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.