29 January 2010

Doctors Without Boundaries


Our response--as a people, as a nation--to the devastation in Haiti has been exemplary. Almost $4 million in cash so far, over $9 million in food, clothing, medical supplies and hundreds of volunteers placing themselves heart and soul into trying to help Our neighbors. From an island with 4 million people and problems of its own, Our reaching out and giving aid and comfort to Haitians can barely be matched by any other nation.

In a display of take-charge attention-getting, Our senate president Thomas "Tantrum" Rivera organized a medical mission, aimed as a series of efforts, to transport doctors, nurses and medical supplies to the Haitian/Dominican Republic border to help in any way possible. The mission was mounted quickly and medical personnel from around the Island quickly volunteered.  

The missions have been successful, tending to patients under grueling conditions and putting forth a display that lets Our people feel proud that in the midst of a tragedy of almost unbelievable proportions, Puerto Rico is pulling its weight and much more amidst the efforts of countries both larger and with more resources.

But guess what will be remembered, what will be seared into the minds of people here and around the world? Pictures taken at the scene, posted on Facebook, of Our doctors posing with rifles and machines guns, having drinks, violating patient privacy and even mugging next to a coffin.

God fucking dammit. Nobody ever said Life was fair, but some things are just too much beyond the pale.

To the doctors who posed for pictures, holding weapons and liquoring up: You are putrid idiots, disgraces to your profession and embarrassments to Us all. And for allowing pictures to be taken of patients, some of whom were agonizing, naked and unaware of what was going on, you deserve to lose your licenses. Your Hippocratic Oath, vermin, pledges you to "First do no harm." You are the patients' protector, you failed them miserably and the sooner We get rid of you, the better.

To the people who posted those pictures on Facebook: You are fetid idiots, utterly stupid about the power and reach of the Internet, incapable of grasping the simple concept of "On the Web, to the World." You thought you were "celebrating" the medical mission, or were you trying to "celebrate" the retarded-monkey antics of some idiots? Well celebrate now, cretins.

To the newspaper and reporter who outed the story: You are to journalism what a turd compote is to créme brulée. You didn't bother to check or scrutinize what was behind the 1,179 pictures posted: you simply fired away with the worst of them, exposing the few who deserved it and savagely smearing the vast majority who did yeoman work, who get no recognition because you can't be bothered with that. The assrag in question trumpets the "worldwide impact" of its brainlessness and all I want to throw up in their faces. Repeatedly. I hope the wretched rag and its "reporter" collapse like a leper's final days.

As for Tantrum, this is not his fault. If he wants be "the man," then he has to learn to roll with the punches. His best move would be to pursue the guilty, bring forth the eminently worthy and place the emphasis where it should have been all the time: on Our help to a nation in need. 

It won't do much, but for the people who have done, are doing and will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the world in helping Haiti, it will mean the world.

But the world will still have the pictures of Our imbecile doctors to really remember Us by.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


26 January 2010


anosmia: n., 1. a lack of functioning olfaction, or in other words, an inability to perceive odors; 2. syndrome persistently seen in statehood supporters on the Island of Puerto Rico.

Something smells rotten here.

By "here" I mean My Island, specifically, at the upper levels of Our (non)government. And the stench, wafting stronger in the trade winds, seems to be coming from the State Department, to be precise, one Kenneth "Filthy Scents" McClintock, erstwhile bullet-dodger with a very large target pinned to his corpus.

I said "corpus," not "corpse."

The kicking of the maggoty meat upwind comes in the form of recommendations by the Special Independent Prosecutor that slapped Jorge "Il Castrao" De Castro in irons, Ernie Cabán, that ex-senator Carlos Díaz be investigated for possible charges of fraud during his tenure.

And who, The Jenius jocularly asks, is closely related in function to both Carlos "Soft Ground, Soft Head" Díaz and Il Castrao? Why, "Filthy Scents," of course. Did you expect a trick question?

It seems that when it comes to smelling what's rotting, statehooders have anosmia, a tin nose, a blind set of nostrils, if you will, so long as the subject in question is one of their own. Statehooders and their party """"leaders"""" (extra quotation marks added for sarcastic, cynical and mocking emphasis--here, I'll throw in a few more: """""""leaders""""""") were anosmic to the max in the charnel-house fetidness surrounding one Pedro Stupid Rosselló, a prosecutorial cleaning of Augean Stables proportions with over 45 convictions.

Now commonwealthers have the same syndrome, but Let's face it, they have less stench in their charnel-house latrines than statehooders have in theirs. The difference in degree of stench may be between "grossly revolting" and "gag an ageustic maggot," but it's definitely there.

Some 12, maybe 13 weeks from now, We'll hear the news that the stench some off Us with normal noses have been twitching away from since Il Castrao sashayed into the local F.B.I. office and dared them to arrest him--which they did several weeks later--has been revealed as arising from the corpus of one "Filthy Scents" McClintock, Secretary of State of Puerto Rico.

Corpus, not corpse. Though you can't really tell by the smell...and statehooders never can.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

24 January 2010

Hiring, Firing, Hiring More

This won't take long...

Back in June of last year, Our (non)governor, Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, Puerto Rico's answer to the question "What is a waste of space?', tried to fire a slew of government workers. Amongst those targeted to be dropped from the public dole--I mean, "payroll to the dole"--were some 5,400 school janitorial workers. The drop was notable for 2 reasons:

1) Most public schools were largely deprived of janitorial staff (about 3,500 were let go), sort of like firing the mechanics of a 2009 NASCAR team that races with Model T Fords and square wheels...and uses cat pee for fuel.

