Turning away from the US elections for a moment, we can find plenty of places suffering not from a hurricane of campaign cash, but from actual hurricanes, bringing with them immediate suffering but less coverage.
Haiti was all over headlines at first when an earthquake hit that island months ago, but now gets lost in the shuffle. By way of update—Hurricane Tomas dumped rain and flooded already-battered towns like Leogane over the weekend but the island’s said to have "dodged" the worst.
The worst, in Haiti, is a constantly moving goalpost. Cholera, borne by water, was already reaching epidemic proportions before the flood. The outbreak has already killed 500 Haitians and sickened more than 7,000. It’s a preventable disease. Preventable, that is, if Haiti had received the water filtration systems and attention so many wealthy countries promised so eagerly in the days immediately after the earthquake.
In a population where at least 70 percent of people have no access to improved water or sanitation, people cannot protect themselves. "Cholera will not go away until underlying situations that make people vulnerable change" said Paul Farmer’s group Partners in Health not not long ago. But how many are listening?
The US is facing cuts too, in every state, for every kind of service—that’s the outcome to our $4 billion race. While Americans dust themselves off from another exorbitantly over-spent election, we’d do well to get some perspective. Hurricane Tomas didn’t bring Haiti the kind of devastation that the quake did, and so didn’t make many headlines, but Haiti’s not close to being back on its feet.
Looking to improve your post-election karma? Haiti would be a good place to start.
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.