03 December 2014

Puerto Rico As A Province Of China: An Extended Look With Captain High

From a recent post in which I suggested that Puerto Rico should become a province of China came some comments made by Captain High. In the exchange the good Captain brought up some questions and points that merited a more thoughtful set of responses than the space allotted by Blogger. So I moved the salient section here, with Captain High's comments in bold and Mine in some combination that the NSA probably thinks is a code.


a) What is the draw for China?
Making Puerto Rico their new province means acquiring territory that combines an economic advantage (to be determined, but largely based on privileged access to the U.S. of part of A. economy) and a political thumb in the eye of that same rival.

b) More importantly, how do you suppose that this state of affairs would come to be a reality? Do you believe, for example, that the United States would really allow China to just have it? What of the military relevance the island holds? It seems unlikely that the US would be inclined to give that up, and that might be the only reason why China could want the island (I am still unclear as to what attraction Puerto Rico holds for China).
First things first: why would China want Us? The simplest answer: We are an import-dependent economy with pretty much a single-source supplier. Even with a recession, We are the 4th largest buyer of the U.S. of part of A. and We have been for a long time. And We've shown, for a long time, that We don't care that Our economy is handcuffed and hobbled so long as We get easy credit and layaway terms. If you think about it, all China would be doing is cutting out the middlemen and selling directly to Us.

Along those lines, one thing people don't understand about China is that they have been practitioners of capitalism for barely 30 years. Their culture does not have several centuries of market-based activities, so any chance Chinese businessmen can find that lets them (a) exploit a well-defined market and (b) learn to identify, enter and exploit other markets, is great.

The Chinese mentality is not that of daring leaps of imagination, but of rational increments. Puerto Rico would represent a rational increment, easily-controlled (We have been for 5 centuries, except for one day when We actually rose up and took arms in Lares and...No, that was nothing more than a tiny whisper-fart in a 500+-year windstorm), a captive market that would allow for great cash infusions once the sucking sound of U.S. of part of A. companies finish making their moves off-island and one whose highly-educated, bicultural people can serve as "faces" for Chinese interests in the New World. Are the advantages clear? Maybe not, but they certainly aren't much more obscure than those of being a screwed-up colony in the 21st century.

Now, how would this come about in reality? Although China could inquire about absorbing Us into their geopolitical sphere, like a neighbor asking about a lawn mower, but that has a 0.01% probability. The other option is We ask China if they're interested. We ask politely, formally and make sure the whole fucking world finds out within 12 hours of China receiving the inquiry. We tell them that the broadcasting of Our inquiry is not to pressure them (they won't believe Us), but to make the U.S of part of A. stop and take a good hard look at Us (they'll believe that.)

Here's the kicker: what the hell can the U.S. of part of A. do about it? Yeah, the options are plenty, but they boil down to just two angles: (1) let it happen and see where the chips fall or (2) step in and intercede...thus proving that We really have no self-determination, i.e., We're just their fucking and fucked colony.

Think about it. No matter who We petition, any obstructive response by the U.S. of part of A. will clearly define just how much "freedom" We have. Now Uncle Sam has a long, very long, history of being an obnoxious busybody jamming his nose in where it doesn't belong, and in Our case, the temptation to do so will overwhelm rationality. The best response would be to let Our petition slide by, unremarked, and back-door a response to China in 4 pages of ambassador-speak that boils down to "No way, but with the right offer..."

And why would the U.S. of part of A. entertain "an offer"? Why not? Since 1898, no territory on the continent or off of it has ever waited 116 years (and counting...to infinity) for statehood. Hell, it took the Oklahoma Territory until 1907 only because it was given as a sop to Native Americans and when Congress got tired of that charade, they scattered the remaining tribes someplace else. Statehood for Puerto Rico is as likely as smoking being the only cure for cancer. 

I once said Cuba had a better chance of becoming a state (closer to the mainland, larger than PR, still has exploitable resources, slaps communism down and many stateside Cubans are wealthy businesspeople) and now I'd toss in Panama, too (the Canal and its shipping-crucial access). Puerto Rico no longer has any military value in this age of 2,000-mile ranged missiles, drones and subs that can circle the planet without coming up for anything. Would it be a threat to the U,S, of part of A. to have a Chinese province in the Caribbean? Yeah, but so fucking what? They've had a Communist island-nation barely 100 miles away since 1959, so yeah, they can get over it.

Once again, We're back to why China would want Us. Here's My final point on this: We won't know unless We ask. Like many great deals, this one could come about from imagination, seizing opportunity or sheer chutzpah.

Then there is this: al jazeera article.
Al-Jazeera loves to pretend objectivity while slashing away with hidden agenda razors. As with Our media, both gringa and boricua, I take the "Uh-huh, Let's see what unfurls" stance. The article is not bad, it's just not good enough to be truly useful.

Tourism? Maybe, if Puerto Rico could - in terms of land mass - sustain it, it would be more along the lines of creating jobs for the Chinese migrants to take.
So? It would mean an influx of people who want build a new life/career on Our soil, bolstered by Chinese investment, with a common goal of making Our island better. What's the downside? That We'd have to learn Chinese? Puh-lease. We haven't learned English in 116 years (and counting), so My over/under on Chinese is in the 4-digit range.
Immigration is one of the few truly productive economic forces, provided the process is largely even-handed. We're losing folks at a rate of some 260,000 a year, many of them well-prepared and capable. It would be nice to turn that outflow around, even if the inflow is just "filling gaps," a notion that makes enormous sense for a culture that currently has one way into PR: working as an indentured employee in Our version of Chinese restaurants.

There must be hundreds of thousands of Chinese who would love a chance to make a new life for themselves and their families, away from the regimented policies of their home districts, but still within a disciplined system. And as for taking jobs away from Us, puh-lease. We're too bumfuck lazy and coddled to pick coffee or clean streets or do heavy manual labor because, you know, We're boricuas pa' que tú lo sepas. The Chinese wouldn't be "stealing" jobs: they'd be doing the jobs My Brethren think are beneath them. That's called "the immigrant experience" and it has happened for centuries around the world.

The hidden part in all this: the Chinese will eventually force Us to work harder and better, because they play a long game and We don't. It's only a matter of time before their vision starts pushing Us aside. Is this a bad thing? No. Since We haven't learned that We can do things on Our own without sucking on Uncle Sam's dic--tatorial fiats, We'll have to learn to do it by watching the Chinese come here, learn Our ways and beat Us on Our own playing field. They've already done a good job with eateries: I'm betting they can teach Us a lot more.

About My original tourism point, We're no longer the #1 U.S. of part of A. tourism destination in the Caribbean. We have the potential to receive about 9 million tourists a year and We're barely in the 3.8 million visitor range (the Dominican Republic gets more European tourists than We get total tourists). The thing is, a large chunk of gringos are just passing through to what they think are more interesting destinations. Can We get 3 million Chinese to drop in every year, as a start? Just 3 million from a "market" that's probably in the 275-350 million range...and growing? Shit, even Our feckless hyena horde of a government can set something up that can manage those paltry numbers. Then the Chinese come in, play their game and ramp it up to world-class status in a decade. Economic progress ensues.

And you can not forget to note that although they have invested money into Africa, they did not actually colonize it (or express an interest in doing so). For lack of need, want or capacity...
I haven't forgotten that. What the Chinese have done with this general policy is three-fold: (1) Provide financing where Western nations/institutions have refused; (2) Secured strong(er) positions on key resources, and (3) Provided an outlet for Chinese rural workers unable to participate in their country's growing but still localized (urban) economy.

Many of China's investments in Africa have been of the "We'll do everything" type, from financing to workers, support crews, shipping and logistics. When finished, they leave. The reasons range from practical and economical to political and cultural, but a key point is: none of the African countries they have invested in is truly stable. That's why they were able to get in in the first place, but that's a good reason to stay out afterwards.

