31 December 2007

What the Murderous Moron Hath Wrought

From The New York Times. I bet not one statehooder reads this--or is capable of understanding what it means.

December 31, 2007

Looking at America

There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.

It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.

The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals, that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals are sacrificed.

Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.

In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.

We have read accounts of how the government’s top lawyers huddled in secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial review.

Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn’t go just a bit too far and actually kill them.

The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they could.

Hundreds of men, swept up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, were thrown into a prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, so that the White House could claim they were beyond the reach of American laws. Prisoners are held there with no hope of real justice, only the chance to face a kangaroo court where evidence and the names of their accusers are kept secret, and where they are not permitted to talk about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of American jailers.

In other foreign lands, the C.I.A. set up secret jails where “high-value detainees” were subjected to ever more barbaric acts, including simulated drowning. These crimes were videotaped, so that “experts” could watch them, and then the videotapes were destroyed, after consultation with the White House, in the hope that Americans would never know.

The C.I.A. contracted out its inhumanity to nations with no respect for life or law, sending prisoners — some of them innocents kidnapped on street corners and in airports — to be tortured into making false confessions, or until it was clear they had nothing to say and so were let go without any apology or hope of redress.

These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America.

History is being written before the eyes of a nation once-proud to lead the world in democracy and human rights, reduced now to proto-fascism and mealy-mouthed psychopathy. Why am I so upset about this? Because history has also shown that where goeth the U.S. of part of A., so--eventually--goeth Us.

At least in 2008 the murderous moron has to leave the Oval Office. By My count, he should do so now and be taken straight to jail.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

28 December 2007

A Scorecard for Fools

If you are a legislator whose salary is more than 4 times the average income, who gets paid tax-free benefits that equal more than 2 times the average income, who is given additional benefits that can also amount to more than 24 times the average income and has a job whose sole purpose is to represent Us, then I absolutely and unequivocally believe your ass is Mine.

From the moment you get elected to the moment We kick your ass out or send it to jail (or both) you Mr., Ms. and Mrs. Legislator are Mine. For what you are getting paid, with your $120,000+ salary plus perks, with your six-figure “staff members,” free trips, free car, free services and free protection, you have the nerve, the unbefuckinglievable gall to not show up for work a third of the time?

To make it worse, when you do condescend to show up for work, you spend the majority of your time concocting dreck, playing to the hapless media and usually both at the same time. (Homages to beauty queens and accessories to murder, anyone?)

You, Fool, are My employee. I pay your worthless salary and the reason it is worthless is because I let you get away with murder. So here’s My idea: We establish a Scorecard. Yes, that’s right, We grade your asses. Every day.

To your first objection, namely that you don’t like this, here’s My response: Fuck you. Nobody is forcing you to take this job. You work for Us. Period. And if you don’t like having Us watch over your shoulder to see how you’re doing with Our present and future, then you have obviously never understood the concept of democracy. All the more reason to watch you closely.

To make it simple, the rules change. Since everything you do is a matter of public record, the Scorecard will simply collect what you do, when you do it, how you do it and maybe even why you do it (you love to talk about that to the mindless media) and make it a simple-to-read, easy-to-find piece of daily life.

Yes, daily life. The Scorecard should be a part of every newspaper, listing when you arrive for sessions (if you arrive, you overpaid ass), when you leave, who you met that day, what commission work you reported, who you hired, what legislation you wrote or signed, what bills you discussed or tabled, what response you lodged to Executive decisions and what monies you helped assign to Our priorities.

Yes, all that and more. Get it through your empty brainpan, you retarded bunny: You work for Me. Your ass is Mine. And what I want is for you to make an effort to earn your disgustingly oversized salary by actually working for it.

And before you start thinking about how to stop this from happening, let Me drop a few terms on your useless head: Internet, volunteers, world example, Our disgust.  See if you can put them together, oh retarded bunny.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

26 December 2007

Attitude Adjustment Wrench

This won't take long...and it won't be pretty.

A pop quiz: Our attitude as a people can best be described as:

A) One of entitlement, as in "We are owed this and that"
B) One of insecurity, as in "We must loudly proclaim who and what We are"
C) One of indifference, as in "We don't care about much, except Our own wants"
D) All of the above

I bet most of Us would say "D". But think about what that means: We are indifferent to most everything that doesn't impinge directly upon Our life, behave as if We automatically deserve everything We want when We want it and yell like banshees to announce to the world “We are Puerto Ricans,” even though what We yell about may not be worthy of the effort.

What does this picture paint? The portrait of a self-indulgent, none-too-successful brat.

Oh dear.

Is this too harsh an assessment, even from one of Us? Okay, let’s see what world a self-indulgent, none-too-successful brat would eventually create to live in:

--One where the general situation is chaotic and even damaging due to the indifference of the primary person responsible. Check.

--One where second-level and third-level (minor) successes are trumpeted to the heavens, but primary—-necessary—-successes don’t happen because the efforts to make them happen are deemed useless, too difficult or (more often and wrongly) someone else’s responsibility. Check.

--One where the principal activities frequently and consistently appeal to and occupy the monkey-brain and the id: gossip, scandal, spending money, keeping up with the Jimenez’s, “beating the system”, demagoguery. Check.

--One where merit and the tools to earn it (education, expertise, integrity, perseverance) would be downplayed, denigrated and deplored in favor of opportunism, quick-fixes and “connections.” Check. See Our government for further proof.

Too harsh? Too harsh would be to let this continue without applying some heavy-handed tools to make the needed adjustments so We can grow from self-indulgent brattiness to self-actualized responsibility.

The question is, of course…how?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

24 December 2007

Reflection on Gil C. Schmidt

Since I launched The Jenius almost three years ago, I've been asked a couple of dozen times if I'm concerned that what I write here could cause Me "problems" in My work. After all, I do a lot of consulting work, which relies greatly on reputation, and the question implies that The Jenius somehow tarnishes My reputation.

I also do some consulting work with the local government, the crappy swamp misguided by The Jellyfish, Stupid Rosselló and his puppets and the rest of The Fools. People ask Me if I'm concerned that this might cost Me a contract or several. I shrugged it off. Even when it appeared that in December 2006 I was "dropped" by the local Justice Department after they called Me to explore My writing Federal funding grants for them, a decision that came after a big flurry of unprecedented gobierno.pr visits to The Jenius over a six-day period.

Is The Jenius bad for My reputation, what with My penchant for slamming Fools, picking apart idiocies, stressing the stupid and evil things that go on around Us and basically doing so from a position of self-proclaimed superiority?

No, The Jenius isn’t bad for My reputation. It is, however, perfect as a filter.

Yes, The Jenius often goes overboard in language and tone, what My friend James “El Gringoqueño” O’Malley calls “the blah-blah parts between the ideas” and what My colleague Carlos Torres calls “a rhythmic beat of negativity.” Despite efforts on My part to curtail that, it keeps coming up on these posts because—in My eyes—no one else is dissecting these issues based on reason and common sense. And when those two powerful tools are applied, even in the hands of a Jenius, the end result of most of what happens here is “abject stupidity and naked evil.”

Does this hurt My reputation? The Jenius is opinionated, often rational, explains His positions, identifies Himself, takes a stand and lets others do the same. This is supposed to be bad? It would be under a fascist regime—and We may get there—but in a so-called democratic society, these are virtues, not vices.

Could calling Rosselló Stupid and Aníbal a Jellyfish harm My reputation? Puh-lease. They are called worse by many of Us; at least I do it with My name and reasons attached.

Could it be that just by doing these things I am indicating that I am “different,” not “one of Us,” a sort of loose cannon shooting from the hip infesting the blogsphere with more ranting opinions?

Different? Always have been. Nothing wrong with that, except in the minds of sheep and bottom-feeders.

Not one of Us? In mentality and attitude, I guess not. But I’m here by choice, work and raise a son here by choice and will stay here doing that by choice.

Loose cannon, shooting from the hip? Compared to so many others, I’m actually restrained and thoughtful.

Ranting opinions? Yep, I rant and I point out what My opinion is. But here’s the kicker: Those who ask Me if I’m afraid The Jenius will hurt Me in some way have never—never—given Me any reason to think My opinions and actions are wrong.

As they say somewhere: You gotta base it on the source. Considering the mentality that breeds the question, if The Jenius “harms” My reputation, then I’m glad it does. I don’t need to put up with Fools or sheep.

Never have.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 December 2007

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

Reported in the press: The top 10 senators and representatives--in terms of receiving compensatory pay for meals and travel--are averaging about $44,000 so far in 2007.

