30 January 2009

Some Not-So-Random-Thoughts, Again

---Here's a screenshot of "What's wrong with America," referring, for what what you will see is an obvious reason, to the U.S. of part of A. If it doesn't make you sick, you vote Republican and are an idiot.

---Has anybody noticed how absolutely awful Our ungovernor Luis "The Larva" Fortuño is at this running the government deal he fell into? He can't even seem to get his face to mask the confusion he's wallowing in. I'd call it "a deer in headlights" look, but deers at least know how to jump out of the way...

---Long-time readers of The Jenius may remember I wrote about Billie, an enchanting soul of a lady I met on a flight from Jacksonville. Earlier this week I received an e-mail from Steve, stuck in Oklahoma. To his surprise, his first encounter with The Jenius was to read about Billie, a woman who helped him so much he literally credits her with saving him. His contact with Me was to help find her so he could speak with her again.

Could I say no? Steve and I talked for over an hour and a half about Billie, her impact on Us (a lifetime for Steve, a life-moment for Me), past jobs, words, how states differ from each other, hospitality, jokes and several things more. Best damn 90 minutes of My week, I can tell you that. And all because some seemingly-random events (flight delays by weather, different seats, My uncharacteristic choice to chat instead of read) led to Me blogging about a woman's wonderful legacy, one that so touched Steve's life. And now Mine.

I'll keep trying to reach Billie, and stay in touch with Steve. I hope We find her.

---There's a big orange "Call Me!" button up there on the left. Yup, if you choose, you can pick up your telephone of choice and ring Me up. No joke. Several of My readers already do this, but they're the ones who know Me from way back and have My cell phone number on speed dial. (Or maybe not. But they should.) 

In any case, the rest of you can just click on the friendly orange button and reach Me. Don't say you never got the chance...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

28 January 2009

Recycle This Plan

From the grabby pen of Jenniffer "Gluttonny" González comes a proposed law to create a recycle, reuse and recovery industry centered on electronic goods.

Pros: Electronic products are loaded with plastics, toxic metals, precious metals and glass that needs to be processed for proper disposal and to make use of key components. We don't do that now. Safer landfills, less waste and an economic incentive from entry (collecting the waste products) to exit (raw materials and inert trash) are good things that benefits Us all.

Cons: Oh, hell, where to begin?

1) "Gluttonny" wants to charge every company that makes, imports, distributes and/or sells electronic goods at least $5,000 for "a registration fee" to "help pay for the recycling and disposal plan." Which hasn't been defined yet and won't be until 6 months after the bill becomes law.

2) "Gluttonny" wants to charge each company in the computer, TV/monitor and cell phone industries a "market participation fee," adjusted annually and equivalent to 0.5% of the total volume of sales. This "fee" also includes cable TV and satellite TV companies, the kind of grubby-greedy grasp that makes a cardinal sin look ugly, you know what I mean?

3) "Gluttonny" specifies in the proposed bill that companies are "forbidden" to pass on the "fees" to their customers in monthly billings or contracts, most especially they are barred from stating that they are charging "to cover a goverment-imposed fee." Heeheehee. Is it Me or am I hearing "Gluttonny" say "You can't blame the government for tacking on extra charges by law to your business?" Okay, "Gluttonny," I'll bite: Who the hell do We blame?

4) "Gluttonny"'s proposed bill would have each business that deals with electronic products have (a) space to receive discarded electronic products; (b) a plan to deal with discarded electronic products approved by the government; (c) an up-to-date log of what happended to each discarded product handled by the company (reused, recycled, sent for recovery or processed for disposal) and (d) offer all that free of charge to their customers.

5) And to top it all off, if after the bill becomes law you want to open a new business dealing with electronic products, "Gluttonny" wants you to pay $5,000 non-refundable fee up front and have your Recovery and Disposal Plan written, reviewed and approved by the government at least 30 days before you open your brand spanking new digs. 

Do We need some reuse, recycling, recovery and disposal system for electronic products in Puerto Rico? Of course We do. According to industry statistics, only about 15% of electronic category units are recovered in some methodical fashion (mostly cell phones.) There's a huge opportunity for developing a local industry with excellent export prospects, local sales of raw materials and top-notch positive environmental impact. But you can't do that by throttling the opportunity under stupid fees and government bullshit.

