Mobile Markets

What to be done in Haiti? The situation is a mess. “Aid” is pouring in. Well, yes, and it is being given out. And there is roughing about because of the way it is handed out from the back of trucks. And when you think about it the Mobile Hospitals are very orderly in the sense that they have a plan to set them up. What initial chaos there is is slowly mitigated as the cases are taken in one by one and assessed and given priority or handed off to wait a little bit longer. That’s the nature of disasters. Sad, but true. But there is no plan to put in a Mobile Market. That’s what is needed. Nothing is as orderly as a market. If people knew there was a market that they could shop at then they would have much more confidence much more quickly. Hospitals and aid offices are abstract. The vast majority of people need food, and that’s a market thing. There were markets prior to the disaster, and people knew what to do with them. So while the markets might have been destroyed, now is the time to set up temporary markets. Like we do in the US within a weekend. Up comes some farmers market. Poof, there it is.

As for the money, there are billions of dollars coming in. Some things, such as large equipment, is in the hands of the capable operators. But the general people who are wandering around need money. They need a sense that they have something. And so they should be handed say $20 in one dollar bills. Perhaps you could rubber stamp their hand, like they do in elections, so that each person gets theirs. In a military controlled situation people should be handed their money, rubber stamped and shown where the market is. And then they should go get what they need. Everything, having been donated, can be at just pennies. Yes, it is almost a fiction. It is just cash from nowhere for goods from out of the sky. Still, it is an instant market. All the things that Aid Groups and governments are giving should be available in these markets. And people could give over a dollar or two for a tarp, or a hammer, or a sheet of plywood – they know what they need, they left their houses – or what is left of them. They know someone who would help clear the debris from a place that has slight damage, and earn a dollar. And perhaps they have some skill that can be sold for a dollar. Or some thing that some other person needs. Imagine the two working halves of a bike – and one sells his half damaged bike to the other. And that’s a market.

Yes, all of this is a process that may take some setting up – but it isn’t any more difficult than creating a voting system. Nor is it more difficult than creating airports on a moments notice, as the US just did in Haiti. Airport destroyed one day, and a posse of army engineers came in and presto – a new airport, new and improved. What a deal! So the expertise is there for large scale projects at a moments notice. One of those projects should be a market place.

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