Puerto Rico and the Culture of “Free” Stuff

Santa Government

Santa Government

 

We live in a divided nation…

The first thing that we need to do as a nation in order to develop and accelerate our growth, is to first unite the nation. We don’t need to unite in every aspect, but we need to identify and work on points that are crucial to our future acceleration and growth.

I have found that there are 7 questions that are myth in our country and those 7 questions are the things that divide us by not having a clear answer. If everybody understands them, then we can have a common base for the development of a autonomous nation.

I will base this article inside a capitalist framework of mind, not because I favor this economic system, I base the article in this framework of mind because it is the one currently used by our nation and world.  If there were a different economic system I would speak in those terms.

What are the myths that need to be aired out and explained once and for all?

  • What is the Government Really and How does the Government Get Funding?
  1. The Government is a CORPORATION for the management and distribution of the tax payers money: Nothing Poetic to this, legally this is what it is. Understanding this is important because here in Puerto Rico people mix government and ideology to the point were fanatism of concepts cloud us from understanding what Government really is. The Government is a corporation; it makes money, it invest money, it has employees and it must be profitable or it cannot operate. We must measure efficiency, transparency and return of investment of our hard earned tax paying contribution. Politicians use world credit, as we do. Many people don’t understand this fact. When we use a credit card for things we cannot pay and we get a bill after a while the bank comes and takes it away and damages your credit. That’s what politicians do with our credit and other nations that loan our country money can come and take our country away, such as the bank. Again nothing poetic just plain reality. This is what bonds and other investment mechanisms way for the country to borrow money. Why as a nation do we need to borrow money? Why cant we live with what we make? Citizens please ask yourself this question!!!
  2. The Government is an entity that manages the development of laws: Laws are created for our common well being by consensus of the people using democratic votes and process. Laws whether practical, impractical or abusive are proposed by people and can be changed by people. They are just that, rules and agreements. Why is this important to highlight? Because people think that its impossible to change rules and many times are harassed unnecessarily by them. All we need to foster change or create new rules, change them or review them is to form groups, organizations or clusters (Which is just calling some friends up and saying hey I got this problem that needs fixing do we all agree? Lets work in this as a group) and take theses changes, opinions or new laws to the public opinion and to the legislation office. That’s it! Many times people just stand by and don’t know what to do.
  3. Government workers are people of the country: In great majority without any formal specific preparation for the tasks they will have in charge. Example there is no doctors degree in being a Governor of Puerto Rico, therefore when they are elected, they are learning how to be a governor on the execution of their job.The biggest myth of our people is that government people and citizens are two races of people. That is the root cause of why we fail as nation. Government people ARE CITIZENS like you and me!. There are no magical divisions, many of them are referred to jobs just as you were referred to yours.The second myth related to government is that people think the persons in the positions KNOW what they are doing. This is false. They are improvising as they go. If we understand that this people are not prepared then we can go to them give them solutions to our problems and help them implement these solutions in our communities, or we can sit back and have unrealistic expectations and watch them fail, wasting our tax money on the way :).It is not smart for a nation to set up politicians for failure. It is not smart to have false expectations, it is not smart to waist our money.When people every four years say “hey this idiots don’t do what they need to do to build this great country”, What they are really saying is we have a country full of people that can govern themselves.Be the change you want to see in people first. This is the only way a country is developed because YOU ARE YOUR NATION.
  • How does the changes in the private sector affect Government?
  1. The government and the private sector have a symbiotic relationship: Government funding comes from the private sector. It comes from the profits of taxes to the corporations, it comes from services that the government provides and it comes from the tax payers money. The tax payers money comes from the money their companies pay them so in exchange all the money really comes from the private sector. Thus Government and Private Sector are totally linked and are not separate from one another as people think they are.
  2. If the Private Sector Shrinks Government Shrinks: One of the biggest gaps in Puerto Rican people education is the lack of understanding of this. To properly view this I will setup an example:We open up a pharmaceutical company in Arecibo Soulektron(Fake Pharma name) Lets say it creates 1000 jobs that get paid 50k a year and generates 100,000,000 in profit a year. The Pharma also invest 10,000,000 a year locally in suppliers.How does that Pharmaceutical affect our government? Here’s the detail in a very summary and simplistic way. Not accurate just an exercise in numbers so that you can get a sense on how this is done:Tax Generation in jobs: $3,500,000 (Salaries x amount of jobs – 7%)
    Tax Generated from profits: $60,000,000 (Total Profit – 6%)
    Tax Generated from local supplier investment: $100,000In our Pharma Building we have a total tax revenue of 63 million dollar a year. Where I want to go with this is to the following point: Every business that opens shop and generates revenue injects funds into our government accounts. Our biggest issue in the island is tax evasion. The people stealing from the government by not reporting their real sales amounts and the employees by not reporting their real salary. There are ways to regulate this but Puerto Ricans are very creative on how to steal.I see that every time that a government service is affected people in Puerto Rico hold manifestations. This is a very late reaction to an issue. We need to hold manifestations to the government when a plant or big business closes, because this will cause by domino effect that  a government service is affected or our cost increase. I see many times that a big Plant closes and people don’t care. We have to care! and many times they close because the government isn’t adapting to their needs. We the people need to force the government officials to adapt to the private sector needs because of they close we wont have the money to operate the government. My Activist friends and Picket Lines should be in front of the Pharmaceuticals and Factories before they close when they announce the issues, not in front of the UPR when they need to raise the tuition because the Pharmaceutical closed. Its a late reaction and a bad example for youth. Real education is to teach your students to understand how the economy works and put proactive action where it really matters. The Professors at the universities should know better.
