13 July 2012

Relative Or Not, Poverty Is Real

Over at Microsoft Money there's a slideshow of the "Poorest County in Each State," using data from the Census Bureau. Short version: the poorest county in each state, based on median household income (MHI) have incomes ranging from $56,564 (Windham County, CT) to the lowest, $21,611, in Wilcox County, Alabama.

According to the Census Bureau, Puerto Rico's MHI in 2009 was $18,314. What this means is that the poorest county in the U.S. of part of A. has a roughly 16% higher MHI than Puerto Rico.

No surprise there. We know We don't have the income of Statesiders. But the deep individual economic problems We create for Ourselves stem from the notion that We do.

However, regardless of Our political status or lack thereof, Our economic status is basically one of playing "Monopoly" with 10s and 20s when "the other guys" are playing with 100s and 500s.

And that, My Brethren, is a sure-fire recipe for...problems.

Think about it: the poorest county in Connecticut has a median household income roughly 309% higher than Our MHI. The U.S of part of A. MHI average is $46,723 and the poverty level for a family of four is defined as $22,314.

Or exactly $4,000 more than Our MHI. Which means, you statistical freaks, that at the very least well over 50% of Our households are in poverty.

We knew that already. But the ramifications and implications, though clear, are being debated as if they involved differential equations and higher-order philosophy by lunkheads who can't read without moving their lips or add three single-digit numbers without a calculator.

The ramifications all stem from being the limited-resource stooge at a no-limit game. When "they" can play with everything they have and We can only play with what "they" allow us to, We lose. Eventually and every time. Doesn't really matter who "they" and "We" are: it's just a mathematical certainty when the game goes on long enough.

For the lunkheads, a translation: We are poor because We are playing their game, by their rules and accepting their control. If that sounds like I am accusing the U.S. of part of A. of being a bully, tyrannical and abusive, you are right.


The implication is that if the game is rigged against Us--and it is--then the only two options are to either change the rules or change the game. Given Our situation, changing the rules could only happen if "they" allow it. They haven't and they won't: they are winning. Therefore the only rational, the only effective and the only pragmatic and dignified course of action is to change the game.
Meaning We tell "them" to take a flying leap at the freaking Moon and make Our own game, with rules more favorable to Our side and negotiated with other players in more equitable fashion.

For the lunkheads, a translation: If that sounds like I'm advocating independence for My Island, then what the hell took you so long?

Yet, as We know so very very very well, the notion of being an independent nation, of standing on Our own and shouldering the burdens and joys of Our development, facing the world as equals rather than as semi-obscure adjuncts of imperialism, that notion is as appealing to Us as jumping into a frying pan appeals to largemouth bass.

For the lunkheads, a clarification: Independence is not as agonizing and fatal as a frying pan is to a fish. You just think it is. That's why you're a lunkhead.

And that's why We continue to be poor: because We are playing a rigged game, with limited resources, with rules set to favor "them." And We are stupid enough to try to play the game "their" way.

Their poorest counties average roughly 180% more income than Our "richest" ones. And yet We supposedly play at the same table.

Lastly, for you lunkheads who fart "Well what about statehood to level the playing field?", let Me copy-paste this and have somebody with a modest 2-digit IQ explain it to you: "Changing the rules could only happen if "they" allow it. They haven't and they won't: they are winning."

Now shut up, lunkheads.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Anonymous said...

I am all for PR becoming independent. Stop taking the Billions of dollars or about ¼ - 1/3rd of your GDP in handouts from the Feds. That would be a good way to show them. Then try to make it on your own. Move out of your parents basement at the age of 35 (Puerto Rico is like a 35 year old living in their parents basement) and go make it on your own. Maybe you can get the labor participation rate above 40%.

If you think PR would be better on its own your crazy. Things would fall apart very quickly. Fortuno has reduced the deficit by 90% in just 4 years. If he does not win and things go back to the way they were PR will be bankrupt in 2 years. If people don’t want to be “poor” they should work. 50% of the kids here get paid to go to college (with Pell grants, thanks to Uncle Sam). I wish I had the opportunities these kids have here. They can thank me for the 9.1% of my taxes that go to UPR.

Gil C. Schmidt said...

Anonymous, I'll let you have your say on most of this--even the harsh-but-accurate assessment of Us as basement dwellers--but I have to call you out on the "reduced the deficit by 90%" comment" and more by calling it what it is:


Clever accounting is making 2 + 2 equal whatever you want it to, but taking Our deficit by the numbers that mean something real--how much money We owe--The Larva has pushed Our deficit from the staggering $43 billion range to over $64 billion, exceeding Our Gross Domestic Product. In essence, We now owe more than We "make", and when that happens to you (okay, if), then you KNOW you're in financial peril. Or should.

To declare The Larva as successful on this front is ridiculous. He did not reduce the size of government, for "jobs lost" merely became "contractors hired"; clever accounting masking an increased debt load. By cranking the sales tax bond machine to its utter limit and then doing the same with PREPA bonds, this Larva has practically ensured We WILL be bankrupt in 2 years, whether he stays or goes. And I have no doubt he KNOWS he's outtahere.

