems to be as follows:
1: Report nature and location of disaster.
2: Report death toll as it develops.
3: Report shambolic aid efforts.
The coverage of the earthquake in Haiti seems to be following this pattern. Sadly, the aid efforts are more disorganised than ever. According to The Times, the UN are trying to pass on as much responsibility for the mess to the shattered Haitian government as they can get away with. As they pass the buck back and forth, not much is getting done.
Barack Obama is pledging a great deal of time and money to the cause. Call me a cynic, but I can’t help wondering if so much effort would be afforded if Haiti wasn’t so close to the US, or if The States didn’t have such a large Haitian population. Would such a disaster achieve so much attention were it to occur in East Asia, for example? Still, regardless of motive, I’m glad significant effort is being made.
Which is more than can be said for our government. £6 million? Consider that compared to the £4.5 billion spent on war in Iraq and Afghanistan by February 2009.
But then, if were are to look at aid pledges versus killing expenditure, the US doesn’t look so hot either. $100 million promised in aid for Haiti, almost a trillion spent in the Middle East. I suppose the lesson to be learned here is that governments will spend a lot more money on ending lives than they will on saving them.
The Times has reported looting and lynching of looters in Haiti today. When faced with this kind of thing I can’t help thinking about our discussions on a State of Nature. When law is removed, how do people respond?
You can’t always blame the looters; they’re sometimes only trying to provide for their families in a crisis, often risking their lives to do so. This kind of activity wouldn’t surprise Hobbes, nor would the fact that military personnel need to be present when handing out bottles water to desperate people who naturally don’t want to wait in a queue to receive their fair share. As for the people who lynch or behead the looters; Locke would most likely agree with their actions. Rousseau would be pleased to see that most people are helping each other in any way they can.
I suppose for us to really see who is right, this time of desperation and lawlessness would need to go on for a lot longer: Let’s hope the powers that be can get their act together quickly so that none of the philosophers are proven right.