2) Then-secretary of (mis)education Carlos "Long Ton(gue)" Chardón opened his yaphole to blame the firings for the schools not being ready in August, ignoring the blatant fact of the schools lacking teachers, textbooks and technology and awash in the first wave of a swine flu outbreak.

In short, the almost 3,500 workers that were fired to save money--to save money, people--have been "saved" by an agreement between the union and the (non)government and are to be rehired in the next few weeks.

Rehired...so that private companies would not take over the sacred duties of school cleanliness.

And the other 1,900 targeted for dismissal this summer? Not. They'll stay on, too. And where, pray tell, is the money coming from to pay for these once-unneeded government employees? Who cares? The Larva obviously doesn't, the Fools are incapable of caring about anything but themselves and We, well We're too busy in front of Our plasma TVs or angling to get a plasma TV to pay any attention to mere janitors. Even 5,400 of them.

I said it before and I'll say it again: The Larva will be lucky to trim the government payroll of 10,000 workers. He will, in fact, actually increase the government payroll as he and his (non)administration cut a few jobs here and there, but allow consultants, "special advisors" and public-private alliances to attach themselves to Our tax monies like multibucal leeches on an inflamed aorta.

Too bad We have to wait until 2012 to fire The Larva and his (non)administration. 

The Jenius Has Spoken. 


23 January 2010

SPECIAL POST: R.I.P. Constitutional Democracy

Speech is what a human being emits.

Money is what a corporation uses to fund itself, its investors and its growth.

Thanks to five U.S. of part of A. Supreme Court Justices--pandering idiots all--money now equals speech and a corporation is a human being.

The Citizen United vs. F.E.C. decision allows corporations to spend as much money as they want to support any political candidate running for any office. As much money as they want. On anybody. For any political office.

The Era of Openly Bought Politicians has arrived. And lest you think, Oh Stupidly Indifferent Americans, that your politicians are going to be bought by American Greedwads only, the ruling allows this "freedom of speech" to any and all corporations, domestic...and foreign. 

And because it is a Supreme Court ruling, it applies as well to My Island, but here, it's merely a minor transition from "open secret" to "labeled breach of Constitutional precepts."

Read about the death of democracy, the stampeding overrun by special interests, the dissension by the four Justices standing on precept, decency and rule of law and a call to arrest the five pissant idiots of the Supreme Court for treason.

Arrests might not be enough. Quoting Thomas Jefferson: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

We know--beyond a shadow of a doubt--who the tyrants are. Their blood is more than enough to refresh the tree of liberty. It's now only a matter of when, and the answer is "soon." Very soon.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Note: 29 Jan 2010: After President Obama's State of the Union Address, where he criticized the Supreme Court's decision and Justice Samuel Alito mouthed "Not true...", commentary on how not only the decision grossly misdefines free speech, it also ferociously undermines the concept of "corruption" as related to political activities.]

[Note: 30 Jan 2010: It's a system of checks and balances. Here's Senator Al Franken's solid defense against the Supreme Court's insidious betrayal of the Constitution. And at AlterNet, 10 ways to block/undo what the 5 Injustices have done.]

[Note: 1 Feb 2010: From Rationally Speaking, a blog well worth exploring, comes two (of several)  obvious, simple and vital solutions to "The rotting of American democracy":
"1. Corporations (and Unions) are not people, they do not have fundamental rights like free speech (they have legal rights as legal entities, of course), and money does not equate with speech. Contrary to what the current Republican majority on the Supreme Court has recently, not at all surprisingly and highly disingenuously, decided.

Fix: Congress should pass a constitutional amendment that declares that rights are applicable only to individual persons, not legal entities.

2. Lobbying is a form of institutionalized bribery, a point related to the one above. In other democracies this is a crime, which is not to say that politicians aren’t corruptible, but it does mean that if caught they go to jail. Americans, who love to describe their system as “the best democracy in the world” apparently have no clue that all they have is the best democracy that money can buy. And they aren’t getting much for their money either.

Fix: all forms of lobbying should be outlawed. Individual citizens have the right to petition government, but corporations and other entities don’t have the right to pay professionals to cajole and bribe members of Congress."]

[Note: 2 Feb 2010: Now read how the legal basis for considering a corporation a person is not based on a court decision, but on a headnote. Yes, a comment, not a decision.]

[Note: 5 Feb 2010: It was bound to happen: a corporation runs for public office. The Onion? No: The New York Times.]

[Note: 2 May 2010: From David Morris, at AlterNet: 8 Words that Could Save Our Country. Corporations are not people. Money is not speech.]

[Update: 31 May 2010: A movement for a 28th Amendment: the Separation of Corporation and State.]

[Update: 12 Oct 2010: From AlterNet, 8 ways to fight against this extensive sell-out of democracy.]

[Update: 7 March 2012: In Vermont, 55 towns affirm that "Corporations are not people." Vermont has more guts and integrity than the other 49 States put together.]

22 January 2010

Time For A New Government

I am going to state this as succintly as I can: We--Puerto Rico--have to establish a new government.

