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.