Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Haiti Earthquake & Aftermath

The Haiti earthquake, which occurred on January 12th, Tuesday, 2010, was measured as 7.0 on the Richter Scale. The epicenter was 15 miles from the Haitian city of Port-Au-Prince, the principle city on the west side of the island (of Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Destruction of structures and infrastructure was extensive, and the loss of life, based on wildly variable estimates, may run as much as 100,000.     

Haiti is a typically backward Third World nation, with widespread poverty, and an history of government instability and corruption. Like many Central and South American metropolises, Port-Au-Prince has huge areas of slum shanty-towns, where ordinary municipal services are marginal, at best. Even before the earthquake there was rampant unemployment, crime, disease, and shortages of all kinds. The economy has been in a shambles, per capita income is among the lowest in the world, and agricultural subsistence has led to heavy deforestation. The place is a mess, and has been for decades.  

Haiti is in a known earthquake zone, but the difficulty in predicting significant, potentially damaging quakes, prevents us from knowing, really, when a big temblor is likely to occur anywhere on the earth. Seismic science may never be effective in predicting events, since the underlying structure of the tectonic plates may never be susceptible to accurate mapping and measurement. Most earthquake science is empirical, rather than confirmative, and hence always subject to revisions. When it comes to prediction, we haven't really made any significant progress towards that understanding since the 19th Century. 
Preparing for earthquakes is a controversial subject, and one I can't cover here in any detail, but there's been a growing movement towards general "preparedness" in areas known to be candidates for big events, but there are still large cities--such as Port-Au-Prince in Haiti--where really nothing was done in anticipation. The last large quake occurred almost two hundred years ago. That infrequency accounts in large measure for the passive complacency seen almost everywhere that such things do happen. How much are we willing to spend to reinforce the construction of buildings, highways, bridges, etc., to safe-guard against the "secondary" effects of disastrous natural events? Tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, hailstorms, volcanic eruptions, severe earthquakes, landslides, and severe ice- and wind- and snow-storms, all test our intention to maintain permanent settlements on the land. Given their relative infrequency, how much resource can we afford to dedicate to events that may happen only once in a generation, or even every four, five, or ten (or more) generations, or every five centuries? 
I live within spitting distance of the Hayward Fault in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, where geologists have been predicting a sizable event for the last three decades. But they really don't know for sure when such an event might occur. It could be tomorrow, or it could be 100 years from now. When it occurs, it might be a 6 or a 7 or an 8 or even a 9 Richter event--they really have no idea. Without more accurate data about it, what steps should a reasonably cautious populace (or government) take to guard its own safety? 
Why was the Port-Au-Prince earthquake so damaging, and could anything have been done to moderate its effects, short of designing a "bunker" city out of steel and reinforced wood frame structures? Could Haiti even have afforded to consider undertaking such a program? Can any society reasonably be expected to "prepare" (at great expense) for events that may be decades, or even centuries, away? 
There are several observations that are useful in reviewing the consequences of the Haiti earthquake. First, the Haitian infrastructure was a disaster waiting to happen. Most all the buildings were constructed in unreinforced concrete or concrete block, a building form that is notorious for not standing up in quakes. Anyone inside such a structure is at great risk during an earthquake of even moderate size. Second, buildings constructed on landfill, or on unstable slopes, are subject to sliding and slippage. One look at the photograph above should be very instructive in this regard. As a basis for comparison, the San Francisco Bay Area "Loma Prieta" earthquake, which was actually just a little larger than the Haiti quake, measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale, did much less damage comparatively--indeed, except for the "Cypress [freeway] Structure" in Oakland, and a few elegant row houses along the waterfront facing the Northern Shore of San Francisco, there would hardly have been much severe damage at all in the Bay Area. The reason it was experienced as a much less damaging event was that the vast majority of structures here were either built from reinforced steel frame, or substantially reinforced wood beam. In other words, the potential for damage here, was many times less simply as a result of traditional regional building practices. 
