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#1540: Jean Jean-Pierre questions the accuracy of "The Phrase" (fwd)

From: Jean Jean-Pierre <jean@acd-pc.com>

I have always been doubtful of  the label  "the poorest nation in the
Western Hemisphere".
Yet we must acknowledge that this tag has been etched in our collective
consciousness for most our existence.
It has become reflexive for people -Haitians and non- Haitians- to use
the “Phrase”(so aptly coined by Joel Dreyfuss).  However, that does not
ipso facto make that statement an accurate one. Let’s consider the
I believe  the statistics used by institutions such as World Bank to
determine economic gauges like GNP and all relevant economic indicators
are based on data gathered by their "specialists" with the help of
institutions of the related country. In the case of Haiti, we always
read  about the usually low  income per capita.  Yet the deciding method
used is not always transparent.  Most figures are based from  the ever
dwindling assembly industry and a few other institutions from the
private sector (with the recent privatization of most state owned
establishments such as Teleco and Minoterie  d’Haiti, the government is
no longer the main job provider of the country).  Most other industries
do not appear on the radar screen.
Moreover, most financial  -and otherwise- reports about Haiti revolve,
for the most part, around Port au Prince and a handful of provinces.
The majority of Haitians are –by simple logic- not included in those
statistics.  For example, in remote parts of the country, many business
transactions are either not reported or are based on bartering where no
currencies exchange hands. Even in the capital and other urban areas,
the underground economy prevails.  If the readout by which a country’s
economic status (poor or rich) –the economists in Corbettland please
correct me- is determined is solely  the per capita income method,
where  does Haiti's booming construction industry -among many others-
appear in those reports?

It is obvious that Haiti could be one of the most opulent places in the
region in terms of sheer existence of wealth in the country.  Virtually,
every day witnesses the birth of a new bank. And, apparently most of
these banks are profitable.  At least I have not heard one
folding in recent years.  Granted,  some of them, -like many of their
counterparts in the US and elsewhere- are undoubtedly cleansing ill
gotten fortunes (e.g. from drugs), but surely part of this new money
ends up circulating in the country to become part of the general
economy. The problem seems to reside on the -I can already hear the
footsteps of the socialist "dechoukè" - distribution of  the country's

I think, rather than refuting the use of the “Phrase” (I think Dreyfuss
should copyright it) on the basis that it demeans us all as is it too
customarily uttered and written, we should challenge not only those who
use it, but especially its originators for being obviously too lazy to
do a more accurate job.  Remember they are using taxpayers’ money to
pull numbers out of their hats.

Best wishes to all.
Jean Jean-Pierre