Why $5 billion isn't enough

I know what you're saying. You're saying, "Hey Mr. Dees, didn't you hear about the $5 billion Puerto Rico is getting from Tio Obama in the economic stimulus bill just approved?" So I'll beat you to the punch, I say, "So what? Come on, sure there is going to be an immediate stimulus. It is called a stimulus package, right? Then what? When the $5 billion has been spent or stolen, then what? Will those $5 billion have done anything to establish a new foundation for our economy to grow? Will it solve any of the 10 (oops, I mean 17) reasons why our economy will continue to decline?" Well let's take a look. According to a breakdown of the proposed plan to use the money, published in El Nuevo Dia, here's a scorecard of the plan's impact on our core problems:

  1. There are more people than there are jobs.

    Yes in the short term, especially in construction and road maintenance. However, in the long term, no. There is very little money allocated to tasks that might actually create jobs lasting after the money is spent.

  2. To accommodate the overflow of workers, the government hired a lot them, then bloated to become the islands largest employer.

    NO, double NO. NO. NO. The receipt of additional money for Education, Health, HUD, Transportation, and Commerce will only prolong the necessary massive reductions required in the government.

  3. Our most talented graduates leave the island for more lucrative and exciting opportunities.

    No, while the projected $1.4 billion will hopefully result in some long term improvement of the quality of our graduates, there is nothing in the plan to stimulate the creation of high-tech jobs necessary to keep our most talented resources from leaving the island.

  4. Little research and development in our universities and basically none in our leading companies.

    Again, no, as far as I can tell the plan doesn't identify any R&D. No R&D means no innovation. No innovation means no new products or services. No new products and services means, at best, our employment levels will remain the same. But that's wishful thinking. We'll lose our brightest to better opportunities (4) and as the economy continues to decline there will be more people out of work. Less people working means less income tax revenues. Less taxes means more programs and people will need to be cut from the government (2).

  5. A stubborn focus on Puerto Rico as the market for our products and services.

    There is nothing in the plan to change this. If anything it reinforces our focus within Puerto Rico.

  6. The three doomsday horseman of the apocalypse: corruption, lawlessness, and mass consumerism.

    If history teaches us anything is that it will almost certainly repeat itself. Giving nearly $5 billion to our government is like giving money to a crack addict and expecting them to rehabilitate themselves. The potential for corruption is high. So, no this won't help.

  7. An unhealthy belief that tourists can be bought through advertising instead of being influenced through exceptional experiences and word of mouth marketing.

    Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be anything which directly benefits the tourism industry.

  8. The other three horsemen of the apocalypse, anti-small business culture, a zero-sum mentality, and a belief in life-style businesses.

    Yeah right, and winged monkeys will fly out of my rump. Although there is some $55 million which isn't specified in the business category. Maybe we can use that to reinvent our business licensing and creation process. Yeah I know, more monkeys.

  9. Little or no immigration of new citizens seeking a better life.


  10. A complete taboo against recognizing our problems as problems and encouraging discussion and mobilization to address those problems.

    Nada. I'm afraid that "Qué nos pasa Puerto Rico" isn't going to get us out of this mindset.

  11. Great disparity in the distribution of wealth, capital, resources, information, and opportunity.

    Yes, there are actually quite a few projects aimed at helping to balance out this disparity, but I'm afraid this social problem requires a little more creativity than just throwing money at it.

  12. A massive unregulated, off-the-books, cash-based, pay your fair share underground economy.

    Since this is not a major problem in most of the U.S. of A, then it follows that there is nothing to address this problem. As our economy continues to decline, if anything this (as well as crime) will continue to get worse. So no help here.

  13. Denial tending towards mass hypnosis, acceptance of the status quo, and reticence.

    Is there anybody in there?
    Just nod if you can hear me.
    Is there anyone home? (*)

  14. A failing infrastructure (transportation, power, sewage, solid-waste disposal) that can not withstand significant increases in demand.

    The stimulus package does actually contain many projects that will address our decaying infrastructure. However, the projects seem to be like repairing your old and failing automobile, instead of buying a new car. While this means it might not get any worse, it doesn't mean that we are adding infrastructure capacity. Which is critical to growing our economy.

  15. A collection of self-serving, self-preserving political, governmental, and social non-profit systems.

    Is there anybody in there?
    Just nod if you can hear me.
    Is there anyone home? (*)

  16. An educational system which under serves students and perpetuates the status quo.

    Can $1.4 billion improve our education system? Just a question? If you paint your 50 year old car, will it go faster? There are a few projects that should help: $23.5 for new technology; $3.8 million for better teachers; $2.8 million for innovation. Roughly 2% of the allocated funds are dedicated to working on our engine of wealth creation, and 98% towards more paint. So no, in the end this will not have any effect.

  17. An economy directly connected to the availability of low cost foreign oil.

    The wildcard in this deal is the mysterous $80.2 allocation to energy. If that were used to covert some of our power plants to clean and resuable power, then yes. But the $105 million aimed at improving our roads and bridges seems to imply more dependence on our cars. So I wouldn't hold my breath on this one, but of course we'll probably have to if we keep polluting our air.
Well, let's see how we did. I'll say that we'll get help on 1, 11, and 14. I'll give us 16, and 17, for hope's sake. That's 5 of 17. If we use this percentage as our probability of improving our economy, I give us a 29% chance of any significant long term economic growth.

Let's get something straight here. The objective of economic growth is wealth creation. Yet, while there a few who are creating new wealth, the vast majority of our citizens are losing wealth. In fact, as a whole we are destroying wealth.

After writing my post yesterday, I was troubled. Was our situation even worse than I previously thought? And depending on how you look at this, I have to confess that I thing I might have underestimated our decline. So if you want things to magically improve, then I'm sorry for the doom and gloom. However, if you're cheering for us to hit bottom, so we can finally see things start to improve, then I've got some good news for you. It might be even closer than I thought. Yeah us!

* Lyrics from Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb, The Wall. Somehow eriely fitting.



23 de febrero de 2009, 22:49
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do you want a job? i would hire you in a minute. you get it. let me know

MC Don Dees

2 de marzo de 2009, 07:31
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Have any opening in the smart ass department? I believe I'm particularly suited to be Chief Smart Ass (CSA).