I recently went after these vermin and discovered that their pay scale, compared to that of other democratic nations and average income per capita, is by far the worst interms of comparison. To wit: Their salary is more than 4 times higher than that of Our average wage earner.

I deliberately left out the perks these leeches give themselves to simply let the fact of their greed leap at at Us. But on top of this "meal and travel" crap, let's add the other expenses these cretins cost Us:

---A vehicle, with driver.

---Personal escorts, whether assigned or provided when they choose to leave a trail of slime somewhere.

---Free cell phone use.

---Free mailing services.

---A fully-furnished office, decorated as they choose (at Our expense.)

---A staff of at least six employees and some have as many as 11, all of them on the public dole--er, payroll--and some making six-figure thefts every year.

And now, the kicker: On average, these parasites will miss 34% of their legislative sessions.

Thirty-four percent.

They will be absent one-third of the time as Our public servants.

Now let Me be blunt here: We are fucking stupid to allow this. 

Because as much as We gnash Our teeth and wail at the sheer insanity these disconnected-from-reality bloodsuckers inflict on Us, come election time We toss out the evidence of idiocy and march to the polls, head held high with party standard in Our hearts and vote these insufferable bags of offal back into office.

These bastards will "vote" themselves a raise in March, or maybe as late as April. They will continue to shred and rape Our economy, ruin Our future and play political patty-cake with each other, to the amusement of many of Us. And while they do that, they will consistently, insistently and continuously ask for Our vote.

And they will get it. Because We are stupid.

How's that for Christmas cheer?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

19 December 2007

Political Pifflegab

A simple man, this Jerry. Soft-spoken, near-sighted, he quietly prepares a modest tasty fare in a sidewalk eatery of scattered memorabilia and mismatched stools. He engages Me in conversation with the abruptness of need.

"If my neighbor's building a house, when's the time to protest? When he's painting it to move in?"

The topic of the day--of the week--is Paseo Caribe, a luxury highrise near the Caribe Hilton and historic Fort San Gerónimo, scene of protests, hunger strikes atop cranes, including that of an "environmentalist" making a kayak-based "escape" and more pifflegab than even We can shake a stick at. The controversy? The building is on public lands.

Always was.

So Jerry is looking beyond the "controversy" of whether the building should be stopped, torn down or even allowed to continue until its million-dollar walls are packed with so-called worthies. In simple terms: Why protest now?

At that same stool, a day before, while watching videos of the mass idiocy, I'd asked My dear companion Cui bono? Who benefits? Who gets something out of this highly-visible, now violent, protest?

Neighbors? There are no residents near Paseo Caribe. No views blocked. No sewage systems burdened. No parking spots reduced.

The Caribe Hilton? They sold the land in the first place.

Fort San Gerónimo? Bah. It's a toilet since the Feds handed it over to the local government, inaccessible to the public since 2003. The protesters aren't trying to save that.

No, there's only one beneficiary and only one to this Paseo Caribe claptrap: The New Progressive Party, opposition of Aníbal "Jellyfish" Acevedo, invertebrate governor of Us all.


1) The project was awarded permits and licenses between 2000 and 2003, during the only term of Sila "Quitter" Calderón, the Jellyfish's former "boss."

2) The project went through several public hearings with many key potential players, such as San Juan's mayor, its senators, many of its representatives and almost a dozen at-large statehood party legislators occupying roughly the same positions they do now. In fact, a few of them now actually occupy positions of power since 2005, such as chamber presidencies and committee chairmanships.

3) The building has been erected to within 90% of all outside work, and not in record time, taking almost three years to get to this point. Stopping it now would create an ugly economic picture and further weaken the confidence of local and outside investors in Puerto Rico, thus eroding Our economy even more. Guess what happens next year in November?

4) The protest was aimed at The Jellyfish, to the extent that several video clips showed signs and carried sound bites against His Squishiness, but NO--repeat NO--significant presence from the mayor or anyone related to the statehood party...

And while I pointed out to My dearest that the NPP would avoid "tainting" the show with their presence, who should show up but serial jackass Jorge "I'm Too Dense" De Castro, his trademark "What? Me think?" smirk plastered on his mug. This donkey has been kicked from the Popular Democratic Party (while "Quitter" was at the the helm), has been the target of another "Dump the Dense Guy" campaign in the statehood party and if anything confirms My theory that the NPP is behind all this for political reasons, it's the presence of this braying ass where no one wanted or expected him.

I predicted the reaction within the party against the burro would be swift and hard. I was right. But it's impossible to beat any sense into a mule, so expect Dense De Castro to be back around the fringes of Paseo Caribe's protests, adding nothing but heartburn to the misery of a political show for political gain at Our economic expense.

Oh, and what do I suggest be the solution to all this? Accept that the building was improperly transacted for permits and licenses, say it won't happen again, let them finish the damn thing and in exchange for that, have the developer sink enough money into Fort San Gerónimo to make it a worthy National Monument and have him pay for 5 years of maintenance. Sure, he'll protest and bitch, but in the end, it's either "Finish and sell" or "Political games costing you $75,000 a day."

He'll gladly renovate the Fort. Now if only We could convince him to bury The Fools underneath it...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

17 December 2007

Falling for Life

I could have died.

My foot slipped on the slick concrete step, and for the first time since I was in high school, I fell without any control. Backwards, no time to twist or turn, I slammed down on the carport floor, My head just brushing the corner of the step.

My son, who'd helped Me wash the car, had seen Me fall many times, as part of My way of playing sports. But he'd never seen Me crash to the ground as I did then. My first thought was I could have died, knowing that My neck and head had just barely missed slamming into a cement spearhead. I imagined what would have happened if My luck hadn't been so good, how My son would have had to face the reality of his father lying injured, or dead.

I saw a horrified look on My son's face and I didn't want him to hear that same feeling in My 
voice. Almost a minute went by before I told him I was okay, just stunned by the fall.

I got up. After the most ennervating and exasperating week of the year for Me, one with several
highs and two painful lows, this came along. A reminder of My mortality. A memo to Me that nothing is guaranteed.

I thought of family and friends, in rapid-fire fashion. Of all I wanted to say and now knew I needed to say. And while I was thinking that, the phone rang. A good friend tells Me his father had just died. Life ends, goes on, just is. And if My luck had been different, that call would have been to someone other than Me.

My neck is stiff, most likely will be for a few more days. There's a faint scratch on My back, just across the left scapula, showing where the corner touched Me as I fell. It tracks a path that grazes My left temple, just as I thought at that instant. 

I've prided Myself on being agile enough to avoid major injuries...most of the time...despite an often-reckless mindset. This fall ended well not because of Me, but because of dumb luck. It might be the only kind of luck a Jenius has, but I'll take it gladly. And I expect to make the most of it, not because it changes My life, but because it makes Me more aware of it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 December 2007

Chamber Pots

Here's why Puerto Rico's economy is in the dump and burrowing deeper:

The local Chamber of Commerce--litter-box of fat cats with mouse brains--trumpeted their 7 Steps to Invigorate the Economy, which boil down to:

1) Aim for biosciences, technology and services and away from manufacturing.

2) A new social contract blending work and family values for high productivity.

3) Encourage socially-responsible capitalism.

4) Make the government a true public servant.

5) Encourage a larger private sector that also aims globally.

6) A "national mission" to develop the economy that includes all citizens and social components.

7) Develop a vision of the Puerto Rico We want to build.

I wrote four paragraphs before blowing My patience: The Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce is spewing bullshit. Utter, unremitting and moronic bullshit.

Oh, there's nothing essentially wrong about the sentiments drooled in their "7 Steps," if taken in isolation. But as an organizational "credo" these seven concepts are degraded to vapid turds in a historically-foul sewer. For you see, on numbers 1 through 6, the Chamber of Commerce has always--always--failed Us.

Who took the lead year after year in pushing manufacturing as Our economic engine, even when formerly-destitute rivals such as Singapore and Ireland left Us in their dust?

Who constantly and continuously fought against laws for flextime, professional development and extended maternity and paternity leaves, even to the point of restricting access to prenatal medical visits as part of employee health plans?

Who consistently and vehemently fought to restrict laws to foster investment as social capital for local firms while simultaneously bawling for that same use of outsider's funds invested under Treasury Section 936?

Who privately finances the fucking useless government We have now?

Who supports established firms by helping them block new ones (Center for the New Economy, anyone?) while cutting every economic issue into the same 100 X 35 mile window?

Who makes a fetish of exclusion at the economic and social levels, to the point where your own membership publicly declares the organization needs to "open its doors"?

The Chamber of Commerce is playing Pontius Pilate, first by playing a central role in creating the mess and now by cravenly trying to fob off its egregious lack of intelligence, vision and integrity on the rest of Us. Here's My response: Shove it.