You talk about "working to not be poor": look at the statistics in the U.S. of part of A. where "working poor" is a de facto category. You mention Pell Grants: based on income per capita, U.S. of part of A. students use Pell Grants MORE than We do, so they logically make up more "expenses" for your taxes than We do. And if your 9.1% for the UPR hurts too much, you are allowed to choose where you want your tax dollars to go, to some degree; go ahead and do that.

You call Me crazy for thinking Puerto Rico can't survive on its own. You are wrong on both counts. But even so, I'd rather be called crazy when I know I'm right than crazy for supporting a stupid system. I'd rather be called crazy for betting on Ourselves than to continue this charade of self-delusion. We can't survive as We are now, a point you acknowledge, but if "the other option" is, in your belief, impossible, then you're actually EXCUSING inaction and that really is crazy.

And if there's a hint of "You did this all to Yourselves" in your comment, note that this abortion of a system was funded, promoted and institutionalized not by Us, but We certainly fell for it and in it all the way.

Lastly, go back through My archives and you will find that for several years now I have advocated unilaterally turning Our backs on the Feds and telling them to shove their compact and all that goes with it. No need for violence: just start acting like the U.S. of part of A. is the obstacle not the solution. Could We get away with it? Why not? The salient question is: who has the cojones to try it?

But don't look to wreck We have now to do that. Even if The Larva increased his cojones by a million percent, he'd still be less ballsy than a fly. The Larva is all he is and ever will be.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gil,

Just so you know I am not a republican. From what I see Fortuno was (and is) the lesser of three evils. Fortuno has reduced the STAGGERING DEFICIT (not Debt) each year. The PR government goes into debt every year much less than it did 4 years ago, by 90%.

If Fortuno continued the same polices that he inherited PR would have been bankrupt 3 years ago. As it stands he may have bought more time for a miracle to happen.
His 4% tax on companies here was genius. He found another way to get more money from uncle sam with no harm to the companies here.

I had a conversation with a UPR student a couple of days ago. We were talking about student loans. He said he had a $10,000 loan. I asked him how that could be if he went to UPR and the Pell grant covered all his tuition. He said it was for his car and rent!!! He was one of the unlucky ones that only got a free college education. He didn’t qualify to get paid $2000 a year to go to college. But this is another long topic…

We both agree that the system here is a stupid system. It hasn’t worked and can’t work. However, PR would turn into Hati or best case DR in 10 years. There are just too many people here and most of them don’t want to work. Period.

The only way out is to become a State and have the feds take control. They tried the hands off approach thinking PR was mature enough. It is not.


Gil C. Schmidt said...


Thanks for adding more of your comments.

If Fortuño is the least of three evils, We are screwed beyond belief. I don't agree he "saved" Us: he did what was long overdue. Putting out a kitchen fire that threatens to burn your house down is not heroism, it's duty.

The deficit reduction you're fond of is an accounting trick, with the budget gaps tossed into "extraconstitutional debt," a trick picked up from the Stupid Rosselló administration that The Larva was part of. This debt, "off the books", has tripled since 2008 (there's your "90% reduction"), but the sideways transfer does nothing to improve Our situation and merely allows the illusion of fiscal conservatism. Smoke and mirrors are not great economic tools.

"Saving" Us from bankruptcy was forced by bond raters, because over $37 billion was riding on Puerto Rico getting its act together. Whoever sat in La Fortaleza in 2008 was going to have to kowtow to them because when you get into massive debt, you no longer control your destiny.

The 4% tax on corporations was "genius"? I beg to differ with your scathingly low standards. The Larva had no choice but to tax corporations, a move that was deemed automatic since 1998 with the elimination of IRS Section 936. That he pulled the trigger on the decision now was again forced because he had no choice. And compare what he "got" from Uncle Sam with stateside corporate tax rates: http://taxfoundation.org/article/state-corporate-income-tax-rates-2000-2012 If "genius" is barely achieving mediocrity then there's a plethora of geniuses out there.

You harp on students and their "free ride". I believe getting a college degree now is a scam, a debt-trap with far-reaching consequences. College costs have outpaced inflation by almost 400% since 1980 and Pell Grants don't cover all of these costs, forcing many students to seek loans. That some--or many--abuse the system to get cars or fancy apartments or live above their means while ostensibly getting an education has two viewpoints: you see a freeloader, I see a future economic slave.

As for descending into Haiti or Dominican Republic standards, you are wrong. Haiti has no infrastructure (power, water, housing, etc.) which leads to a an entirely different set of problems from Ours. The DR may be weak in many areas (government corruption does that), but their economic development rate since 2001 has been higher than the U.S. and, of course, Ours. It's easy to make big leaps when you have great room for improvement, and on that basis, We have plenty of room for improvement.

Your premise that the only solution We have is to become a State is fatuous. We've "had" 114 years to become a State and it ain't up to Us to get that done. We can demand it until We're blue (or red or green or purple) in the face and the U.S. of part of A. can simply keep doing what it's been doing since 1899: ignoring the issue with sophistry while raking in business profits from Us.

Your comment that We are not "mature" enough smacks of moronic condescension and racism. Shove it. If you want to keep the conversation factual and lucid--despite your glaring errors--I can deal with that. But acting like you know better simply because you are "not one of Us" and thus have some magical insight granted by being shoved out of a pussy someplace else is ridiculous. When you learn to, marshal some facts, open your mind to actually being used and give it another try. I'm tired of dealing with blowhards with the intellectual range of cardboard.