No, this is not an extremist position, nor is it an "in your face" remark backed by insouciance. It is, by any pondered review, the only position We can assume facing the utter wreck Our government has become.

I'll start with the basis for My position, from "What is the U.S. Constitution?", by Timothy Baldwin, over at The Ruthless Blog:

3. When a government breaches its limitations placed upon it by a constitution, (a) the government agent loses its trust to rule, (b) the powers delegated to it are reverted back to the creators of the constitution, and (c) the constitution becomes non-binding on those who created it. This is the natural law concept of “the consent of the government,” as expressed in our Declaration of Independence. It is further a concept regarding the rights of the parties who enter into a compact. As noted by our founders, we do not normally exercise this natural and compact right over “light and transient causes,” but in cases where a “long train of abuses” are evident. European forefather, Hugo Grotius, recognizes that when a government contradicts the principles that created its power, that creation (i.e. kingdom/constitution) dies and the people have the right to institute new government:

“[I]f the king act, with a really hostile mind, with a new to the destruction of the whole people…that the kingdom is forfeited; for the purpose of governing and the purpose of destroying cannot subsist together.” Hugo Grotius and William Whewell, trans., Hugo Grotius on the Rights of War and Peace, Book II, (Cambridge: University Press, 1853), 57–58. 

A constitution that has been continually breached by the government is no longer a constitution at all, because the very purpose of a constitution is to
limit the government by the will of the people who created it. Thus, a people who continually live under an abandoned constitution do not live under a constitution at all; but rather, they live in voluntary slavery, and the constitution is dead to those people and that government. It is literally time “to alter or to abolish” that constitution before the people’s lack of resistance is deemed to be “the consent of the governed.” (Emphasis Mine.)

Brief history lesson: Our Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is based on the Constitution of the U.S. of part of A., the Bill of Rights (Amendments I - X), all subsequent applicable Amendments approved up to 1952 and has automatically added any applicable Amendments after that. So We have a Constitution that is based on the exact same frame of reference, the exact same government model and the exact same relationship between the people and the government that is defined above. Keep. That. In. Mind.

Now drop this phrase into the above framework: extra-constitutional debt. It is, by definition, a financial arrangement that is not covered by the Constitution, but is directly paid for by Us, through taxes, fees, licenses and misery.

And what has this mutant farce by Our government led to? Our debt is more than Our Gross National Product (GNP).

For you statehooders out there, GNP is what We, as a country, produce. For you commonwealthers out there, debt needs to be repaid. For you independentistas, your standard of living could very quickly--shudder--get closer to Cuba's. And for all of Us, it is time for a new government.

Imagine that a company has management that runs up debt to pay itself and its cronies lavish salaries, benefits and perks and does so to the extent that the company creates so much debt it has no choice but face bankruptcy and ruin? Do you keep the same management? Or do you fire the Fools--sorry, I meant drop-kick the fuckers--and bring in new management who will follow the rules of proper management?

Of course, the rational, intelligent, mature, motherfreaking obvious course of action is to bring in new management that will follow the rules of proper management. But that is not--ever--what We have done. We have repeatedly, stupidly, crassly kept the same management, replacing Crooked Countryfucker1 with Crooked Countryfucker2, 3, 4, 5...6,789 and so on ad nauseum. To the extent that now We, as a nation, Owe more money than We make. 

And you know what that means for a subordinate economy that cannot make a move without checking "up" for confirmation? It means We are in receivership, "a situation in which an institution or enterprise is being held by a receiver. In law, a receiver is a person 'placed in the custodial responsibility for the property of others, including tangible and intangible assets and rights.'"

Let Me make it simple: It means We are not in charge of Our assets, We are not in charge of Our production, that We are, for all intents and purposes, "the property of others." And who generated this unholy level of debt, who mangled the very foundation of proper fiscal management, who expanded the size of government and the size of government debt to the point where We are not the owners of Our own country?

[Statehooder in the back: "Who, Jenius, who?! Don' leave me hangin'!"]

[Commonwealther in the back: "Who, Jenius, who?! Don' make me think!"

[Independentista on his back: "Pass the pot! I can still hear Rubén* snoring!"]

Our government did. They breached Our Constitution by not only violating what was in it--the limits imposed upon them by Our consent--but also by creating mechanisms by which they could throw off their limitations and yet keep Us beholden to their excesses.

Not enough proof? Don't think We have cause to scrap the government We have in order to form a new one that actually represents Our interests? Okay, here's three words that seal the deal: Public-Private Alliances.

Dissenters, you have nothing more to say. It is time for Puerto Rico to have a new government. Period.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[* Rubén "Eloquent Vacuum" Berríos, Dictator-for-Life of the Puerto Rico Independence NonParty since 1971, perceived useless since 1978 and presumed "still alive" since 2003.]