As for "step" #7, that was written by a marketing hack and it clearly shows that the Chamber of Commerce has lost what little mind it ever had, for in revealing it as part of their magnum opus for economic revival, they show themselves to be so senile as to even be incapable of reading what they wrote in the first place.


The Jenius Has Spoken.

05 December 2007

Three Daisy-Chain Questions

The government says sales tax revenue has "exceeded expectations".

The Municipal governments are crying out for a $485 million bonds emission.

The legislature votes it down...and Aníbal "Jellyfish" Acevedo borrows a spine and orders yet another special legislative session to debate the issue.

Is the sales tax working? Is the governor hiding something? Is the legislative pigsty cleaning up its act with fiscal responsibility?

---Is the sales tax working? Of course not. Think of a struggling runner trying to complete a marathon, his chest heaving as he tries to get his second wind. Now cram a sweaty sock in his mouth and tape it shut. That's Our sales tax right there: Counter-productive and nasty.

As expected by The Jenius, near-Geniuses and true Geniuses (none of whom work for the government), the sales tax is producing less money than expected. So why the "above expectations" remarks? Semantics, otherwise known as spin: The current revenue exceeds the lower-end projections made by The Fools and their butt-licking sycophants. But those scenarios were publicly deemed "highly unlikely failures" by the cretins who crammed the tax down Our throats...and of course, it's in those scenarios where We find Ourselves now.

---Is the governor hiding something? Most definitely. Another fiscal crisis looms with the added concomitant of an election year. He's also hiding a disintegrating (worm-infested) Cabinet, a looming economic disaster known colloquially as "plant closings and lost jobs" and a deep-seated rejection to his campaign plans from within his own party. (He wants to play a waiting game while party insiders want to "rally the masses.") So why does The Jellyfish want to incur another massive debt by issuing bonds, thus increasing an already-huge public debt? Because he has no choice. If he loses support at the Municipal level, he is doomed.

And yet, he has always been trapped in an economic corner by an adverse legislature. At no point in Acevedo's administration has he worked with a "full" budget. As central government was forced to push services and programs to the Municipal level, Jellyfish and legislative Fools were technically on the same side, spending money "out there" to buy votes--er--to provide support in a very visible and self-serving way. So why the sudden divorce? That's related to question 3.

---Is the legislative pigsty cleaning up its act with fiscal responsibility? Of course not. It's simply more politics-as-usual. A tax revenue shortage puts The Jellyfish in bad light, with the opposition party scoring points and the governor's party ratcheting up the pressure to change his strategy. It doesn't matter to the pigsty if their own mayors get hammered by the lack of funding: They'll "make it up" after the elections. But here's where mayoral Fools and legislative Fools part ways, because the legislative Fools have a much better chance of winning their obscene positions than mayors do.

The bottom line here is that the cozy daisy-chain that screwed Us over for the past three years is nominally broken. The gloves are off, the stakes are more personal and instead of focusing on Us as the recipients of public service, We once again become the battlefield for public menaces.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

30 November 2007

Nine Things Puerto Rico Needs

Need the First: A mass transition from "politics as talk" to "politics as action" on the part of the general citizenry.

Need the Second: A rejection of U.S.-based deficient educational standards to embrace world-class standards.

Need the Third: A widespread realization that Our economy is handcuffed by outside interests and internal barriers to topple them.

Need the Fourth: Understanding that an energy development policy must be implemented immediately to confront the impending disaster Our reliance on oil and an overburdened infrastructure represents.

Need the Fifth: A moral center that doesn't sway with every whim.

Need the Sixth: To develop a willingness to see beyond Our shores to the true world, thus seeing the potential role We can play in it.

Need the Seventh: Political leadership that comes from middle-class values and work ethic, not lower-lifeform ids and indolence.

Need the Eighth: An end to Our irrational tolerance of the corrupt, the fraudulent and the hypocritical, whether it's in politics, religion or media.

Need the Ninth: A recognition of the value of the individual as an individual, and not as part of some (mis)labeled group.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

28 November 2007


This won't take long...

Here's a summary of what We face as 2007 winds down:

---An ineffective, legally-hounded governor with no major achievement in his gubernatorial record.

---Two major government agencies--Economic Development and Education--in chaos; the first loses its director now and the other may as well be headless for what's going on right now.

---An economic slowdown that can no longer be kept away from the sales tax's doorstep.

---A manufacturing earthquake shaking the foundations of the shining "success" that bolstered Our jury-rigged Gross National Product; more pharmaceutical companies are expected to leave.

---A legislature (screw capitalizing that term) slobbering to raise its salary to even more obscene heights.

---A party primary between a mad dog and a lap dog. If the mad dog wins, the governor could retain his toilet seat of powerlessness with a legislature balking his every indecision; same as now. If the lap dog wins, the mad dog will most likely shred his own party to "prove" he should have been the candidate. Either way, We can expect over 10 months of political halitosis.

There are some of Us making a positive difference. But We face the above panorama--and much more--with a dwindling reserve of energy and a decided lack of cooperation. We can fix all the above, but only if We care enough to do something about it.

So obvious...and yet so often forgotten. Or ignored.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

26 November 2007

Foreign Matters

For years, I've been saying that We have four major obstacles in Puerto Rico: Ponce Cement, Verizon (the former Puerto Rico Telephone Company), El Nuevo Día and Banco Popular. All four were locally-owned behemoths strangling the local economy, whether by smothering it in concrete, stifling communication networks, sponging up ad dollars while palming off drivel as news or financing all that, the government and world-nadir personal debt.

But lo and behold, time passes and now what do We have:

---Ponce Cement, founded and owned by the Ferré family, purveyor of almost over 85% of the cement used in 90% of Our construction, is sold to Cemex, the huge Mexican-based concrete multinational.

---Verizon, after a lengthy period as Our fat-ass road hog of the Internet superhighway, sells its bloated self to América Móvil, a Mexico-based multinational. Still involved as a 13% partner: Banco Popular.

---El Nuevo Día, Our largest newspaper and newsprint conglomerate, owned by the Ferré family and vacuum of 64% of the $240 million newspaper ad market, is said to be in negotiations to be sold. The potential buyers are Chilean. My guess is that they will sell the top-heavy, fib-and-fiction monstrosity flagship paper and keep their lighter, better-positioned junior paper, Primera Hora. In any case, the sale would seem to place digital communications (wired phone, cellular and Internet), newspapers and television (the major local stations are owned by Venzuela's Univisión and Mexico's Telemundo networks) in the hands of foreigners.

Stop right there. Here's a basic, fundamental fact about a country's growth potential: The last thing, the very last thing a country holds on to retain any hope of growing is communications. Just look at history and see how many conquering nations--by either military or economic force--impose their control over media and communications. 

What does this mean for Us? Nothing good. We spend a lot of time moaning about the lack of local TV productions, but We don't give a tinker's damn about a daily newspaper with biased coverage, outright fakery, willful economic blinders and under-the-table business shenanigans that add up to piffle served as punditry.

We gnash Our teeth about the lack of affordable housing while a multinational continues a decades-long force-feeding of an overly-priced commodity cemented (pun very definitely intended) during the administration of the man who founded the damn company in the first place.

We dance like headless chickens in Our orgasmic use of cell phones, while a de facto monopoly slows down the development of a communications infrastructure that 15 years ago was deemed to be firmly on the path to world-class excellence (We had the first nationwide digital platform) and now is nothing more than an overpriced, mudslinging legal battle.

And now We don't even own the obstacles. Now they are "somebody else's problem," when in fact, they always were and always will be, Our problem.

To grow, We need to break past the concrete barrier and pave the way to lighter, less expensive and more effective building materials better-suited to a semi-tropical island. They already exist, but try building a house out of them right now.

To grow, We need a daily newspaper that doesn't play red-or-blue while hiding green, a paper that looks at politics as the system that needs redress instead of a sugar daddy with split personality.

To grow, We need a digital communications infrastructure that makes Our island a giant beacon of potential, instead of some dark hole where trolls with law degrees slurp avidly.

But now, to grow, We need to appeal to foreign powers, powers so foreign We don't even know who they really are. For all Our halitosis about status, how's that for being a stinking colony?

And don't think I've forgotten about Banco Popular, dominant force in personal loans, construction loans, mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and transaction (debit card) processing. (Third World economy, anyone?) Primary advertiser in El Nuevo Día. Primary user of digital communications. Primary beneficiary of higher-cost construction. (They bitch, but interest rates are sooo much better for a bank when the plucked geese have to borrow more money.)

