Dining with Uber Libs II: Puerto Rico’s struggle against privatization of government jobs

Right before the story on HR 2499 came to light – and was summarily ignored by the media until a few days ago – I caught this headline on El Nuevo Día newspaper. This piece was published and pulled back in November 2009 as I was occupied with a family emergency and never got it back on so my bad but honestly, I simply thought no one or few people would give a damn, so I set it aside for more tweaking then my mom died so I figured the situation was not going to go away either way. Still this should be a good example of where things may go if the bill passes into law and serves as the prelude to our current situation in that the island’s finances have gone out of control and a drastic bailout plan must be implemented. Did I say bailout? How silly of me…that stuff only happens within CONUS, right? That and I was on the island right after the Paro Nacional I mentioned in a previous post which in many ways is tied to this push for the HR2499. This story is worth taking a few minutes to translate.

Privately contracted janitors shine in their absence: many have not reported for work where they are needed.”

There is a job crisis going on in Puerto Rico just as everywhere else. The fact that on this island the state government is the largest employer makes the matter even more significant. Recent layoffs spurred on a massive protest march (Paro Nacional) that was a pretty big deal because it shut down roads and frankly nothing really moved that day but the protestors. Down here the ultimate objective for a citizen is to work for the government, after all, government has all the resources, right?

So what happens when government knows it has been spending too much and cannot afford to pay its employees? They cut back on personnel. This is a reduction in force, a concept that is not lost on Americans but when about 80% or more of the population work for the government then the outrage makes sense. It also makes sense how scary the public sector is in comparison. Before I continue with my little story about unionized state teachers bitching about contract janitors let’s focus first on what is called:

La Ley #7 or “Ley Especial Declarando Estado de Emergencia Fiscal y Estableciendo Plan Integral de Estabilización Fiscal para Salvar el Crédito de Puerto Rico”

In English: “The special law to declare a state of fiscal emergency and to establish an integrated plan of fiscal stabilization in order to save the credit standing of Puerto Rico”  (you may take a deep breathe now).

Did somebody get paid a bonus for coming up with this name? I’m sure they did! There is a link to a listing of all the agencies and private-sector entities that would be affected or involved in this fiscal re-alignment of the island’s budget deficit. There is a government bank here by the way Banco de Fomento in case these people need a little help from their former employer and government-run health care is also involved (has been for a long time).

That’s the law that regulates ‘fiscal’ emergencies (like when one shops on credit then fails to pay at the end of the month?) made into law March 2009 (wow, that’s fast!). There is a site where government workers can call and check to see if they’ve been cut and apply for assistance and all that jazz. I just want to make sure I explain that I’m in no way poking fun at this situation, I am however making some serious comparisons between what happens at the smallest level (an island with about 4 million people) and the larger picture (mainland US with a population of 308,088,214 according to the US Census). Back to my story.

Here’s another point to examine just for fun. The governor of Puerto Rico Luis aka Milhouse Fortuño was nominated to the Council of Governors advisory board by Obama in February, does anyone remember that? I guess not.  Makes one wonder what deal was struck for a bailout over some sort position in the Obama administration. This is how it’s done on the island trust me. When former governors run for senate seats after they’ve exhausted their terms then serve as resident commissioners just to have a seat in Washington (wonder if that’s really a silent vote). Then the rumors about Fortuño as a possible presidential hopeful began to float about the news and the web and even a ticket with Sarah Palin was tossed into the proverbial stew pot; but only to most of our amusement.

So about the teachers; they complained they had to clean their own classrooms and that the new cleaners were a no-show or had limited work schedules. The contracts have been awarded and work should have commenced. Do I see fraud, waste and abuse of contracts here? Maybe or is it just bad management? While the folks who performed cleaning work in schools go home on early leave and abandon their jobs or took severance payments the private workers have to contend with the prospect that they will not be welcomed as they are seen as the enemy who took away jobs. But they’re probably better paid and have better benefits. This is truly a bad situation everywhere you look even on the surface the slimy film is forming. Little by little progressivism is doing away with what used to be a healthy economy…sort of reminiscent of another island not too far away where ‘change’ was needed to erase the ills caused by capitalism. Goodbye private industry, welcome big government.

“I’m sure the privately-hired people will not be as enterprising as our public-sector employees as they have been part of the school community for so long.”

I’m sure one janitor can clean as well as the other. This is the liberal mind at work.


Socialist agenda groups such the unions are impatiently waiting to take over government. But I’m sure you’ve figure this out already. This is how these people think of the private sector:


If you want to make a change someplace you need to practice or put it to work at a small scale to see how it does. I would call this island a petri dish of sorts, where the population is not exactly captive but severely dependent on government and where the collective attitude will usually favor big government. It’s been about a hundred years but the effort really took off before WWII. I’ve observed that since Obama took office federal job hiring campaigns have gone up, especially for volunteer work. How interesting, as the private sector jobs dry out due to this economic rapture maybe the connection is there; eliminate our options so that we have no choice but to depend on government. That experiment is working beautifully in this small lab. Imagine what that will be on a greater scale.


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