Puerto Rico is not Africa, or at least, not like post-colonial African countries in strife. We're a colony, but We have an economic and political stability that matches that of South Africa, for example. If the Chinese could find a way to invest strongly in South Africa, they would jump at it, for an opportunity like that combines stability and safety. Puerto Rico would represent a stable and safe investment environment, modeled on U.S. of part of A. practices, thus allowing a new way of exploring business options within the largest export market China has (single nation, as the European Union is larger).

It is nice to entertain possibilities, but at the end of the day you need to be realistic about what is probable.
Here's the thing, Cap: I am being realistic. Very much so. At the risk of beating the dusty remains of a dead horse: statehood for Puerto Rico is not going to happen, ever. Ever. Period.

Here's another stark reality: Our "Let them make the choice" attitude is fucking stupid. "They" don't want to choose, don't care to choose, can't be bothered to even think about choosing what Our new status should be.

One more: Our idea that We can force them to change Our status is even more fucking stupid. They hold almost all the cards and they know it. They also have the wallet that too many of My Brethren worship. "Force" them? Yeah, that's like tugging a warship with a wet noodle.

Another one: We don't believe We can go it alone. No: We are terrified of even trying to go it alone. Like children, We romp and prance and pretend, but when it comes time to act like an adult and take on the risks and responsibilities thereof, We hide beneath Uncle Sam's skirt or bury Our faces in Our hands. That's fucking pathetic, but it's reality, pure and simple.

So what's left, Captain? The U.S. of part of A. doesn't want Us in their over-valued republic, We don't want to take Our rightful place as a nation on the world stage and We are nothing but a fucking and fucked colony. What's left is to make Our decision and find another partner/owner, because nothing more will satisfy Us. That means We hitch Our little wagon behind some other horse's ass, but choosing one that at least feels happier about Our load.



Yes, We could petition Spain, again, but have you seen their economy? How about Germany, the banker of Europe? But have you seen their investment policies in foreign economies? Japan was once an expansive economic powerhouse and that was the first choice of this idea back in the 1980s. (Yes, the 1980s.) Now Japan is a shell and they need immigrants, not the other way around.

Go ahead: pick an economy somewhere in the world and compare it to China. Because that's what it boils down to: economics. My Brethren have always based their votes on their wallets and purses and live in the fantasy world of political bullshit that promises many rich trappings and delivers mainly bitch slappings.

Realistic? I'm all over realistic. It's the rest of Us that are tripeando con kechup.



The Jenius Has Spoken.


P.S. - Doing research after writing this post--I am a Jenius, you know--I encountered this Mike Robles post hinting that the U.S. of part of A.holds  on to Us to avoid massive China investment here. His angle is more "shot in the dark" witty than "pie in the sky" solution, but it has its own charm. And I borrowed the dual flag pin above from his site, so thanks, Mike.

[Update: 6 December 2014: Hey, gringos, wake the hell up! "The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is no longer the leading economic power on the planet."]

19 November 2014

It's Not News, It's Crap, And My Brethren (Refuse To) Know It

About every 3 months, someone criticizes Me for not watching local news, listening to local talk radio shows and/or not reading a local paper in print or digital format. I don't bother with any of it so that 95-98% of the year, I promenade through life in quieter contemplation of more important things. Which is pretty much everything.

Now some people might think But the news is about important stuff. (Yes, these are the kind of people who would say "important stuff." Therefore, I pity them, but I keep a poker face.) My cogent and erudite response to that is: It's all crap.

Period.

Example: A good friend and colleague of Mine, someone who I often disagree with, but find his positions largely defensible and understandable, swears that one can only understand Puerto Rico by listening to talk radio and reading the daily papers. He has a minor point: if you want to know how and why My Island is being screwed like a cheap whore in a crack house, then yes, you do need to listen to local asshats and read the sophomoric words written by local asswipes. (There are exceptions in both categories, but they don't even achieve a Pareto Rule level of 20%, falling closer to 10%, if that.) But if you want to grok My Island, to see beyond the crapfest slung daily, you have no other choice but to avoid the local media.

I'm on record, several times, as calling Our level of """journalism""" essentially sheep-like, with more similarities to sheep dung than to the woolly beast itself. Take TV news, please. (Ba-dum-bum!) Anchors here are like anchors in the U.S of part of A.: photogenic monkeys plastered in make-up. The field reporters are often stupid enough to start grazing if they fall on a lawn, but make up for their lack of intellect by being willing puppets to whatever power-that-be wants to play them. Again, there are exceptions, but the ones I can pinpoint to on My Island are no longer with the major TV stations, plying their trade on much smaller newscasts and on websites, distant from the masses.

If there's a category that defines crap, at every imaginable level, it is pundits, the folks lumped together as so-called so-called so-called experts, three magnitudes removed from any type of intelligence higher than that shown by retarded weasels with alcohol poisoning. These wretched morons, on TV, radio and in newspaper columns, are incapable of stringing coherent thoughts together unless it is in service of some controlling agenda, whether it is related to party politics, political agendas or socioeconomic objectives that the "haves" want to impose on the "have nots."

Now I'm implying that there is some sort of mindfulness behind all this, and that's correct. But it doesn't appear n the media, at least not directly ad not often. No, the public role of the media is to shovel crap in massive quantities at the gaping maws of mindless indifference that constitutes the greater majority of My Brethren. Folks who slap on talk radio in the morning, peruse the paper during the day (to avoid work and/or stay current with gossip) and then watch TV news in the evening. Whatever that percentage is, and it's well above 50% of Our adults, it's nothing more than a misinformed herd of passive beasts causing all of Us long-term harm. And if you think "misinformed herd of passive beasts" is harsh, My first draft read "walking bags of useless stupid shit," so, yeah, I have a gentle side.

For the past two years, I've kept track of predictions that My friend and colleague have made about local issues, from taxes and prices to status debates and political machinations. We sat down recently to go over the list, and after agreeing on 27 topics We had made some sort of prediction on, We verified who was closer to the actual end result.

No surprise: I was closer on 18 to his 9. It should be noted that on purely economic issues, We were both right on 6 of 9 predictions, albeit different ones. But in political matters, I was more prescient on 12 of 19, while he was on point on only three, even though he claims to be non-partisan and thus "objective" in his evaluation of political arguments.

Is he going to stop listening to talk radio? No. But I got him to admit that he often listens because it "entertains" him more than it informs him.

One down, about a million and a half to go.

Crap.



The Jenius Has Spoken.


[Update: 6 December 2014: Via Eric Zuesse, of Washington's Blog, this scythe to the collective sheep-brain: the media in the U.S. of part of A. is extremely controlled.]

12 November 2014

Keep Calm, 'Cause It's My Birthday!

Once again it's that tiME of the year when people coME together to celebrate in brotherhood and share good will with all of Me. 'Cause Let's be clear, it's all about Me.

That's why I registered with about 65 websites that have automatic birthday MEssages. Fills My Inbox with birthday cheer like an avalanche of candy makes Halloween. All those MEssages simply reinforce the notion that, hey, the focus is on Me. And no, I don't read any of the other crap they send Me the rest of the year.

Now unlike most of you, I don't limit My Birthday celebration to such a blink-of-tiME as a MEre "day." Nuh-uh. I crank up the celebrating in early December and let it build moMEntum with judicious prodding in February, April, June and August. It then hits high gear in September and takes off as "Birthday Bash" mode after Mrs. Jenius ignores hers on October 13th. So yeah, it's a big deal, year-round.

I tell strangers when My Birthday is. Makes them pause, and about half smile. That's okay: the half that doesn't smile isn't invited to the wrap party in July. Their loss.

I've gotten free stuff by wearing My "Birthday Boy" blue ribbon, mostly coffee. Best part: even when I 'fess up and say it isn't My Birthday, most of the time I still get free coffee. I say it's 'cause the party is hearty, but Mrs. Jenius says it's 'cause people want to get rid of weirdos quietly. Huh.