  3. Every time we add a new service to Government we need a bigger Private Sector: Its just a fact! Imagine that you have a fixed salary and it is currently being monthly committed, you cant go every month adding new expenses because you wont be able to pay for them. When citizens request new services they need to plan first: How are we going to pay for this?. If we are already bankrupt as a country how can politicians keep creating initiatives? By using that credit card that they aren’t supposed to use remember. So what do we do? We get involved with our country finances, we need to see our bank statements and plan, we can just go blind trusting this people with our money. They need to be accountable and transparent.We the people need to request from them a quick and simple way to see our government bank statements and project efficiency. Can this be done? Of course it can just as you do with your finances, the data is there all we have to do is request it. The Government has more budget for systems than an local bank. They can issue our statement, we just haven’t requested it.
  • Should Basic Public Services Be Free? (The Myth of Free)
  1. There is no such thing as free: People ask for free services: Free medical insurance, Free education, Free, Free, Free. There is no such thing as free, suppliers need to get paid, employees need to get paid. All services cost someone money. By giving someone something for nothing the government is not helping them. We send the wrong message to people this way and that is why People in Puerto Rico are so disconnected of the information above expressed. Not by lack of education as people would say, the problem is that the government is sending the wrong message. It is an against natural order and evolution message. In nature we are given tools to survive, our intelligence. And we evolve by using our intelligence and body to surpass the challenges, the same way it happens to humans globally. Humans need stimulus in order to evolve and grow.  The message we send the people is the same as a father that spoils they’re kids, spoiled kids don’t care were the money comes from, they just WANT. The don’t CARE, nor the WORK to get what they REALLY NEED.
  2. Things need to be accessible, not Free: There is a universal truth Government can assist in the leveling of the field in order to try an offer equal opportunities to all. Therefore things need to be accessible what things need to be accessible? Health Care, Education and other services that are necessary for us to grow. The difference from accessible to Free is that we can adjust or adapt helps and needs depending on the situation and socio economic status of the person requesting aid. You can pay for the basic services as your economic situation determines. When people demand free! they are many times not analyzing who and how are we going to pay for that. That gives the keys to the politicians to put our nation in debt and finally have it taken away from us.
  • Does Throwing More Money Into Problem Fix Problems? (Strategy)
  1. The answer to that question is always NO!. Problems get fixed with the solution to the problems. When people in Puerto Rico say we had better education if we paid teachers more, I object to the statement in its entirety. It doesn’t mean that I don’t think techers should get a higher compensation, what I think is that our education system has other deeper issues that are not solved by money. The issue is a lack of strategy on how the money is invested and how the curriculums are selected. By saying that we need more money you are singlehandedly stating that the quality of education is relevant to money.In this modern society Education in its essence is universal and accessible.We have a problem in Puerto Rico of absence of Social Responsibility Curriculums. Which is our moral pillar, without morals and values you will have more criminals and violence, people stealing, people not caring and depressed people. Its not a matter of money, its a matter of strategy. We have a missing vital component in our strategy. When People understand what social responsibility means they will value more what teachers do so they will pay them more. So in this example of education the initial cost effective cure is strategy and good selection of curriculums. There are many public issues that I can use as example of a fact that just throwing money at the issue wont fix the issue. In the past when we have thrown more money we have had the same results of population, because we lack the integral component of our education, our moral pilar.
  • What are Political Parties For in the First Place? (The base of all corruption)
  1. Imagine that you went to a store and the managers were fighting over who gave a better service while your waiting to buy and item, they start telling you how bad the other performs and how they mistreat customers, Then after your waiting in line and they finish out of pure testosterone one of them offers a half price deal to all customers that day causing the store a massive loss that day. In real life two thing happen either he gets fired for taking a heavy loss or eventually the store would close because they could not be self sustainable.This is exactly the behavior that Politicians have in the modern world. Its a circus and we go to the store and we get the discount but we forget that we are the investors and the owners of the government.Political Parties are only needed when nations are in its inception process and the democratic process needs candidates to start a government. Once the government is established political parties are no longer needed.Why are political parties bad for Puerto Rico?They are the source of collective corruption in government. They create groups of power that sway government from its goal that is the service of the community. They move campaign money to benefit the few using government contracts as leverage. Political Parties create ideologies and fanatism to stimulate voting trends, instead people voting for the right candidates. Political Parties Bully agencies, government officials and legislative process. Political Parties in organized nations divide the nations.What should we do? We are long overdue is redesigning our candidate election process and eliminating political parties. By eliminating the parties and eliminating the funding of elections campaign we reduce the amount of corruption in government and foster that candidates are out there to server and not to benefit others economically or themselves.Candidates can postulate and share their work plans and resumes to the citizenship and the government can have a committee of leaders that review background checks and qualifications for postulations. Using the Internet and the media candidates can get the message out there free of costs and debates will be the base on how we measure they’re abilities.
  • Do we have to completely overhaul government every four years?(Really?)
    As a government contractor and advisor I think that this is the biggest area of opportunity that our nation has in order to be a better nation. Imagine you own a small mechanics shop and you bring in a rookie mechanic. You hire him and he starts working on the first few months some broken cars come back because the mechanic is learning he fixes them again and of they go. As he learns he fixes more cars per month, less cars comeback and profits increase. Imagine that a that point you fire him, hire another rookie and start the cycle again. You would eventually have to close the shop because customers would be unhappy and leave or you would operate at a very reduced profit margin to the expenses in warranty work and training of the employees.By firing all our management team every 4 years that is exactly what we do but its is far worse than just human resources and training money. As a contractor I have been hired for projects, paid for the projects, done them and when we are to implement them we run into election year. Election years stops almost to a halt all progress once they new team comes back again priorities change and the project you were building gets stored in a closet or thrown to the trash. Imagine that a restaurant company built three new restaurants in a local area. Once they got done they said nah we are not going to open them after all. Then do this systematically every four years. That is what we do with our elections process people!So how does government cycles work?

