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Nevermind economic aid, most of us don’t even realize Puerto Ricans are American.

Now we have an American almost-state where 45% of the population is in poverty, 150 schools have been shut down in the past few years, and sales tax has been raised 4.5% all the way to 11.5% because the mainland treated Puerto Rico like an island paradise where business regulations don’t matter.

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Here’s a graph that should surprise absolutely no one who pays even the smallest amount of attention to how clueless their fellow Americans are:

Puerto Rico is an American commonwealth.  Puerto Ricans have US passports.  They can travel anywhere in the fifty states.  They don’t get to vote in national elections (which is part of the reason a lot of folks, self included, think they just need to be upgraded to statehood), but they’re still American.

They’re also severely in debt, to the point where hospitals are so strapped for funding that power companies have been known to cut off electricity to hospitals behind on their bills.  I mean, they give some notice to make sure they’re not cutting the lights in the middle of surgery, ya know, to be decent human beings about it, but can you imagine living in an area so in debt that the hospital can’t even keep the lights on?  That’s Puerto Rico, and a lot of their debt is due to insane legislation passed by Washington that magically only applies to Puerto Rico and is good for businesses based in the lower 48 (yay!) and terrible for the local Puerto Rican population (boo!).

Watch this video.  For real, watch the whole thing.  It’s the best overview of the economic crisis in Puerto Rico you’re going to get without picking up a journal on current economics.

In case you don’t have 20 minutes to listen to John Oliver’s awkward jokes…

As usual, the average (non-Puerto Rican) American’s view of this issue is served by misinformation and lack of information.  

The misinformation is the easy part.

The Center For Individual Freedom is a dark money group that has paid over $2 million dollars on ads like that one to convince ordinary (dumb) Americans to call their representatives and tell them to vote against a bailout of Puerto Rico that doesn’t exist.  Nobody in Congress is suggesting we pump a bunch of money into Puerto Rico get them out of debt, but that’s what the ads imply, because if there’s one thing Mary and Joe from Anywhere, USA hate is the idea that their tax money is about to be given to a bunch of brown foreigners (who are actually American, but whatever).

Congress is currently working on legislation across party lines to give Puerto Rico more power to negotiate with their creditors.  They payments on the horizon they can’t meet and much of their debt is due to crappy legislation that only applies to Puerto Rico because they aren’t a state.  Congress is working on a way to help Puerto Rico come up with a plan to pay their bills, not give money to Puerto Rico.  So if we’re not giving them money, why does this Center for Individual Freedom care?

The lack of information is a bit trickier, but I think it’s best understood if you work back from the present. 

There are a lot of people, mostly hedge fund garbage, who own Puerto Rican municipal bonds and they want Puerto Rico to pay those bonds back without any butting in from Congress about delaying or restructuring payments.  How and why did they get all these municipal bonds?  Well, in 2006 when Puerto Rico’s economy tanked, Congress made it very lucrative for other folks to buy municipal bonds from Puerto Rico.   In simplest terms Puerto Rico has to pay a bill, but they don’t have the money, so they write an IOU (municipal bond), and someone else buys the bond.  At some future date (like….now) Puerto Rico promised to pay back that IOU/bond with interest.  So you bought a municipal bond in 2006 worth $100, and now Puerto Rico owes you $110 or whatever.  Congress decided that $10 profit you made is triple tax exempt, so you don’t have to pay local, state, or federal taxes on it.  Clearly, a lot of businesses and rich folks see the benefit in having all this money come in and not having to pay taxes on it, so they bought a lot of bonds and Puerto Rico was all too happy to sell them, because they needed to keep the lights on in the hospital.  Unfortunately, the lights are now being cut off because Puerto Rico wrote into their Constitution that certain bonds were obligated to be paid before government services, so Thad McAllister gets his check before the hospital gets theirs.

The entire global economy was in a recession, so why wasn’t everybody in the same dire straits as Puerto Rico and forced to print municipal bonds?  Half of Puerto Rico’s manufacturing sector left the island because Congress decided that all the tax breaks they gave out in the 70s needed to be repealed in order to offset the tax breaks they now wanted to give on the mainland.  Puerto Rico was booming for decades because businesses would relocate there instead of overseas due to tax breaks passed by Congress.  Once the breaks went away, so did the business.  Congress essentially lured businesses down to the island and then took away the bait decades later.  By then, the economy was dependent upon those businesses.

Now we have an American almost-state where 45% of the population is in poverty, 150 schools have been shut down in the past few years, and sales tax has been raised 4.5% all the way to 11.5% because the mainland treated Puerto Rico like an island paradise where business regulations don’t matter.  They can’t file for chapter nine bankruptcy because of some mysterious legislation passed in the 80s that now makes it impossible for Puerto Rico to do what every other state would be able to do in this position.  And, they can’t pay their bills and IOUs being held by the worst kind of opportunistic business creeps because Congress made it uber beneficial to buy up all those bonds.  So if you can’t pay your bills and you can’t file for bankruptcy, what are you supposed to do?  Just let the entire infrastructure of government fall apart and watch your people suffer so Thad McAllister can get his money?  And none of this would have happened if Congress hadn’t specifically allowed things to happen in Puerto Rico that would never happen in any other state because it’s against the law on the mainland.  That’s why we need to give Puerto Rico all the help we can.  We helped make the mess, but we don’t want to help clean it up, and our legislation won’t even let Puerto Rico clean it up themselves.

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economy

CNBC: The budget breakdown of a 25-year-old who makes $100,000 a year and is excellent with money

Gen X & Baby Boomer media is about making millennials feel shitty about not being exponentially more successful and more educated than they had to be at the same age to maintain the same standard of living. Y’all had my salary with a HS diploma working at Auto Zone. Go away.