Any fee--any fucking fee--the government throws on businesses and industries is going to end up being paid by the customer. That's simply basic economics. By making the disposal of an electronic good a crime if not done "under the law," "Gluttonny" is imposing a series of "cascade costs" that range from bookkeeping to man-hours to taxes to extra gas for that throw-the-damn-thing-in-the-right-place effort. 

Is a recycling and disposal plan expensive? Yes it is. But just because it is doesn't mean that the government should be running the show. In fact, the government is the last entity that should be running this show.

Why? Because the whole process only benefits private businesses and industries, with the only public benefit being "cleaner" landfills. Therefore, the government's only task--it's ONLY task, "Gluttonny"--is to establish the standards for "clean" landfills and the punishment for not achieving those standards. Then it should back off and let the private entities come up with their own plan.

The environmental standards are already set. What We really want to achieve--those of Us who are looking at the practical, valuable end result--is a significant or even complete reduction of electronic products in Our dumps and landfills. To do that, We simply have to create a system that rewards collection and proper processing of electronic goods. If We start from that point of view, We can see every party benefitting without need of any moronic "market participation fee," a lengthy empty phrase that can be abbreviated as "tax."

Here's how a private entity-based plan would work at the different levels:

Consumer: A discount for handing in electronic products upon sale or rental of a new one or cash for bringing in large amounts, such as We do with aluminum.

Retailer/Distributor: Collected units can be sold to a recycler/processor for extra revenue, or if still useful, reused in a donation program for tax breaks.

Importer: Tax breaks for finding "green" electronic products to import and export sales of discarded units for added revenue.

Manufacturer: Big tax breaks for "green facilities and products," as well as tax breaks for developing processing or proper disposal facilities.

New businesses: Appearing in the form of collection, transport, storage, reusing/donation, recovery of raw materials, processing and final disposal companies or even non-profit organizations. Some would be extensions or divisions of current industry players. Tax breaks for setting up the businesses according to standards and continued tax breaks only if standards are met every quarter. Government support for private financing would be useful.

Notice I'm saying tax breaks. Tax breaks, "Gluttonny." Why? Because adding layers of costs and red tape is what's killing Our economy and has been for the past 40 years. To put the goverment in charge of this program, as you so greedily lust for, will make the whole thing a Byzantine boondoggle where We'd be lucky to see a 30% recovery rate of electronic products by 2012, but We will see a 6-8% impact on Our cost of cell phones, cable TV subscriptions and new doodad purchases.

Think I'm joking? Here's the breakdown: A 0.5% tax on each company means roughly a 1.0-1.5% increase in price/rate for consumers, as shown in hundreds of tax studies around the world. The administrative cost of the tax and fees to established businesses will amount to 2-3% of current expenses, which in turn means a 3-5% increase passed on to consumers. (We've seen this with Our own sales tax, that actually added costs to almost all items.)

Add to this mess the "friction" of doing business with new companies (in recycling and disposal) and the lost opportunities due to red tape and fines and compliance (estimated as averaging 1% per company) and you can double that before a final tally: about 6% at the low end; as much as 8.5% on the high end. 

What "Gluttonny" wants is money. What We want, albeit as a minority, is cleaner environs. If We let "Gluttonny" slap fees and taxes on many of Our best businesses while unleashing the empty-headed "hounds of hell no" on something as complex--and valuable--as a recycling and disposal plan, We can only expect an expensive chaos ending in abject failure.

A failure We continue to pay into "Gluttonny"'s grubby hands day after day after sucking day.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

26 January 2009

Fo(u)r the Future...

Here We go: Let's make some predictions!

* From Jorge "Il Castrato" De Castro's guilty plea We will see as many as four other investigations. Two will involve fellow senators, those lower-case Jerks in Office, and the other two will feature a semi-prominent business leader and a retired politician. Yes, I said a retired politician. 

