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Am I worried about Puerto Rico’s financial crisis?

| 23 Comments

Image source: www.southerneye.co.zw

Image source: www.southerneye.co.zw

So if you have been paying attention to the news recently, you probably have seen that Puerto Rico is currently battling a 73 billion dollar debt and it looks like things could get ugly. So I’ve been getting many emails regarding such topic and I was asked if I was worried about Puerto Rico’s financial crisis. Well, I prefer to stay out of topics involving politics for obvious reasons, so I will try to be honest and explain my take on the whole thing as best I can without appearing politically biased towards one side or the other (because honestly I have no bias).

To start I’d like to put it out there, I am not affiliated with any political party in any way, at all. I am what some would call a “free thinker”, and I do not judge in any way the point of views of others even if they differ from mine (and in most cases they do differ). So my writings normally involve pros and cons from every angle so that you can make your own decision on what you feel is right.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, I will continue with the topic.

So, Am I worried about Puerto Rico’s financial crisis?

Honestly, NO. I am not worried one bit. There are many reasons why personally I am not worried, you may have other reasons. I will explain mine and I would love it if some people can join in the discussion in a respectful manner.

So Why am I not worried?

1. I simply do not worry about many things. Mark Twain said: “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe”. Simple, there are things I can control and things that I can’t. In this case, I cannot control what the outcome will be and I did not have anything to do with the reason why we are in a crisis in the first place, I do not owe this debt as I did not cause it, so worrying about it is a waste of my time and it would negatively affect my emotional well being. There is nothing I can do to make this better, except maybe staying in Puerto Rico and helping the community however I can rather than fleeing, so I will stay, because I do know I can have a positive impact on those around me (and you the reader).

2. The cost of living may go up, but, what else is new? Here in PR, we get taxed EVERYWHERE and get charged for everything! It seems that every few months a new tax is introduced! The recent gasoline tax, the new sales and services tax (IVU) just went up to 11.5% on July 1st! now, to be fair, this 11.5% is supposed to be only for 9 months. The water bill went up tremendously! Add to that the privatization everything, for example the main highways in order to have better roads, which now means that the tolls will go up in price; the privatization of the airport which means a somewhat nicer airport but more expensive fares. Now there are talks of privatizing the electrical company, prices will go down they say! Nope, latest news are that the price of electricity will go up as part of the restructuring process. Every time a previously public company has been privatized or has been converted to a public/private company, the prices have either stayed the same or gone up,  however, the services generally improve once is privatized.

In order to ease financial crisis, the governor may suggest privatizing more companies and services, and that’s not necessarily a bad idea since you generally get better and more streamlined services, however, I would not expect it to be any cheaper, if anything I expect the prices of such services to go up. So the cost of living may continue to rise, but, what else is new?

3. Do we really know what’s going on? NO! Like I mentioned in the first point, there are MANY reasons why we are in the financial crisis that we are dealing with. Some say the Cabotage law is to blame, others say that we borrowed too much money in order to keep up with tourism competition, others say that the reason is because of how many people leave the island each year, and others blame the previous government administrations.  Everybody is blaming everybody else! The political “analysts” tell you what they want you to hear, the other “analysts” tell you what they want you to hear, meanwhile there is no transparency from the government whatsoever! We really do not know what goes on in the minds of the government officials, we also don’t know the limitations, obligations, or interests they have! And guess what, chances are we will never know the truth behind it all. You can read all kinds of reports and analysis by experts in the field, but honestly, you will never know the truth, and you will have little to nothing to do with the solution to this $73 billion debt.

So while some are freaking out and either leaving the island or arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong and what’s about to happen (which no one really knows), I will be doing the same things I do now. I will help those around me (that includes you if you’re reading this), I will try to be the best citizen and neighbor I can. Let them worry about how to get out of this financial mess, they are the only ones that can really do anything about it anyway.  I will continue to enjoy life with my beautiful family, friends, and beaches! =)

Now, some people may feel the need to leave in order to search for jobs or for other reasons, and that’s ok! But if you ask me if I will leave or consider leaving because of the financial crisis we are facing, my answer is no, and I am not worried about it either, the solution or lack there of will happen regardless of what I do or don’t do, just like the debt happened regardless of what I did or didn’t do.