The real issue in the aftermath of Haiti post-quake disaster, is the degree to which that nation, like almost all of the Central and South American nations and cities, was not only unprepared for any calamity of this consequence, it had been allowed to grow so far out of proportion and balance to its immediate environment, and beyond its ability to respond to such crises--not just of the "natural" kind, but to every other kind, including, for instance, plagues and pandemics, or political unrest, or economic fluctuations--that it had become a time-bomb, which any kind of small fuse might set off. Thus, a "relatively" mild quake of 7.0, nearly exact in severity to one which had hit a much larger metropolitan area in Northern California about 20 years earlier, caused 1000 times more damage. 
Estimates of the relief effort needed to address the dead, sick and injured, homeless, hungry, etc., as well as destroyed housing, infrastructure, etc., are in the hundreds of millions. The Haitian government is reported to be "non-existent"--completely unable to respond. Rather than wait for international aid organizations, and the United Nations, to act, the Obama Administration has committed the U.S. to a major intervention, involving the American Military, airlifts, food, supplies, medical and rescue teams, and money, to establish a baseline of relief for a nation in total chaos. 
How far should the U.S. go in expenditure of aid, to a country which took almost no responsibility for itself, or its people? Should there be a price-tag on our generosity?  Does humanitarian obligation outweigh every other consideration? Did our government respond to the Katrina crisis with anything like the same urgency and efficiency in August 2005? Did our government show the same compassion and dedication to helping its own citizens, that it now lavishes on the those of another Western Hemisphere Caribbean nation? Embarrassing questions, you say? 
At a time when our own nation is suffering the long-term effects of a declining economy, the erosion of its middle-class, deepening unemployment, decay of its industrial base, and two exhausting (and largely unsuccessful Asian wars of attrition), how far should we be willing to go in adopting yet another needy nation (and its burgeoning, out-of-control population and chaotic economy)? How about France, whose history of exploitation of Haiti is one of the great scandals of the Colonial Age--has it ponied up to help its old colony? Not bloody likely. 
What seems most needed in America's long-term diplomatic outlook, is a reasonable policy of self-help and orderly improvement. If we feel compelled to regard every other nation in the world--its citizens, its safety, its security, its prosperity--as our international "responsibility" we need some kind of reciprocal code with which to bargain. Paternalism and ethical sanctimoniousness may have worked for Western Nations in the Colonial period, but there are clearly limits to the sense of responsibility governments have a right to demand of their constituencies. After Iraq was shown to have had neither weapons of mass destruction, nor a real Al Quaeda presence, the Bush Administration prided itself (instead) on having effected the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime, enabling a new era of potential democratic reform. This claim was accepted by Americans as a valid (fall-back) pretext for our preemptive invasion and continued occupation, even though it was never posed as the original excuse. Now, in Afghanistan, we've apparently changed the game again, from our original purpose of ousting the Taliban and capturing the Al Quaeda cell there, to resuscitating the entire nation of Afghanistan (i.e., "nation-building").  
Now we're told that several tens of thousands of Haitians, here in America illegally, will be granted "TPS"--or temporary protected status--not subject to deportation, for at least one year, probably indefinitely. We can expect that immigration rights activists will use the Haitian crisis as leverage to open our borders to hundreds of thousands more from Haiti, seeking escape from hardships of life in their native country. If "hardship" were the determining factor in our immigration policies for the rest of the hemisphere, not to speak of the world, what limit (if any) could we put on the numbers of qualified candidates for refugee status? 
We give untold billions of dollars in TARP funds to our banks, money which ends up in the pockets of investment bankers as pay-bonuses and golden parachutes, but we can't tax them, because that might discourage initiative and hurt the rewards system on Wall Street (after all, a million dollars more or less in a given year, is insufficient movitation--right?--to discriminate between one fat cat executive or hot-shot trader and another). We can afford to rush immediate medical aid to the victims of Port-Au-Prince, but we can't afford modest health care to the poorest of our own citizens. We can afford to treat every Central and South American national who wanders into our hospital emergency wards, but we can't afford health plans for our own "working" poor.                        
Poverty, as well as injustice, tends to make people bitter. If we're such a rich nation, where's the evidence of it in the lives we lead? We're supposed to take responsibility for Iraqi and Afghan and Pakistani and Mexican and Haitian and Columbian and Honduran and Indian and Chinese citizens, but woe to him who would lay claim to his own birthright and demand the same benefits and consideration from his own government.              

