By STEVEN VAN ZANDT | 2/2/10 5:02 AM EST
As I watched “Meet the Press” host David Gregory recently ask former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush what it’s going to take to restore Haiti to how it was, my heart started paying attention.
Gregory was asking the normal questions, and Clinton and Bush gave the appropriate answers. But it occurred to me that, my God, unless something radical is done, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Haiti will be restored to what it was. And that’s the last thing Haiti needs.
I won’t bore you with statistics — well, OK, just a few. From the Congressional Research Service before the earthquake:
• 76 percent of the population lived on less than $2 a day.
• 54 percent lived on less than $1 a day.
• 81 percent did not receive the minimum daily ration of food as defined by the World Health Organization.
• 66 percent had no access to electricity.
• 52 percent did not have access to clean water, basic sanitation, basic health needs and basic education.
Haiti doesn’t need to be rebuilt. Haiti needs to be reimagined.
The Haitian people need a partnership with a group of individuals that will help them, for the first time in their existence, establish a state-of-the-art infrastructure that will last 100 years, unencumbered by political and economic corruption. Then let the ingenuity, work ethic and spirit of the people do the rest.
So it’s time to call on Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Michael Dell, Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Paul Allen, George Clooney, Robert Johnson, Angelina Jolie, Jay-Z, Brad Pitt, Wyclef Jean, John W. Thompson, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, Sean Combs, the Rolling Stones, Jonathan Demme, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, David Geffen, James Cameron, John Lasseter, futurist architects and engineers, and anybody else with expertise, vision and passion to organize a summit of Haitian leaders, with Clinton as chairman, and design a new Haiti. Let’s make it the high-tech capital of the world.
We need to start solving problems permanently on this planet instead of wasting time, money and energy on temporary Band-Aids that make us feel good.
This horrible event will be all the more horrible if we don’t learn from it. Either tens of thousands of lives have been lost in vain, or they have left us the one chance to begin to build the archetypal country of the future.
There will never again be an opportunity so obvious or a people more deserving of a chance to prove what they can do.
All the symbolic gestures are nice — and even important — but they will come and go.
Whatever money gets raised is vitally important right now, but it, too, will come and go.
For once, let’s do all those things, and then let’s do something that helps permanently.
Let’s not rebuild Haiti; let’s reimagine it.
And then make it happen.
Steven Van Zandt, a guitarist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, acted in HBO’s “The Sopranos,” created and hosts the radio show “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” and has been recognized by the United Nations for his human rights work in South Africa.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/32333.html#ixzz0ebpjZJp2