20 January 2010

Old World, New Look

In what is deemed a bold move by the Tourism Company, Puerto Rico's equivalent to the Cops of Keystone City, We are now--gasp--trying to attract European tourists.
Gee. Finally.
Now We could look at this as a bad move since the last time We went whole-hog for European visitors, Our natives got killed.
I'm kidding. They were raped, then they were killed.
But that's all water under the bridge, or in Our case, water that washed out the bridge built for 265% actual costs. The bottom line is this:
1) Puerto Rico is no longer the #1 tourist destination in the Caribbean, having been displaced by the Dominican Republic in 2008.
2) The Dominican Republic received a little over 2.4 million European tourists in 2009; We had "about" 200,000, which given the accuracy of El Nuevo Día's future burger flippers masquerading as journalists could mean 2,450.
3) The average--average--European stays two weeks in the Dominican Republic. Two. Weeks. The average European stay in Puerto Rico is called "layover."
Local dingbats affiliated with the tourism industry, like the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association and the Tourism Company's acephalic "programs" whine that "We can't compete with the Dominican Republic's all-inclusive packages, 70,000+ rooms and cheap labor."
Boo-hoo. Have you crybabies in smelly diapers ever imagined where the D.R. would be if they had the same attitude back in the 1960s and 70s? "We can't compete with Puerto Rico's infrastructure, no-passport access to the U.S. of part of A. and massive marketing efforts." I  bet you never heard that from them. And that's why their kicking polvo in Our faces now.
Before I paint My buns with nitric acid, here's three points that the dingbats mishandling Our tourism efforts need to get into their gullets (since We've established that they have no craniums):
1) Tourism is intrinsically a geosocial experience. I made that word up, but it makes sense, so it is now an official word in the English language. One travels to Venice to explore its canals. In Vegas, a traveler gambles and takes in shows. In other words, a tourist visits a place to encounter a location and a set of experiences that are unique. Therefore what We need to focus on is not "price" or "rooms" but "unique experiences." And that, My Brethren, goes far beyond beaches, El Yunque and tacky Chinese gewgaws in Old San Juan.
2) You don't advertise to would-be travelers, you engage them. Where? On the Internet.  More than 68% of travelers explore their potential destinations by surfing the Web, and on the Web, We rank somewhere between goat liver recipes and toejam remedies. In short, We are not web-savvy. We--or rather, the whiny headless dingbats--spend Our money on TV ads aimed  at folks older than Mount Rushmore and ignore the thousands of active travelers on the Internet that We can reach for pennies a day. Here, try this experiment: do a travel search to Puerto Rico and check out the comments people leave about hotels, services and amenities. Tally up the negatives and positives. Note how many comments are addressed by the owners or tourism-related personnel. Than you'll have your proof on why I call these people "dingbats."
3) Why advertise blindly in Europe when you have 2.4 million Europeans a 25-minute flight away? You mean to tell Me that, if given the chance, some 200,000 of the Europeans spending 2 weeks in the D.R. wouldn't hop over here and spend a day or two doing something geosocial? (See? I told you it was an official word.) If We did that, We could double Our European influx and gain some additional voices in the Old World to talk about Us.
Granted, We'd have to work on Our sorry (oh so very sorry) service skills and on Our sorry (oh so very sorry) language skills, but at least We'd be making a start. Otherwise, We face dropping to #3 when Cuba flings open its doors to rampant capitalism...and it will. You can bet a dingbat's ass on that.
Hell, We already have.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 January 2010

Making Great Teachers

From the January 2010 issue of The Atlantic, by Amanda Ripley:

"Starting in 2002, Teach for America began using student test-score progress data to put teachers into one of three categories: those who move their students one and a half or more years ahead in one year; those who achieve one to one and a half years of growth; and those who yield less than one year of gains. In the beginning, reliable data was hard to come by, and many teachers could not be put into any category. Moreover, the data could never capture the entire story of a teacher’s impact, Farr acknowledges. But in desperately failing schools, where most kids lack basic skills, the only way to bushwhack a path out of the darkness is with a good, solid measuring stick. 

As Teach for America began to identify exceptional teachers using this data, Farr began to watch them. He observed their classes, read their lesson plans, and talked to them about their teaching methods and beliefs. He and his colleagues surveyed Teach for America teachers at least four times a year to find out what they were doing and what kinds of training had helped them the most. 

Right away, certain patterns emerged..."

Yes, dramatic pause. Look at the "yardstick" Teach for America uses to evaluate teachers: moving students ahead one or more academic years. That admittedly broad-based standard does not discriminate against a state's curriculum or set of standards (students and teachers are measured against their direct peers), nor does it ask that a teacher do anything but ensure that students gain acceptable progress.

Is that an unfair standard by which to measure teachers? You know My answer to that question, so here's My follow-up to My unspoken answer: Teachers, shut yer yaps.

What did Teach for America discover?

"First, great teachers tended to set big goals for their students. They were also perpetually looking for ways to improve their effectiveness. For example, when Farr called up teachers who were making remarkable gains and asked to visit their classrooms, he noticed he’d get a similar response from all of them: “They’d say, ‘You’re welcome to come, but I have to warn you—I am in the middle of just blowing up my classroom structure and changing my reading workshop because I think it’s not working as well as it could.’ When you hear that over and over, and you don’t hear that from other teachers, you start to form a hypothesis.” Great teachers, he concluded, constantly reevaluate what they are doing. 

Superstar teachers had four other tendencies in common: they avidly recruited students and their families into the process; they maintained focus, ensuring that everything they did contributed to student learning; they planned exhaustively and purposefully—for the next day or the year ahead—by working backward from the desired outcome; and they worked relentlessly, refusing to surrender to the combined menaces of poverty, bureaucracy, and budgetary shortfalls."
(Emphasis Mine.)

Let Me summarize for the teachers out there: Great teachers work hard at being great.

And for you teacher apologists out there, insufferable whiny pissants that you are, here's an even simpler vesion to match your one-digit IQs: Great teachers want to be great.