As for why the "Keep Calm" part, it ain't about the posters, despite the scattered evidence here. It's more about My Attitude over the past few months. If I were to give it a recipe I'd say it's 2 parts frustration, 3 parts disgust, one part concern, 3 parts anger and one part hope. And that's the problem right there, Kemosabe: just one part hope. Used to be more. Ain't that much now.

At times I focus on the "one part concern," 'cause it isn't indifference. If it were, We wouldn't be having this discussion and I could spend more tiME yakking about My Birthday proper. But the feeling remains, and though feelings are not facts, feelings are real and reality in My Mind is that My Island is in danger.

But hey! It's My Birthday, as you may have noticed, and what's the point of partying if We're going to harsh buzzes with reality! Forget about that! Let's! Party!

And yet... I have to remind Myself to stay the course, to keep looking for the bright side. Used to be automatic; it isn't now.

I catch Myself shrugging at things that used to cause outrage. I then kick the outrage lever to make sure I don't fall into indifference. Used to be automatic.

'Cause I've lived in 20+ places in My Life, I don't attach too much MEaning to any one of them. Except My Island. Until I wrote that, I hadn't realized that to feel the same way took an effort. Used to be...you know.

So yeah, it's My Birthday! Capitalized like every holiday should, except for Arbor Day. So raise a cheer, to Me if you feel so inclined (and thank you!), but raise a cheer to yourself, to your loved ones and to everything you care about.

Yeah, My Brethren, things here are tough, but Keep Calm and celebrate My Birthday, Yours, and Everyone else's, as well. But in all that celebratin', Let's not forget that things are tough, and that they won't get better by partying on and letting them continue to slide.

There isn't that much farther they can go, MEaning We've pretty much hit rock bottom.

Keep Calm. It's My Birthday!

And let's keep working on making My Next Birthday even better.

Please.



The Jenius Has Spoken.






05 November 2014

Puerto Rico's New Tax """Reform""" Explained

This won't take long...

We currently have a Sales/Use Tax, called IVU locally, equivalent to 7%, with 5.5% being "national" and 1.5% being "municipal." Now some municipalities don't charge the 1.5%, or do so to a lesser extent, so the effective rate can vary from 5.5% to 7%, except when the defective excuse for a pimple-headed (mis)government We have cancels the whole shebang when a storm threatens 380 miles away and people then go nuts buying flat-screen Sonys.

Now the IVU tax is applied at retail/use, but in effect, as I predicted looooong ago (you can look it up), the price impact was not 7% or even 8%, but actually 13.2% overall. Why? Because taxing things causes economic friction that consumers ultimately have to pay for. It's one of the very few things economists really know and can prove.

And the IVU tax did not--repeat: did not--generate the expected/projected revenue. Why? Taxing anything--even whoring--causes economic activity to decline and the local economy went cash-centric so fast it made flea markets sprout like mushroom. In essence, the underground economy got better, another trend The Jenius predicted.

Now the """tax reform""" intends to change the Sales/Use tax using a Value-Added Tax, to be called IVA, applied not only at the back-end (retailer and consumer), but at the front end as well (importer and wholeseller).

The idea, according to the pimple-headed peabrains further mucking Our Future up is to generate more revenue for them to pocket and waste egregiously. It's what they do. What they claim, with faces as straight as a pendejo can ever get, is that this will actually help the economy.

Do tell.

That's like claiming that adding pus to coffee makes it café con leche.

With a tax applied from import all the way to retail, one to be collected at every stage, these disgusting excuses for humanity carefully avoid stating the obvious: prices will rise. They have to, because no one in the supply chain is going to take a loss when they can pass it on to the next link. And the ultimate payee is Us, the consumer. Again and again and again.

Welcome to Our New Economy, which won't last long because We now have a new tax on oil that the pimple-headed pricks have used to issue more debt and there's talk of actually increasing the percentages of the current IVU.

Oh, you thought the IVA would replace the IVU? No no no no, it will be added.

And yet, the pimple-headed pus-dripping pukefaces still pretend like Our economy will be rocketed upward, like nitro in Our fuel tank.

Beating a metaphor to death: Our fuel tank is ripped, Our engine blew out long ago and the """"pilots"""" are worse than cross-eyed leeches when it comes to making progress.




The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 October 2014

Pick A Problem, Any Problem

Woke up a little earlier than usual and sat on the balcony. I'd made coffee and while I waited for it to cool, I took in the unfamiliar scene of My Street coming to life just past dawn.

I thought about health centers seeking federal funds and how to expand their reach to under-served communities, a task made more problematic by the lack of doctors and nurses. According to a 2013 study, We have 18% fewer doctors for every 10,000 people than We did in 2005.

I thought about the declining performance of Our public schools and how several efforts were being made to expand classroom offerings to include art, music, theater and dance. The main obstacle was, as ever, the Department of (Mis)Education, mummified in stupidity and centralized to the point of jamming its own moronic head up its own fetid cloaca.

I sipped some coffee.

A local agricultural cooperative was trying to come up with a revenue stream that could sustain small farm and ranch efforts. Their primary focus was federal funds, but the bureaucracy to qualify for proper registrations was apparently going to take another 4-8 months, extending the effort into its second year. The members, down to 17 from a high of 39, were close to letting the whole thing fade away. Like the other four cooperatives did, all of them overwhelmed by red tape measured in miles and months rather than pixels and minutes.

More coffee.

Should I blog about Our misbegotten excuse for an economy? Political claptrap? The continued collapse of what passes for journalism on My Island? The impending meltdown of Our infrastructure?

Finished the coffee. Sat for a few minutes, with other problems flitting in and out of the picture I was trying to make sense of. The minutes became longer as the list grew.

Can't solve them all, or even most of them. Not by Myself.
Ann Marie Sastry

So I picked one.

Got to work.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll sleep late.



The Jenius Has Spoken.



14 October 2014

Power(balling) Our Economy, Boricua Style

Look, it's no secret My island is deep in debt. Bankrupt, even. Forty-plus years of political pillaging stacked atop a colonial economy trying to play 3D chess with tic-tac-toe tools and a populace more focused on gossip and innuendo than gains and innovation makes for a sad portrait of heavily-despairing economic distress.

So what does the syphilitic hyena pack of an excuse for an alleged government We have (elected) do to try to clean up the fetid muck of Our economy? Powerball Us.


Yes, Powerball. A lottery. Or in Our case, another lottery that balls Us.

No, Let's be precise: another fucking lottery.

We have the traditional Puerto Rican lottery, sold mainly by elderly folks sitting on stools outside supermarkets, mall entrances, drug stores and alongside roads with major traffic. We have scratchers, with maybe two dozen variants, all of them with prizes that almost certainly don't match the printed odds. (Am I implying that the government is cheating Us? Hell yeah I am. Try to find the actual payout data on these scratch lottery games. Go ahead.)

We have the Pega 3 and Pega 4 to go with the Loto Electrónica, a Pick 6 game. These are now twice a day, so you can get your gaming fix a little more often. Yeah.

Then We have that abortion of fiscal policy known as the "IVU Loto," a lottery based on the sales tax. We already know this lamebrain excuse for a tax collection system is corrupt, so Let's move on, shall We?

Just to be thorough, I'll add the illegal numbers game known as bolita, played by many of My Brethren and the reason Pega 3 was introduced. If you count scratchers as individual games of $1-$5 each, We have 10 legal lotteries ($1, $2, $3, $4, $5, traditional, Pega 3, Pega 4, Electrónica and IVU Loto; you're welcome, staheooders...) and bolita. So in an """economic policy""" that can only be ascribed to the "cheaper by the dozen" school of useless blathering (a.k.a. economics), We now have Powerball.

