You might have gotten angry immediately upon seeing the title. What you may not realize is that this was already done in the 1950s. Poor agricultural workers in Puerto Rico were encouraged to move to the eastern United States when the agricultural market suddenly began to disappear. Sugar cane production was pretty much wiped out as tax incentives brought a wave of manufacturing businesses to Puerto Rico, transforming its present day format... i.e. acting like any other US states, but propped up by tax incentives to keep businesses operating here, and virtually no significant natural resources for export (other than the middle class).
Migration has played a large role in social and economic changes since the 1950s. In the 1950s and 1960s, the government encouraged a massive migration of poor agricultural workers to the east coast of the US to help create a predominantly industrial economy (Source).
My recent brainstorm on "democratizing the sales tax" was designed to create an economic stimulus by providing cash incentives directly to the "productive" workforce operating at or near the poverty line. I made an obvious mistake when I asserted that providing such incentives could also help draw people out of the welfare system and into the work force. Gil the Jenius, along with other corrections, pointed out that doing so would actually create a net loss in monthly income for welfare recipients, therefore completely removing the incentive I was hoping would lure them out.
Yet it's clear that this portion of Puerto Rico's citizen base is a huge drain on an already failing economy, consuming without producing. I'm not taking away the blame from a corrupt or incapable government. The most powerful country in the world (USA) is in the midst of one of the greatest financial crisis in its history. I'm also not going to entirely blame the people stuck in poverty or the welfare system entirely for their situation. In a better economy, with a stronger education system, and a better social support infrastructure, these people could have a better chance. An extraordinary combination of hard work and luck should NOT be required for these people to break through, especially under the extremely stressful environment that poverty thrusts upon them.
So if the money is not available to maintain them, and the tools are not available to help them become productive citizens, why not get rid of them like they did in the 1950s?
Fortunately... Puerto Rico is once again saved by it's United States Commonwealth Status. Everyone here is born a naturalized United States citizen. As such, the borders are open to all Puerto Ricans to move to the United States.
So why keep them all here when we can "outsource their support" to Florida? However, I'm not talking about grabbing some Spirit Airlines $9 tickets and shipping them out to Orlando. These are people, not products. Last week, Caribbean Business was all over the concept of PPP (Public Private Partnerships). If that's the new strategy that is en vogue, let's go with that. We'll make more head way.
So what's the PPP/Boriquen Exodus plan?
We identify Florida based developers with cheap land available. We co-finance the development of a public housing development there. We create a transition plan for the welfare class. In essence, we provide air transport and several months of continued welfare support payments until they become residents of Florida and are eligible to draw from the welfare system there. They are going to be taken care of in Florida, and you can be sure that the United States economy, particularly in states like Florida is going to improve long before Puerto Rico ever will. The culture shock will be minimized since mass communities of Puerto Ricans will be created together.
Let's call it "New Puerto Rico". By making a PPP deal with the developer, Puerto Rico outsources the care of its poorest citizens and non-productive members of society to a wealthier state, which is completely legal due to their United States citizenship.
Fortuno is about to spend a $5 Billion fund. Perhaps the time is now to act on this.
The developer benefits from the welfare revenue they receive for keeping the public housing (rentals) occupied, and the big investment from Puerto Rico to get the project created. As they expand and basically create the city of "New Puerto Rico", they scan plot out segments of land for commercial use which will be leased out to businesses that want to sell to New Puerto Rico residents. Yes, they'll have their very own McDonald's within a year, I'm sure of it.
At first instinct, this all sounds a little uneasy, doesn't it? Instead of Moses saying "Let my people go", we have Fortuno saying "Make my people go". However, when you examine the benefits, this is actually a great way to give them a new life. Who would want to be a member of the welfare class in Puerto Rico as the economy collapses, the school system falls apart, violent crimes like murder keep rising in your welfare barrio, etc? In fact, we might be releasing them to the promised land! They'll have a better chance there.
It's really a strategy to outsource to the United States for free. Instead of paying all these welfare costs, take them off the books completely. It would not be long before saved expenditures from expatriating the poor would make the necessity of things like sales tax a thing of the past.
One of the great benefits of this is that it becomes a huge social experiment for Puerto Rico. When the drug traffickers set up shop in New Puerto Rico, how does the Florida government respond to it, and how successful are they at fighting crime? Florida has a much lower murder rate of course. Perhaps we can observe from afar and see what they do. If it's effective, they we can adapt the same strategies for policing the remaining low income housing districts in Puerto Rico. If not, at least it's not happening in Puerto Rico.
And how could this affect Puerto Rico?
- Expect a reduction in the murder rate.
- Expect an increase in the GNI (Gross National Income per Capita), which is currently lower than all US states.
- Expect a reduction in the percentage of those currently getting food stamps in Puerto Rico (currently about 50%!).
- Expect savings to help government pay down debt and stimulate the economy.
- Expect a reduction in the occurrence of some of poverty's consequences like crime, poor health, reduced cognitive abilities for children, low birth weight, more children repeating/failing grades, high drop out rates, and higher incidences of children born out of wedlock.
- Expect big savings from reductions from reduced crime (i.e. the "cost of crime").
- Expect an improvement in Puerto Rico's image as stats that reach the media (such as the death rate) and the stereotypical view of Puerto Ricans in the United States begins its transition.
- Expect an increase in tourism, a *vital* industry for Puerto Rico's feature, since Puerto Rico's greatest natural resource is it's beaches and natural terrain.
- Lower class sizes in public school system.
- Reduced strain on the health care system.
Who do we expect to get behind this plan? If it leaves a stale taste in your mouth, just keep in mind the following questions:
- Are the welfare citizens better off here?
- Can Puerto Rico continue to give them the same standard of care as the US?
- What would Puerto Rico be like if the out migrations leading up to the peak in the 1950s has not reduced the population here?
- Can you imagine Puerto Rico with a population of 8 Million in the current economic situation, adding as many as 1-2 million more to the welfare class?