05 July 2005

Supreme Dictator Ideas

The Jenius has offered this challenge to well over three dozen people over the years and will ask it now of You: Imagine that You have complete power to do in Puerto Rico what you choose to, as Supreme Dictator, but you must achieve your results in only four years. List the top 5 things You would do and why.

In the right company, this challenge starts out as a hoot, then quickly becomes a serious discussion of what to do, how to do it and why it will ultimately change Puerto Rico for the better.

Here are The Jenius' 5 Actions He would take as Supreme Dictator of Puerto Rico:

1) Abolish the Department of Education and replace it with an Education Program that will have a ratio of 90% teachers and 10% "supervisors," with the freedom to create a new curriculum, to be updated every 5 years and with teachers being recertified every 5 years on a sliding scale that also reflects on their pay. Salaries would be tripled, with bonuses for professional growth. Rationale: The current educational system is a waste of human ability both at the teaching and student level. Unless the system is drastically overhauled with an emphasis on the classroom (thus 9 teachers for every "supervisor") and quality teachers, We will languish at the tail-end of the educational race.

2) Privatize power, water, roads and prisons, getting at least 90% of those government employees off the public payroll. Privatization will place the government as the protector of the citizen, therefore no privatization effort will include "holding back" a percentage for the government to hide behind.

3) Create 12 counties in Puerto Rico and consolidate government functions to further reduce the public payroll. Twelve cities will be "county seats" and have the power to set county-wide budgets and regulations. Mayors of "absorbed" cities form the County Council with the mayor of the county seat and three at-large citizens on the County Board. Counties compete for central government funding and operate as quasi-independent regions within the larger Puerto Rican framework.

4) Welfare is converted to work-fare or school-fare. Except for the elderly, all welfare recipients must either work 20 hours a week or go to school for 12 hours a week in order to keep their benefits. To fund this program, property taxes will be adjusted (they were set in the early 50s when real estate was worth 5-7% of today's value), a sales tax will be levied on non-essential items (everything that isn't food, clothes, shelter, healthcare, utilities, non-luxury cars and gasoline), taxes will be lowered to half their current levels (to allow for greater compliance and reporting of actual income), loan interest will not be deductible (except for mortgages or direct healthcare), current "easy" loans at 25-28% interest will be abolished in favor of "deposit loans" (place 20% of loan value in interest-bearing escrow) at 12-16% interest, savings up to 15% of income will be considered as tax deductions and investments in new Puerto Rican companies are 100% tax deductible up to 33% of your reported income. The idea here is to flush out drains on Our economy while bringing forth part of the "underground economy" as benefits.

5) A Puerto Rican World Corps will be established so that every person in Puerto Rico between the ages of 16 and 26 must travel to at least two different countries in South America, Europe, Asia or Africa and spend at least 6 weeks working in each country. The trips are paid for by the government and upon return, each person must prepare a 50-page report on their experience within 30 days of their return. People between 27 and 60 can make similar trips, but must pay at least one-third the costs, depending on the chosen destination. Employers are required to allow the person to make their trips without loss of job or position, but also have the right to make use of their employees' reports for 60 days before the reports become public documents. People who decline to make any trips are ineligible to vote in any elections, cannot hold public office and pay a "World Corps" tax of 3% of their total income every year. People who make one trip can vote only in county elections, serve at the county level and pay a 1.5% tax on their total income. People who complete both trips can vote in all elections, serve at the central government level and are exempt from paying the World Corps tax. The benefits to opening minds and creating a responsible government corps are obvious, but debatable. Everything is debatable. You're welcome to join in.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Gabriel said...

Interesting exercise... Putting aside thoughts of eugenics and similar proposals, let see what I can come up with.
First thing I would do is overhaul the Security/Police force. Recruit passionate, honest leaders that can institute real improvements on the security forces. Give them the budget and the mandate to minimize corruption and improve effectiveness. Sensitivity and bilingual training will be a must. Psychological screening of all personnel will be a must too. I expect this ill create a disciplined, motivated and loyal force which unfortunately will be needed to implement the rest of the plan.

The second thing I would do is declare all syndicates and unions illegal in their current state. Employees who want to organize themselves will be able to, but without the ability to collect or make money and just for clear, precise goals. Once the goals are obtained the groups should disperse.

Government agencies will be Environment, Education, Security, Tourism and PRIDCO. The part time Senate would spend most of its time insuring private enterprises comply with their social obligations.

Internet infrastructure would be treated as a necessary infrastructure utility. Cheap internet devices, like the AMD based one proposed by Negroponte would be made available to all.

The lean, flat government would be supported by a flat tax/sales tax combination. Salaries should be on par with equivalent positions on the private sector. Continued employment will be dependent on rigorous yearly evaluations. Budget will be expected to be enough to cover health care costs for all population and to bump maternity leave to one year.

Gil C. Schmidt said...

Gil The Jenius responds: These are very interesting points, Gabriel. I don't see unions as a big problem, but I can see your point about limiting their actions to clearly-defined goals rather than mere scandal-mongering and disruption. I think your Security Force/Police idea will be the hardest to implement as elite forces tend to degenerate as they grow in size and I can't see a small force keeping control. Keeping only 5 agencies (if I understand you correctly) is downsizing government to the bone, so I like it, though having the Senate "monitor" corporate social responsibility seems to edge us into communist-style governing. (I'd need more details from you on this one.) Your Internet ideas are 100% what I have mentioned in other forums, but you brought them here first. And your budget/tax/salaries system has a strong point (maternity leave), but I can't imagine how the rest would work out if government is slashed (it is the largest single employer in Puerto Rico) unless there's a parallel boom in private industry to absorb the newly-unemployed. Very good ideas here, a few to discuss so I can get My brain wrapped around them and I am happy you wrote your comments. Good day!