By Bryan Caplan
[T]he Haitians who interacted with our base was that the locals viewed
us with suspicion. In particular, when they would see a team of HODR
volunteers engaging in literal hard labor, using sledgehammers and
wheelbarrows to remove rubble from a collapsed residence, many of the
Haitians apparently resented the fact that we were “stealing their
jobs.” In other words, the Haitians — where unemployment is apparently
90 percent — thought they should be getting paid to remove the rubble from their collapsed homes.
When those who were affiliated with HODR would explain to the people
that we were all volunteers, some of them were still suspicious. They
speculated that even if we weren’t being paid right then, we would
probably be paid when we returned back home.
Now here’s what struck me about all this: isn’t it incredible that
after their neighborhoods got wiped out, and hundreds of thousands of
Haitians died, that many Haitians were apparently devoting a lot of
mental effort to speculating on how much we were getting paid
to cart away their rubble?…
Please note, I’m not whining about a lack of gratitude; my purpose
in going to Haiti wasn’t to get a pat on the head from someone who just
lost his house and possibly much of his family. But what I am saying is
that it makes sense, in a perverse way, that Haiti is the poorest
country in the hemisphere. If this is the predominant mindset, how
could anyone start a successful business? I would imagine the jealousy
and gossip of his neighbors would be unbearable.
Makes sense to me.