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Trevor Klee, he admits, is a “terrible employee.” But he’s great at working for himself — and at taking tests.

So the 25-year-old entrepreneur started a thriving business of his own. As a test prep instructor in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he brings in $100,000 a year tutoring people for the GMAT, GRE and LSAT. “It’s one of those weird skills that turned out to be really monetizable,” he tells CNBC Make It.

Klee is the first to acknowledge he’s benefited from both luck and privilege: “Growing up in a family that talked a lot about money was a definite advantage,” he says. “In a lot of ways, I feel like I’m good with money, but I’m playing life on ‘Easy’ mode: I’m a single guy with no dependents and I make a pretty solid income.”

Here’s a look at how Klee earns, saves and spends his money, and how he gives it away

(cont.)

typical

He’s 25 years old and makes $100,000 a year paying $825 rent.

When I was 25 I made $30,000 a year paying $900 rent.

I don’t understand who these articles are for.

Gen X & Baby Boomer media is about making millennials feel shitty about not being exponentially more successful and more educated than they had to be at the same age to maintain the same standard of living. Y’all had my salary with a HS diploma working at Auto Zone. Go away.

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economy

WaPo: Workers are ghosting their employers like bad dates

Pay workers more and treat them like people. If your employees feel expendable, they have no problem ghosting on that spot that you’ll easily fill with someone else you don’t care about.

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Economists report that workers are starting to act like millennials on Tinder: They’re ditching jobs with nary a text.

“A number of contacts said that they had been ‘ghosted,’ a situation in which a worker stops coming to work without notice and then is impossible to contact,” the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago noted in December’s Beige Book, which tracks employment trends.

National data on economic “ghosting” is lacking. The term, which usually applies to dating, first surfaced in 2016 on Dictionary.com. But companies across the country say silent exits are on the rise.

(cont.)

The author says ghosting on a job, as in leaving and not telling anyone, is partly due to bad social skills.

But we all know that’s crap, don’t we?

I gave one job two month’s notice to replace me because I knew it’d be difficult and I loved my boss. I can go back to that job anytime I want and I have no hard feelings toward that office bc my transition out of the job was smooth, just as I thought it’d be.

Just one job tho.

Everybody else got two weeks or less because I was leaving due to how much I hated the job, the pay, the management, etc. These jobs are not loyal to workers so why should we be loyal to the job? They can fire you with no notice but you have to give them 2 to 4 weeks? Pfffffffft!

That job will be just fine and will most likely have your replacement next week. And some intentionally make your life hell after you put in your notice.

You get a notice if I feel like you deserve a notice.

And co-workers don’t need to know your business. I don’t need buddies at the office – that’s work. I’m on Twitter instead of roaming around making chit chat because office gossip is how you fumble your bag. I don’t need any whispers behind my back about anything.

None of that has to do with “social skills” or any other lazy excuse.
Pay workers more and treat them like people. If your employees feel expendable, they have no problem ghosting on that spot that you’ll easily fill with someone else you don’t care about.

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economy

Vox: Paul Ryan’s Long Con

Anybody still giving the benefit of the doubt to Republicans needs to go outside and break off a switch. Republicans keep playing this “fiscal responsibility” card, and too many of us keep falling for it to debate its merits as if their positions ever hold fast once they get elected. “Fiscal responsibility” is a catchphrase to bring two groups to the polls: rich people and poor whites.

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paulryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s legacy can be summed up in just one number: $343 billion.

That’s the increase between the deficit for fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2018— that is, the difference between the fiscal year before Ryan became speaker of the House and the fiscal year in which he retired.

If the economy had fallen into recession between 2015 and 2018, Ryan’s record would be understandable. But it didn’t. In fact, growth quickened and the labor market tightened — which means deficits should’ve fallen. Indeed, that’s exactly what happened in each of the five years preceding Ryan’s speakership; from 2011 to 2015, annual deficits fell each year.

As he prepares to leave office, Ryan says that debt reduction is one of those things “I wish we could have gotten done.” Ryan, the man with the single most power over the federal budget in recent years, sounds like a bystander, as if he watched laws happen rather than made them happen.

(cont.)

paulryan

Anybody still giving the benefit of the doubt to Republicans needs to go outside and break off a switch. Republicans keep playing this “fiscal responsibility” card, and too many of us keep falling for it to debate its merits as if their positions ever hold fast once they get elected. “Fiscal responsibility” is a catchphrase to bring two groups to the polls: rich people and poor whites.

Rich people hear “fiscal responsibility” and they know their taxes will be cut. The GOP uses “fiscal responsibility” as part of their funny math to justify cutting taxes for corporations and rich people. The rich don’t actually care that the math doesn’t add up — they just know the politicians they elected are using that ruse to get over on the rest of the country, that their politicians are saying “we have to curb spending, and once we have less stuff to pay for, we don’t need as much tax revenue coming in” and then voila — the rich get richer.

Poor whites hear “fiscal responsibility” and they feel like the coloreds and the immigrants will be getting fewer handouts. Never mind the fact that it’s Republican states that take the most from the federal government and contribute the least, because facts don’t matter. Only perception matters, and the perception among poor whites is that they are struggling while Blacks & Muslims & Mexicans are living high on the hog thanks to welfare programs that taxes pay for. Why should they get free stuff from the government while Good Americans (white ones) are scrimping and saving to pay the bills? Those poor whites vote for politicians pimping austerity measures against their own self-interests because they’d rather suffer themselves if they can sleep soundly at night with the knowledge that brown people are hopefully suffering even more.

Then those politicians take office and have no interest in balancing a budget or keeping spending under control because, just like Donald Trump said last week, they won’t be in office when the bottom falls out. Democratic leadership will have to come in, fix everything, and then the cycle repeats itself.

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