Who's the single largest shareholder in this multi-billion dollar bank? Antonio Luis Ferré. Former owner of Ponce Cement. Soon to be former owner of El Nuevo Día.

Three guesses where he'll put his money, and the first two don't count.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

23 November 2007

The 4 Question Plan

Way back in the beginning of The Jenius, there was an occasional focus on personal productivity, things I'd found that were useful in helping Me (and others) get more results from less effort. But the tendency to focus on Our political, economic and social issues pushed personal productivity--as a topic--off these pages. Here's a post that corrects that absence. I call it "The 4 Question Plan."

As a freelance worker, time and how to use it wisely is a constant concern. But being of curious nature, prone to boredom and reluctant to turn down any project, I often find Myself simply swamped with Things To Do. Toss in My focus on being an almost-daily presence in My son's life (I'm divorced and live 5 minutes from where My son lives), My voracious (there's no other word for it; ask those who know Me) reading habit and My whims and wishes and you have the makings of frequent bouts where "What do I do now?" plays a central role.

Despite near-obsessive searching and testing, I have yet to come up with a time management system that suits Me. I basically use index cards for daily reminders and a weekly or semi-weekly Projects review to keep Me on track. But even so, there comes a time when I simply have to clear the decks and My brain. And for that, I've evolved a 4 Question Plan:

1) What do I have to do? Simple question. It's the natural starting point for almost all of Us when things get really hairy. So I make a list of everything--everything--I feel I have to do. I make no distinction between work and personal projects: If it's Mine, it's important.

2) From the list, what do I do not want to do? Again, simple, but the question forces Me to notice what I've programmed or committed to that bugs the hell out of Me. Over time, I noticed patterns of activities and tasks I didn't want to do...so I stopped agreeing to them or placing Myself in positions or projects that led to them. Bingo! More freedom to do what interests Me!

3) What can I delegate or let slide? Another obvious question, except for the "let slide" part. I'm hyper-competitive and think I can do anything and everything I choose to do, but no matter how much I believe that, the truth is: I can't. And many times, I'm inclined to think nobody does it better, so I have to do it. Again, wrong. And beyond that, not everything I think is worth doing is actually worth doing. In work projects where I belong to a team, I've learned that what I may think is absolutely necessary is occasionally not a priority or even a need. So now I look to pass certain tasks to others, who are often more competent than Me, and evaluate other tasks to see if delegating is worth it or if they even merit any more of My attention.

4) What can only be done by Me? Now We're talking... From the now-reduced list, I can pick only those tasks that are truly Mine and get to work on them. Once again, an obvious question, but what may be obvious or common sense is often not even thought about or remembered when needed. What I've done here is establish a procedure to help Me quickly sort through My options and get to work on high-value tasks as quickly as possible.

Now I hope I don't forget to "mix it up" here again...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 November 2007

Vacation Blues...and Reds

Here's what's going on in Puerto Rico's government this Thanksgiving week: Bupkis.



Applying the kind of irrational, gland-driven idiocy that makes monkeys fling poo at peanut-toting humans, governor Aníbal "Jellyfish" Acevedo orders 53 government agencies shut down for the entire week. His "reason"--or what seeped from his mouth--is that this is a "cost-saving measure."

That's like slitting your throat to lose weight: Criminally stupid.

Before I give you the ONLY reason for this idiocy, here's the numbers breakdown:

--Roughly 80% of every agency's budget is salaries and benefits, which are still being paid.

--Disruption of services forces the agencies or other parts of the government's zoo crew to create alternative solutions, such as "provisional driver's licenses" and other stop-gap measures. None of these save money.

--Delays in government processes always cost money to the private sector. Always. But The Jellyfish doesn't give a rat's gangrenous ass about that because the shutdown is about...


Nothing more. Nothing less. It's simply a way to use Our money to sway votes to the red party symbol, in his spineless direction.

More proof: If this week-long vacation really saves money, why not do this in 2006 when the budget crisis was already an acknowledged reality?

Because 2007 is not an election year.

And if you think I'm being simplistic about this, here's one more nail in your head: The legislature, the same group of blue party symbol fetid hyenas who yowl at every move The Jellyfish makes, has kept quiet on this issue. Cuz let's face it: They aren't about public service--they are about votes, too.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

19 November 2007

Whacking The Jellyfish

I'm back reflecting and quoting what MC Don Dees over at Dondequiera.com has brilliantly highlighted. Seems that Our rightly-maligned governor, Aníbal "Jellyfish" Acevedo, ascribes to Us some superhuman ability to detect injustice when it is (a) political, (b) non-partisan and (c) the wrong conclusion, specifically about the ongoing federal investigation into improper contributions to his campaign.

In other words, The Jellyfish wants Us to ignore the facts and use "third eyes" to go blind.

Do tell.

By placing himself in the same sewage-swamped kayak as practically every other politician in recent (last two millennia) history, The Jellyfish has ignored--as MC Don Dees pointed out--what real injustice is. Because I see no room for improvement, here's the hammering list:

An injustice is when people are appointed to positions not based on their skill, experience, and credentials but rather, who they know, and how willing they are to turn a blind eye;

An injustice is not supporting the right of every Puerto Rican child to have a good education;

An injustice is not being able to live in low income housing without worrying about whether or not your kids will be killed in a crossfire;

An injustice is a local judiciary that hands down arbitrary and capricious decisions and regularly fails to uphold the "rule of law";

An injustice is when elected officials use their legislative power to buy votes;

An injustice is taxing the hell out of local citizens and businesses and then giving a week off to government workers;

An injustice is providing perks and escorts to elected officials and appointees while the rest of us get to sit in the daily "tapón";

An injustice is when the police are allowed to ignore the very rules they promised to enforce;

An injustice is to not enforce the parking laws and force the elderly, children, and those with handicaps to dodge traffic because the sidewalks are occupied by automobiles, including those used by public officials and the police;

An injustice is to take money in exchange for political and financial favors.

Hey, Jellyfish: Get a clue.

The Jenius Has Quoted.

16 November 2007

Interactive Brains Wanted

Over at Dondequiera.com, MC Don Dees has made a case that interactive advertising in Puerto Rico is at the level it was in the U.S. about a decade ago.

He may be optimistic. (Though his latest posts may belie that assessment.)

As noted, interactive advertising is lumped locally with urinal ads and gas pump placards. If it involves a hose and liquid, it's interactive advertising? The proven and growing power of more personalized marketing and publicity is a no-brainer; unfortunately, "no brains" is exactly what's in the mix right now.

Local ad agencies are so wrapped up in their sweetheart deals with local media that they have no desire to queer that in favor of a marketing method that requires brains and dedication to make happen. No brains.

Local consumers are so bombarded by traditional advertising and "alternatives" invading bathrooms and dining tables that they have no desire to have another system thrust at them. Especially one that involves them actually using their brains to learn how to truly use a computer. No brains.

Local companies are so caught up in their bloody turf battles they can't imagine or spare the brainpower needed to find a new horizon, for doing so could take short-term gains away. No brains.

Local media could be embracing interactive advertising as a way to expand their own hegemony, but why invest thought in expanding when one can rely on base instinct to squeeze more dollars from the current mess? No brains.

Locally, the Interactive Advertising Bureau should have had a chapter 2-3 years ago, but the current lead on that issue hasn't the brains to properly focus on doing the job right and create an industry rather than play patty-cake within the current advertising industry. No brains.

Yes, it's true that there are roughly 300,000-350,000 Internet users in Puerto Rico, not one million or whatever stupid number the wannabes squawk about. That might be too small a number for across-the-board interactive advertising growth, but it is large enough to allow for very powerful niche advertising.

It isn't possible to close a 10-year gap in one leap, but it can be done in a few, and certainly in several. It takes brains to get it started. Brains to forget the ad agency model. Brains to reach the right consumers. Brains to move companies from grubbers to growers. Brains to embrace new media. And brains to create an industry that lives up to global standards and best practices.

Brains We have. The next ingredient is will.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 November 2007

Sales Tax Redux

Since I predicted the pattern of the government's reporting of the sales tax (high numbers reported at first, then lower numbers, then no reporting, then strong hints that that there won't be as much money coming in as expected; We're at the last stage now), let Me reanalyze what the sales tax has done and will continue to do:

1) Slow down the economy: Raise your hand if this seems blatantly obvious to you. (You Fools can put your hands down: We know you don't know how to read.) Even with oil prices and the real estate bubble blowing holes in economic growth for the U.S. of part of A., Our economy is not growing. The difference between some growth and no growth can be placed squarely at the feet of the sales tax because no other significant economic change has been made by the Aníbal "Jellyfish" Acevedo's misadministration and the legislature's criminally stupid incompetence.

