Friday, July 29, 2011

Believing in Miracles

"It's the miracle of the Caribbean," proclaimed Kenneth McClintock, the Secretary of State of Puerto Rico, when asked about Gov. Fortuño's handling of the economy. Mr. McClintock made this recent statement at the annual meeting of the National Lieutenant Governor's Association, which was held on the island this year. During this gathering, Gov. Fortuño encouraged the lieutenant governors in attendance to follow in his footsteps and adopt austerity measures as a means to solving the budget problems afflicting the majority of the states on the U.S mainland. The Governor boasted that he has reduced the government's payroll by 17% and underscored the fact that no other state had ever laid-off 23,000 public employees. Most were weary (and rightfully so) of Fortuño's approach though. This would include Yvonne Prettner, the Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, who hails from a state which just had the U.S' longest government shutdown in a decade.

As Congress wrangles over raising the debt ceiling, and the so-called "great recession" (in Puerto Rico it's officially the "great depression") continues, the fact is that there is no silver bullet which can solve all these economic problems. Gov. Fortuño argues that his fiscal plan has now put the Puerto Rico's economy on the right path, but didn't quite address why the island's unemployment rate remains staggeringly high (it varies between 15% to 17%), and why GDP growth remains negative. This truly can't be what McClintock referred to as the "Caribbean miracle."

Perhaps it is somewhat of a "miracle" that things haven't drastically worsened since the Fortuño administration's implementation of the infamous fiscal emergency law (aka "Ley 7"). Many do agree that the public sector needed to be trimmed down, but it has most certainly come at a great cost. Take, for example, goverment services. It has been estimated that in 2009, the Department of Family was unable to investigate over 27,000 child abuse cases. Officals claim that there aren't enough social workers working at the deparment. Simply said, to call Puerto Rico's economic situation a "miracle" is utterly preposterous.


Kofla Olivieri said...

Our politicians, especially those in charge now, are living in fantasyland. It is a miracle that people are not revolting and removing Fortuño and his minions out of office.
Kofla @ God of War Diaries

Anonymous said...

Nice blog. I'm from Puerto Rico as well but I live in the southwest.