Social Justice, Puerto Rican Style: Pools for the Projects!

EspañolEarlier this year, Puerto Rico’s public-housing residents got into trouble for building temporary swimming pools and slides in their neighborhoods’ open spaces. It’s a tradition that began several years ago, and rumors suggest local drug lords pay for them to keep the poor happy.

Recently, however, the Puerto Rico Housing Authority determined they would build pools at the housing projects for the residents themselves. They now claim it was “just an idea.”

Temporary pools brighten the government housing in Puerto Rico. (@ak_guzman)

So, in other words, the people who live in public housing, who pay little or no rent, and who often get free electricity, water, and food stamps, will now also get swimming pools — and the taxpayers, already straddled with a US$110 billion debt, are going to pay for it. The fact that the Government Development Bank says it will be insolvent by next year, or that Puerto Rico is seeking bankruptcy protection, seems to have been ignored while considering this plan.

Recent reports show that the US federal government spent over $2 trillion on social welfare programs in 2013 alone. Tens of trillions of dollars have been spent trying to help the poor over the last five decades. And yet poverty and a now-dependent underclass persist. Puerto Rico gets over $20 billion in federal funds each year in direct aid and government programs, yet its economy continues to shrink and there is even greater poverty — but hey, at least we can all go swimming in the projects, right?

Where is the justice for those who work for a living? Where is the justice for those who obey the law and play by the rules in Puerto Rico? Where is the justice for the tens of thousands of families in Puerto Rico who are victims of crime? What justice is being carried out for those children of third-generation welfare recipients who have lost all concept of what it means to earn a living and be independent?

“Social justice” is often the mantra of progressives, socialist code for “vote for us, and we’ll give you more free stuff.” This is why democracies fail. This is why Puerto Rico has fallen and will fail. This is what is destroying the United States — not to mention the currency and common sense.

What people forget is that those who provide for you, control you: beggars can’t be choosers. And when you have lost your ability to be independent as an individual, and you have lost the ability to pay for everything you want, the result is violence, revolution, and totalitarianism.

Politicians will never say, “we blew it.”  They will say, “the Navy hurt you, the Americans hurt you; they took away your right to live for free!” And then they will show their real agenda, “We will save you one more time, if you give us the power to make the needed changes to provide justice for the poor.”

Such scapegoating and superficial populism is basically how you get the likes of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez. The truth does not matter to the enemies of liberty.

So ask yourselves, have they been just with you? Has all of this money ended your poverty or your dependence on the state?  Why should those in government be in a position to compete with drug dealers for your loyalty? Can you trust the politicians in office this year? Last year? Next year? If you cannot trust them, why do you surrender to them in exchange for handouts?

What have social justice, “fairness,” and protective regulations brought you? Are you no longer poor? Are you free from crime? Are you better off? After decades of programs and policies, attacks on the rich, and union demands for higher wages and better benefits at the expense of the real working class, have these strategies really helped you and your family?

In the past year, 63 factories have closed in Puerto Rico. Food is caught in a bottleneck at the port of San Juan, and rotting, while the Hacienda (Treasury) needs to fix the tax computers. They manage to drive up the cost and drive down the quality of food, to gather money from the people, but they never address the fundamental problems of Puerto Rico.

There is moral outrage at any suggestion that the poor should be responsible for their own well-being, and moral outrage when I rail against public sector unions, but where is the outrage at the theft of taxation to pay for one bad program after another?  Where is the outrage at the debt that today enslaves Puerto Rican taxpayers? Where is the outrage at the crime and criminals who rule the streets?

Call this a self-serving political statement if you must, but no one, no one is offering real alternatives to fix Puerto Rico’s problems, except this blog. Not the New Progressive Party, not the Popular Democratic Party, not the Puerto Rico Independence Party. Each of them disrespects the people of Puerto Rico with the same rhetoric, said in a slightly different way, without ever really addressing the problems.

One can argue over fairness. Former Governor Luis Fortuño tried that, and he paid for it by getting kicked out of office. Who in the field of contenders from the pro-statehood side is willing to stand up now and say the solution is to cut government and start demanding that people take care of themselves? True independence, true freedom, comes from the ability to take care of oneself, without having to ask anyone’s permission.

Wealth is power; wealth is freedom, but only if that wealth is owned by the individual, not from the proceeds of theft by taxation. It is time to provide real justice to the poor in Puerto Rico, by letting them fish for themselves. It is time to focus on ending poverty and dependency, and time to fix the fundamental problem with government: they purport to be all things to all people all of the time, at the expense of the only people producing anything good, the working class and small businesses.

Is their justice in Castro’s Cuba? Has poverty ended in Hugo’s Venezuela? Will Puerto Rico rise from the depths of this economic abyss like a falcon de sierra or slip beneath the waves of socialist insolvency? You decide, you choose; but choices have consequences, and while no politician will ever accept the blame, you the people will suffer those consequences.

The people of Puerto Rico must act now, break the bonds of partisan politics, and demand real change. No more taxes for pools, no more taxes for foolish programs, no more union extortion for things that we have already paid to have done. To not act is to choose to accept the way things are right now. If you have worked, paid taxes, and done your part, Puerto Rico owes you something! Because you have earned it, far, far more than the free pools for the professionally needy in a paradise of poverty.

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