Today’s question was submitted by Mickey - I was born in Puerto Rico. That place is an administrative and social mess. There is a well-educated portion of the population that are productive, family oriented, conservative and pay their taxes.
However, no less than 60% of the entire population doesn't work or are part of the subterranean economy. You have now 2 or 3 generations that have bolted themselves in the barrios or ghettos living off of the federal government welfare, and that portion of the population is the one that votes for the status quo because they know that if PR becomes a state that free ride will end and they, the welfare recipients, will have to do that dreadful thing called work.
Crime is rampant and for a law abiding citizens, getting a CCW license is next to impossible. Bottom line, if PR becomes a state you'll have one of, if not the, poorest states of the union and with the most delegates.
Bottom Line: With the conversation of Puerto Rican Statehood making headlines again this week, I’ve received several notes on both sides of the issue from Puerto Ricans. This one, in particular, is one of the most provocative. Mikey threw a lot of context into the mix along with strong sentiment that’s less than flattering for sure. What’s the quality of life like in Puerto Rico compared to the states and how many Puerto Ricans are working?
First up the states.
- Median household income - $59,039
- Poverty Rate - 12.7%
- Percentage of population working – 63.2%
Next up Puerto Rico.
- Median household income - $20,078
- Poverty Rate - 43.5%
- Percentage of population working – 30%
There’s a holy cow/crap moment here. Frankly, there’s no comparison when it comes to any category but the one that’s perhaps most alarming to me is the percentage of the population in the workforce. I was somewhat aware of the median income info and elevated poverty rate but when I saw Mickey’s assertion that at least 60% of the population isn’t working, I was skeptical of the accuracy. Not only was he right, but he was also conservative. It’s 70% that aren’t working! You can’t always control outcomes, but you can control effort. Sure, some of that 70% is likely attempting to attain legitimate work unsuccessfully, but a number that large is doubtless endemic of much bigger issues.
I can’t attest to or for the specific assertions about whole generations that are simply living off of public welfare in perpetuity, but the underlying facts suggest there’s likely a lot it. What’s happening in Puerto Rico resembles a version of what we have seen with a city like Detroit. Those with ambition, education, andskills left the city as poor governance and corruption played out over decades. With businesses and much of the tax base leaving the city it collapsed under its own weight and poor decisions. Detroit’s population is 60% lower today than it was in 1950 and nearly 20% of the city has been abandoned. If Puerto Rico doesn’t reverse course, it could see a similar fate. Becoming a state wouldn’t fix these types of systemic and cultural problems.
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