Of course, to make it different from Loto Electrónica, it has to be BIGGER, BOLDER and MORE LOADED with MONEY. Our Powerball is linked to other Powerball lotteries Stateside, proving that (1) politicians in other places are also greedy bottom feeders and (2) taxes on stupidity have huge participants.

Lotteries have been accurately described as "taxes on stupidity" because they prey on people who eschew rationality and common sense in favor of being consumer drones. Or to state it briefly, folks who choose stupid over smart. The sales pitch for these games is basically "Why not you?" to which the smart response is "Because it's not bloody likely, pal." The irrational, knee-jerk absence of thought reaction is "Yeah, why not?" To which the numbers reply: "It's not bloody likely, pal."


Here's the short version, for Loto Electrónica (Pick 6, numbers from 1 to 42): 6/42 x 5/41 x 4/40 x 3/39 x 2/38 x 1/37. Let Wikihow give you the basic process while I give you the end result: 1 in 5,263,158.

You have 1 chance in 5,263,158 of winning the $2 million prize. (The Powerball format has even worse odds.) And have you noticed that the chances exceed the prize by more than 2-to-1? In casinos, that's called "the house's edge," but in state-run lotteries, it's called "even better stealing from the stupid." .

People play lotteries for "the easy win," and the ads for these games play right into that fantasy. Yes, somebody is going to win the prize--eventually--but the odds clearly say that millions of players will lose and mostly one will win. Now realistically, what group do you think you will be in: the millions who play and lose or the handful that wins?

Most people think they will be in the "lucky handful." That's stupid. And they pay for the privilege of being so stupid.

And Our government--hack cough retch--feeds ravenously off Our stupid people. We vote them in, let them run Our Island into the proverbial wretched hell of financial insolvency and We keep throwing money best used for Our growth to temporarily line their colons. (Yeah, I'm implying that they are shitting Our money away.)

Instead of seeking solutions that call for Us to take clear-eyed stock of where We are and start making the hard choices needed to get on track, We are told to bend over 'cause the Powerballing is about to begin!

To quote a funny guy from long ago: I wish I had a tank.



The Jenius Has Spoken.


07 October 2014

A Jenius Solution To The Puerto Rico Status Problem

Puerto Rico should become a province of China.

The Jenius could stop right there and let My Brethren debate that simple statement, but given the pajas mentales that pass for political debate on My Island, I'll have to provide some context.

First, Let's dismiss the long-suffered fartfest spewed by the three major gangs/herds that address Our status issue. The statehooder party's drooling solution is to bellyflop north and kneel to beg Uncle Sam to shove his Big Co...ngress into Our ass...ociated free state in exchange for nothing but an already-paid for bill of goods. Commonwealthers don't offer a solution--they claim one is already in place, the morons--and offer instead a whiny pitiful plea of "Gimme more" while offering nothing in exchange, an effort reminiscent of nothing better than a tired bulimic whore with a bored pimp. And the independence party checked out two decades ago and can only be bothered to stir their collective shit-for-brains ridiculousness every 4 years when the election gravy train spits out those so-terribly-"""hated""" U.S. of part of A. dollars that they guzzle down exactly like a dog eats its own vomit.

Done and done and done. Since none of these gangs/herds is aimed anywhere near finding a solution, the idea of Puerto Rico becoming a province of China can take a step forward and become a true topic of debate.

The salient points are:

1) The U.S. of part of A. doesn't want Us. For a recap of whys, just click the "Status" label in the word-cloud on the right, enter "status" or "statehood" in The Jenius Search box or Google "Jenius statehood". The arguments you'll find are drop-dead undeniable and spot-on correct. (Spoiler alert: Statehood for Puerto Rico will never happen. Ever. Full disclosure: I am 100% right on this.)

2) Given Point 1, We are more attractive to China. It is simply common sense, but look beyond the obvious. Despite its insular mentality (a trait shared by almost every country in history and particularly prevalent on islands...ahem), China is not adverse to extending its influence and even its borders to secure advantages. The country has long been a serious investor in Africa and a canny investor in North America, Europe and especially Asia.



Although a Caribbean foothold would have been a better deal a few years ago, when China was just beginning its booming phase, it is still an economic, political and even social coup. China would gain a new province, easily-controlled (this is realpolitik here, not fartfesting) through economic means and yet still a province with tremendous growth potential...for China's interests. As nearly every major decision in China is based on economics, power and preserving stability, adding Puerto Rico as a province largely fits the dominant decision-making scheme.

3) Puerto Rico's democracy is not threatening to China. We have democracy like riots have tear gas: as an occasional reminder that order should be preserved. If the purpose of democracy is to allow the people a truly representative voice in government, We have failed. Our shit-faced excuse for a government is like a slow-motion riot, with pillaging, plundering and sacking galore. So We need to tear gas these hyenas, over and over again, to wrench order from criminal chaos. Or, better yet (according to Our local zeitgeist), have someone do it for Us.

But what to My Eyes appears to be a fubar failure is a framework for success to Chinese eyes: a power class acting with feeble restraint upon a population too distracted, indifferent and uncaring to truly scrutinize their actions. Toss in a subservient media, lapdogs of power when not being truly venial, and you have a colony China can absorb without much trouble.

Unlike Hong Kong, which most Jenius readers know but My Brethren mostly don't, is currently having massive protests demanding more democracy, Puerto Rico would be less-inclined to massive riots so long as gossip-slander TV shows, subsidized beer and a month of paid holidays a year were still in play.

4) Economic potential and control are win-win-wins. The U.S. of part of A. has pretty much maxed out its investment here. China has enormous cash reserves and a need to spread its footprint around the world. When We petition Our colonial masters for the chance to become a Chinese province, the short version of their response will be: "No way--Well, if it's what you want--Your decision is final--Sorry to see you go."

Pro forma posturing and empty statements about "America", "political rights" "Founding Fathers." "compacts," "shared history," and "U.S. of part of A. interests in the Caribbean" will cover up not-so-secret meetings with China, essentially along the lines of "Take them away and keep the economy open." Done deal.

Uncle Sam will dick Us again pretending one thing and doing another, but in the end, China will get a platform in the New World, the U.S. of part of A. will still be able to rake in the dollars, albeit at a lower rate (but with fewer expenses and a more open--read "unrestricted"--economic environment) and We will be on the receiving end of billions upon billions of yuan/dollars.


Remember: Chinese culture opts for the long-term view. This isn't a lottery with a one-time payout: this is major investing for at least 25-30 years. And as for the control, yes the Chinese government will take control of Our economy, but so fucking what? We've never--never--had control of it and if We really cared about that, We would have done something about it already. Let's for once skip the hypocrisy and match words to actions, okay?

5) Yes, they are Communists and We are not. Big deal. China learned with Hong Kong that a hands-off approach can work, but expecting a culture change to adopt perceived retrograde control is too much to manage. With Puerto Rico, they have a colony with far fewer resources than Hong Kong (money-wise) and a built-in, "better level" safety net: moving Stateside. That means that most of the local population will be easily managed so long as economic conditions--controlled by the Communist government in a way not applicable to Hong Kong--provide at least a reasonable facsimile of opportunity.

Add to that this key point: the growing middle class in China's growing economy  is estimated to be about 310 million people, or roughly the population of the U.S. of part of A. Here's the one-word big-ass benefit you can focus on: tourism. Yeah, you got it.

China would do almost nothing detrimental to Our government, except make the Communist Party the ruling power. All Our parties would disappear, with maybe a few years of independentista resurgence. But like a bubble, it will pop on its own and leave only an oily slick behind. New parties would emerge, centered on a diversity of interests, a process that China would encourage as it uses Our natural lack of affinity with each other to stay divided. And within a decade, when the local economy is booming, the population drops to about 2.5 million (yes, many people will leave, but they're leaving anyway) and the China Province of the Caribbean experiment proves successful,  the """political""" debate on this point will practically define "moot."