2) Create confusion and lack of confidence: Beyond making things more expensive, the sales tax--in application and reporting--has thrown monkey wrenches throughout the economy in helter-skelter fashion. The law is so badly-applied that exempt sectors (amongst them services and medicines) are slapped with the sales tax and with so much widespread misapplication, there simply is too much for anybody to do anything about it. And that's assuming that someone wants to, an assumption that lacks any evidence of being true.

3) Increase claims against property insurance: Although the numbers aren't solid, there seems to be the predicted (by Me) trend for more claims of inventory and equipment losses than has been the case in the past four years. My prediction was that inventory and equipment would be sold for cash, then "lost" or "destroyed" to collect the insurance. As of the third quarter of 2007, that trends seems to be bearing up. Note I'm not saying this is right; it isn't. But when faced with small gains or a loss by following the law and a bigger potential gain by committing fraud, the barrier against this action--in all this confusion, too--is lowered, thus making it easier to take the leap.

4) Streamline and perfect the underground economy: As laws to manage or set-up your business continue to pile up, as costs are increased with no true potential for a comparable increase in legal earnings, as confusion and chaos continue to hide any paths to progress, the simple, straightforward and profitable power of the underground economy makes perfect sense. A cash-based, tit-for-tat economy is always preferable to a bureaucratic mishmash of legal entanglements. Or to put it in language the Fools can understand: Cash beats taxes. And the tragic reality of Our economy is that solutions to this simple statement--and they do exist--are beyond the abilities of the Fools to either see, understand or implement.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

12 November 2007

All About Me

Happy Birthday to ME!!

Before I go on about ME, I'll repeat Myself: If you are not listening to Keith Olbermann, you are missing out on the single truly courageous voice in the U.S.'s mainstream MEdia. Click here for an exceptional example of letting Truth be known.

Now, about ME.

My Thanks to Janine-MEndes Franco for picking up another one of My posts for Global Voices Online (and apologies for slightly altering your naME...)

I MEntioned several posts ago that Puerto Rico ranked 130th of 131 countries in the Global Competitiveness Report in category 01.08 "Burden of GovernMEnt Regulations." I snarkily tossed out that Hell was country number 131.

I was close: It's Venezuela, a country where the governMEnt is doing everything it can to take over every business in the nation. Only THAT country ranks worse than Us on how intrusive, infuriating, ineffective, inefficient and idiotic its governMEnt is.

Then there's this report, called the Doing Business Economy Rankings. Here We rank 28th...behind Mauritius. (Yes, I linked to it so you'll know where it is. I already knew, thank you.) Please note that in the category of "Dealing with Licenses," Puerto Rico ranked 135th of 178 countries analyzed. Who ranks below Us? Countries in frank chaos, those led by thug-based dictatorships or in the midst of civil wars.

Then add a recent banking "summit" where that industry called on the local governMEnt to reduce its size and reach in order to improve the economy. Uh-huh. And what does all this have to do with ME? I've been saying these same things for over 15 years. It's tiME soMEone MEntioned that and I just did.

While We're scoping about banks, Banco Popular announced a "restructuring" of eLoan. Funny how the entire article and subsequent follow-up pieces never ever MEntioned offering eLoan services for competitive loan and mortgage rates in Puerto Rico. Again, quoting ME, Banco Popular is one of the four huge obstacles We have for growth in Puerto Rico. Watch them slice-and-dice with eLoan stateside and leave its honeypot local status utterly untouched. You'll reMEmber ME when they announce their success "over there."

Another ME moMEnt: The Fools have dropped capital gains taxes. You might recall I suggested exactly that a couple of weeks ago... I know they did this good thing without My expertise, so a half-hearted woo-hoo goes out to them. The MEdia covered it as a "break for the rich," but they miss the point: Too much money tied up in properties slows down the economy, especially when overburdened by a hefty consuMEr tax. An economy is based on value exchanges: If less gets exchanged, the economy slows down. It's quite simple, really.

And how bad is the sales tax smacking the jellyfish governor? An editorial cartoon has him drowning with a huge ball and chain attached to his ankle labeled "Sales Tax." Simple, direct and months after ME.

On the subject of raising police salaries and "no money," I MEntioned that there was money, but only for high-paid sycophants, human vegetables and idiots expanding the public payrolls. One such highly-paid sycophantic vegetable idiot actually billed 275 hours of work, at $140 an hour...with all the work done in a 20-day period. That's right, this hard-working example of thievery on the public payroll averaged almost 14 hours of work per day--in December! His monthly bill of $36,575 would have almost paid a year's salary for 2 full-time police officers.

Like I said, there's money and then there's money.

Oh, and one final note about ME: This idiot's billing happened in the last full month of what governor's term? Hint: "I knew nothing, I didn't participate in any way, but I was on top of everything in my administrations." Yes, folks, in another nod to ME and My insights, please say hello to the one, the only Pedro Stupid Rosselló!

Thank you! Good night, Mauritius!

The Jenius Has Spoken.

09 November 2007

Catching Up on Stuff

During My recent 9-post solution series, a couple of items zipped by that I don't want to let get away from Me:

---Another 31 doctors were arrested in the ongoing "cash for licenses" investigation. This time, a former head of the Medical Examining Board was brought in, joining the most recent Board pumpkin-heads in their relentless pursuit of infamy.

Let's start by saying that the roughly 125 people under close scrutiny are but a tiny percentage of the local medical community. Therefore, they really don't represent the many fine doctors who serve Our citizens, nor the often-greedy cash hustlers who zip off this Island as if their next examination was proctological.

Between these admittedly subjective extremes lies a fair-sized gray group of marginals, of doctors whose avocation isn't really health care: drones who end up signing driver's license applications or working within insurance companies for shareholder profit or who move into health facility administration or those who decide to go into politics and let their cronies fleece the citizenry like Mongols on a war raid.

We can't change those marginals, but We can change how those marginals might mislead future doctors. The solution is to simply take the current guilty doctors, the ones who paid their way in when brains and discipline weren't enough, and throw the book at them so hard no surgeon could ever remove it from their innards.

Teach the current marginals--and those who want to be like them in the future--that crime doesn't pay. If We'd wholeheartedly done that before with the Fools, We'd have better government...and better health care.

---Speaking of the Fools, they are seeking a 20% pay raise. No, they are not kidding. These utterly ridiculous, totally useless, absolutely worthless bags of walking cow dung will vote themselves a pay raise that is beyond outrageous, it exacerbates what is without precedent in a democratic nation.

Click here for a summation of legislative salaries per state in the U.S. of part of A. Now according to this downloadable document, the minimum salary (as of 2005) of a local bag of cow dung masquerading as a legislator is at least $73,775. Only three states have a higher minimum salary: California ($113,098), Michigan ($79,650) and New York ($79,500.)

Now look at this list of income per capita, per state. (Go ahead, I'll wait.) Mississippi is the lowest, at $25,318 (in 2005.) California was at $37,306, Michigan was at $33,116 and New York at $40,507.

The U.S. average income per capita that year was $34,586. The average legislative salary was $37,877.

In Puerto Rico, income per capita in 2005 was $17,184. Meanwhile the dungbags were raking in a minimum of $73,775. (Committee chairbags and chamber(pot) presidents make over $90,000 and $110,000 respectively; all of My figures leave out per diems and multiple other benefits.)

The average legislator in the States makes about 10% more than a citizen he/she represents.

In Puerto Rico, the dungbag makes at least 429% more than the average citizen it so grossly misrepresents.

This nauseating legal thievery is the worst ratio of any democracy in the world. And what frosts My crotch is that We're so thoroughly witless as voters and citizens that We're going to let them get away with it. Again.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 November 2007

From Panties to Prozac

To add fuel to the fire of Our woes comes another announcement of the closing of a pharmaceutical company. This time it's Bristol-Myers Squibb, with over 300 jobs disappearing around Santa Claus time.

To an "administration" that has executed its mythical strategies of economic development with the grace of a drunken hippo on ice skates, the news of this and the closings or cutbacks in Amgen, Eli Lilly and Pfizer are serious blows. Especially when you consider that, to local eyes and minds, the pharmaceutical industry represents the unquestioned crown jewel atop the manufacturing-centered dung heap We call "Our economic transformation."

To anyone with an ounce of gray matter in their skulls, the "sudden" contraction of this economic "shining star" comes as absolutely--absolutely--no surprise. It isn't a surprise because We never ever considered that the pharmaceutical industry here was anything other than a trumped-up manufacturing extension, never buying into the widespread, almost dogmatic view that they were something entirely different from the factory boxes of 50 years ago.

