Capitalism Saves Lives and Haiti is Proof

Haiti is proof that capitalism saves lives. The San Francisco Loma Prieto earthquake in 1989 was also a 7.0 event but only 63 people were killed. Haiti’s lack of freedom and capitalism could not afford the life saving building techniques that capitalist countries benefit from.

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I received this wonderful post from George Mason University Economist Don Boudreaux about the earthquake and devastation in Haiti. I highly recommend Don Boudreaux and Russ Robert’s blog, Cafe Hayek.

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.

I think it is obvious that capitalism saves lives.

If you’re interested, I recommend Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, a powerful defense of capitalism and how it led to the greatest benefits to human health and well being in history. (This book has sold a half million copies since its publication in 1962.) The pejoratively named Industrial Revolution is castigated for it’s evils which Friedman points out is an entirely false historical perspective. It should have been named the Freedom Revolution.

People think that the pastoral farm life was actually a good life compared to life in the cities–Dickens and all that. In reality millions of people fled to the cities for jobs and opportunities that were far better than on the farm.

You can’t compare life then to life now. You need to compare life with capitalism to what it was before capitalism. The statistical evidence reveals that because of the wealth capitalism created, public health improvements from clean water, sewers, and technology, life expectancy and average wealth increased dramatically during the Industrial Revolution.

It was similar to what happened in China after the freedoms introduced by Deng Xiaoping. The Chinese industrial freedom revolution was the greatest immigration in human history: some 100,000,000 people fled their farms for jobs in Shanghai and other industrial cities in Guangzhou.

Haiti is another economics lesson.



Hat tip to JW

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3 comments to Capitalism Saves Lives and Haiti is Proof

  • [...] a completely different note, here’s a post from the DailyCapitalist on how capitalism would have saved Haiti. Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment [...]

  • Dylan

    I think youve lost the plot here.

    The very basis of our society is if we keep producing profit, everyone will be better off. This is a fundamental dishonesty. There is no way under current capitalist relations based on competition and human capital (what one is economically worth) for this to be achieved as the system institutes classes and hierarchy. Someone has to be at the bottom.

    Colonialism the foundation upon which capitalism (also known as plunder) is a clear example of how racialised hierarchy comes into being. One group of people lets say indigenous Caribbean groups have their own system of government, spirituality, group ethos and much more – perhaps fundamentally distinct ways of thinking about the world. Their way of life is destroyed by the weapons, illnesses, ontology and quest for wealth of Europeans. Very little survives in its original state. However new social relations are embedded into the foundation of Western enlightenment society. These include the notion some are higher, better, and more human than others. These are the white people. And for centuries they dehumanise the black and brown people of the world building vast economic wealth and empire off their labour and natural resources. Race and racism are instituted and over centuries difference rather than empathy is hammered into every generation born and every institution woven into our modern culture.

    The very idea of nations themselves is to include some people (citizens) and exclude others – the same very logic of racism itself. This difference-making and exclusion continues today. Most obviously in the wealth and its accumulation which is the core ethos today, and the wealth’s place in the hands of those fortunate enough, like yourselves and I, to be born on the ‘right’ side of history. The war on terror continues to produce difference, to manufacture ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people, it continues the colonial process, it continues the racism of the last 500 years. It might not be the believe of others but i dont think colonialism ever ended.

    Under the glitz, hedonism, ‘progress’ of our society and much else we have bought into the myth that colonialism ended two centuries ago. Yet we still have wars of occupation, we still plunder natural resources, we still have poor workers (slaves) providing us with our nice standards of living, we still have vast differences between the winners and losers of the original race war, and increasingly while it can still often be viewed by the colour of one’s skin it is also about straight up class politics.

    I would say lets go with free market capitalism with a social conscience and perhaps capitalism would save lives. however we dont have that now, instead we have a form of state capitalism in the US that protects and drives certain sectors like the financial sector and the military.

    Youre a smart guy, i visit often, but today youre being dishonest

  • Dylan,

    Your view is a very common one on the “left” side of the political context.

    What you describe are fundamentally acts of government enforced policy, which is not the free market capitalism that actually works to benefit all of mankind. What you see as “capitalism” is actually a form of state capitalism, mercantilism, Fascism, or oligarchic dicatatorship.

    Colonialism is not the foundation of capitalism. It is the foundation of mercantilism or state capitalism that favors the few and ignores human rights. It didn’t evolve into free market capitalism, it was replaced by capitalism.

    All the evils you point out, which are true about colonialism, were not committed by capitalist systems, but by state aggression against technologically inferior people. Slavery was condoned by the State and the U.S. constitution didn’t reach slaves until after the Civil War. Note that the “capitalist” North outlawed slavery whereas the oligarchic, anti-capitalist South had slavery.

    I take issue with your take of current history being equivalent to slavery or racism. You miss the fundamental point of capitalism which is freedom. Whatever you can say, you can’t ignore the fact that the U.S. has been the most capitalistic large society in the world and has created the highest standard of living in the world and the greatest amount of wealth. Everyone has benefited.

    You tend to label every kind of business taking place in the world as “capitalism” which it isn’t. Capitalism is a very moral system based on the human rights discovered by the natural law philosophers and was written into our constitution. Free exchange between people supported by a rule of law based on natural law is the best, most moral system ever conceived because it doesn’t condone the use of force in social intercourse. And that is free market capitalism. It has a social conscience because you are permitted to achieve the highest potential you can attain in society.