Robert Heinlein once wrote in a novel that Hong Kong and Puerto Rico would form part of a 52-state U.S. of part of A. I nodded at Hong Kong and giggled at Puerto Rico. The best way to make something happen for yourself, when you can't make it happen by yourself, is to pit people's ambitions on you against each other. In short, a bidding war. In Our case, the current owner of My Island will bid only enough to make it seem like it wants the property, but is really only driving up the price. As for the winning bidder, all We have to do is keep reminding China that the U.S. of part of A. took over 50 years and two World Wars to turn Us into the paper tiger of Latin America. If We bet then they can't do better in 30 years, do you think they'll play to lose?

I don't.

I know the current puppet masters here and there play to win only for themselves. But as a province of China, "their" win is really and truly "Our" win. And We haven't been able to say that about Our current colonial shafting in well over 30 years...



The Jenius Has Spoken.


[Update: 23 Oct 2014: Reinforcing the economic argument, China has become the world's #1 economy in production, Look at the list and marvel at how Indonesia has moved up to #9, replacing Great Britain.]

03 October 2014

Observations On 3 Men I See Almost Every Day

There are three men I see almost every day. One of them, the one I encounter most often, spends 9-14 hours a day at the light near McDonald's, asking for money. He is invariably polite, fairly well-dressed in skateboarder faux-chic and offers quick advice, such as "Drive calmly" and "See the good around you." He is an admitted drug addict, looks the part, and I suspect he's using again.

The second sits on steps outside a couple of local stores night after night and aggressively asks for a quarter or half a dollar. He acts churlish if you give him a soft answer. There are no needle tracks on his arms, he seems well-fed and healthy, his eyes and skin are clear. If prompted to speak, he will quickly shift from a hard tone to a wheedling nasal whine, the proto-bully quickly morphing into victim mode. He once tried to block My path to re-ask for a dollar. I was carrying several small bags after leaving the drug store and maybe based on that, he made a move at Me. I dropped the bags and took a step forward. His eyes locked with Mine and he took off, nearly getting creamed by a passing car. He doesn't talk to Me anymore.

The third appears at the light where Our local two large supermarkets intersect with a hardware store. He is very quiet, rarely speaking. Tall, he looks like a junior college shooting guard. He wears a cap and fairly fashionable sneakers. He makes eye contact with about half the people in cars, but never reacts when he gets ignored or turned down. He'll spend 2-3 hours a day at that, sometimes skipping a day, but usually not more than 2 in a row.

I'm sure the first one, call him Juan, is essentially homeless. However, he bathes twice a day, using a friend's house for that. The second guy, call him Edward, is not homeless, but he pretends to be. He has keys in his pocket and I once saw him use one of them to enter a local apartment building. The third guy, call him Luis, is not homeless. He lives across from the local gun range, the one that punctuates My days with distant pop-pop-pop or rattatatatat sounds from morning to night.

Are they lazy? Not really. They seem to work hard for their money, to almost-quote a disco goddess. Juan sometimes sells produce at "his" light, or hands out flyers, scrupulously limiting the handouts to one per person. Edward acts like work is punishment. Luis seems indifferent to work or anything other than his own thoughts.

Are they addicts? Juan was and probably has fallen back into that lifestyle. (Yes, it is a lifestyle, based on choice. Not a good one, but a choice nonetheless.) Edward and Luis don't fit the profile, at least physically. I'd say the odds are against either one being addicted to illegal drugs.

Are they useless? Most of the arguments against helping the homeless or those begging at large are based on (a) they deserve their situation, (b) they could get out of it if they wanted to and (c) they are simply parasites seeking more to freeload on. All three arguments are wrong, as most blanket statements tend to be.

No one "deserves" anything: it is either earned or imposed. Does a person "deserve" cancer, even if they smoke 2 packs a day? Actions and decisions have consequences, and many of them are accidental. Yes, you are more likely to end up homeless if you are an addict, but did the person "deserve" to be an addict?

The problem with "deserve" is that it implies a direct causal relationship where none might exist. Most people who end up homeless do so from events far beyond their control, so no, they didn't generally "deserve' it.

Unless they've been out there, living on the streets, a person will have no idea how hard it is to get out of that situation. When survival becomes the primary daily activity, how and where to get food, water, shelter and comfort (if possible), notions of "upward progress" are not options. Even if you wanted to climb out of that abyss and live a "normal" life, you would find it hard to take care of yourself, search for a job, rent an apartment or do any of the myriad things a person takes for granted when survival is not an immediate concern.

As for parasites, there is a large degree of that in folks who panhandle and beg. But job and work options are often denied to people who most need it because they look slovenly (having no place for shelter and to bathe does have its consequences),.have no permanent address or valid I.D. and have difficulty adhering to a schedule since, you know, surviving on the streets is not exactly subject to workshift patterns.

Does this excuse someone like Edward? Hell no. He's a punk with the chutzpah to con money out of people rather than making a living. I don't know about Luis, but I know Juan will work if you ask him to. I've seen it several times and he delivers to the best of his ability every time. But he won't accept being treated like a bum. He was selling newspapers for two weeks and the agent tried to keep the gas money Juan earned  (about $22 all told) because, of course, Juan doesn't own a car. So Juan quit.

If you react like Juan should have kept his trap shut and thus keep his menial job, you are a blithering idiot. Would you have taken that "deal"? Of course not. You won't let someone brazenly steal your money like that. And if you say "Yes, I would have," you are both a blithering idiot and a liar.

Our problem with the homeless, the panhandlers and the beggars is not them: it's Us. We act like their situation is a personal failing when in fact, it is Our collective failure as a society. We have failed to provide enough opportunities, enough support, for everyone to find their path to stability.

Can We "save" everyone? Hell no. Some people are self-destructive and there's nothing We can do to stop someone who simply insists on wrecking their life with alcohol (by far the most common addiction), drugs, violence, video games or any other of the thousands of potential obsessions humans can focus on.

But We can help more of Us by developing the kind of society that fosters self-growth, self-motivation and rewards honest effort fairly. Yes, I know I'm asking for My Island to change almost exponentially, but asking for less is part of the problem: We ask for less because We really don't think We deserve more.

That sucks.

As for what I'll do with the three guys I've mentioned: I'll still give Juan rides to and from his friend's house when the opportunity arises and maybe buy him a burger on the days he's selling produce; I'll wat to see of Edward is anything but a punk, and I'll watch Luis a couple of times to see what his deal is.

Can I help more than I am doing now? Certainly. Do I want to? Depends on what's needed and how much effort I have to make to pitch in and lend a hand. No one can truly help another if that help exceeds the capacity for helping. In other words, if it doesn't cost Me much, I'll make the effort.

It won't be enough, I know, but at least it's honest.



The Jenius Has Spoken.



30 September 2014

Some Things Gotta Be Said

Long. Live. Stupidity.

However:


Example the First: The "Proto-Weasel," Our misbegotten ungovernor Alejandro García, is uncaptain of a badly-sinking ship, with Us as the long-suffering passengers. The Proto-Weasel, whose face always looks like he really wants to be evil but his mommy won't let him, allegedly hand-picked a wormy Cabinet from the dregs of pseudo-talented parasites and is now watching as plenty of them are running away so fast the vacuum threatens to suck the paint off La Fortaleza. The stupidity is rampant, but just thinking that one can "fix Puerto Rico" or "make a real difference" simply by occupying the now-ungovernor's mansion is hubris at best and sub-zero IQ at worst.


Example the Second: Speaking of sub-standard IQs, enter one Ricky "Fraud Frat" Rosselló, son of the infamous corruptiongovernor Pedro "Liar Liar" Rosselló. Like smegma from a peter (or in this case, from a pedro), Reeky is a pusbag. I don't give a rat's (f)Reeky atriopore for what goes on in the bootlicking excuse called the statehood party, but the fetid rise of Reeky Fraud Frat needs to be placed in context.