* Luis "The Larva" Fortuño's ungovernorship will officially jump the shark and become a matter of open debate before the end of March, when he has to start letting trial balloons float in the press about raising taxes to "support the government's role in lifting Puerto Rico out of the economic crisis We are in," but is really a thinly-veiled attempt to buy government worker votes for his already-iffy run at 2012.

* Former nongovernor Aníbal "The Jellyfish" Acevedo will be found guilty of fraud, but will actually get the conviction overturned on appeal. The crucial hidden point? The Jellyfish will actually agree to pay back the ill-used funds and finger stateside targets for the Justice Department.  The "vindication" will fuel local commonwealth supporters to a frenzied "I told you so," which will make "The Larva" even more of nervous wimp than he is right now.

* The local Department of Education (and I was wrong, people: the senate did approve Carlos "Last Century's Con Man" Chardón for secretary and without much fuss) will not only get openly smacked by the feds for poor results, the Island will also get placed on "probation" as an example to underachieving counties in the U.S. of part of A. Uh-huh: We get to be the Unwanted Poster Children for "Straighten your educational crap out or you'll end up like Puerto Rico."

Hitting one out of four would be pretty good. Two of four would make Me prescient. When I nail all four, you'll just have to call me Jenius...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

23 January 2009

Nailing One... And More

Il Castrao, former unsenator Jorge De Castro, pleaded guilty to 21 charges of fraud.

Il Castrao, the same raving idiot who paraded his skanky rectum through F.B.I. offices and dared them to arrest him several months ago, is now facing up to 11 years in jail.

So: Wanna parade now, Oh Castrated One?

And here's the part that makes the rest of the pox-filled herd uneasy: There are more targets in this investigation. Now Who mentioned such a thing a few months ago...

And in that other fraud-fest, former non-governor Aníbal "The Jellyfish" Acevedo finds himself without cohorts--at least not guilty cohorts facing similar charges. The whole brood has turned tail and run for brokered deals leaving The Jellyfish high and dry on a rocky beach called "Federal Prosecution." Although he's facing 5 charges, a Jenius once said it would only take one to nail his slimy tail to a jail wall... and the odds now are that the hammer and nail are in position for a thunderous smackdown.

I'm saying: One more down, one... bunch more to go.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 January 2009

Two Points Worth Not(h)ing

It's fairly common knowledge that the economic "miracle" in Puerto Rico (1946-1972) was the model used by other countries to build their own growth programs. One of the most notable "students" was Singapore, a tiny Asian island that has made itself one of the Top 20 economies in the world.

Now, the average Puerto Rican would feel very good to be considered a role model for others to emulate. That's just human nature. But where We drop the ball is in taking that natural sense of pride in being worthy of emulation and missing two points: (1) We don't see intelligence and creativity as good things and (2) We are too insecure to admit We can learn from others.

(Let the kerfuffling begin...)

Why do I bring this up? Because Singapore decided to tackle its own economic crisis by starting at the most logical spot: They have ordered cuts in government salaries and freezes in government hiring until the economy picks up again.

Aaah... You're starting to see where I'm headed...

How likely is it that Our local ass farm of a government will do the same? My description of it is: As likely as koalas running for Pope.

Point 1 above means We will never accept the Singapore Solution because We, as a a people, are not impressed nor do We give a koala's ass about intelligence and creativity and wisdom, except when it comes wrapped in the tinsel of "opportunism." We admire los listos, the sly ones, but We pooh-pooh los inteligentes, the intelligent ones.  To Us, a brain is what's used for thinking up ways to get more somethings for nothing.

And Point 2 above means that they--those once-imitators, now teachers--are "still beneath Us" and thus there's no way We could ever learn from them. That's why We don't learn from Cubans, Dominicans or Venezuelans who come here, work hard, make the most of their circumstances and forge ahead. They are extranjeros, foreigners to the wonders of Our quasi-American citizenship and though We might envy their success, We ain't making the effort they made, no señor.