All the best,

Jay

Jay-Webmaster

Author: Jay-Webmaster

Jay is an Atmospheric Physicist and Massage Therapist who was born and raised in Puerto Rico but went to college in the US before moving back to Puerto Rico. Creator of NewToPuertoRico.com and the new forum NewToPuertoRico.com/forum

23 Comments

  1. For some reason I believe Congress will do something to fix the situation in Puerto Rico. It will be similar to the housing crisis and they wouldn’t want to be the bad guys and let us fail. HOW they will fix the crisis will be the big question. Will they allow bankruptcy? I dont think so. Congress is pretty much controlled by big money and it wouldn’t be in their interest to do so. The best thing the U.S. government could do for Puerto Rico is force to apply a financial board over PR like they have done with Washington D.C. and New York in the past that will make all the difficult choices a PR governor would not make. The government of PR is oversized and overpayed. They are furniture. Decorations. No one wants to be the bad guy and reduce it to about 60% but it must be done. A government runs bc of the peoples money. If the people have less money the government MUST be reduced. The USA can implement another tax exemption on the island like they did in the past with the condition that this time the money being given to us be used for INNOVATION and JOB CREATION unlike what the previous governors have been doing. Stealing all the funds and doing absolutely nothing to create jobs or promote any type of better education on the island. The government is such a disaster that it should be completely disbanded and started up from scratch. They have destroyed the medical field, the educational field, anything they touch turns to dirt! Puerto Rican public education students are many times left without the necessary learning materials and even teachers!! There are no substitute teachers here. Most families, even t hose who cant really afford it turn to private schools bc the public school system is so bad. Yet they pay more for each public school child than each child in private school!! Where is this money going? The political status of the island is another problem. We have accepted second class citizenship for a long time. We have no real representation in congress since we have no vote. We have no bargaining chips. Puerto Rico has to decide on it’s future and the colony status has proven to be a failure. Only education, innovation and job creation (incentives to open your own business) will PR prosper and the bond holders will also rejoice. There is alot of potential on the island. Why don’t we have a big theme park? Puerto Ricans spend crazy amounts of money each year traveling to florida which has the same climate just to go to these theme parks. Why dont we have one here ? I can see tourists from the virgin islands, latin america and even europe coming to enjoy a beautiful theme park on a gorgeous island. Why don’t we have trains?!! Why dont we have uber?? (gov blocked uber so tourists will have to keep paying high prices for old cabs instead of allowing puerto ricans from all over the island the opportunity to work and allow tourists the chance to pay less).

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Good points and questions.

      If you are interested in answering some of these questions I suggest you follow Congressman Luis Gutierrez, there has been a few videos posted recently. We have our hands tied and most people don’t know that. The US owns PR, literally. There is very little we can do. So you consider the limitations we have as imposed by the US govt plus the misappropriation of funds and money that could be managed better, plus the many other things we simply do not know, and we have what we have.

      I will try to keep everyone posted on this but I am personally not a political person, I don’t prefer to talk about the local politics. Mainly because there is no transparency and we really know very little about what is actually happening so I would be talking about a topic I know very little about even if I am glued to the local news and read every newspaper.

  2. Love the back and forth. politics are everywhere. I’m used to it. But the U.S. congress will figure out how to hinder Puerto Rico’s recovery and deny the island true assistance with the debt. As for me , I’m not worried about this. Like you say, it won’t change my daily routine. Just ready to retire there. Sept can’t come too soon. Take care everyone. Jack

    • Jay-Webmaster

      So glad you get to retire here in PR!

      When it comes to politics, we only know a small fraction of what truly happens, yet so many people think they know so much and that they have the solution for everything.

      I really hope you enjoy your time here, I know I do! Take time to relax and enjoy the beaches, mountains, and of course the Puerto Rican COFFEE!

      Take Care!

  3. I have been living in Puerto Rico for two years and these are just my thoughts.

    I can’t ignore the financial problems of Puerto Rico for two reasons: the debt will effect the quality of life on the island, in terms of services and will create hardships for many people. Most importantly, the debt is a symptom of a deeper problem on the island: problems, whether financial or otherwise, have been ignored. There is an attitude problem on the island. There is a bureaucracy problem and no one seems to say, “can we do better?”. Instead, the bureaucracy is kept in place because to change would be hard work and take effort. And believe me, I have seen multiple levels of bureaucracy everywhere.