You see, Our "economic transformation" was taken on faith (pun intended) to have been a transubstantiation, i.e. a miraculous conversion of the mundane to the otherworldly. What it has been is nothing more than a makeover, where the ugly-but-plucky eyesore has money do its magic so as to emerge as a pleasantly-appealing person...with the exact same character flaws.

What the needle industry was for Operation Bootstrap in the 1940s, 50s and 60s was what the pharmaceutical industry became in the 1980s and 90s: The example of economic investment creating jobs. The transformation didn't change Puerto Rico's basic economic model at any fundamental level: It simply changed how much money flowed through and out of Puerto Rico. Instead of dingy boxes peopled by low-skill workers producing undergarments, We stepped up to shiny boxes peopled by low-skill workers with college degrees producing medication.

We went from panties to Prozac.

And yes, I said the pharmaceutical industry employed "low-skill" workers. Every pharmaceutical process is so tightly regulated that automation is the only standard, automation to the point where any average Juan or Juana can do the job. The single filter there is a college degree, to satisfy appearances. And if you need proof, check out how much these pharmaceutical companies invested over the past three decades on pure Research and Development done here. That's where the real high-skill jobs are, the ones that can truly transform an economic system..and they ain't here. They never were.

And let Me remind you statehooders: You wanted this. You lobbied long and hard and successfully to remove the Section 936 tax break that propped up these glorified pill-pushing pantries and the industry itself said that in doing so, the Island would cease to become an attractive option. No, you argued, they have invested too much and We are too experienced, too well-prepared to have them just pack up and leave.

Uh-huh. You made three mistakes:

1) You assumed that their business decision--based on shareholder profits--was to be made on the same basic interest as Ours, which is job creation. Without profits, jobs aren't created.

2) You assumed that Our "national abilities" would sustain the industry's interest when tax money was taken off the table. As My poker buddies used to say: "If there ain't no money, We look for another table."

3) You assumed that by relieving Uncle Sam's political headache, he'd be more amenable to the idea of thinking about imagining a day when he might possibly consider the notion of analyzing the potential process whereby the option of maybe suggesting statehood for Puerto Rico could be conceivably brought to someone's attention. Ha. Ha.

The question is: Now what? The king(snake) is dying! Long live the...what? Three successive misadministrations have wrestled in vain to create an economic development strategy suitable for a country where 30% of the workforce doesn't, 69% of the profits are repatriated elsewhere and 42% of those who do work are beholden to the government for their paychecks.

Here's a hint, Fools: You're the problem. Stop sniffing panties and swallowing Prozac. The answer--the answers--aren't found in the dusty boxes of yesterday or the shiny boxes of today. How about you, say, think outside the box, for a welcome change?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

04 November 2007

Education Solutions - Part 3

Completing My solutions, Part 3 on the misnamed Education system:

Make education the reason for progress, not the excuse: If I hear another "leader" pontificate about how "Our children are Our future," I will drop-kick a puppy. (Okay, a puppy doll.) The almost-constant hypocrisy behind that statement lies in the chest-thumping stance versus butt-flattening inaction. Education--to the Fools and those who support them--has become an excuse to support their agenda and not the reason for developing the agenda in the first place.

You want proof?

--What excuse was used to shove multiple lotteries down Our throats--though the money doesn't go where it's supposed to?
--What final excuse was piled upon a trash-heap of excuses to justify a damaging sales tax?
--What department is the biggest trash-heap for political butt-lickers and mindless vermin?
--What department has the highest single budget, the highest deficit and the highest loss of Federal funds in Our government?

We see education as a means to an end, not an end in itself. We treat it like a pimp treats his best whore: Plenty of praise so long as there's money on the table at all times.

The mental frame has to change from "Education as money-bagger" to "Education as opportunity-creator." It starts with this:

Refocus Our curriculum to create leaders, not followers: Here's the current curriculum in a nutshell:

1) Do as I say.
2) Don't question.
3) Memorize so you can avoid learning.

Here's the new nutshell:

1) Do with me.
2) Question everything to find your own answers.
3) Relate what you know to what you want to know.

With a curriculum like the first list, is it any wonder education is treated like a gaudy strumpet?

Place education at the forefront of progress as the system that builds individuals to forge a new society.

Make education the reason We alter Our government, so that it becomes a support system for leadership on a global scale.

Make education the reason We transform Our economy, to take advantage of the enormous power global connections place in Our hands.

Make education the reason We transform Our society...and stop making it the excuse that keeps Us from achieving the future We deserve.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

02 November 2007

Education Solutions - Part 2

Continuing with education solutions:

Raise teacher standards to world-class levels: World-class levels, not U.S.-suggested, union-lazy sub-standards. That means We abandon the pretense that the U.S. knows what the hell it's talking about in K-12 education and We scan the world for better options.

I can just see teachers shaking their heads... Year after year, in every basic subject matter, the U.S. as a nation comes up woefully short of Top 10 status at almost every grade level. Countries such as Finland, Norway, South Korea and Mexico that comparatively spend about half the money per student beat the pants off the part-of-America(ns). And now, just for the record, guess which part of the U.S. brings up the ugly rear?

Although you can't blame the teachers for all the problems, you can certainly lay a good chunk of the blame at their feet, especially when time after time, teachers and their unions expend greater effort in grubbing for benefits than they do enlightening young minds. The correlation between "strong" teacher's unions and poor education is very clear, for guess what the above-mentioned countries don't have?

What they have instead are high overall standards and teachers are held accountable to them. Yes, that involves a change in curriculum and administration, even a societal paradigm shift, but that is nothing We can't achieve...if teachers want it to happen.

Here's one way to start making it happen:

Have teachers pass certification tests to teach and be recertified every five years: Now I can hear the teachers howl...

Imagine a 61-year old doctor treating your child. Suddenly he tells you he graduated as a lab technician 36 years ago, worked as an orthopedic assistant for 12 years, spent 20 years as a podiatrist and is now a pediatrician for the summer, tending your child with his/her future at stake.

With slight changes, that describes many of the teachers clogging up the system, drones who graduated 30+ years ago in whatever subject their feeble minds could scrape by in, switched to other subjects as needs arose (and standards didn't) and end up in some classroom faking knowledge until retirement kicks in.

Enough. If you want to teach, get certified in any subject matter at any grade level. Get certified to teach everything at any level, if you want to. Then stay current with teaching trends, new information, emergent technology and most importantly with your own sense of competence. When that happens, then you can justify the following:

To secure world-class standards, pay world-class teachers what they are worth: A cynic would say it all boils down to money and there may be some truth to that. But the bottom line is the bottom line because it is part of everything, Thus, to retain world-class talent, you have to provide world-class compensation.

But not all compensation has to be money. Teachers were once highly-respected members of the community, because their schooling set them apart. Now most teachers are so pathetic in their "schooling" that they can only be set apart from feral monkeys. Raising the standards raises the level of respect for those who achieve them.

In addition, teachers could be compensated with free post-graduate education at state universities and even become "in-house" education consultants, encouraged to teach best practices and even pursue their own projects to expand or modify the educational system. The goal is have teachers once again earn the respect and rewards an educator has naturally engendered throughout human history.

A system that sponsors and rewards mediocrity is going to be filled by mediocre people...or worse. So goes government. So goes education. Of the two groups, teachers and Fools, there's hope in rescuing teachers because most them, at least, want to make a positive difference.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

01 November 2007

Education Solutions - Part 1

On My way to the final three posts in this series, I found this Dondequiera post by MC Don Dees. I'll get back to that one and his recent interactive marketing posts after I finish solving Puerto Rico's problems. (Of 131 countries, WE ranked 130th in "Burden of government of regulations"?! Is Hell #131?)

Talk about leaving the worst for last...Education is Our hell. Here's how to step it up into Purgatory and beyond:

Flatten the Department: I mean that literally, but I'll use "flatten" in the organizational sense. Between the teacher in the classroom and the Secretary of Education, there must be no more than 4 levels: the School's Principal, a District Superintendent and a Regional Superintendent. Period. No sub-this or assistant-that. The current 50-50 imbalance between administrators and teachers needs to tilt to 20-80, with 80% of the Education department in the hands of working teachers. Lose the dead weight, give teachers a better chance to address core educational issues and let the department be run by administrators focused on results, not failed lunkheads aiming for retirement benefits.

Make Regions compete for funding within the Department: Don't give Me that look. The current system for disbursing and managing funds is like trying to fill a sinkhole with soap bubbles. Witness the loss of Federal funds in the current Department, losses that may total close to a billion dollars by the end of 2009. Rather than continue this way, have a base amount of funding per student as a minimal guarantee and have each of the 10 Regions submit plans and proposals for additional funding.

