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It is just a suggestion, but while the attention of the world and particularly that of the US and the UN are focused on Haiti, a long term project involving the construction of a new capital city and training a new generation of Haitians is something that should be done.

We can engage in huge construction projects in Iraq and we claim to be able to do the same in New Orleans.  The US rebuilt the Tennessee Valley with the TVA and the world rebuilt cities in Germany and Japan after WWII.

How about doing it now, in Haiti?

We have thousands of unemployed and underemployed construction workers and supervisors in the US and plenty of skilled architects and engineers.

The training programs for the thousands of Haitians hired for the project could provide a huge economic engine to help address the systemic poverty there. A truly safe, sanitary and functional capital city could do for Haiti what similar projects have done around the world.

Haiti's capital city is small compared to other new capital cities that have been built in our era:

Brasilia is one:

Brasília was built so that the federal capital of Brazil could be transferred from the coast to the Midwestern interior of the country. Previously the capital of Brazil was situated in Rio de Janeiro (1763–1960) and before that in Salvador (1549–1763). Brasília was not the only federal nation to plan and purpose-build a new capital city: Washington D.C. started to be built in the late eighteenth century, becoming the capital of the United States in 1800, and Canberra was declared capital of Australia in 1927.
By relocating the capital city to the interior, the government intended to help populate that area of the country. People from all over the country were hired to build the city, especially those from the Northeast region of Brazil. These workers would be known as candangos. Brasília is known, internationally, for having applied the principles established in the Athens Charter of 1933.

And then there is Canberra where the country decided to build a new capital city, as explained below:

Canberra (pronounced /ˈkænb(ə)rə, ˈkænbɛrə/[3]) is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth largest Australian city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory, 280 km (170 mi) south-west of Sydney, and 660 km (410 mi) north-east of Melbourne. The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation's capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's two largest cities. It is unusual among Australian cities, being an entirely planned city. Following an international contest for the city's design, a design by the Chicago architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin was selected and construction commenced in 1913. The city's design was heavily influenced by the garden city movement and incorporates significant areas of natural vegetation that have earned Canberra the title "bush capital". Although the growth and development of Canberra were hindered by the World Wars and the Great Depression, it emerged as a thriving city after World War II.

New Delhi is yet another:
New Delhi was laid out to the south of the Old City which was constructed by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. However, New Delhi overlays the site of seven ancient cities and hence includes many historic monuments like the Jantar Mantar and the Lodhi Gardens.

Much of New Delhi was planned by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, the former of whom was a leading 20th century British architect, and contracted to Sir Sobha Singh. Lutyens first visited Delhi in 1912, and construction really began after World War I and was completed by 1931, when the city later dubbed "Lutyens' Delhi" was inaugurated.

There is no shortage of construction workers in the US as shown by the 22 % unemployment rate in the December 2009 US Department of Labor figures:

Unemployment rates in construction per the Dept of Labor:

Economic News Release
Table A-11. Unemployed persons by industry and class of worker, not seasonally adjusted
HOUSEHOLD DATA                                                                                                                   HOUSEHOLD DATA

Table A-11.  Unemployed persons by industry and class of worker, not seasonally adjusted
                                                                         Number of unemployed                                 Unemployment              
                                                                         persons                                      rates                  
            Industry and class of worker                              (in thousands)                                                          
                                                                                                            Dec.                   Dec.                  Dec.      
                                                                                 2009                   2008                  2009      
      Total, 16 years and over (1)....................                         14,740                   7.1                   9.7      
Nonagricultural private wage and salary workers........                          11,997                   7.5                  10.2      
 Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction........                                 89                   5.2                  11.8      
 Construction.........................................                         2,044                  15.3                 22.7

A small percentage of those unemployed construction workers from the US could be hired, CCC style and moved and housed for the project to not only build and supervise, but also train Haitian workers.

And, of course, construction teams from all over Central and South America and other parts of the world could join and make this a truly international exammple of long term change under the United Nations and other world bodies and make the US proud of a truly significant help to Haiti.

Just a suggestion.

Originally posted to theworksanddays on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:28 PM PST.


Should the US help build a new capital city for Haiti?

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| 41 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  I believe we ARE "our brother's keeper", (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      tho that quote derives from fratricide, i.e. Cain and Abel!

      Any believer in the brotherhood of Man, as does this secular humanist/atheist, must interpret brother as any living being.  Buddhists, feel free to include other lifeforms!

      There would be no altruistic impulse otherwise, IMHO.

      Aloha   ..  ..  ..

  •  Sadly, many USA cities (0+ / 0-)
    need this, including Washington, D.C., where the residents do not have the right to vote for the President.


    by CuriousBoston on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 11:45:13 PM PST

  •  Yeah (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, dolphin777, erush1345

    I'd have to check where Port-au-Prince lays in relation to the paths of hurricanes that go through Haiti. But a good first preference for a capital/major city location would be in a place not likely to get hit by a hurricane every few years.

    How many US Construction Workers would you expect to take that job? And how do you think it'd play with the Haitians who are unemployed in their country and would rather be getting paid for that work?

    The whole "World's most dangerous slum with 500,000 people there" and problems with governmental corruption thing are also problematic.

