[My Thanks to Janine Mendes-Franco for selecting My recent "We're #1! We're #1! (In Corruption)" post for Global Voices Online. It's been a while since I was honored that way, but that's not Janine's fault; I wasn't producing that much worth looking at. Happy to see it happen again.]
Things on My Island--for it is still My Island--are atrocious, in many ways. We have politicians stealing millions of dollars and names have been named repeatedly, most of the prominently placed in the statehood party, currently running the show like their own carny. We have government services gouging citizens to enrich """public"""" servants and private pockets, which leads back to politicians stealing Our money. Again.
We have a declining economy, further saddled by a government debt fueled by politicians stealing Our money. Parts of Our public property are being sold to line the pockets of private companies and politicians stealing Our money. And the watchdogs We are supposed to have are lapdogs licking the balls of those who feed them the merest scraps of the loot they've stolen over the years.
My go-to solution would be to shoot the vilest offenders, in the face. That--amazingly--is frowned upon. When so-called drug lords do it to each other, over mere money, it's okay, but start talking about shooting thugs and thieves that steal Our money, Our rights and Our future and--Whoa, Nelly!--now We got some 'splainin' to do.
Fuck that. The reasons are obvious: if We don't exterminate the vermin, they will ruin Us. They are close to doing so on a scale that would turn this Island into the second book of the Bible...and no need to re-CGI the parting of a sea. So wiping them out is rational, a measure of sanity and sanitary behavior. That is frowned upon. No wonder We're getting screwed.
But what is really going on? Is the level of corruption so dense and broad and deep that no solution can be implemented? No, it isn't that bad...yet. How do We know? The majority of Our population is still outside of the thievery. If a majority of Us were involved, like the drug lords, the bullets would have been flying.
Thus: a solution is possible. And the word to trigger it is transparency.
Obviously We can't count on Our media to do this. The newspapers We have are inked toilet paper with their own feces pre-imprinted between pestiferous ads. Radio """pundits""" are very much based on the "ideological idiot" model wherein your personal stupidity in regards to political preferences has to be waved like a party flag in drunken paws. Not to mention that radio journalists suffer the same sans cojones and shit-for-brains mush that affects nearly all Our so-called newspaper and TV journalists, where courage and conviction are tossed aside in favor of gossipy questions, empty-handed rants and huge proclamations of integrity that add up to old triple-penetration whores claiming virginity in any one of their cash-crop holes.
No, We can't count on Our media. The transparency push We need will come from the Internet. Our version of the Internet. To make it work will take a concerted effort, a multi-layered, 24/7, laser-focused charge against "politics as usual, business as usual" and the self-fucking chronic "We're helpless" stupidity of "Ay bendito, what can We do?"
We have the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, investigative journalism under a non-profit model. We have News Is My Business. There's NotiCel and CaribNews Puerto Rico. There's Think Puerto Rico. There's José Maldonado and Luis Villanueva. We have bloggers like Michael Castro, the pseudonymous Elco Lao and Kofla Olivieri. We have many many more resources that indicate a band of dedicated newshounds who are more interested in facts than fluff, in the grubby details of Truth than the airy bubbles of gossip and who strive to cut through the bullshit because We've had enough of it all.
These are some of the people I follow closely, on Twitter and blogs. I don't agree with them all the time; I don't have to. But what they say is often pointed squarely at Truth and that's a hell of a lot more than what I get from Our so-called "prensa".
Some of them won't want to become part of a "Journalism Strike Force," but I believe enough will want to, those will attract more and We'll have the deep, broad and focused spotlights We need to truly stamp out most of the corruption that rots Our society.
But separately, We can't do as much as We can united. The paucity of local government statistics can be remedied by folks like Leo Gómez and fellow economists, and with those stats, We can challenge the fetid utterances that pass uncontested in press conferences. But stats without analysis and context are useless, so the news sources have to come together to use them. And there have to be outlets for these analyses, ones that don't already have their asses owned by politicians and corporate thieves.
What's needed is a unit formed by as many competent players as possible that not only gathers the news, but studies it and reveals its truths. One that challenges the status quo every day, systematically, loudly and with the conviction that doing so is not obstruction, it is duty. Because I have to keep saying this: the government works for Us. And their dealings in Our name are subject to every--I mean every--level of scrutiny We have the will to apply. If they don't like it--good. They work for Us. We can fire them at will, in lieu of just firing at them.
It will take some time to get this unit to converge and start rolling. But once it does, it will pin elected officials like bugs to cardboard and make them offer proof of what they do and how. Cockroaches flee when light shines upon them, and try as they might, no politician, no political party, no government, has ever effectively shut down the power of a crusade for Truth without using guns. And if they go that route, well We can too. Count Me in either way.
The power of the Fourth Estate is the power of the citizenry to remind the government that it is a servant, not a master, and that it remains only by sufferance. The call to transparency will be fought--bitterly, savagely, criminally, even--but when many lights shine, darkness is ultimately banished.
We can do this. We have to do this. Or the visible future of Our media talent will be scattered jottings about Our collapse and a few maudlin essays of "What once was and could have been."
And that's an Island I won't give a damn about.
The Jenius Has Spoken.