Quoting again:

"A 23-year veteran who earns more than $80,000 a year, this (other) teacher has a warm manner, and her classroom is bright and neat. She paid for the kids’ whiteboards, the clock, and the DVD player herself. But she seems to have given up on the kids’ prospects in a way that Mr. Taylor has not. “The kids in Northwest [D.C.] go on trips to France, on cruises. They go places and their parents talk to them and take them to the library,” she says one fall afternoon between classes. “Our parents on this side don’t have the know-how to raise their children. They’re not sure what it takes for their child to make it.” 

When her fourth-grade students entered her class last school year, 66 percent were scoring at or above grade level in reading. After a year in her class, only 44 percent scored at grade level, and none scored above. Her students performed worse than fourth-graders with similar incoming scores in other low-income D.C. schools. For decades, education researchers blamed kids and their home life for their failure to learn. Now, given the data coming out of classrooms like Mr. Taylor’s, those arguments are harder to take. Poverty matters enormously. But teachers all over the country are moving poor kids forward anyway, even as the class next door stagnates. “At the end of the day,” says Timothy Daly at the New Teacher Project, “it’s the
mind-set that teachers need—a kind of relentless approach to the problem.” (Bold emphasis Mine.)

It isn't funding, classroom size, curriculum, School Board politics, admissions standards, testing or technology that makes education really work: it boils down to parents and teachers. And of the two groups, We can make teachers better...or find those who live to be.

As the article points out: "Once teachers have been in the classroom for a year or two, who is very good—and very bad—becomes much clearer." So why--why, dammit--do We insist on keeping bad teachers involved with Our educational system, with Our children? Why? Because teachers insist on it. They insist, demand, threaten and scream like hysterical mynahs for this to continue because it allows mediocrity to flourish.

No one likes to be held to a higher standard...except the great ones. No one wants to be measured relentlessly...except the superstars. No one wants to be mediocre...but most settle for it while the determined few of Us seek rare air.

Teachers teach best by example. No wonder Our educational system--Our society--is so screwed up.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 January 2010

Teacher Time(out)

Note: Given the staggering magnitude of the recent tragedy in Haiti, where every little bit helps, you can text "Haiti" to 90999 for a $10 donation. Verizon and Sprint have waived their usual text message fees to encourage donations. Guess who hasn't?

AT&T. Assholes Through&Through.

Full disclosure: My cell phone service is with Assholes Through&Through.

According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), picked up by the Free Market Mojo blog, the average number of annual hours worked by U.S. of part of A. public teachers is 1,080.

Perspective: The average number of annual hours worked by all professions of OECD member nations is about 1,790. Therefore, U.S. of part of A. teachers work about 700 hours less per year than the average worker.

And they bitch about the time they work as much as anyone. Maybe even more.

Let's look at the local teacher, shall We? He or she probably works the same or even fewer hours than the northern counterpart. "But wait!", cry the teacher apologists, "Teachers here only get two months off in summer instead of three!"

True, but they also get 11 more local holidays, extended Christmas break and relatively-early May finish (about another 10-15 school days gone) and frequent "meeting days" that mean nothing to them or Us so they and We don't go. And the vast majority of Our public school teachers have engaged in professional development to the exact same extent that I have engaged in sex change operations, so it's not like they're spending their free time in "teaching-related stuff."

But the Stateside teacher makes about $40 an hour and Our poor wretch makes about $22 (if poor wretch is similarly experienced.) Should that situation be changed--improved--both "up there" and "down here"? Hell yeah. Should We do it just to make teachers "feel better about their pay"? Hell no.

We should improve the teacher pay situation by implementing merit-based pay.

Yes, I know teachers shudder at the thought of being measured...as they do to their students. But the whole idea that "Teaching cannot be measured" is utter chicken shit. The whole process may take a decade or so to be fine-tuned, but it can be done and what's more, if measuring teachers for merit pay had started back in the 1990s (when the push gained widespread appeal), We would already have a workable system in place.

The logic is irrefutable: Humans expect excellence to be rewarded and excellence is by definition an exercise in comparison. To protect the inane notion that teachers should continue to get raises as a group while ignoring those who seek excellence amidst the calamitous plunge into illiteracy and ignorance We are experiencing is like drilling a few more holes in the Titanic to let the water out.

Our teachers aren't doing enough because We aren't doing enough; I know that's true. But if We want them to do more, We have to overcome their group-think of mediocrity and institute standards of excellence...and use them. We pay the better workers more money for being better; We need to pay the better teachers more money for being better.

And for those who take Easy Street to barely work less than half a year, We can then say "You get an "F" and have them start "f"lipping burgers.

If they can learn how.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

13 January 2010

U.S. = P.R.

You can, mathematically, prove that U.S. = P.R.  Not in the sense of algebra and variables and formulas, but in actual numbers, in the relationships between figures that tell a story of incompetence and imminent downward spiral.

At some point between 2007 and 2008, the U.S of part of A. hired one more government worker than there were goods producing workers, and with the situation getting significantly worse in 2009, you can prove that--yes--the U.S. = P.R.

Puerto Rico passed that threshhold in the 1980s, when manufacturing jobs started to drop and later cemented the "parasite vs. producer" doldrum when the elimination of Section 936 in the mid-1990s further gutted the local manufacturing shambles. That means We've spent the better part of 30 years in a situation where We have more paper pushers than producers, more egregious bureaucrats than economic builders and more graft than growth.

