In Haiti, a Lesson for U.S. Health Care

You know, when handsome George Clooney corrals the celebs into a telethon and tells me it’s time to give money, I’m a gonna give money. I totally donated money to the Haiti cause, and I think the instinct for charity is a noble one (although I don’t have it. Sorry, it’s true).

What disturbs me about out phenomenal ability to give is when our assistance actually damages the local eco-, econo-, socio-fabric. Apparently, Haiti doesn’t have a fabulous health care system (no surprise there), but there were clinics you could visit and pay nominal physician fees, and these clinics supplied services like x-rays for free because hospitals couldn’t afford them. But with the onslaught of world-class physicians flooding the shores, all the citizens have being going to the volunteers. Makes sense. The problem is that these clinics are going out of business, and once the noble volunteers leave, there will be no health infrastructure in Haiti. It reminds me of the Bob Geldof project “Do They Know It’s Christmas” – did you hear of that one? Some of the money raised by that project, about $63 million of it, was diverted by a rebel group to purchase weapons, so in fact, the fundraiser prolonged the war and subsequent starvation. Awesome.

Look, I don’t think it’s bad that there’s an instinct to help. I just wonder if we should think about the ramifications of our actions before we stick our giant American butt into the mix, as moved as we are. And really, I wish George would do a fundraiser for the U.S. Our national debt is profound and we owe money to CHINA. What the what?

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