    It's hard for a country to make much progress with huge limits on their own opportunity and their education.

    "Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right" - Carl Schurz

    by RBH on Tue Jan 19, 2010 at 12:08:26 AM PST

    •  How many would take the job? (0+ / 0-)

      I don't know, but it would be fascinating to find out.  How many truck drivers, for instance, have gone from the US to Kuwait and drive into Iraq at the risk of their lives, for the money and the adventure.  Quite a few and way more than I would have thought.

  •  Wyclef Jean (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, dolphin777

    is asking that the city be evacuated.  All of Port au Prince.  In order that it be rebuilt.  At the behest of the Prime Minister and the President of Haiti.

    I like your idea better; but it is a foreign country.

    Is this what Haiti wants?  Or do they just want to rebuild in the same location?
    From ABC news

    "Vancouver B.C. - the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics, single payer health care, and single payer car insurance"

    by marigold on Tue Jan 19, 2010 at 12:32:06 AM PST

  •  US blocking Caribbean nations' aid to Haiti (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.

    by ben masel on Tue Jan 19, 2010 at 12:39:00 AM PST

    •  The airport can't handle the traffic. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Utahrd, oxfdblue, erush1345, charliehall2

      How can you use this horrific disaster to try and advance an anti-US agenda, even as the US and the entire world struggles to save what few people can be saved in this? You're saying this is the fault of the US government? Really?

      That is fucking twisted. If you really think that, I think you need therapy. Seriously. That's fucked up.

    •  To be fair, CARICOM's aid is very tiny (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erush1345, charliehall2

      It's not a good use of the runway to let small amounts of aid come in, rather than large amounts of aid.  Of course, small amounts of aid are better than completely stupid things like letting my governor fly in, but the point remains.

      Enrich your life with adverbs!

      by Rich in PA on Tue Jan 19, 2010 at 03:56:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  USA "forgetting" Haiti isn't the problem (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cdreid, DeepLooker, JesseCW

    Multinational corporations remember Haiti just fine — in order to run it as an economic colony.

    Perhaps they'd be better off if, after the emergency response, we left them alone.

    What do the Haitians want, and how realistic is it for us to help with it?

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Tue Jan 19, 2010 at 01:54:25 AM PST

  •  Boo hiss on your poll (0+ / 0-)

    Disrespectful and counterproductive for constructive discussion

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Tue Jan 19, 2010 at 01:58:48 AM PST

  •  Haiti isn't a make-work project for the US (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What Haiti needs in reconstruction terms should be decided by Haitians (and I'm no dogmatist--just above I made fun of the idea that Haitians should run the immediate relief operation), without regard for our poor unemployed architects. As for training Haitians for good jobs, the comparative advantage of Haiti is that it's very poor and therefore people will work for very little.  There's no magic shortcut to becoming a middle-income country, and I suspect that a solid majority of Haitians would be happy with living in a low-income country that was somewhat more humane than before.

    Enrich your life with adverbs!

    by Rich in PA on Tue Jan 19, 2010 at 04:02:54 AM PST

  •  I think that it is arrogant (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cdreid want to play God with Haiti.

    As well-intentioned as it might be.  Haitians are not children, and they can decide for themselves what needs to happen with Port-au-Prince, which is in no more dangerous a situation than St. Louis, MO (New Madrid fault).

    Yes, training and jobs could provide opportunities for a better life.  But folks have found that outsiders are not reliable in making that sort of long term commitment.

    What jobs? The US has been torn between creating jobs at home and creating jobs in developing nations.  Haitian prosperity depends on its place in a global economy; there is  too much productive equipment that must be brought from outside.

    The American people, through their governnment and NGOs, can make itself useful to the Haitian people, but Haitians must identify how we best might make that contribution.  And one of the ways might be difficult for Americans to grasp--allowing more Haitian immigrants into the US to get jobs here and send remittances to relatives in Haiti that then finance development.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Tue Jan 19, 2010 at 04:50:40 AM PST

  •  Port au Prince has three million people! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What do you do with them in the mean time?

  •  Our own disaster cities (0+ / 0-)

    Not just New Orleans, but St. Louis, Detroit, Buffalo, Baltimore....all have sufferred huge population losses. Entire city blocks have been abandoned. And we see that in smaller cities as well....Hartford, Bridgeport, Niagara Falls....

    How about something more concrete?

  •  Sending in OUTSIDE (0+ / 0-)

    workers sortof defeats the whole point doesnt it? You pay astronomical rates to us contractors who clean up and in the end haiti has a few overpriced buildings with no economy to power them.

    And training? seriously people are still buying that bs? What are you training them for? I know a LOT of US workers who bougth the "just go back to school!" the fools told them when we began outsourcing. Theyre all working minimum wage jobs now if they have jobs.

    We need to provide aid so the people can eat. Help with policing if need be (their police force is woefully inadequate and a lot of them are dead). We need to provide a large package of 0 interest loans to haitian business. We need to pay HAITIANS to clean up the mess.

  •  Rule of law, property rights (0+ / 0-)

    Jobs can't exist in Haiti without rule of law & property rights.

    The US can't impose these concepts in Haiti.

  •  Article about the closest thing to good jobs there (0+ / 0-)

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