Complicated? Could be. But here are the highlights that will make it work:

--Teachers will get involved in actual teaching. Those that don't face actually working at something else.
--The focus will be on schooling, not on spending.
--Best practices are explored and when successful, shared or imitated.
--Parents in the public school system will have another major reason for caring about their children's school: Is it competing or is it a retirement home with chalk?
--Schools will quickly learn to partner to increase resources.

Provide a tax break for home schooling: While schools deteriorate like zombies in a blender--and I include private schools in that blender--the only viable option for concerned parents is home schooling. Of course, the Fools want to tax that, too. But to radically improve local education, a tax break for home schooling is the most economical solution.

Here's why: The tax break will immediately encourage a wider and deeper involvement in education, beginning along the lines of home schooling (how, what tools, what standards, what benefits, etc.) That entire discussion is part and parcel of improving public and private education and places the emphasis on the educational process itself, not the money angle. Shift the frame on the debate and you change the chances of success from "dismal" to "achievable."

The inherent power of education has been wasted in Puerto Rico. Any power left unused is equal to not having that power. We deserve better.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

29 October 2007

Security Solutions - Part 2

Following Part 1, comes Part 2 (You're welcome, statehooders.)

Privatize both utilities: In terms of electricity and water, Puerto Rico has long teetered on the brink of disaster. Our water pipes are 50 years behind the current demand, the current Sewage-headed Authority in charge of it plays monkey-butt with "estimated" water bills and the government keeps allowing this decrepit slug to give away water, both legally (subsidies) and illegally. (The other decrepit slug gives away electricity. Huzzah!)

So it's time to privatize the right way. And the right way doesn't mean "Protect the vegetables in their cushy jobs," it means "Transform the system from chaos to order."

Here's how:

1) Place both utilities "on the market" so that private companies can present their plans and bids.

2) The government establishes the objectives and expected results for the duration of the initial 5-year contract. These objectives DO NOT include "job protection," "minimum employee retention" or any some-such crap. A smart business is run with the people needed: Let the winning bidder establish its operational team.

3) The winning bidder takes over the utility and is on the clock. The company starts its transformation plan and the government clears the way. The "stick" to keep the utility in line is the loss of the contract if objectives aren't met. The "stick" only works if the government clears the way properly. (To the Fools: You can control the utility better by targeting long-term profit potential than you can by shoving useless employees down their throats. Ask Verizon.)

4) The government has oversight powers on rate changes, in its role as protector of the citizenry. (Excuse Me: I just cackled a tear here.) Rate changes must be tied into completed infrastructure changes.

5) If the company falls short of objectives, it incurs a fine equal to the transition cost for another company to take over. If objectives are met, the company receives another 5-year contract, or a longer one that voters decide on. That's right, I said voters, the people who pay the bills. The Fools will quickly try to arrange for a long-term butt-buddy deal; there's no stopping that. With this system, the company must do its job right. If they want to stick around for more than 5 years, it's not the Fools who decide.

Sub-clause solution: Establish two new energy plants: This can be a stand-alone measure, but as part of a utility revamp, it's absolutely necessary. Let's cut to the chase: These plants need to be established, by fiat, use of eminent domain or simple fait accompli machinations. What I'm saying here is that the government needs to make this happen without regard to the knee-jerk "not in My backyard" reactions it will engender.

With over 1,000 persons on average per square mile and more along the coastal regions, there is no way a new energy plant can be placed on this island if We let tiny groups sway decisions against it. This tyranny-by-minorities is arguably acceptable when it comes to a tourist resort, but it no longer has a place when the economic and security potential of Puerto Rico is so compromised by an overburdened, outdated and collapsing infrastructure.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

26 October 2007

Security Solutions - Part 1

My previous four posts were picked up by Global Voices Online. That's always an honor.

Now the following solutions for what I deem are security issues in Puerto Rico:

Double police salaries while significantly raising the standards: If you have a high school diploma, don't have a criminal record and aren't reasonably in danger of dying within the next five years, you can be a Puerto Rico police officer, with your own gun and everything. And you start at $1,400 a month.

What a joke. Just as the political system weeds out capable people to favor sub-normal and sub-evolved cretins (I know, I'm being redundant, but the Fools don't understand what I say), the police force attracts largely marginal candidates for any job, much less ones to engage in the primary function of government: defense of its citizens.

Many in Our police force work two or even three jobs to make ends meet, which is an obvious scenario for stress, dysfunctional relationships and corruption, not to mention thuggery. No police force in the world is immune to bad apples, but when you start with inferior material (Yes, I said "inferior") you can only hope you wind up with a worthy crop.

We're past the stage where hope has any right to guide Our actions here. Beginning immediately, the police force has to seriously raise its standards to beyond "You wan' fries with that?" candidacy. It has to police (pun definitely intended) its own so that the rotten ones are expelled as quickly as possible. And while that happens--only as it happens--do current officers start receiving the higher pay they deserve.

And don't give Me that "There's no money" crap: There's plenty of money for this even without implementing My other solutions. Proof: The Fools added more employees in four years than there are police officers in Puerto Rico, many of them at salaries that triple what cops make.

There's money. And then there's money.

Implement preventive care in the health care system: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The current health reform--a sick oxymoron at Our expense--is absolutely lousy at health care, but it's light-years better than it is at preventive care. The reason: The system was designed by venal doctors, starting from the top with an ex-doctor who aped rather than shaped.

The specious argument against preventive care is that it's up to the patient to follow-through and that you can't coerce a person to engage in the required activities.

Just shut up.

What is government if not a system to coerce certain behaviors from its citizens, ostensibly for the good of that person and society? Is it better for a government to coerce behaviors after the person is sick and weak or when the person is healthy? Is it better to coerce those behaviors to help the person stay healthy or is it better to coerce them to possibly restore health, if time doesn't run out? Which is more cost-effective, regular check-ups to avoid problems or expensive drugs and surgery to fight for an unsteady status quo?

An ounce versus a pound. People--doctors, hospital owners, insurance company shareholders, Fools-- love the pound...that comes from Our flesh. We'd rather pay the ounce. Here's how: We extend the health system to a schedule of routine yearly or semi-annual check-ups. No one is required to keep the schedule, but if they do, they get progressively smaller deductibles when they need health services. This alleviates two problems:

1) Those with marginal incomes often put off health care due to cost. Here they can get basic care at no cost.

2) By getting that care and developing a medical history, many health problems can be ameliorated or caught early enough to be easily treated. And by "easily" I mean "at lower cost."

An ounce versus a pound. Seems applicable to both solutions, when you come to think about it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

24 October 2007

Government Solutions - Part 2

More on how to fix the hideously defective sewer We call government:

Change the Legislative elections to a separate schedule from the Executive election: Every four years, Puerto Rico sweeps out one set of Fools and installs a veritable clone-herd of Fools in its place. Every seat, from governor to head butt-kisser at the Municipal level is up for grabs, and even if the governor and butt-kisser win, the simple idea that everything is in flux means everything grinds to a halt.

Add to that the whole chaotic inrush of effluvia hiding cronyism and nepotism to a severe degree and you have the typical high colonic We call transition.

Here's how to ameliorate this idiocy: Use the change to unicamerality (I can hear Myself laughing in the near distance) to have those Fools and County Commissions (Yes, implement My other suggestion for better mileage) elected in even-number years that don't involve the executive branch (governor and head beggar in Washington, D.C., as well as all mayors). Under that system, We still have year-round campaigns (like THAT'S going to change), but We separate the transition efforts into separate periods.

Those who say it will create chaos are to be forcibly reminded of the following two points: This system works for Us by reducing overall government strain--which reduces overall economic strain--and do you really want to continue with the current witless system?

Make a full transition to e-government by 2012, but keep elections paper-based: Puerto Rico, with its high population density and technology infrastructure, is--should be--the perfect sociopolitical laboratory for e-government. A streamlined, Web-enabled, Web-enhanced, near-instantaneous government is within Our reach. We could teach the world how to make a truly representative democracy, the first since the experiment of Athens some 2,400 years ago.

But no e-voting for general elections. The murderous moron and his moronic thugs stole two national elections by using e-voting. Independent reports and even a Republican-supporter's analysis of the 2004 Ohio debacle conclude e-voting was rigged, and in 2000, Florida's unbelievably irrational voting patterns were carried out via e-voting.