For what else can an economy stuffed with bureaucrats do except generate graft?

Unconvinced? Okay, try this syllogism for size:

Point A: Is Our government too big? Of course it is. Our budget is too small to pay for it, when essentially 84% is just for salaries and benefits. That means We have too many people in Our sorry excuse for a government.

Point B: When a government has more workers than it needs, is it because of merit? In other words, are all those workers deserving of being on Our dime? Of course not. It's Our money and there are too many government workers. We're not a charity, We're a society (most of Us...okay, some of Us) of taxpayers and We are FAR from getting Our money's worth.

Point C: When too many people work in government, does efficiency and effectiveness improve? No. And if you doubt that, you find the proof to prove Me wrong. I'll give you until 2028, so take your time.

Point D: SO when too many people make a government ineffective and inefficient, what form of transaction emerges and grows to "make government work"? Graft. Corruption. Fraud. 

Does that mean that the U.S of part of A, is headed towards an increase in graft, corruption and fraud? Uh-huh. Like a sewer rising when Congress flushes.

Yep, I have a way with words.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

11 January 2010

Back To Business

Way back when, The Jenius was launched as a biz-tech thingy of a blog where I could take notice of things--good and bad--in the local Internet/small business realm that were largely ignored by the media and the masses. Lately, as in the last 97% of the time, The Jenius has been more of a political/social slingfest. And yet, I still think and work in the biz-tech world, mainly focused on education and communication.

So Let's get back to that, shall We?

Here's My short list of the Biz-Tech Action Steps We need to take now to start transforming Our economy from carpet beater to world beater:

1) The number to focus on is "businesses," not "jobs." We still have the mentality that ScrewThee Conglomerate International is going to plunk a container-load of Franklins on Our Island and create several hundred jobs. That's like trying to catch "The Daily Show" interactive clips on radio. The new driver of the economy--as was the old driver--is small business, but the new small business has global reach from Day One. In Puerto Rico, 64% of all private employment (roughly 34% of all employed) is in small businesses: to transform Our economy, We need to focus on developing more businesses and stop the chasing the stuoid myth of "big company jobs."

2) Make starting a small business as easy as ABC. A) State your name, physical address, phone number and Social Security number. B) State your business name, whether you get paid under that name or your own and the related bank or credit union account number. C) Define your business and ensure it does not violate the new short-list of environmental or commercial laws.

That's it. Have that one-page form on the Web for easy download and immediate e-mailing to the business owner's Municipal Tax office and Hacienda (the Treasury.) Nothing else needed. Note that the physical address need not be a commercial or business location; home businesses don't need the extra hassles they go through now. Yes, the business owner must have a bank or credit union account. And as far as laws go, just list the requirements for a business to request additional permits and/or licenses and if none are needed, let the business launch. (Cull the list so We eliminate the bogus permits and licenses like the "waste permit" beauty salons supposedly need because they use water.) The current system would make a Byzantine bureaucracy fetishist lapse into an ecstasy-excess coma, so streamlining it makes sense. And has since the early 1970s.

On the topic, when will the sorry excuse for a government We call Our own actually freaking USE technology in the ways it is supposed to? Case in point: To request the Added Value Tax certification, from the Treasury, you have to prove you don't own any money...to the Treasury. Who either know you already (from tax filings) or can't find you (for whatever reason), but the point is: they already know. That's why they bought computers and supposedly spend millions every year tending to them or buying new ones. So why in the name of holy hell do they make you get the motherbleeping certification at another office

Frosts My perineum, I tell you.

3) Give every small business launch a two-year tax exemption and extend it another two-years if it employs 10 or more persons. We give ScrewThee Conglomerates 10, 15 and even 20 year tax exemptions worth billions of dollars. So why not extend the same advantage to the billions of dollars created by small businesses? (Our GNP is about $74 billion a year of which small businesses produce roughly $24 billion.) In fact, We already have a tax mechanism to "deduct" business expenses from personal income (how almost all start-ups are primarily funded), so all We need to do is remove the cloying and annoying rigamarole and let the business owners build their companies without having to waste time and money on working the tax code.

And why cap the employee number at 10? Because it allows a business to grow within reason without striving to (a) Hire people just to get a tax break, which really means just added expenses and (b) Focuses a company on being a viable economic engine by Year Three. True, most small businesses fail in 5 years or less, but We're not trying to create a welfare economy for small businesses (We already have that for the ScrewThee Conglomerate crowd), but a faster start-up system to increase the numbers of small businesses and thus the chances of more successful businesses.

4) Convert downtown empty spaces into biz-tech labs. Note I said "labs," not incubators. Labs are places where people work in a structured setting to achieve results; incubators are where debilitated babies are kept on life support. We need results, not life support. Have towns convert a few or several empty buildings into office spaces, conference rooms and work centers with broadband Internet access. Let anyone who wants to use the facility do so for 90 days at no cost. Then if the person wants to continue using any facility, they pay a nominal fee per use or a small amount of rent. Those fees/rent increase every 90 days until they match commercial rates.  The purpose is two-fold: Create networking centers of entrepreneurs, techies and just plain business-oriented developers to engage in creative exchanges and secondly, to make them aware that they have to grow their business to pay market rate rent or get out.