A thumbnail run of the last 5 sorry wretches stinking up La Fortaleza looks like this:

1) Pedro the Liar: Pediatric surgeon, major health agency director.
2) Sila the Quitter: Mayor of San Juan, Secretary of State, major agency director.
3) Aníbal the Jellyfish: Lawyer, representative in the House, Head Beggar in Washington.
4) Luis the Larva: Lawyer, multi-agency director, Head Beggar in Washington.
5) Alejandro the Proto-Weasel: J.D. degree, Senator and major agency director.

All of those on the list, regardless of how feckless and criminal their tenures in office were (right, Liar and Jellyfish?) came in having established themselves as somewhat useful, as having at least tried to prove themselves openly. Furthermore, they came in directly beholden to a legacy that they at least said they respected. In other words, they may have been parasitic scum, but they had certain (minimal) standards.

Now Reeky Fraud Rat skitters in. His academic degree is suspect, the """paper""" he """"""wrote"""""" was merely a case of "he was a grad monkey pair of hands," he gets a cushy job at the Medical Center for which he was as qualified as Bob the Builder and it has become obvious that Reeky Fraud does not have and will not have any standard except himself.

So answer this: what could a fetid pus-addled rodent (sorry rodents) like Reeky want with La Fortaleza?

Only one thing: whatever it can get as fast as it can get it. Fuck everything else.

And the stupid excuse for a stupid party will do the stupid thing and put the stupid Reeky Fraud Rat in position to do Us stupid all the way to where the Sun was never meant to shine.


Example the Third: Because Our """journalists""" deserve that respectable title exactly as much as hyena spit does, a mini-herd of them jumped on a lickpittle hatchet job about My Island called something like "Puerto Rico: Zombie Island. This piece of shit portrays Us as swamped up to Our necks in drugs, that We are so zonked out that Our population is at risk of dying in a generation, all of it couched in language so ponderously hyperbolic and crass that if it had been about ANY other topic, My Brethren would have giggled and hooted. But because it was about Us, and We ferociously lust for any attention, even hyperbolically-stupid bullshit like this "special report" ("special" as in "Special Olympics"), first a """news team""" jumped on it with all hooves and even had the unmitigated idiocy of claiming that they had asked the ungovernor to comment on their scum-sucking wallowfest, To the Proto-Weasel's credit, he passed.

Now if he just passed out permanently, then We got something good.

So after seven and a half months, the ability to just let stupidity slide by unremarked runs out. Not that stupidity will ever end, but there's only so much of it a Jenius can take before the keyboard needs to be pecked at to keep the record straight.



The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 February 2014

The "Who Cares?" Investor Weighs In

Found this on a blog called WikiRating.

If you want the short version, skip the italics to My conclusion.


Puerto Rico Rating Downgrades: Enron Redux?
Posted on February 12, 2014  by Marc Joffe  

 On November 28, 2001 Enron lost its investment grade credit rating. Four days later, the company filed for bankruptcy. Those awaiting a similar collapse after Puerto Rico’s descent into junk bond territory last week will have to wait a lot longer to see the Commonwealth’s financial denouement.
 The relatively slow motion nature of Puerto Rico’s fiscal collapse – if, in fact, one is occurring – underscores the differences between various classes of public sector and private sector debt. It also speaks to changes in market conditions.

 As with the 2011 S&P downgrade of the US, rating agency actions had little impact on Commonwealth yields. The New York Times reported last Wednesday that the investors had shrugged off the S&P action. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Puerto Rico General Obligation debt traded at a lower yield after the Moody’s follow-on downgrade than it had earlier in the week.

 The limited impact of the ratings downgrades might be attributed to market discounting – since the rating agency actions were widely anticipated. It could also speak to the greatly reduced reputation rating agencies enjoy in the aftermath of the Enron/Worldcom scandals of the early “aughts” and the subprime fiasco of 2008.

 Unlike Enron, Puerto Rico can operate for some time without capital markets access. The Commonwealth can get by without financing because its fiscal deficits are relatively low and its debt is predominantly long term. It thus does not need that much new cash to finance ongoing operations or to roll over previous bond issues.

 But, sooner or later, Puerto Rico will have to bring new issues to market, and many doubt whether investors will be around when it does. Commonwealth-related debt accounts for about 2% of overall US municipal bonds outstanding and its fall from investment grade leaves many traditional investors out of the running. So it would appear that there is a lot of debt and not much appetite.

 In my view, this analysis misses some key institutional developments. Hedge funds and certain other classes of investors can traverse multiple markets. Further, Asian investors have accumulated billions of savings and remain on the lookout for alternatives to low yielding US Treasuries. So the constituency for Puerto Rico debt is not merely the $3.7 trillion municipal market, but a much larger audience especially if the price is right.

 Puerto Rico debt is now trading at yields much higher than that of Italy, Spain and Portugal – and is roughly on a par with Greece. In contrast to Greece, Puerto Rico is not a serial defaulter. In fact, it is part of an asset class – US state and territorial bonds – that has not seen a default in over 80 years. Further, the last default – of Arkansas in 1933 – ended in a full recovery for investors. So, from an international perspective, Puerto Rico bonds appear to offer good relative value.

 Thus if new Puerto Rico bonds are offered at 8% or 9%, I expect that they will find a bid. While coupons at that level are not fiscally sustainable, the fact that most Puerto Rico government debt is long dated means that Commonwealth interest expenses as a proportion of revenue will remain low relative to previous default cases.

 Unlike Enron or another private company, a US sub sovereign like Puerto Rico has secure revenue sources in the form of taxes and federal assistance. As Detroit has shown, insolvency is ultimately possible, but the path to ruin for a public sector debt issuer is usually a long one.


Okay, here's the skinny: it doesn't matter a farthing that Puerto Rico's debt makes it an economic example of "fiscal crisis." What really matters is that you can keep buying Our fucking bonds and make money!

The reality of Our situation is a stagnant economy racing to a collapse. But for wikiboy and his ilk, it's a profit-making bonanza!

So the solution is--obviously--switch sides! Right, wikiboy?

My valentine to y'all: Switch sides, Brethren!

After all, We got the "Who cares?" part down pat...



The Jenius Has Spoken.



10 February 2014

What Our Indifference Hath Wrought

What were you doing Saturday? Do you remember? Maybe it was fun.

Here's what The New York Times did, a piece titled "Economy and Crime Spur New Puerto Rican Exodus."

A few fillips from said piece:

* Our debt exploding to over $70 billion (it was under $28 billion in 2008).
* A downgrade of the bond-based debt to junk by Standard & Poor's and Moody's.
* Unemployment listed at 15.4%, which is as accurate as saying I'm 2'8" tall (I'm 5'10").
* Rapidly-rising cost of living, especially in terms of utilities.
* Lousy public schools.
* Rising crime.
* A pathetically-limited workforce. (The article doesn't note that the government accounts for almost 40% of all direct and indirect labor on the Island.)
* Increasing exodus, causing about a 14% population drop in the past decade.
* Increased taxes hitting small and medium-sized businesses hardest.
* A per capita income of $15,200, lower than it was in 2008 and less than half of Mississippi's.

Now if you read--or will read--My previous post, and the whore-mongered piece it is based on, you might see some of the same fillips in that """report""" as in the article. So why was I so negatively harsh on Meacham the Bicho and will be appropriately neutral on Times correspondent Lizette Alvarez?

Because Ms. Alvarez stuck to the facts while Carl El Pendejo Republicano is trying to stick it to Us.

Look, I won't argue the facts. My Island is ears-deep in a shithole and no amount of demagoguery is going to erase that reality. But being stuck in a horrible situation is a far cry from saying that those who seek to remove themselves from it will fuck up another country.