    When a new political administration is elected we have a 4 year cycle: 1st year the politicians recruit their new trusted staff and loose the year hearing ideas on what to do and get trained in their new position, they also review what projects are running. The 2nd year politicians start launching out the planning and specifications of the projects they want to do, they identify how they are going to fund them and invite suppliers to bid. Many times to fund new ideas they diver funds from other projects thus canceling their effectiveness or many times shutting them down. Year three is were execution really starts for bigger projects starts. Year four is election year so politicians are just mainly running around attacking each other.If you remember the example of the mangers at the store we don’t want our managers bad mouthing each other(Gives the store bad rep), Competing against each other(They are supposed to work together) Using at best the resources they have(We will have a bankrupt Store)So the question is why do we fire our management team every four years? How do we propose that our main project which is the development of the nation and initiatives have continuity if we continually fire the people that are working for us…
  • Who really has the power in the government?
    People always scream at the governor and blame him for the things that go wrong. And that precisely is what the people in power want. Remember Houdini and the power of misdirection? Well the people in power use it. The people elect a Governor or President and he does the Public Relations and Marketing. That’s 80% of what he really does. He doesn’t set strategy, he doesn’t work the contracts and doesn’t propose the laws. When people blame him for the wrong doings or bad administration. Its not really bad administration, it was administration in the favor of those in control. If we put a Microscope on those then we can see what is going on. Or Politicians are not idiots there agenda is just not public. There is business to be made in a bankrupt nation, wallstreet was built on opportunity after all… The two real groups of power in government are:
  1. The families and corporations that fund the campaigns: They drive the majority of law projects, they block them and they hire lawyers to make sure our nation runs in their favor. When we are screwed we have to dig deeper to see who’s getting profited of those families or corporations. Puerto Rico is small not more than 10-15 families work the political system and the news is, they have people in both parties so the “competition” for elections every 4 years is a hoax. That is why we need to disappear the political parties.
  2. The Senate: The majority of laws issued are in favor of a future money making projects. People in the Senate are put there to work for the families or corporations, so they can place the bills move our country’s agenda in symbiosis with the development or determent of their plans. If people just had a summary of laws placed every year and track the eventual effect we would see the domino effect of who they benefited down the line they would clearly hash out who the real responsible are.

For many people that don’t have a background developing initiatives this article might be beneficial, it will also be beneficial for anyone that wants to help and support the development of our nation.

Remember, The “free” culture will eventually have us owned by other nations

About the Author:

Luis Pérez works as a Technology Industry Systems Architect

He has more than 13 years working with government officials in Puerto Rico and Washington. He has also developed or is contributor in various socio economic development initiatives. For more information please reach him at: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=66394609&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

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2 responses to “Puerto Rico and the Culture of “Free” Stuff

  1. Very good points all! The only one I slightly differ from is the fact that when government provides “free” service, it’s not really free, you pay for it with your taxes; so the people don’t really expect free (at least some don’t). About the 4 years… I’ve been thinking about that too… maybe 6 is better… it will also make you think twice about who you put in that chair. Still… at this stage… we should be requiring better preparation from these “leaders” or CEO’s of our country. Let’s not hire rookies in the first place! Or at least, ensure we have rookies with good learning curves.

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