Now some of you might note that We have several coffins, er, incubators on the island already, such as ViTEC2 in Mayaguez, the CyberCenter in Guaynabo and whatever the hell Caguas has with INTECO. They are stand-alone boxes with an ICU-type death watch feel to them, where businesses are subjected to the lengthy bureaucracy found elsewhere and lured by the promise of free digs and maybe--maybemaybemaybe--a paltry sum of money from government dunces.

Of course they don't work: they're not meant to. Their goal is to somehow snag a Google or Facebook out of a process meant to wean such possibilities out. It's like trying to find a diamond in a pile of cow shit. Why? Because a Google or Facebook-type success is not a question of picking the right project, it's about fostering the right environment. And the right environment doesn't happen overnight and isn't built on government red tape: it takes years and it is entirely removed from red tape.

It takes years, so We have to start now, building on the minds We have now and those that join the fray when the fun starts. It takes the absence of red tape, so Let's eliminate all that We can and let the creative types find ways to ignore what's left.

And yes, it takes money, so here's Action Step #5:

5) Give a 100% tax credit to local investors who support a local start-up. Oooh. That sounds heavy... It is. You say there's no money here? On Christmas Eve 2009--Christmas freaking Eve, people--the government had a bond issue that raised $1.36 billion...from local investors. Now maybe a lot of that money was local only in that it was held by local institutions, but if even 10% of that cash was in "private" hands, that means some $103 million were pushed around in about 12 hours. Between legitimate revenue, underground revenue and outright crime, there's millions of dollars in Puerto Rico--maybe even billions--looking for a legitimately strong investment and 100% tax-deductible is pretty strong. Hell, just talk to Nelson "Valley of the Dolls" Valle's mom: she's got plenty of cash.

For you Fools out there, cap it at $100,000 so that the big crime bosses (other than elected officials) can't easily smear legitimacy over sin. And no, don't expect venture capital dollars to drop like snowflakes in Norway within a few months. It will take 2-3 years and a string of small-to-moderate successes before the investment money starts trickling in and rising. But the time is going to go by anyway and the dollars, well, they'll keep on flowing...someplace else.

We're long overdue on the "Take Action Steps" front. Take these 5 and Let's get back to some real business growth. For a change.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

08 January 2010

Catch(and Release)-22

[My Thanks to Janine-Mendes Franco for selecting another Jenius post and to David Sasaki, also of Global Voices Online, for including a Jenius post in a global roundup of anti-corruption posts and commentary.]

Puerto Rico has 8 Senatorial districts and 40 "representative" districts. Each Senatorial district elects two Senators and each representative district elects one official. Seems like a good system, fairly balanced between the masses of voters, the "buffer" layer of Representatives and the more "limited" (elitist) body of the Senate. Pretty much what the Founding Fathers envisioned back when men wore wigs.

Where Our system goes to hell in a handbasket is that We also elect 11 "at-large" members to each chamber of the Legislature. Basically, that means We toss in 22 legislators who don't directly represent anyone, and if an elected official doesn't represent anyone, then all he or she truly represents is themselves.

Then, as if this weren't bad enough, Our Constitution has a "2/3 provision" wherein if any party has more than a 2/3 majority in either chamber, members of the opposing party are added to bring the ratio down to 2/3. Because of this, We have an additional 7 freeloading life-draining parasit--I mean, legislators, gumming up the already befouled works.

Normally We'd have 27 Senators and 51 Representatives, a total of 78; We now have 85, at salaries that exceed the local income per capita by over 480%,  making them the most unfairly-paid legislators in any democracy on the planet. (I left out their perks and graft from the revenue equation. That's a topic already discussed and coming up again.)

Now Our (non)governor, Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, is mewling about cutting the size of the legislature. He should. And the only way to do it is to amend the Constitution so that all 22 "at-large" legislator positions are abolished.

Roughly over a quarter of the outhouse We call legislature is composed of people who aren't beholden to any district, to any specific group of voters, thus their sole concern is not to work for the benefit of "their voters," but to work to become better known to voters. Since actually working at doing good things to benefit Us is beyond their intelligence, talent and moral ineptitude, their option is to play politics and ensure they get extensive media coverage. And what that boils down to for these 22 nincompoops is that they are campaigning 24/7/1,441.

Campaigning. Not representing anyone but themselves.

Think I'm being harsh? Who is the president of the House? Jenniffer "Gluttonny" González. Elected at large. (heh-heh) Who is the president of the Senate? Thomas "Tantrum" Rivera. Elected at large. Run down the names of the legislators elected at large and compare it to the names of those who call the most press conferences and persistently stink up the media with their "activities" and you will see a strong correlation. Their excuse? "We represent all voters."

Rooster poop. They don't represent anyone but themselves, so they court attention like a crystal meth druggie craves a hit.

My advice to The Larva: Take the push for legislative reduction as I suggested before (a case of their getting paid and spending way too much) and make the push a permanent change by abolishing at-large elected legislators, whether in two chambers or one. If "No taxation without representation" was the battle cry of the wigged men, "No legislator without direct representation" should be Ours. And tie their pay to Our income per capita.

But I have to admit, We'd have a hellaciously better chance at success if We didn't have The Larva failing to lead Us...

The Jenius Has Spoken. 