So a perfectly reasonable solution--eminently practical as well--will not touch Our shores with a ten kilometer pole. That President Obama did the same for the White House staff will be viewed here as a good thing... for over there. And even if We as a people agree that this Singapore Solution is a good thing, the inaction of the Fools to put it in practice (with a gutless Larva waffling weakly and a legislature that refuses to obey eletoral mandates such as unicamerality), will leave Us watching some other parts of the world forging ahead while We stay behind, flattening Our asses on the crumbling sidewalk of the past.

Live and learn? More like live... in limbo...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

20 January 2009

The Pride...Returns

As I write this, President Obama is now Our President. And for the first time since the darkening days of of September, 2001, when a vile attack by foreigners became a series of vile attacks by those who swore--falsely--to protect Us, I feel that the pride of nation that tinged My childhood, the pride in a nation that could overcome its own tragedies and place a man on the moon, that pride is... back.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

19 January 2009

Days and Dreams

Today We celebrate a holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tomorrow, Barack Obama, a man whose skin color is much closer to Dr. King's than Mine, will become President of what is still the most powerful nation on Earth.

I first noticed Dr. King while watching the news with My dad, back in 1967. Every day, My dad would come home from his job, change out of his Air Force uniform, sit in his chair with the newspaper and a drink, flip the channel to CBS News with Walter Cronkite and almost every night, Dr. King would appear. By the time I knew about him, he'd been thrown in jail many times, had been attacked by policemen, judges, politicians and (other) idiots, had won a Nobel Peace Prize and had changed the part of the world I lived in by quietly--persistently--demanding that the rights of equality be extended to men and women of a darker skin color than Mine.

Dr. King was, to the Me of 1967, a TV "person," more real than Gilligan or Will Robinson, but just as ephemeral, existing in My mind for as long as he was on the screen, instantly forgotten when the next show started. Until one day in 1968 when Dr. King became forever real in My mind, the day he was shot.

I didn't understand then, not to any truly rational extent, why Dr. King was dead. I watched the news with My dad, and then more news, and for the next few days, it seemed as if every bit of news was about Dr. King's death. I watched because My dad watched; I felt sad because so many people I saw were sad.

Over the years, by bits and pieces, I learned more about Dr. King and the struggle he led. Growing up in the Deep South, I didn't have to "adjust" My mind to grasp what he and so many of his spiritual brothers and sisters faced: I saw enough to easily imagine what I didn't. I went to college where James Meredith needed the National Guard and Federal marshals to do what I did: enroll. And years later--but so many fewer than I ever expected--I watched an openly sobbing Rev. Jesse Jackson celebrate a victory he opened the door for, along a path that had a heart-wrenching detour on a Memphis balcony.

Tomorrow, Barack Obama becomes the 44th President, replacing a 43rd whose place in history is more outhouse than White House. I will watch Barack Obama take the Oath of Office, for I have never seen any President do that. I will watch as a man whose skin color is darker than Mine takes his first official steps as "leader of the free world." And I will cherish the idea--the joy--that a man who once had a dream of equality for his children, for Our children, has his day of honor before the day a nation honors its long-repressed truest self.

And I will tell My child--whose skin is darker than Mine--that dreams lived from the heart, do come true...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

16 January 2009

Phasing Out

While on the non-existing topic of Luis "The Larva" Fortuño's leadership, Let's consider what will happen if--as expected--The Larva never reaches pupa stage, or does and and never emerges from his cocoon.

Phase 1: With The Larva making a fetish of weak-willed decision-making and side-stepping intra-party confrontation, We can expect three results:

1) A paralyzed government: Similar to what The Jellyfish and the legislative Fools put Us through, We'll see a government unwilling to move forward because it would mean the loss of political face to one side or the other. Imagine a country where the overall welfare (pun not intended) of the people takes a deep backseat to politics. Well, We're one of those countries.

2) A weakened economic infrastructure: Since the government here is the prime mover of economic factors, a senescent government is a dead end for economic prosperity. The only favorable light We'll see is that gas prices and power bill rates will drop a bit, but that's not because of anything The Larva or the Fools do.

