Tuesday, January 26, 2010

death of a teenage hawker

The Guardian offers a moving account of the death of Fabienne Cherisma, who was shot by Haitian police.

Nice lede: "Fabienne Cherisma spent her life assessing margins."

In addition to highlighting the personal tragedy of a bright 15-year-old's life cut short, it brings up the question: what is looting?

No one suggests that looting for profit is a great thing. And on a mass scale, looting can turn into rioting. But, after the earthquake that killed more than 100,000, people in Port-au-Prince are simply trying to survive. In the context of the massive devastation, and the unconscionably high rates now being charged by air cargo companies to bring supplies into Haiti (a much worse form of looting), why is taking two folding chairs and three paintings a capital crime?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

after the earthquake

As the Haitian people recover from the tragedy of last week, System D--the informal economy--is playing its part.

Government officials and businessmen tell Reuters that street markets and street hawkers are back in operation in Port-au-Prince. That's hugely good news. As usual, the informal economy is back up and running before the banks and the rest of the formal economy.