Carl's mom may be Chilean and he may speak fluent Spanish, but that doesn't give Carl Mama-Bicho any special insight to what We are in Puerto Rico, who We are as Puerto Ricans or what We are capable of as individuals or a people looking to make progress. He is entitled to his opinion, but when he acts to make that opinion some sort of policy prediction and hires a spineless troll to try to give it legitimacy, he is wrong, he is an asshole and he is worthy only of Our most blistering contempt.

As for the spineless troll cum economist-for-hire Joaquín Villamil, the sooner he drowns in his own slippery scum, the better.

Beyond that, here's the bottom line: We are in this shithole because We let it happen. I repeat: We. Let. It. Happen. It's Our fault. 

We let the Fools play Us and far too many of Us cheered them on. We let the Fools rob Us of Our present and future and cheered on the ones We saw as being "Our thieves" and voted against those We saw as "their thieves." 

We bought the shit sandwich that government jobs were economic growth and that party politics mean more than economic and social progress. And We allowed a double-handful of blood-sucking parasites to multiply into a veritable army of insatiable leeches gnawing at every level of society.

We let it happen. Our bad.

But that doesn't mean that We are now in the business of being drug-addled criminals, Carlambetranca. As Ms. Alvarez noted in her article, much of Our recent exodus is from the middle-class and with professional occupations. People who take their kids and parents and are moving to the States with what little money they can recover from selling in a true buyer's market. Folks who want to build, to create, to forge a new life for themselves and the next generation. People who simply want the chance to do what they were trained, educated and prepared for. 

Will as many as one million of My Brethren leave Puerto Rico, flooding into states beyond Florida, Texas, New York and New Jersey? It's possible. Not likely, but possible.

And will this influx be a crime wave smacking the U.S. of part of A. shores like a hurricane?

No. 

It will be an influx of people focused on making a better life because there's a chance, a decent chance, that things will get better in 10-12 years and coming back to the Island will then become a reasonable option. It happened before: the 1940s-1950s exodus of Puerto Ricans to the States is the example--the only example that matters. The situation is virtually the same, a mass of workers looking to create a stronger and brighter future for themselves. The vast majority of these folks aimed to work and most of them made their mark in a positive fashion. To ignore that historical tendency is to be willfully blind.

Then again, willfully blind is the default ocular stance of Republicans like Carl "Mamao" Meacham.

And sadly, of Us when it comes to making sure the Fools aren't raping what We have and need for a better future.



The Jenius Has Spoken.


07 February 2014

Beware Our Cooties

"But the Puerto Rican economy does matter for the United States—and particularly for U.S. security. Given the island’s proximity and ties to the United States—not to mention the perennial (and highly controversial) debate over Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. commonwealth and the ease of entering the United States once on the island—drug trafficking and violent crime in Puerto Rico have direct implications for U.S. security policy in the region. In the absence of a healthy economy and given the shrinking private sector in Puerto Rico, the growth of informal activities—drug trafficking and organized crime chief among them—is the unfortunate consequence."

That little fillip comes from a recent publication titled "Shit! The 'Ricans Are Comin'!" The actual title of the butt-wiper is "Why Puerto Rico's Economy Matters for U.S. Security," written by local economist José Villamil and with a forward by the above-quoted Carl Meacham.

The report was issued in last week just as the junk-bond bomb of Our overwhelming debt was starting to become a palpable reality to folks who are too dense to absorb news other than from Our gossip-rag media, lamebrain talk radio or the corner bar.

The report itself is a typical Villamil production: up-to-date with data, leaning more on style than substance and the finest expression of the economist-as-whore. When you pay Villamil to write a report for you, he writes the report you want. Satisfying clients is very high on the Villamil short-list of priorities.

As an example of his sloppiness as window tint, here's this quote, from page 5: "Even this complacency came to an abrupt end in 2005, when rating agencies raised an alarm concerning the high level of appropriations debt with no source of repayment. And in May of the following year, the Puerto Rican government had to close for two weeks because of budgetary difficulties."

Notice how the bond debt crisis is juxtaposed directly with the government shutdown, a gross over-simplification of what was undeniably a party politics shitfest between a dickhead governor and a dickhead senate president. (No. No capital letters for these assholes.) Was the debt part of the problem? Yes. But the shutdown was totally unnecessary and caused mainly by an infantile bout of dick-swinging between guys with microcephaly and micropenises.

But of course, what Carl pays for, Carl gets. He wants to paint a picture of Puerto Rico as a rogue narco-estadolibreasociado whose millions of cocaine-infested criminals are poised to swarm the pristine shores of the U.S. of part of A. in a mindless rampage of raping and pillaging. It will come as no surprise to smart folks that Carl is a true-blue Republican. Or as their ilk is known in Jeniusville, a dickwad.

Carlitos, whose mom is Chilean, speaks fluent Spanish, so I can make My point to him in a language We both can enjoy: Cágate en tu madre, cabrón.

Google Translate for the rest of you.



The Jenius Has Spoken. 
 

  

05 February 2014

The Sky Fell Long Ago

So.

Puerto Rico bonds are now junk.

But that's just Standard & Poor's opinion, right? The other two bond rating agencies are bound to see it differently, right?

No.

But the U.S. of part of A. is going to step in, right?

No.

Really?

Ain't gonna happen.

But We have solutions, right?

No.

Is there any ray of light?

A few. Here's one. Here's another.

But what's going to happen?

Exodus. More of it.

Stagnation. More of it.

Multimillion dollars losses suffered mainly by those who worked most of their lives to build this economy so that hyenas could feast on it, fucking hyenas with names like Rosselló, Pierluisi, Acevedo, Rivera, González, Hernández, Ferré, Burgos, McClintock, Fortuño, Calderón, Cordero, Corrada, Romero, O'Neill, Miranda, Santini, Colorado, Cintrón, Rodríguez, Martínez, Crespo, De Castro, Pérez, Fajardo, Jarabo and many more. Fucking chancre-covered hyenas that idiots amongst Us cheered and slaved for, waved flags and honked horns for, slobbered over when they appeared on TV or in person and for whom We ultimately spread Our cheeks to for the reaming of Our futures.

Now The Ova and his late-to-the-party hyenas are trying not go all Pollito Chico and scream the obvious.

No.

The sky isn't falling.

It fell long ago.

We're just noticing it now.

Yeah.

How stupid We were.



The Jenius Has Spoken.



31 January 2014

Stupid Math = FUBAR Sales Tax

There are times when My Brethren act like the problems We have in Puerto Rico are absolutely, unequivocally, indisputably, undoubtedly, unreservedly and entirely Our own. We act and think that nowhere else on Planet Earth is there a problem like the problem We have or a FUBAR situation like no other FUBAR situation those vaguely-existing people out there ever went through.

Most of the time I react with a restrained "Get over it" attitude, and every once in a while I'll actually engage a few people in a brief round of "Reality check: read something other than lottery numbers." The latter often gets Me a larger "Cone of Silence" than normal, occasionally hedging into "Zip Code of Indifference."

However, there are times when I have to shake My head (known in some parts as "The Crib of Jenius") and concede that, yes, We have problems that no one else on Planet Earth has. In the most recent case, Our revolting excuse for an (un)government is incapable of doing first-grade arithmetic. In their crabbed, greed-lusty, lizard-on-a-bender brains, 6 + 6 = 6.

Allow Me. The local sales tax, called IVU, as in Intravenous Urine, is 7%. However, 1% of that is a Municipal tax, with the proceeds ostensibly going back to the town coffers at some undefined point in time, often related to (A) party affiliation, (B) backdoor politics and (C) whim. The other 6% is the, ahem, National tax, charged at the point of sale.

The current scheme thought up by the Ova, (un)governor Alejandro "Deer in Headlights" García and his sub-moronic ilk, is to "align" the tax rates all over the Island because some municipalities don't charge the 1%. The new system, such as it is, is supposed to "move" the tax from one point to another, using tax credits to "stabilize" prices. So when an item arrives at an Island port, it gets a 6% tax, that the supplier charges the wholesaler (of course), who receives an equivalent tax credit. When the wholesaler sells to the retailer, he pays the tax and gets a credit, and then the customer buys the item and pays the tax. See? """It's just moving the 6% from the end to the beginning!"""



