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. 


2 comments:

LEMB said...

Gil,

Im new to reading your blog and frankly new (but reading and learning.. for several reasons) about everything Puerto Rico.

Whats Fortuño proposing here exactly?
Anyone with half a brain can agree that Puerto Rico has too much goverment and too little pueblo.

great blog btw...

Gil C. Schmidt said...

LEMB, welcome to My Island! (Okay, yours too, now.)

I don't know what The Larva is proposing to do with the legislature and I have a feeling he doesn't either. It's obvious, though, that reducing the size of it is a key issue, not only for reducing government costs, but also to weaken the legislative branch's overall power. I pinpoint the at-large Fools because they have the greatest incentive and flexibility to spend their days posturing, parading, pontificating and otherwise putrifying the political and governmental processes, so lopping off those 22 would be a good start.

And when I said "lopping off," I meant it literally. But somehow that simply ain't gonna happen.