I'm all for the aid and comfort we've committed to provide to the citizens of Haiti, but I'd like to see our government show the same compassion and concern for the welfare and needs of its own citizenry, not just in crisis situations, but all the time. And if we're committed to helping needy people everywhere, in every nation, at any moment, that generosity and largesse should come with a price-tag. First on the invoice should be birth control. If you can't control your population, or if 90% of your people live in abject hopelessness, you go to the bottom of the relief list. In America, we make a big deal out of earning rewards, of showing initiative, and rewarding success through hard work, preventative measures, and careful planning. Why shouldn't these principles form the basis of our diplomatic policies abroad? Should we demand of Americans that they must have a higher standard of entitlement than that which we ask of those we give hand-outs to? 


Kirby Olson said...

Just when you thought you'd heard everything inhuman about Haiti you find further facts. There are 250,000 child slaves in Haiti. These are kids that are sent off by verypoor families to wealthier families living in the cities where the kids are forced to get water for the wealthy families, and are often raped when their long day's work is done.

There are so many articles on this online.

Also, it is reported that NAMBLA people are now buying up children and abducting them off the streets, using the chaos as cover.

It's hard to understand or believe.

Ginsberg's outfit is everywhere making the most of other people's misery.

Conrad DiDiodato said...


when you're good, you're good but when you're not you're xenophobic, cold and calculating. Did you ever work as a government bureaucrat?

Haitian refugees are streaming into Montreal(Canada) as we speak: and will certainly pose no more a national threat or economic burden to Canada now than, say, the Hungarians or Poles or Serbians or Italians or Guatemalans or Jamaicans, etc. did in the past.

I'm speechless, Curtis: if the most impoverished people in the world arrive at your borders, and you don't want them, please send them to Canada. I'd be happy to help make a new home for them.

Curtis Faville said...


My government, on my behalf, has undertaken to offer a full-scale relief operation, expending unimagined levels of monetary and human treasure in the process. In the history of the world, no other nation has done anything remotely like this.

And yet, even Canadians such as yourself, seem not to appreciate the extent of our generosity. It's really mind-boggling.

But the point, which was made by many commentators in the media the last three days, was: How is it that, after 3 billion dollars of aid, and the highest per-capital expenditure of assistance over the last decade (in the WORLD), Haiti still is in such horrible straights that after a relatively moderate earthquake, the whole country is in a state of total collapse, with no evidence of government or civil order? The U.S. has entertained the most liberal immigration policy of any civilized nation over the last century, much more permissive and generous than Canada's. And yet, people want more.

The era of open-ended immigration, in which vast migrations and diasporas can happen with little or no short-term consequence, is OVER. We are a planet of nations, settled nations with separate sovereignties, with separate interests, and with separate laws and customs and aims. If one nation abrogates its duty to its people, and to its neighbors, no nation is under any formal obligation to "save it" from its own fate.

Given a humanitarian priority, no nation has been so responsible as America. But that priority has limits. Our own government has systematically allowed our economy to deteriorate.

In order to HAVE the means to help others, you first have to look out for your own interests. That doesn't mean giving the raised finger to the rest of the world, as China is doing, but it does mean treating your own problems first, as your country (Canada) does and has always done, Conrad. You can't be counted on to put your child's oxygen mask on, until you've put your own on first, as flight attendants always remind us. In order to love others, you have to love yourself first. God helps those who help themselves.

If you indeed, speaking without authority for your own country, Conrad, choose to voluntarily import half a million Haitian citizens, then you have my blessings. I'd think twice, myself, about making such a pledge, however. Especially if, a decade later, you were faced with the same bargain.

Without population control and civil order,
these crises will only get progressively worse. Christian charity notwithstanding, there are limits to what any of us can do to help the little pig who builds his house of straw.

Conrad DiDiodato said...


Firstly, I'd dismiss your views as reactionary except that I think we disagree about the status of nations in the postindustrial world. We are decidedly NOT "a planet of nations, settled nations with separate sovereignties, with separate interests, and with separate laws and customs and aims."

We live in the age of globalization: International Monetary Fund, World Bank,& World Trade Organization, all international agencies with outreach programs designed to help developing and third-world nations. Your own Treasury Department made many many countries economic protectorates under the IMF in the 90s(thanks largely to the impetus of Robert Rubin and the Clinton administration). We who are fortunate enough to live in the Western world, above all, must set aside postcolonial bigotries (of the sort outlined in your article) and see Haitians (and many others) as a people who've been unjustly displaced in a system of global capital that favours only those nations who've locked into the economically powerful G-7. And in the eyes of many (myself included)the hub of that global international power resides on Wall Street.