    Sure, I can go about my daily life with friends, but one thing I won’t do is ignore the serious issues facing Puerto Rico. Not facing issues has consequences.

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Hello Richard!

      Thank you for your thoughts! Yes, I agree with just about everything you said, except a few things, which is fine! We’re just voicing our thoughts and that’s great!

      I disagree that people don’t say “we can do better”, simply because I hear that every single day and that’s what everyone is upset about. We can do better and things are they way they are. Yes we can do better and we should try our very best to do the best we can.

      The bureaucracy! Ugh I hate it! Probably the one thing that really upsets me! It’s awful, but changing it would cost too many jobs and the change may be too much for many people. I think things should be much more streamlined, but for some reason a lot of people fear change, and when it may cost them their jobs, how can you blame them? But the bureaucracy here is terrible!

      I’m not saying that we should ignore the problems necessarily, the thing is that there is absolutely nothing I can do to change anything, so I will go with my daily life because I am not part of the group of people who are making decisions for this island. There has been countless protests, demonstrations, fights, arguments, etc regarding a variety of topics, and it has not changed a thing. We just mentioned bureaucracy, politics are worse, WAY worse! This island has political parties and people who would vote for one thing over another simply because they belong to a political party and voting against the consensus of the party could cost them their job (and it has in the past, I didn’t think it was legal, but it is). So if you belong to political party X and you are going to vote on something that the political party Y proposes, and it is something rather important, you better vote against the proposal even if you agree with it! You risk to be kicked out of the caucus if you vote in favor of what your opposing party proposed.

      Yes, just like that.

      The ones that need to face the issues are the ones making the decisions, we, as citizens will only face the consequences. You’ve been living here 2 years, I’ve seen this for over 25 years, and I am currently in a particularly good position to see the decision-making process first hand, and let me tell you, there is A LOT MORE going on than what the public sees. There are many more limitations and reasons than anyone can imagine that have a profound impact on what happens and what gets decided. In many cases, not even the governor himself has control over what happens, remember, we are a US territory and Federal law rules over ours, so we as an island have our set of limitations as well.

      So yes, the issue must be faced, and rather quickly and seriously, but who can face the issues and actually have any power to do anything about it? Well, I know I am not that person nor I belong to the group of people who can actually make decisions to make change. In many cases, not even those in power here have the power to create change, did you hear about the local bankruptcy proposal? Lots of work went into it, all in the benefit of the people, and the US Government rejected every version of the proposal. We could be in a very different situation right now if we had more autonomy over our finances, although I can’t say we would be in a better financial position, but at least in a different position. If everyone follows closely what the local government is doing to change our financial situation, you can see the level of frustration that is taking over, because if it is not the Federal Government rejecting our proposals and please for change, it is the local politics fighting one party against the other simply because they are from the other party regardless of the effect that it has on its citizens. And who’s paying? We all are, we are facing the consequences of the lack of action, political nonsense, and maybe lack of autonomy.

      I am not trying to discourage anyone from doing what they believe is right. Just that me personally, I have seen first hand how what I think or do doesn’t matter, even in cases when those in power agree with me. So I could either leave like so many do, or just enjoy what can’t be taken from me here in PR.

      If you have some firm beliefs and you feel you can make a difference, please do what you think is right, and I mean this to anyone who reads this. At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself and your conscience. You do what you think is right.

      Take care and thank you for your thoughts!

      Jay

      • Hi Jay!

        Thanks for your comment. Perhaps I need to explain more! I have been involved politically/socially with creating changes a good deal of my life. When I say I don’t hear “we can do better” I am talking about the leadership on the island. To change, you need leadership with a vision, willing to make hard decisions.
        As far as I am concerned, the bureaucracy on the island CAN and needs to be streamlined, you just have to want to do it. I know, I’ve helped do it elsewhere! You need a vision and people/leaders willing to do it. You will lose jobs, but guess what ? If you have a vision, you create new jobs ! The first thing I would do here is create solar farms. Why is there no solar power in Puerto Rico, of all places ? The federal government is willing to help with such a project.
        Maybe I’ll get involved, because there is a way for the people to organize and
        exercise their political power (not just protests). It can be done, it has been done, and Puerto Rico needs it! Thanks for listening!