3) An increase in corruption: There is no doubt that the level of corruption has been steady--so to speak--in the past few years. Why will it spike now? Because the opportunities to game the system are worth more now. We've basically had 2, maybe 3 years of inertia, and to people who have money and want to make more of it in Puerto Rico, the "easy" option  is  to pay to cut through the ever-growing pile of crap the government keeps throwing in Our paths. And, Let's face it: The statehood party has an institutional bias towards being corrupt because that's how they made things "work" under Pedro Stupid Rosselló.

Phase 2: The Larva finds himself increasingly dependent on Head Beggar in Washington Pedro "What? Me Hurry?" Pierluisi, who is an avowed Democrat, in contrast to The Larva who is an avowed "Limbaugh is a liberal" Republican.

As The Larva's scant power wanes even further, his meal ticket will become the Head Beggar, since that is the (pitiful) job The Larva "knows" how to do and because Congress will be more willing to listen to a Democrat than to a Christian right wing neocon. That is, if they listen to anything at all concerning Puerto Rico.

We'll know We've hit Phase 1 full-force when the senate (no capital letters until they earn them) guts some of The Larva's Cabinet nominees and force-feeds him the candidates they want to approve and when the poppycock bond ratings once again list Us as a declining credit risk. In other words, We'll be reliving the basic clash of 2005. (We'll find out about the corruption in 2010-2011...)

And We'll know We've hit Phase 2 when the Head Beggar announces some "major" pittance thrown down at Us, not through La Fortaleza, the ungovernor's mansion, but through tthe senate and the house of Even More Fools.

At that point, We can begin looking at a familiar Phase 3: Sticking Our heads even deeper in the sand.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 January 2009

Murderous Moron Roundup

I wish they would roundup the murderous moron...

Ever so often I would leave the zeitgeist of Puerto Rico to focus on the shitheadedness of one George "Dubya" Bush, the rectum in the body politic of the U.S. of part of A. Seeing as how his two stolen terms in the Oval Orifice are about to be ended, I present a "Jenius Jots" list of murderous moron-related articles, preceded by a heartfelt So long, murderous moron... May your future be spent in prison.

These are from Esquire Magazine: 

--The Case for George Bush: A devil's advocate who quickly loses steam.

--The Case Against George Bush: The case for was like a peashooter; the case against is like the Fourth Army Corps with air support. And allies.

--What Bush Meant: Pifflegab and outright, barefaced lies. That's what the murderous moron meant.

--What the Hell Just Happened? A Timeline of the Bush Years: Take 2 minutes and then a Prozac...

Over at AlterNet, So Long Worst President Ever; 10 Reasons History Will Hang You. Read it and note that for 4 of these--yes, FOUR--other presidents have either been Congressionally threatened with impeachment or faced impeachment. The murderous moron has yet to face even one threat.

Which brings Us to Leonard Pitts, Jr. of The Miami Herald, with an Open Letter to George W. Bush that reads in part:

"The future is, by definition, unknowable. But it is simply inconceivable to me that history will judge you anything but harshly. Frankly, I think it will judge us all that way, will marvel at the things we let you get away with, the principles Americans can betray, when they are scared.

As with the internment of the Japanese during World War II, and the McCarthy excesses of the 1950s, I think fear will be the defining statement of this era. Fear, and the terrible things we did, condoned and became as a result.

Godspeed, then, Mr. Bush. Good health and long life. I hope you live to hear history itself tell you what an awful president you were."

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 January 2009

Larval Leadership...Not

My Friend, Kevin Shockey, calls Me up to give Me the news: I was right. About Luis "The Larva" Fortuño and his now obvious to most of you lack of leadership ability. The trigger point: The Larva withdrew his "economic stimulus proposal" barely a day after presenting them.

Now you might say that everyone's entitled to correct a mistake and I would say that since I don't make any, why should you? The point isn't that a mistake was corrected, but that this was The Larva's first big act as governor--one he's been preparing since early November--and he screwed it up royally.

This comes on top of a three nominees to key posts that reek, stink and emit bad smells from here to El Yunque. Fortuño has so far shown a distinct incapacity to do three things:

1) Control "his" party: Thomas "Mad Dog" Rivera has already bulldozed The Larva behind the party's closed doors; he's set to do that openly in the Cabinet nominee process.