Secondly,the claim that Canadians (or anyone else) don't seem to appreciate the open-handed generosity of American foreign policy might cause some of us up here to giggle.I think America has a credibility problem (don't you?)both domestically and abroad (Iraq, illegal immigration, health care, Katrina, etc). A country as dominant in information-technology-based industrialization as the U.S. (& Google is a prime example, of course)must weigh its claims to be doing anything for anyone for disinterested reasons against the suspcions that a well-documented history of global domination might create.

But that's not to say that American aid and support for Haitian people is not genuine and real. It certainly is but, Curtis, don't use this as leverage for saying that similar American intervention in the past has always been disinterested.

More replies to come in another post (given characters restriction).

Curtis Faville said...

Conrad: Thanks for this long and considered post.

I'm not one of those picks and chooses what to take responsibility for, and what not to. Americans are responsible for everything done in our name, by our government.

But that doesn't mean we tacitly agree with all of the actions taken in our name.

I assure you, the embarrassment felt by thinking Americans, over the actions taken during Bush II, goes deep. We're deeply ashamed of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the many things done secretly by the CIA and the American military over the decades.

You raise the spectre of "globalization"--but I'm not a believer in globalization. I think it's a word invented by corporate and finance manipulators to put a shine on exploitation--playing one market against another, so that both parties lose. Old-fashioned colonial capitalism was invasive, selfish, and destructive. Now that the tables have been turned, and the West is being nudged aside by the emerging nations in Asia, I see no reason to change my sentiments: Unrestrained capitalism is as ugly in its Chinese versions, as Europe's and America's once was.

The International Monetary Fund has probably done more harm than good, in building up huge loads of debt in the Third World, which certainly will never be repaid. Do I think this is a good idea? Certainly not.

When the U.S. entered into NAFTA treaties--principally with Mexico--it had nothing to do with the welfare of either constituency. Suffering and lower standards of living have resulted on both sides of the border. How is this productive? Who benefits?

I'm an environmentalist. I'd like to see the countries of the world address those problems. But we're a world of nations. We can gently lobby for change and action at the UN, but in the end, the best we can hope for is to control what happens inside our jurisdiction. I'd like to see the population of the world cut back by half. This will never happen. But there's a slim chance that maybe we can have some effect over the land and jurisdictions we do have sovereignty over. Can we save the land? Can we save the animals? Can we save the planet? The prospects are dim. But at the very least, we need to start with population control.

Even if the U.S. went to a no growth policy immediately, the influx of legal and illegal immigrants would still cause steep rises in population. The first place to start addressing this is observing that if we have the right and the will to control the numbers of arrivals--as nearly every other nation on earth does (when it can)--we most certainly should do so. That may appear selfish and nativist and prejudiced (all the PC crap that gets thrown around, and sticks for a while, stinking up the joint), but the reality is that we're destroying everything around us. The quality of our lives is going downhill. The Third World's degradation will soon--unless we wake up--be ours. Crowding and environmental exploitation will turn our world into a stinking garbage heap, by the end of the current century. The class structure emerging from that will make the Middle Ages look like a company picnic.

I predicted "globalization" forty years ago--though I couldn't see the information age coming--and I imagined that our society would come to resemble walled compounds. Cormac McCarthy's narrative The Road, or Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker give some inkling of what things are likely to look like as things deteriorate.

Am I "disinterested"? Hardly. Am I optimistic? Not very. Do I like Mexicans? You bet. Do I hate the Mexican government for screwing its people? Yes I do. Do I feel any responsibility to "take care of" all the peoples outside our borders? Yes, but at what cost, and to what end? Am I willing to relinquish the benefits of what prosperity we do have now, if that means leveling the standard of life of the entire earth down to the level of Haiti? Not on your life.

Kirby Olson said...

Unfortunately, I think we do have some responsibility for Haiti. Our government would not recognize theirs after their successful revolution, because of fear of France. France wanted an enormous payment from Haiti in exchange for recognition.

Haiti didn't have any industry except cane and coffee, both of which required slaves to make it profitable.

The slaves were not willing to do that work, and they broke the land into smaller lots and farmed it.