  4. Hey, Jay! I totally agree with your post. I was from CA, then lived in TX for a year. I live with my Puerto Rican husband in Bayamón for 3 months. My mom told me to go back to CA because of what she watched in the news. I told her that, regardless of the crazy taxes on everything and the continous increase of cost of living, education and healthcare here are cheaper and the cost of living in CA is still higher than that of PR. 🙂

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Hello Christa!

      Thanks for your post! If we pay too much attention to what’s on the news, we’d be too afraid to do anything!

      I’ve heard the cost of living in CA is really high, there are places that’s cheaper in some ways but not others. I take the good with the bad, there’s not a whole lot I can do about certain things.

      Hope you like your time here!

  5. Jay,

    Wonderful site. I wanted to share our perspective on Puerto Rico.

    Our small family plans on developing thirty or more franchise businesses on the island in 2016, Massage Envy, European Wax Center, Bach To Rock and The Joint Chiropractic franchises. That equates to 300+ new jobs. We are pretty bullish on the people and island, so much so we plan on moving to San Juan to live.

    Just wanted to share that despite the fiscal challenges, there are still people coming to invest and live.

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Oh that’s awesome! I actually worked at a Massage Envy for 3 years as a massage therapist before I moved down here!

      Thank you for your vote of confidence!

    • Hello Charles Fisher, I am planning on moving to Puerto Rico this year, and it is a delight to hear you optimism towards the island. I plan on investing as well. I currently run my business from home, and deal with customer service oriented contracts. And the one thing I can say is being able to get my hands on agents that speak fluent Spanish will be great. I could do that stateside but I want to go where it would make a difference. Thanks for a ray of hope.

      • Tinamarie, I have found everyone on the island to be so welcoming that I can’t believe why I didn’t make the move sooner. The people here are pretty awesome and you will definitely reap a return by coming. Good luck and reach if you have questions.

  6. My mother has two properties in Puerto RIco and I’m hoping to move there permanently after I find an Internship for GP. My wife and I are not worried, this crises has been coming for some time. When I visited in June 2015 for an Interview I saw nothing but the usual protests against the new tax that will affect many on the island.
    What many in the US does not know is there are many Medical Internships that do not pay anything for the year we are in the residency. We have to have other means to live that year.

    • Jay-Webmaster

      We would love you to move permanently! A lot of people come here for med school at a much lower cost than many schools elsewhere and then they move out. We call it “Brain Drain” where we educate many doctors, engineers, etc and they they move out.

      It would be an honor to have you in the island.

      • I’m coming 8/3 for another week of applying for Jan 2016 spots. I hope I get a spot, its tough because a lot of people take the spots then leave to US mainland. I’m really planning on staying and practicing. We have places in both Luquillo and Manuabo but I’m going to take any internship I can get on the island.

    • Hi

      I am also looking for medical internships. If you know any programs will u plz share the info.

      Thanks

  7. Hi Jay,
    I am entirely in agreement with you, and I would take it a bit farther, insofar, as this financial crisis in Puerto Rico could be a great opportunity. It would be wise of the Puerto Rican government to change its’ laws regarding the priority payment of bond debt, and then just default on all of its’ debt. Then, reduce taxes to zero, and make the island business friendly, and watch the island recover and grow. They could streamline the bureaucracy by eliminating a lot of the fluff. (personal example below)
    and making it easier for people to actually start small businesses. I know it’s not popular to increase unemployment, but government should be shrunk to a minimum, and allow each person to decide what is in their own best interests.
    Here’s my example. I’m restoring a fine historic building in Ponce. The Cultural Institute and the City of Ponce have fought each other over the colors of the facade! Is that crazy or not?
    Nurture your friends, grow food and give it away, be kind to everyone. Thanks for your sensible thoughts. Brian

    • Jay-Webmaster

      The bureaucracy is one thing that really gets to a lot of people here. I could do without it. That thing with the paint doesn’t surprise me. I wonder what’s the big deal though. Is there a real legitimate limitation or reason? Or is it simply because one doesn’t like it?

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