Puerto Rico: changing the focus of government

At one point in its not to distant past, the government of Puerto Rico owned just about everything.   It owned the shipping company ‘Navieras,’ the Puerto Rico Telephone Company and still owns the Water and Sewer Authority and the Electric Power Authority.  These were ‘purchased’under misguided socialist policies during the 1970’s.

In essence, following leftist doctrine the government of Puerto Rico was trying to ‘be all things to all people.’   The result is what we see today.  73 Billion dollars in debt and supposedly, no way to pay it. Granted, the issue is much more complicated; but I’ve addressed many of those issues in other articles.

Today I want to focus on the differing views of the left and right regarding the purpose of government and suggest a compromise.

To the left, ‘All things to all people’ is the goal.  Yet it has been show time and time and time again, that it does not work.  Eventually, you run out of other people’s money.

To the right, the responsibility for one’s well being is the individual’s.  Government’s purpose is limited to a few specific duties like defense, security, response to disasters, international relations, regulating (to a very limited degree) business interactions across state lines and interstate infrastructure.

The further along we go, the more divergent these positions become.  Mandatory health care insurance and socialized medicine do not mix with with the libertarian ideal of ‘self-ownership.’    Nor does Obamacare mix with the idea of free markets and personal choice.  Yet many of the left want less choice and more government sourced services.

Intentionally divisive politics aside, the two sides are becoming irreconcilable.

This is one of the reasons I developed my theory of ‘Distributive Capitalism.’

The theory (explained in the article linked above) depends on limited government and free market capitalism in order to work, but it provides all of the social services the left wants; by simply changing the way they are paid for and who controls them.  The vast majority of the leadership of the democratic left is likely to oppose this concept because it takes power out of government hands and empowers individuals to make their own social choices without having to elect a new politicians to get the things they want.

The right and libertarians will oppose it because it requires mandatory savings, but it goes further than that.  It changes the focus of government all together and opens a broad range of possibilities to a better future for everyone.  The focus would be on the end result, not on the process or how a service is provided.

I’ll take a simple example.  El Fondo de Seguro del Estado (The state security fund) which is Puerto Rico’s version of Workers’ Compensation.  This public entity gives employees money when they get injured at work and can’t work.  Nice idea when it started, but Puerto Rico’s FSE is always in deficits, slow to respond and pays very low amounts to injured workers.

The left and even many on the right would never dare to want to eliminate Workers’ Compensation.  Like social security, it is a third rail and any politicians who goes after it, even when it performs poorly is likely to face certain defeat.  So the plan is to always keep Workers’ Comp.

I argue, that what is necessary is to keep the ‘benefits’ provided by Workers’ Comp for those who want it.   The ‘how’ it is delivered is not important.  It is the what.  Many people who have worked labor or hourly based jobs know that if you aren’t working, you aren’t earning.  So I’m not opposed in theory to the idea of having a fund or payment system to help those injured on the job or even those who are just injured period who need temporary assistance.

So how do you balance out the idea of wanting to make sure a service is available, but not necessarily owned, operated or paid for by government?

A quick look to the private sector will help you find a company like AFLAC.  This company provides benefits much like Workers’ Compensation.  They help cover medical expenses not covered by insurance and pay cash to help people pay bills why they are unable to work.  I suspect that it wouldn’t be too hard to sit down with AFLAC and negotiate a deal to replace FSE with the private insurer and make it available to everyone.

This would save money by replacing FSE with the private entity.  No more buildings to manage, not more electric bills to pay and no more employees to pay.  In this scenario FSE wouldn’t be privatized, it would be closed permanently and the buildings and office supplies sold.  It would cease to exist, yet the benefit would continue.

Another example is education.  My disdain for teachers unions aside; there is always room for improvement in education.  The best schools in Puerto Rico are private schools…hands down.  There isn’t even a debate.  Yet there are protests whenever the government tries to shut down a public school, even if that schools is full of asbestos and no longer in use.

If the focus is the education of children, then naturally you look for the best possible education which right now is done only in private schools.  This is why republican’s often propose voucher programs.  This gives parents black or white the option to choose which school to send their kids.  It creates competition forcing schools to compete for students.

The left hates this because it means the government is no longer in control of education or as I prefer to call it, ‘indoctrination camps.’

The list of ideas that spring up when you focus on the purpose and the end instead of the process is endless.  Its time Puerto Rico started to reshape and refocus its government.

 

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About worleyf

Semi-retired Media Relations guy, former radio and TV reporter and legislative aide. Middle of the road Libertarian (as if that actually existed) who reviews current news items and stories, and offers an alternative point of view.
This entry was posted in Budget, Business, capitalism, Economy, Education, healthcare, socialism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Puerto Rico: changing the focus of government

  1. Raul Lopez says:

    I am a conservative running as a write in candidate for governor of Puerto Rico. See raullopezgobernador.com.

    Like

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