In 1915 America invaded the country and rewrote their constitution, forcing them to accept international companies who would buy up their most arable land.

This forced all the peasants into the shantytowns of the cities.

That describes the situation.

I have no prescription for what has happened. If there had been an enormous die-off of 60% of the population, the wages for those remaining on the island would be better.

It might also be better to kick out all the international companies again, and argue that only Haitian citizens can own Haitian land.

This will result in a huge loss of profits for a few, but the situation would be more tenable for the many.

But I am only speaking as an amateur of Haitian literature and society. I don't know what the professionals would think of such a scheme.

But if we're going to keep the tentacles of other citizens out of America, we should also get our tentacles out of their land.

That's the nationalism scenario.

But nationalism always has its own problems. One of which is that they tend to try to increase their land size at the expense of others: we're back to Napoleon and co.

One of Haiti's giant problem is that there is very little indigenous food production. Multinational sugar and coffee companies own their best land, and you can't eat sugar or coffee, so food has to be imported.

Haiti back to the Haitians?

Kirby Olson said...

Also,of course there is modest emergency service to the poorest of the poor in this country.

The flap over healthcare is whether or not the US government should monopolize health insurance.

That's what Obama really wants to do. He wants government to gobble up all private industry so that we can have a socialist tyranny run by himself and his cronies.

He wants to demonize the one news station that stands against him.

He wants to destroy anyone or anything that stands in his path to a total monopolization of power.

That's why people are lining up against him.

He pulls tricks, and he isn't honest. The more aberrant examples such as his continuing support for ACORN, his dismissal of public financing for his campaign....

The man is fundamentally untrustworthy.

That's why we're against governmental health insurance.

The design behind it is toward governmental monopology and toward destruction of yet any sector of the economy. He's destroyed the banks, and made them dependend on his whims. Now he wants insurance.

Anonymous said...

"That's what Obama really wants to do. He wants government to gobble up all private industry so that we can have a socialist tyranny run by himself and his cronies."

If he really wanted that, he'd of done it; he's a corporatist, so he DOESN'T want that, so it's not going to happen.

Charles Shere said...

I've seen other sources contrasting the effects of a 7.0 in Port-au-Prince and the 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake. The general consensus seems to be our construction is so much better; that's why so fewer people were affected.
But the Haiti quake was on the outskirts of a city of a million or so, and Loma Prieta was roughly 100 miles from the Cypress Structure. People seem to forget what happened to Watsonville and Santa Cruz in the Loma Prieta quake. I wouldn't be so sanguine that a 7.0 centered, say, on Treasure Island, would let San Francisco and the Eastbay off lightly.

Kirby Olson said...

Anonymous, The Big O is not Hitler. He has to deal with an elected Congress, and a reelection effort in two years, while his secretary of state is jockeying against him (she talks frequently to Fox News, while he will not).

He has only had a year to get his little schemes through Congress, and as of this evening, that's going to get somewhat harder. Not only will he no longer have Ted Kennedy -- with whom he agreed on every substantial -- but he will have a pick-up driving man of the people with a sharp wit and looks that are equal to his own to contend with.

Or so the polls seemed to show. But it's all a matter of who actually gets off their duff and votes. And we'll see which side has the bitterness factor that actually takes them to the polls.

The police union backed Brown. Not a big surprise after Obama came down on Gates' side and called the police of Cambridge "stupid."

Hardest job of all: police officer.

Compared to that, Obama's job is a piece of cake.

J said...

He wants to demonize the one news station that stands against him.

GOLDANGIT! Hussein Obama has no right to criticize the Good Gott-fearing men and women of FoxCo, like Glenn Beck, freedom fighter.

Really, Mr Faville, Herr Olsonator's near-neo-nazi rants make your own xenophobic, isolationist comments seem fairly tame--the fact that many houses in Haiti were poorly built, or birth control issues, economic crisis, etc. does not really mean much at this point. Those who can afford it, should send some shekels to their favorite Haitian charity.

Curtis Faville said...

"your own xenophobic, isolationist comments seem fairly tame--the fact that many houses in Haiti were poorly built, or birth control issues, economic crisis, etc. does not really mean much at this point."

If you read the post, you should acknowledge that I agree that everything that can be done, should be done to help Haiti. That is "xenophobic" of course.