We can use e-government to set a world-class standard. We don't need e-voting to make electing pluperfect idiots any easier.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

22 October 2007

Government Solutions - Part 1

Now let's see how to fix the f#@*&^%! government:

Reduce the number of its employees by 60%: The local pathetic excuse for government is grossly overburdened because it serves as a garbage can for stuffing nobodies who would otherwise have to actually provide value and work for a living. Almost 42% of Our employed work directly or indirectly for the government and that has only ONE explanation: Votes.

Since I couldn't possibly care less about votes, slash 30% of those nobodies stat. Begin with the huge departments, such as Education (more on this "later" or "above", as the case may be...), Hacienda (the junior-batty IRS), Vivienda (Housing) and Salud (Health). Contracting these asylums for the mentally incompetent and morally bankrupt would drop overall numbers by some 15%.

How? Eliminate--immediately--everyone whose title/position includes words such as Auxiliary, Assistant or Special and/or includes a number/ordinal, such as "Second Sub-Director." These are all useless positions and people who occupy them are at best accomplices in stupidity. (At worst, they are outright thieves.)

Along these lines, eliminate some agencies, such as the Public Buildings Authority and Ports Authority. The latter is basically a Federal government rubber stamp that can be melded into Hacienda and the local Transportation Department. Then privatize utilities (power and water) and unused public buildings (for community development projects). Lastly, go unicameral. At this point, We've chopped off some 30% of the government's brainless fat. The other 30% comes from...

Consolidate the 78 townships into 16 counties: And by "consolidate" I mean "Create a unified, single-point-of-reference operation," not another useless layer of bureaucracy. Puerto Rico doesn't need 78 Municipal governments providing voter-based exchanges: What We need is more efficient government.

Creating a 16-county system would combine geography at the Municipal level (no gerrymandering) with population, where each county will represent roughly 350,000 residents. The exception would be San Juan, as a county in itself, but the others would take contiguous towns and balance the populations for near-equal distribution. Municipal governments would contract by 15-25% and central government agencies would also reduce their employees by about 10-15% because of a reduced service base (78 versus 16.)

With these solutions, Puerto Rico's bloated government would shrink its percentage within the total work force from 24% direct employment to about 12%, a sustainable level. The savings in wages and benefits alone would provide a large pool of funds for government-led projects, primarily aimed at education, energy and economic development.

And you know where to find Me for those solutions...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

19 October 2007

Economic Solutions -- Part 2

Second part of the Economic Solutions set, part of My 9-post series:

Drop subsidies for outside investors and focus on creating research centers: It is estimated that to secure a $1,000 investment, Puerto Rico "gives up" some $1,100. That's like playing blackjack to lose...on purpose. The loss starts with power and water subsidies, then tax subsidies and even extends to labor subsidies. (Hewlett-Packard, anyone?) The key transition is to stop giving away money and start developing a "service first" attitude. And the best way to do that is to transform Puerto Rico into an a la carte research center. You want to do biomedical? What do you need and by when? You're interested in nanotech? Give Us your shopping list and We can do. From buildings to broadband to bright-eyed associates, We can start selling Ourselves as the "just add you" place for scientific and technological research. Will it be easy? Hell no. But it has three advantages over the current "We'll blindly grease Our backsides" method of getting screwed: (1) It is an easy-to-market proposition; (2) It plays to Our strengths as a U.S.-connected, somewhat bilingual and highly-educated workforce and (3) It lets Us manage development costs as investments, not as losing propositions.

Make all welfare workfare...and if the U.S won't agree, opt out of every program: Yeah, you heard Me: No free rides and the hell with the federal government if it doesn't understand. We have an enormous population of people who live off the kindness of strangers and the venality of politicians in two countries. However, many of those on welfare would rather work than stay trapped in their subservient limbo. There's considerable debate about this point and I acknowledge that the number of "willing to work" may be quite low. On the other hand, if forced to choose between workfare and no welfare, how much do you want to bet workfare will be the favored option? Unless We get this large percentage (about 20-23% of Our potential working population) into the fray, We're simply feeding the underground economy, debasing any chance at a national will for economic growth and raising another generation of parasites masquerading as "the poor."

Of course, you won't see any Fool on this island or up north take the lead on this solution because they fear being labeled "enemies of the poor." But any true political leader worth more than a bag of pig crap has to be an enemy of the poor because their poverty implies that "the system" isn't working. And you don't help a poor person by making his/her poverty their best option: You help the poor by creating better options.

By U.S. standards, more than half Our population is economically poor. Well, Uncle Sam, here's a tip: Implement workfare in Puerto Rico and make it the starting point for a nationwide transition over the next decade. By starting here, you U.S. Fools would not be risking a major voter backlash...and you Republicans couldn't care less about the poor anyway, so what the hell do you care? It saves the government money and that's all you care about. And you Democrats should stop sniffing your anuses and realize that extending welfare prolongs poverty, and that the only sensible way back to a self-sustaining lifestyle is to actually have the welfare recipient work at sustaining themselves to some degree.

Go ahead, Fools, find reasons not to do this. You always do. That's why We continue to sink into Our own little patch of economic quicksand, a sludgy elevator to No Future Worth Wanting.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

17 October 2007

Economic Solutions -- Part 1

Here's My solution set--more to come--on fixing Puerto Rico's economic malaise:

Cut the sales tax from 7% to 3%: Despite a government intent on upping this to 8% or more (trust Me: The Fools want this badly) the current sales tax has proven itself to be too high, as anyone with an IQ above 60 could have foreseen. The proof: Overall consumer spending has dropped and the government coffers are receiving less money than expected. Dropping the sales tax to 3% jumpstarts the local economy and, as proven by hundreds of cases worldwide, will actually increase the government's revenue. In addition, cutting the tax will force a reappraisal of its application which at this point looks more like "Tax what you can get away with" instead of "Tax what can bear taxing." Any tax perceived as slipshod, unfair and wasteful--and this one hits all three with a vengeance--is not a tax that will propel an economy into even modest growth.

Tax all second and additional residential properties at modern property value: Local property taxes are an Edsel: An ugly relic of the 1950s. Although the number of second and third homes in Puerto Rico is not close to majority (the estimate is 18% of all homes and apartments are owned in addition to a primary residence), it does represent a substantial undertaxing of true value. By modernizing the property tax We can collect the monies needed to provide infrastructure services at today's costs, not at some 1950-level pipe dream. Property taxes for primary residences can remain at the current levels: The point here isn't so much raising money as it is making the housing market a fairer provider of its own services cost. Given that many of these houses and apartments are built upon or extend a ravished power and water/sewage jalopy, the need to raise monies in that specific segment has been avoided due to cowardice and political buffoonery.

Eliminate capital gains taxes on investments made in local companies: Businesses in Puerto Rico are often like fish in muddy puddles: Flopping about in murkiness while trying to survive on just barely enough oxygen. That business "oxygen"--investment capital--is so hard to find that entities as clueless about business as the EnterPRize cavemen can actually flourish. Those same cavemen would be laughed out of any stateside business community with their feeble brand of "entrepreneurial development." The culprit? Double or even triple taxation on local capital gains. While We bemoan the lack of investment capital, billions--yes, billions--of dollars flow out of Puerto Rico and within it through the so-called underground economy. The Fools taxed Us to "reveal" the underground economy, which is like kicking a dog to make it like you. Take a hint, Fools: The key to making the underground economy a cash-flow stream is to cut taxes.

I've just told you where to start.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 October 2007

Blog Action Day: Time to Act

Yes, The Jenius is adding his 2 (billion) cents to Blog Action Day. Check out the action around the Internets!

And action is the operative word in that sentence. Now a blog isn't really a place for action, but it can be, if it at least espouses positions for improvement and/or solutions. And based on that criteria, The Jenius is falling short of His own expectations.

Look back at most of this year's posts and you might see what I see: A dearth of positive. Yes, there's plenty of pinpointing problems and negatives with no concurrent listing of what needs to be done. I'm certainly better at balancing those two elements than most pundits (3), essayists (5) and freaking idiots (19,341) inhabiting the realm of local media, but I'm definitely not happy with My level of balance: I expect--and must provide--more.

Time to situate My lucre with My oral aperture.

Over the next nine posts, I will provide My current best ideas for changing and improving Puerto Rico's economy, educational system, political system and security. I say "current" because (a) I don't know everything (shocking to Me, too), (b) things change, even solutions and (c) perfection is within My reach, but even I have to work for it.

So if you're reading this in chronological order, you have something more to look forward to in the coming three weeks. If you're reading "down" the list and have just arrived at the beginning, congratulations! If you're just passing through on your way to some other more relevant result, I hope you land on another Blog Action Day blog.

If you don't fit any of the above categories, good for you. Come back sometime and see if I've changed again.

The Jenius Has Spoken.