2) Present real solutions to Our very real problems: See the retraction and listen to the white noise he emits about the future.

3) Define himself or his "team": No central theme or key goals are brought up, with everything in a fog of "change" and "hard work." Uh-huh. And Mars has methane. So what?

Now if this were something only We (in Puerto Rico) were looking at, as it usually is, We'd be copacetic about the whole thing. But when the Wall Street Journal points to The Larva as "an example to Republicans" and "a person (they) should be emulating," then I've gotta say "Hold the toilet!"

The Larva as the model for Republican candidates? My first thought was Good way to get those retards out of the way. Then I read the rest of the article... and giggled. Couldn't help Myself:

--At a forum Monday, (Republican Party Chairman Mike) Duncan said he was inspired as he watched the Fortuno inauguration in San Juan. The governor, he said, "ran a very conservative campaign in a state, a territory, that has severe economic problems right now. But he said, 'We don't need these 11,000 new government employees put on by the opposition party. We can't tax our way to prosperity. [HAHAHAhahaharight. So what does The Larva offer off the bat? Taxes... for "prosperity." The Republican model since Bush, Sr.: Lie, lie, LIE about taxes.]

--Saul Anuzis, who is vying with Mr. Duncan for the RNC chairmanship, says Mr. Fortuno represents "the direction we need to be going in." Mr. Fortuno won by 11 percentage points, a margin that Puerto Rico hadn't seen since 1964, and he was sworn in 35 years after the island's last Republican governor left office. [HAHAHAhahahadork. Uh, you mean "Republican" or "quasi-Republican? In Puerto Rico, both parties have delegates in both national parties. I'd call it incest, but this a family blog...]

--The timing couldn't be better for Mr. Fortuno because the GOP is turning to telegenic, high-wattage outside-the-Beltway politicians -- including Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal -- to light a new path to power. [HAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahafucktardsall. "Telegenic"? Maybe Sarah "Moose Girl" Palin is telegenic, but The Larva looks like somebody's well-washed appendix. "High-wattage"? Palin's a dim bulb and Jindal's on some radars, but The Larva is just bland. He's got the radiance of a night light.]

--Mr. Fortuno's advantage in running against an opponent who faces federal corruption charges -- former Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila -- is another selling point as Republicans seek to portray themselves as clean crusaders. That theme emerged strongly after political newcomer Anh "Joseph" Cao surprised a number of analysts by defeating indicted Rep. William Jefferson in New Orleans to become the first Vietnamese-American congressman. [HAHAHAHAHAhahahahahalunatics. Running against a man accused of corruption is "a selling point"? Is writer Easha Anand an idiot? And do Republicans ACTUALLY see "a theme" after some dark horse candidate beats a guy who was found with illegally-obtained cash in his fridge, a guy considered the most corrupt member of Congress? In other words, Republicans want to run against a crooks in order to win, but the problem is, they got most of the crooks? I'd say that's a problem...]

As Kevin pointed out, larvas, like jellyfish, also lack spines. (That's why I call Fortuño The Larva...) Not two weeks into his only term as faux-governor, The Larva is already proving Me right. At his current best, he can only continue to do so, by limping headlong into a battle with the Mad Dog and getting swatted like a bug. Unless his larval form can generate some testicles and insight, The Larva will remain spineless, clueless and hopeless. 

What a model for Our future. What a model for the Republican's recent past and near future.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

12 January 2009

There Goes The Neighborhood

Imagine your neighborhood as an economic system. Every year, some rich dude gives your neighborhood about $2,600 per household, seemingly a good deal since the average household makes about $18,400 a year.

Now imagine that your neighborhood gets hit with a 7% tax on purchases, which ends up eating an extra $940 from your yearly take. Without a raise or tax cut, you have essentially lost 5% of your income. The gas prices go up 260% for a while and that takes an extra 3% from your annual income. You're down 8%...and other prices are going up.

Now a new guy comes in and says he wants to--hold on to your hibachis--increase your gas prices by 24 cents a gallon, tax your cell phone minutes at a penny a minute and make you pay more for liquor and cigarettes... but no tax relief for making the same amount of money.