Questioning whether an open-ended policy of assistance and rehabilitation might in fact contribute towards supporting a corrupt regime--which is in large measure the cause of conditions which lead to humanitarian disasters like this one--is a serious, and pertinent point to raise. Look at Africa: Each generation there is a new wave of crises--hunger, war, disease, etc.--and each time the cry goes out for aid and unselfish assistance--and each time the need is answered. But the root causes of these tragedies is never addressed. "Oh, well, yes, these systemic problems are quite terrible...meanwhile, let's have another piece of pie, let's have another cup of coffee [grown on plantations in the Third World]." It is an unpleasant truth that by artificially supporting huge unsustainable populations (especially in arid or exhausted regions of the globe), we sanction and perpetuate over-population and over-exploitation of the land. This cycle of neglect, rampant use, followed by "relief and aid" followed by another round of neglect and explosive growth, over and over again, must be broken.

Salvation isn't free. Look at your bank statement (i.e., the national debt).

J said...

the old THIN THE HERD meme.

I agree, sir, in principle. So, that would imply family planning (so much for ChristCo), as well as economic planning. Really, isolationism at times does not lack a certain appeal. But an earthquake is an anomaly.

Really, knowing a bit about Haitian politics--let's hope some old Ton Ton Macoutes don't get rollin'--I am convinced the US should be down there (and representatives of other...ethical governments). An argument might be made that the US govt should seize assets of the very wealthy if needed in certain emergencies, such as quakes, floods, fires etc.

It could be riots, more death, or violent anarchy if we don't help out.

I consider the Pat Robertsons of the world dangerous clowns, but (metaphorically, as y'all say) there might be something to the old curse of Hispaniola, mo' or less founded by french pirates ( except the spanish side). Later, the French under Napoleon, and his bloody-handed cuz LeClerc could not manage things very well (and lost a few thousand soldiers...not to say the colonists who didn't make it to the departing ships...Mon Dieu!).

Serpent and the Rainbow-land.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous, The Big O is not Hitler. He has to deal with an elected Congress, and a reelection effort in two years, while his secretary of state is jockeying against him (she talks frequently to Fox News, while he will not)."

I, of course, called him Hitler. I said he was a CORPORATIST. Which should be obvious from the fact that he has Rahm Emmanuel in there with him leading, that he agrees with Lieberman on most issues regarding health care, and that his White House attacked Howard Dean's defence of a public option.

Even mildly left wing democrats (as opposed to middle-ground, "blue dog" types) agree here. Obama has done almost NOTHING to push for public health care--if he wanted it (which he doesn't, like Emmanuel), it would get done. Just like Bush rammed things through.

And the "elected congress"--democrats have a SUPER MAJORITY, and can get nothing done. As the fucking DAILY SHOW pointed out last night.

Kirby Olson said...

Here's a neat vid from YouTube with Hitler reacting to Scott Brown's election. It's amazing acting (Bruno Ganz), but the whole thing has just been wonderfully rewritten. You have to see it to believe it. Warning: this may be funnier if you tend to not want StealthCare to go through without a very thorough vetting in the press, in both chambers, and in the heads of all citizens.

Not Lon said...

The people of Haiti live in "abject hopelessness" because of American foreign policy. You can't fuck a country in the ass for a hundred years and then blame it for not sitting up straight. Or, no, wait a minute --yes, you can.

Curtis Faville said...

Dear Not Lon:

Everyone fucked Haiti for two hundred years. What an original thinker you are!

So what we do now is create a new welfare state, or simply import the whole population by making Haiti the 51st State--then Starbuck's could have a new "Haiti Freedom State" brew.

It's okay, of course, to fuck New Orleans--after all, they're such a lazy bunch of slackers. Sorry to be redundant.

Were you in the Peace Corps, Lon? Have you ever given a minute of your time or a penny of your income to help anyone, or anything?

How do we help the people of Haiti? What's your suggestion? Oh, I forgot, you don't need to suggest solutions. Hide behind anonymity. That's the spirit.

Kirby Olson said...

Haiti actually had the option to join America as a state in about 1930. They declined.

Perhaps they should now rethink the matter.

What would we gain, if anything?

If the president signed off on that, I think he might lose the next election. not that he cares! He's going to lose no matter what he does, it seems.

He can't even keep the blue states on his side against totally unknown candidates.