by Rob Morse
Puerto Rico is part of the USA. It is a US territory, and Puerto Ricans have neither senators, congressman, nor do they pay federal income tax. They can not vote for president. About 3 million citizens live in Puerto Rico, or they did. A steady stream of these forgotten citizens have abandoned the island to live on the contiguous 48 states. It isn’t the seasonal hurricane that drives them away, but the daily corruption.
With low income taxes, the island should be a magnet for investment. In fact, Puerto Rico is massively in debt and has record unemployment even in the Trump economy.
The territorial government is technically bankrupt and bordering on default..if anyone knew what to do with a bankrupt US territory. The island government overpaid for a bloated Puerto Rican electrical utility and for the utility’s padded retirement plan.
Similar corruption robs efforts at repairing government schools and hospitals on the island. Disaster supplies disappeared during hurricane relief efforts. It turns out that government officials, like the mayor of San Juan, were more concerned with lining their pockets than with helping hurricane victims. People who lost everything couldn’t get relief supplies until relief agencies paid for “licenses” to distribute aid.
Though greater in degree during hurricane relief, this corruption and self dealing follows a longstanding pattern. Puerto Rican politicians siphoned money from education and public health projects. They gave the money and contracts to political cronies in return for kickbacks or a promise of a high-paying job with the contractor.
Last month, the US Justice Department accused the former Puerto Rico education secretary, and the former executive director of the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration of unlawfully steering about $15.5 million in federal contracts to politically connected consultants. Last week, FEMA employees from the Obama Administration were charged with steering aid to a connected contractor to repair the electrical grid in Puerto Rico. The FEMA employees were given kickbacks and jobs.
There is the consistent pattern. We ask government to provide electricity, education, and healthcare because people are self-dealing. Politicians and bureaucrats consistently do two things once we’ve given them the power to provide those services.
Government officials make it mandatory to buy their product; you have to send your children to their schools, buy power from them, and buy their “healthcare”. Then the politicians regulate the competition to drive up prices. This forces us to use the state provider while it encourages the private provider to pay kickbacks to the government officials.
We were told that the government had to provide “essentials” because greed was unchecked in the free market. We see that greed and self-dealing grow even larger when government officials can regulate their competition.
That is everywhere. The richest person in Venezuela is the daughter of President Chavez. Here in the US, Chelsea Clinton has a net worth of 15 million dollars.
Disaster aid simply hides the usual corruption in a cloak of “urgent need”. Note that the Clinton Foundation made millions by “coordinating” disaster relief that never made it to hurricane victims.
President Trump said that the billions of dollars in disaster aid for Puerto Rico had to be tied to anti-corruption measures, or else the problems would only get worse. The relief money would feed the corrupt politicians and entrench them even deeper.
The Washington Post blamed Trump for delaying aid to the needy.
The lessons are as clear as they ever were. Power corrupts. Only competition keeps corruption in check..while political promises do not. That is why politicians and their cronies hate competition and work against it.
Beware the politician who wants to limit your choices.
Torture in Venezuala- https://panampost.com/sabrina-martin/2019/07/04/report-dictatorship-uses-political-prisoners-as-torture-experiments/