A gas tax of 24 cents a gallon ends up costing the average household an extra 2% of their stagnant income, if gas prices don't rise like they did in 2007-2008. There are more cell phones in use in Puerto Rico than landlines, and though Our cell phone market is the true definition of dog-eat-dog competition, an additional penny per minute tax hits the local household at almost 2% a year. Now throw in booze and ciggies and you can see some households losing 2-4% more.

To summarize: Your income stays the same, the rich dude's money comes in at the same level, but your income could now be 5% + 3% + 2% + 2% + 3% = 15% less than it was in 2006.

Fifteen. Percent. If you're lucky. Could be as high as 20-22%. Woo-hoo.

This is what passes for economic stimulus in Puerto Rico, with a program that governor Luis "The Larva" Fortuño is proposing that merely throws another 7% (at least) upon the 8% We've shouldered this past year.

And how the hell is this crapfest supposed to stimulate the economy?

It doesn't. It's single purpose is to allow the government to maintain itself.

Let Me repeat that: It's single purpose is to allow the government to maintain itself.

That's it. This does nothing to stimulate the local economy, for only in the minds of greedy sycophantic idiots (I'm talking about everyone involved in this dungheap plan) does taxing a and reducing the avialable monies of a recession-trapped populace equal "growth."

And why do I toss in the rich dude's money when it's impact per household is quite low? Because it serves to show just how negligible it is where it's supposed to matter. When shown at the household level, you can see that Uncle Sam's pity cash isn't that big a boost, and with waste, politicking and outright theft reducing its limited impact even more.

Is The Larva already crumbling under the strain of trying to be what he isn't, a leader? Could be. If his nominations for the three key cabinet posts (Education, Health and Treasury) and this economic "stimulus" plan are any indication, The Larva is as far from being a leader as I am of being a Martian.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

09 January 2009

Beggars and Ingrates

No hay peor malagradecido que un pordiosero.

There's no worse ingrate than a beggar.

The traditional gift-giving day in Puerto Rico is not December 25th (Oh, Mithra!), but January 6, Epiphany, known locally as Three Kings Day. It is also a tradition for the governor and his family to hand out toys to the children who flock to Muñoz Rivera Park, near Old San Juan.

Now I know what I'm about to point out has happened before, and would happen anywhere else in the world, but it infuriates Me nonetheless. An article in El Nuevo Día (in Spanish) quoted some parents concerning the gift-giving event:

"In tones of disgust, the families say that these are cheap gifts that they could give their children without having to get up so early to be at the event.

Neysa Rivera Pabón, living in Río Piedras and the single mother of seven children, said while waiting in line "All they hand out are balls all the time. As a mother, I expect them to give me something better than I can give (my children.)" Neysa arrived at the park at 3:52 a.m.

In addition to balls, on the tables were dolls, remote control cars and board games, amongst other (toys). 

A similar sentiment was expressed by Jazmín Álvarez Morales, who arrived from Arecibo at 4:00 a.m., and amidst laughter, appeared confident that (governor) Fortuño would give out "a car or a laptop" to the three children and three adults who were with her."

Three Kings Day is, like Christmas, a time for family sharing. Some of the people at the Park arrived at midnight--with their children--to get a toy. To arrive at 4:00 a.m. from Arecibo, Jazmín must have left at about 2:00-2:30 a.m. Is this a "family" way to spend their time?

As for Neysa, single mother of seven, complaining that "All they hand out are balls all the time," I can see why she complains, given that maybe seven pairs of balls have left her with too little time for herself.

And as for the toys being "cheap gifts that they could give their children without having to get up so early," why didn't the whiners do so? They ran out of food stamps? Can you use those to buy a laptop?

Yes, there are families whose children only receive a Three Kings gift because of this event. It is a sad, but true aspect of what is often a bittersweet holiday period, where many of Us have so much and too many of Us have almost nothing. And as the article notes, the children were happy with their toys; it's the adults that are the problem. But kids imitate what they see and hear, and the generosity of childhood can thus turn to the ingratitude of so-called adults living in a fantasy world. Because to stand in line to receive a gift, sometimes waiting 10-11 hours for it, and then complain or demand something better, calls out for a reality check.