06 January 2010

Ghouls, Not Kings

[And once again, a shout-out to Janine Mendes-Franco for her selection of another Jenius post in Global Voices Online. I'd blush, but I'm not humble.]

On Three Kings Day, the traditional Puerto Rican day for sharing gifts and celebrating the (extended) joy of Christmas, the death toll by murder on My Island this year stands at 19.

Six days into 2010...19 dead.

I've said before that We don't care about the death toll because it happens to "them", not "Us," to "them" that live in housing projects and Section 8 homes, to "them" that live in the parts of town "We" avoid, to "them" that drop out of school and choose the "easy" life, not like "Us" who stay in school and scheme for the easy life.

And "their" blood isn't "Ours"...though it is spilled on Our streets day after day.

Indifference to the enormous toll of pain, anguish and suffering caused and exemplified by these deaths is the sign of a sick society, one enfeebled by its own ennui. But We are not enfeebled by this. No. Worse: We are energized.

You read that right: I'm stating We thrive on this pain, that We actually hunger for it, that We are--in short--ghouls.

Happy Three Kings Day.

We are a society that marks a mental calendar from sadistic crime to massacre to killing spree, skipping from to one to another like tombstones on a hellish pond. We sit every day before Our TV sets to drink in the gruesome details of the deaths, the spilled blood, the emotional wreckage of the surviving loved ones with attention to details and indifference to what they truly mean. Our eyes are the cameras that linger over the corpses, bullet holes, spent casings and detritus of death while Our voices are echoed in the sycophantic presence of "reporters" jabbing themselves into the agony, like syringes filled with acid, never healing, but only causing more harm.

We glory in the follow-up, the newspaper reports of how many bullets were fired, how the victims were wounded unto death, and even if the death can be traced to another death and another, the sequence of violence laid out like a black garland of fatality, We don't give a damn about the pattern: We only care about the blood.

And We care about adding to the murder toll, a daily ticking upward reported with the consistency of nothing else on this Island.

The Roman Empire was said to have fallen because of its fanatical focus on "bread and circuses," some of which involved games of death. We have never had an empire. Our fanatical devotion seems to be more intent on gossip and bloodlust, not for games of death, but the actuality of rampant death in Our society. We perch like vultures waiting for the next sacks of carrion to parade before Our eyes, sanitized of smell and effect, third-hand removed by Our own lackwit vision of what that death--and the many others--mean to Us as a whole.

This isn't a day of kings. And ghouls don't deserve a day.

The Jenius Has Spoken. 

Note: Another shooting victim  died later, raising the Three Kings death count to 20.

04 January 2010

A Dollar Per Day

[My Thanks and a Happy New Year to Janine-Mendes Franco for selecting another Jenius post for Global Voices Online.]

Most people, when confronted with the topic of corruption in government spheres, tend to shrug it off, like it's a death in a distant neighbor's family, a common occurrence not worth thinking about.


Let's look at this a little closer, in a Socratic manner:

Does corruption benefit the citizenry? Some (cretins, thieves and politicians...but I repeat Myself) would say that "It does, in a way." No. It. Doesn't. If it did, there wouldn't be laws against it, right? And if corruption were the proper way for the government to act, it wouldn't be a crime, now would it? So in essence, corruption is an unlawful undermining of good government. And that means it is treason.

Here's the definition of treason, from Googlea crime that undermines the offender's government; disloyalty by virtue of subversive behavior.

Now before some of you hurl cotton balls at Me, note that the definition says absolutely nothing about war or the country at war. Treason--as defined and accepted--is often linked to "vital national interests," but there is no such thing as "national interest" that supersedes "a government under the rule of law." Nothing. So anything--anything, people--that undermines, subverts, distorts or otherwise impedes the proper rule of law for government of the people, by the people and for the people is treason.


Now once you look at government corruption as what it is, you'll realize two more obvious facts:

1) To stop government corruption, We have to make it a target of Our attention, and...

2) The penalties have to match the crime.

I'm all in favor of the death penalty for corrupt government officials--and I can name names--but We're not a capital punishment society, so Let's find another solution. I propose a simple formula even a cretinous, thieving politician can understand: a jail sentence equal to one day for every dollar gained through corruption. 

As it stands right now, any government official charged with fraud or bribery knows he or she can "bargain" down from the several years to a few years, several months or even a hefty fine (that has little or no impact on their finances) and some probation, simply because the standard sentence is not that high.

Make My change in the laws and watch the game alter dramatically. If senator Bonehead takes in $100,000 illegally to push a law onto the books, he won't be facing a few years in jail, he will be facing 274 years in the clink. Let's see senator Bonehead bargain his way out of that.

Too drastic? Puh-lease. The penalty for treason--across history and cultures--has been death. All I'm advocating here is that We amp up the penalties so that government corruption stops being "business as usual" and becomes scar tissue over the deep festering wounds We have now.

Think the lawmakers won't go for it? Not if We make sure that every opponent to these changes is questioned--repeatedly and loudly--as to why they oppose penalties that they are never supposed to incur?

We can continue to shrug off the parasitic vermin behavior of Our government or We can take a stand and make sure they have a drastic reminder that their sole function is to serve Us to the best of their negligible abilities. And maybe, as the cretins and thieves are scared away from public service, there will be ample room for intelligent and honorable people to take over ths system because it recognizes and rewards their virtue rather than encouraging their vices.

The Jenius Has Spoken.