Puerto Rico (PR) is burdened with debt just like many citizens and cities in PR and mainland US. It looks bleak for PR, but this situation creates a tremendous opportunity to rebuild their country/state better than ever. This blog provides a few ideas for PR to not only get out from under their debt situation but become a model for all of the world.
First we must identify the root of the issue for PR. Surprising it’s the same issue plaguing much of the world which is the extraction of money from local citizens to multinational companies. This extraction is squeezing and sucking every dollar OUT of the country. So the solution is conceptually simple: just reverse this trend. Move the dollars back from multinationals and back to the locals.
Here are a few possible actions:
- Tax multinationals huge sales tax and import tax for any goods they bring from outside. This can be achieved many different ways such as giving local citizens large tax breaks while substantially increasing overall taxes to multinationals. I’m sure everyone could come up with legal or other excuses of how this couldn’t work or be illegal, but instead focus efforts on HOW this could be done. You know you are successful when Walmart is replaced by 50 local companies.
- Provide a program to allow PR citizens to replace pensions with government properties, businesses, or contracts for the pension holders or their families. Every conversion of a pension obligation to a business immediately reduces debt and stimulates the local economy. Here’s an example: Government owns or acquires a 10 unit strip mall that is suffering (most likely due to the WalMart down the block). Government offers pension holders a conversion of their pension for a free long term lease of one of the strip mall units for either them or their family or they can sell to another PR citizen. They would be restricted from selling to any foreign companies or even local tycoons with over $10M in assets for example. As more local owners start operating their business with no rent payments other than building maintenance providing them an economic advantage over the multinationals. Note that this is just one example, it could also be applied to providing government contracts to pensioners or converting government run business back to people run businesses or provide farming land to people.
- Focus on GHP instead of GDP which is Gross Happiness of the People (GHP). GDP is a bad measurement that is not serving citizens well. Here is an example of the failure of GDP: If the Exon Valdez would have successfully delivered it’s oil the impact on GDP would have been negligibly small, however since the Valdez crashed, spilled oil, and killed animals which created huge amounts of economic activity for clean up, insurance claims and so on…so GDP went UP. Whenever I spill something I feel it’s a negative not a positive! GHP on the other hand would measure the health and happiness of the citizens and environment. Here are some possible measurements for GHP:
- Number of successful local businesses and total gross revenue of LOCAL companies minus the amount of revenue to foreign companies. I’m guessing currently this number is a huge negative for PR just like many cities and states throughout the US. When this number becomes positive and continues to grow, the country will be healthier and happier.
- Influx or growth of residents and citizens. Many PR citizens have left the country due to economic issues and unable to make ends meet. If these people go back or new people want to move to PR, this is a sign of a healthy environment with abundant opportunities.
- Healthy and sustainable agriculture. Continuous research is showing that food grown with synthetic fertilizers, gmo seeds, excessive tilling, etc is more susceptible to pest and drought issues. Large agriculture is also destroying rural communities forcing workers out. This trend must change and PR could lead the effort as a model for the rest of the world. Moving agriculture back to locals, using local seeds that are adapted to the area, and implementing more sustainable smaller farming practices will improve the healthiness of the food and stimulate rural communities. GHP measurements could include the FLAVOR of the food, the healthiness of the food, and the sustainability of the crops through with measurements such as the deepness of the roots. Another measurement would be the elimination of Monsanto and Bayer and the likes from the country. Converting pensions to farmland or farm-able government land would be reduce debt and increase healthy agriculture.
- Health of the people. Most of the top aliments of people are caused by unhealthy food including heart disease, hypertension, stress, diabetes, and obesity. PR should move towards local healthy food and focus on natural diets like the “Whole Food, Plant Based” diet and other nutrition approaches that focus on healthy food. GHP measurements could include reductions of food-based illnesses and longer life.
- Crime rates. When people are not able to care for themselves and families it fosters crime and desperation. Lowering crime rates show greater happiness to everyone through less stress from fear of safety and well being. Lower crime also increases tourism which further boasts the economy.
Puerto Rico has an opportunity to REBOOT the country and be a model for the world focused on local business and opportunity, sustainable agriculture and focus on Happiness versus Product. Good Luck Puerto Rico, I’m excited for your future if you can implement these and other ideas from the citizens!