So for those deluded ingrates, here's one: Beggars can't be choosers.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 January 2009

Education: F(uture Fail)

So I take a few days off for holiday cheer and angst and when I get back, I find that The Larva is in power... and powerless. Over the past month, I told several people that The Larva--current near-nongovernor Luis Fortuño--was facing a severe economic downturn, a health care crisis and an Education (hahaha) system about to roll over and play possum. I pointed out that unless The Larva handled those three aspects well, his term would end in 2012.

Why? Because he would face not only public rejection as "another loser," but also internal rejection from "his" party, where candidates such as Thomas "S.S. Don't Mean Social Security" Rivera (soon to be Senate President) and Jenniffer "Gluttonny" González were already plotting to challenge for the governorship.

I even wrote a post about the need to find an Education Secretary and the downside We face in this crucial government sector. Now imagine My surprise when not only did The Larva wait longer than I expected to name his candidate for that post, but nominated a man who'd been Education Secretary 30 years ago.

Disclosure: I have met and briefly worked with nominee Carlos Chardón. He once told Me that one of My presentations was "the most gripping thing he'd ever seen." Kudos to him for his perspicacity. But knowing him doesn't blunt the sense of surprise bordering on horror that his nomination makes Me feel. Add to that the fact that The Larva waited until that same time to nominate "pre-used" candidates for Health and Hacienda (Treasury) and you can see that not only am I right about his dire needs, but that he's already on the path to failure in 2012, a loser almost from the starting gun.

Focusing on Education for now, the problems The Larva has with candidate Chardón are threefold:

1) Chardón was--at best--an ineffective Education Secretary from 1976-1980, known mainly for offering teachers a chance at post-bachelor degrees that went nowhere as their pay remained the same. Though well-connected, his performance was more defensive (staying out of trouble) than pro-active, a workstyle that would speed up the death of the local Education system.

2) Chardón is known far and wide as a political animal, even since his first Education tenure. His prominence within the U.S. Republican Party (as local spear-carrier) and his frequent forays into backroom politics--perfectly legal, but tainting--make him a knee-jerk target for the minority parties to vote against him. And even though his own party (Chardón has long been associated with the statehood party, now in power) carries a commanding majority in the Senate, Chardón will not be approved by the Senate...

3) ...Because the S.S./Larva power struggle I predicted in My earlier post will happen over Chardón's soon-to-be-dead political body. He is too much a political animal, too much out of touch with the current reality of Education and too vapid in his past performance in the same role 30 years ago to be allowed to sit in the hottest Cabinet chair going. "Tantrum" Rivera will make sure that The Larva gets the message loud and clear: This one's shot down and you're always the next target. The S.S. ruled by fear; Rivera lusts to do the same.

By having to look beyond "the obvious," (The Larva) is forced to find a Secretary who is more manager than teacher, more worker than bootlicker, more results-oriented than politically-motivated. If nothing else, it will at least represent a step up from crass fundraisers and air-headed theorists.

Now let's sit back and see who's nominated. The next thing to watch is whether s/he will get past the Senate's crapfest of a nomination review process: it could turn out to be the very first legislative/executive power test. 

That's what I wrote on December 15th. It holds true 25 days later... and maybe more.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

05 January 2009

You CAN Make A Difference

Do you want to make a difference?

To a person, a community, and by extension, the world?

Do you really want to make a difference?

Studies have shown that for every 35-40 hours a student receives of personal, 1-on-1 attention, his/her grades go up by one level? Do you see that 35-40 hours is barely one work week a year? 

Is changing one life with one week of yours making a difference? Does it matter enough to you? Imagine what it means--how much it will matter--to the child who receives your time...

Can you spare 5 minutes? Literally? Please see this video, by Dave Eggers, writer and editor of McSweeney's Quarterly. It will take less than 5 minutes, I assure you. It can help you decide if making a difference, making a real difference, is within your reach.

I'll save you some suspense: It is. 

If you want to.

And Let's be honest: You really do want to. Otherwise, you wouldn't have read this far...

The Jenius Has Spoken.