In a "search for consistency" with the acumen of a slug doing Sudoku, the (un)government wants to "relocate" the tax from the point of sale to the moment of import, extend it to all items, without exclusions, and they say that nothing will change.

Really. No, really?

Oh, they tout "the benefits." They trumpet "the simplicity." They parade "studies," none of which--none--are actually verifiable outside of their own number-twiddling.

And they are flat-out lying. Viciously lying.

In a well-oiled model of lying in the face of overwhelming facts, the Ova and his rotten yolkies are ignoring three very salient and well-documented facts:

1) Our prices are already at "6% level," meaning that they have long factored in the added cost of the tax itself.

2) That added cost is not eliminated by moving the tax. Under this scheme it increases because it now affects several steps of the transaction from port to buyer, rather than just one step. Call it "friction" and in business...

3) "Friction" is a cost that gets passed on as higher prices.

Back when The Jellyfish, Anibal "I Was Really Guilty of Campaign Funding Fraud" Acevedo set-up the IVU tax system, I predicted its impact would not be a 6%-7% rise in prices to offset the new imposition, I said it would ultimately swing prices about 13%-14% and it did.

I'm not an economist: I think for a living. But any brief search about the impact of taxation on consumer prices will show that (1) the price increase is inevitably higher than the tax itself and (2) that consumption goes down wherever the tax takes effect.

So The Ova's awful yolk of a system that """promises""" to equalize taxation is actually going to have a larger, broader impact on prices, close to another 12-15% over the course of the next two years.  And overall tax revenue--what the Ova and his rotten egg-sucking hyenas really want to filch--will go down on a per capita basis.

If they really--chuckle-chortle-scoffing guffaw--wanted to help Our economy, why not equalize the system by eliminating the 1% tax so that folks living in smaller towns get a tiny-but-useful break? If these FUBAR pinheads looked at anything beyond the length of their pockets, they'd notice that the municipalities that eschew the 1% are large, with relatively extensive economic activity. But in terms of population, they account for less than 36% of the total living here. Tax cuts stimulate growth, but they lack the sexy appeal of grabbing the cash at the onset, rather than down the longer road of potential progress. 

Great. We're bankrupt, the hyenas are still hungry, and the corpse We call Our economy will now cost Us more in order to keep hiding from Ourselves the ferocious stench of its abject failure.

Yeah, sometimes We have FUBAR situations that are uniquely Our own...




The Jenius Has Spoken.

29 January 2014

Solving Puerto Rico 008: Michael Castro

There are only a handful of local bloggers that I admire. First, because I know it is not easy to blog extensively and with quality content. And second, because I stand upon My (self-defined) lofty perch and seek to use My standards, more journalistic than entertainment-oriented, to evaluate other blogs.

To use an analogy, I'm more "BBC than MTV." Deal.

At the top of the very short list is Michael Castro, a teacher whose passion runs in broad but well-defined channels. His blog, Poder 5, not only exceeds The Jenius' output, it also is a closer reflection of local zeitgeist. My Brethren are emotional folk, and Michael often captures and expresses these emotions with a keen critical eye.

In Our vidcast, Michael discusses how We can solve Our status problem, beginning with a change in Our educational focus. If you've watched other Solving Puerto Rico episodes, you will have noticed how often "education" crops into the equation. That gives people who don't live here the barest glimpse of how some of Us feel about a system that has consistently and purposefully undermined Our Island.

Click below to watch Michael and I discuss his solution, or check it out on YouTube.




It may take many more years, but someday, most likely by external fiat, We will dump the colonial status My Island currently """enjoys""" and finally move forward to being something more than an afterthought.



The Jenius Has Interviewed.



27 December 2013

The "World Peace Game"

I'll get to the truly important fact about the World Peace Game: the recent well-received book about it mentions Me in the Acknowledgements.

Yeah, Me. Makes Me proud.

The World Peace Game was developed by John Hunter, as a teaching tool in the areas of problem-solving, creativity and current events. John's TED talk about it is amongst the most-viewed videos of that ever-growing series of events.  Here it is, and it's well worth 20 minutes of your day:

video


In his talk, John describes how he developed a simulation involving four countries and what is now over 50 major problems that the world faces, from hunger, epidemics, bigotry and destruction of the rain forests to lack of water, pollution, religious strife and economic inequality. The countries have different resources, random events can alter the game in drastic fashion, and to win, every problem has to be solved and all countries must show progress.

Oh, and the players? Fourth graders.

Yeah, what were you doing in 4th grade?

In his over 30 years of using the World Peace Game, John has made changes to the game, to not only reflect new realities, but also to accommodate the impact of new technologies. In early versions, John provided the students with binders filled with information on the problems to be solved. Now, the players do most of their own research, working off a descriptive list of the problems. What hasn't changed is the immersive nature of the game, as the players come face-to-face with new concepts and have to develop strategies to not only understand problems, but find ways to fix them.

I learned about the game through a blog post and was immediately taken by the concept. I sent John e-mail and he was kind enough to respond. In a few exchanges, I addressed issues I saw might be pertinent to expanding the game so that other teachers could host it. As much as I wanted to jump in and help John and the World Peace Game organization, I couldn't stretch enough to do it. Didn't matter, as John and his organization expanded workshops and the Game to reach a much broader audience.

The book (did I mention I was thanked in it? Okay.) is a wonderful read, packed with experiences that good teachers thrill about, those that have students reaching far beyond their expectations to explore their greatest potential. I defy any teacher who thinks they are goof to read about the World Peace Game and not come away prouder of their profession and inspired to do more.

One thing John learned early in the Game--and that he still has to challenge himself with--is to sit still and let the students do. The urge to jump in and "correct" them is ever-present, and the Game's overwhelming success--and it is an overwhelming success--is due to this "the students learn through their efforts" process. The current education system is a top-down, fully-imposed, authoritarian, command-center, conformist, shut-up-don't-ask, memorize-and-vomit sausage factory (My words, not anybody else's) while the World Peace Game is a "Here, experience this directly" journey.

There are only two things I regret not being able to participate in as a kid: parkour/free running (although We did do "run away through obstacles to avoid getting beaten up" a lot) and this Game. I love strategic games, the more complex the better, and I can only imagine what it would be like to face the challenges John places before his students. Workshops and Games are held often, for students and teachers, but time and travel constraints can limit participation.

Now the game is more accessible, as the online version allows players to join in from around the world, even using cell phones. The format is adapted to asynchronous play, and though I'm sure that the challenges are as riveting, in many ways the direct and personal sharing involved in classroom or workshop play adds a rich dimension to the entire experience.

You can see the results yourself in the film about the Game, a companion piece to the book (where My name appe--Oh, you know that already...).  If you have kids, want to have kids or were ever a kid, I urge you to see the film, read the book, watch the video...and support similar projects.

Our children's education is far too important to leave in the hands of government. We need to do more to support dedicated teachers, visionary principals, community resources and Our own talents in order to make education less destructive. (Yes, I said "destructive." It is.) John Hunter has his way of improving education, but he'd be the first to say that his way is certainly not the only way. Whether it is through a game, dance, journals, music, lab experiments, robots, painting, making films, building castles or making costumes, kids will learn better when they are (a) engaged in activity and (b) allowed to explore their solutions and their mistakes.

And no, not everything has to be a game. But it helps if the lessons are merged with a sense of excitement that can be treated as fun. And kids can tackle more than you think, as John has shown over and over again in his Game.

All of the world's major problems solved, and everyone making progress together. Sounds utopian? Most great ideas do, and through the World Peace Game, fourth graders are getting a chance to experience that maybe, just maybe, Utopia is not as impossible as adults believe.



The Jenius Has Spoken.