Posts Tagged ‘Puerto Rico’

It’s an ill hurricane that blows nobody good

October 30, 2017

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has canceled its outrageous no-bid $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings, which, among other things, forbid federal and Puerto Rican authorities to audit its labor costs and profit and had no penalties for failure to meet project deadlines.

But questions remain: Why was the contract granted in the first place?  And what is PREPA going to do next to restore power?

The whole thing reminds me of the contracts for reconstruction of Iraq.   After the invasion, American and other foreign companies were given lucrative, no-bid contracts to rebuild Iraq’s electrical systems, other public utilities and physical infrastructure.   Well-qualified Iraqi companies and workers were cut out of the process.

The result was that a lot of government contractors made a lot of money and very little reconstruction took place.   I can see the same thing happening with Puerto Rico—maybe a little less brazenly than in this case.


The passing scene – links & comments 10/21/2015

October 21, 2015

The Secret to Winning the Nobel Peace Prize: Keep the U.S. military out by Rebecca Gordon for TomDispatch.

Tunisia was the one country where the Arab Spring movement succeeded.  Four Tunisian organizations devoted to human rights deservedly won the latest Nobel Peace Prize.

Tunisia was the one country in which the U.S. government did not interfere, either militarily or politically, and it is the one country where the Arab Spring movement resulted in a stable, democratic government.

Rebecca Gordon, after reviewing U.S. policy in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Syria, concludes that this is not a coincidence.  There’s a lesson to be learned here.

Obama Just Signed a Blank Check for Endless War in Afghanistan by John Nichols for The Nation.

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, says it’s time to repeal the open-ended 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force and have Congress decide whether to continue military intervention in Afghanistan and other countries.

How Credit Scores Treat People Like Numbers by Frank Pasquale for The Atlantic.

I commented on how Chinese credit card companies and maybe the Chinese government are linking all kinds of human behaviors to credit scores, and how this can be a subtle means of suppressing nonconformity.  Well, it seems the same thing is going on in the United States—maybe not with that conscious intent, but with the same result.


Puerto Rico also has a debt crisis

June 30, 2015

Puerto Rico’s governor on Monday called for the commonwealth to be allowed to restructure its debts under U.S. bankruptcy code, while a newly appointed adviser to the U.S. territory said it is “insolvent” and will soon run out of cash.

Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, in a televised address, said sacrifice must be shared by bondholders, as he called for Washington to allow a bankruptcy debt restructuring.

via Reuters.

I think Gov. Garcia Padilla is right.  If a debtor is unable to pay, this is the result of bad judgment or bad luck on the part of both the borrower and the lender.  They should share the consequences.

There may come a time when this argument has to be made on behalf of the United States as a whole.


Statehood for Puerto Rico?

November 9, 2012

A plurality of the voters of Puerto Rico supported a non-binding referendum in favor of statehood for the U.S. territory.  A few observations:

  • prcaribPuerto Rico as a state would elect two U.S. senators and five members of the House of Representatives, probably all Democrats in the near-term future.  For this reason statehood for Puerto Rico is unlikely unless Democrats control both the Senate and the House.
  • Since representation in the Electoral College is based on representation in the Senate and House, Puerto Rico would have seven electoral votes, probably all Democratic in the near-term future.  This would make total U.S. electoral votes an odd number—making a tie vote impossible in a two-way race, unlike at present.
  • Statehood for Puerto Rico would rule out independence for Puerto Rico.  There is precedent for a U.S. territory, the Philippines, becoming an independent nation.  There is no precedent for a state peacefully leaving the union.

Statehood for Puerto Rico is fine by me if that is what Puerto Ricans want.  Likewise independence or continued Commonwealth status.  I hope that if Puerto Ricans do ask for statehood, they are sure this is what they really want, because if they have second thoughts, it may be too late.

Anyhow, the outcome of the referendum is ambiguous.  It was in two parts – whether the voters wanted a change in the island’s status, and, if so, what change they wanted.  The vote represented a majority of those voting on the second question, but not on the first.