The Anchoress has some useful links.
The devastation in that benighted country (our own little bit of Africa in the western hemisphere) demonstrates how deadly it can be to be poor, and why attempts to hold back economic growth in the third world with things like Kyoto and cap’n’tax are almost genocidal.
[Update a while later]
“You hear yells everywhere from underneath the rubble.”
[Update on Thursday morning]
Why is Haiti so poor? Some hypotheses from Tyler Cowen.
[Update a few minutes later]
History’s most deadly quakes. I expect Haiti will be added to this list, though it’s unlikely to set a new record.
[Update late morning]
Remembering the “good times” in Haiti:
On an official visit to the island in the 1980s, as head of the Latin America/Caribbean Bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), I witnessed a grown man, my 28-year-old executive assistant, a lawyer who had not traveled extensively outside the U.S., cry inconsolably after touring an orphanage and hospital run by Belgian nuns and supported by USAID food and medical aid. The rest of my team consisted of experienced (read: hardened) professionals who had seen famine and desolation in other countries many times. The assistant had been shocked at the sight of the “triage” set up by the nuns, whereby they calmly and tenderly separated emaciated Haitian newborns into those who would not survive the night and those who might. Both groups received the same loving care from the nuns, but the ones born with no chance of survival did not receive precious resources that could be used to save the lives of other, slightly stronger infants with a chance of living another day and perhaps even surviving.
That hospital, run by angelic Belgians and their Haitian collaborators, was a metaphor for the entire country. The U.S. chose to deliver its significant assistance (more than that of any other nation) only through private organizations, because the government of Haiti was deemed either too incompetent or corrupt to deliver it safely.
It hasn’t improved in the interim, and this disaster is unlikely to improve it.
Living in Boca Raton, almost all of the blacks that I encountered were Haitian (many of them checkout and stocking personnel at the local supermarket). They were good people, and obviously very happy to be here.