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Puerto Rico’s Health Care Is in Dire Condition, Three Weeks After Maria (nytimes.com)
173 points by stablemap 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 108 comments

There's (almost) nothing of intellectual curiosity in this thread and a plethora of partisan battle. That's the inverse of the values of HN, so I've buried the submission.

Sometimes a politically charged topic has an intellectually interesting aspect and the discussion is able to balance itself with both. Such threads are ok; this isn't one.

All: if you haven't recently, would you mind learning about the values of this site by reading https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html, then (going backward in time) https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html and https://news.ycombinator.com/hackernews.html? Those will fill you in. The default tendency on the internet is so strongly toward entropy that we'd appreciate your attending to what kind of site HN is trying (and trying not) to be.

Trump administration FEMA says it's "not our job" [1] to distribute food/water in PR. Trump administration has also declined to extend the Jones Act exemption allowing non-US built ships to send aid tariff/tax free [2].

Therefore non-US approved international aid incurs fees/taxes. So we don't treat Puerto Ricans as US Citizens but don't allow other countries to assist without impounding taxes and duties on the supplies.

Willful negligence.

[1] https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/10/10/1705685/-FEMA-No...

[2] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/dhs-will-let-jones-act-waiver-f...

The Jones act only prevents cabotage[1], which is to say shipping something between two places in the same country. It in no way prevents the Dominican Republic from shipping supplies or people, or any other country for that matter in shipping stuff there.

It's my opinion that while the Jones Act probably does increase the cost of shipping goods two and from the island, its not a magic catchall fixit - and beyond that, every report I've read makes it clear we've enough stuff there to take care of people, but its not making it from the places where it landed, to the places where people are - and therefor complaints about the Jones Act seem mostly to be political haymaking - as the old saying goes, never let a good crisis go to waste.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabotage

That still prevents foreign ships from shipping supplies from the US mainland (where tehy are most readily available) to PR.

Interesting thoughts but ...

> It's my opinion that while the Jones Act probably does increase the cost of shipping goods two and from the island, its not a magic catchall fixit

No offense, but based on what? And then what is the impact of the Jones Act? If you have expertise in that industry to support the analysis, that would be great. Could you link to some of these reports?

The Federal Reserve thinks that it doubles the price of shipping between Puerto Rico and the US Mainland:

> It costs an estimated $3,063 to ship a twenty-foot container of household and commercial goods from the East Coast of the United States to Puerto Rico; the same shipment costs $1,504 to nearby Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) and $1,687 to Kingston (Jamaica)—destinations that are not subject to Jones Act restrictions.

Page 23 in the PDF (numbered 13):


Terrible for disaster relief but also on a daily level, terrible for imports/exports. How can you have a competitive economy with that type of anchor weighing on your Ex/Im?

It's probably not important for disaster relief (there doesnt seem to be a shortage of relief supplies, but rather a shortage of on-island transport to distribute them) - but I'd agree it is a huge drag on the local economy.

To be clear, the Jones Act allows other countries to use their ships to go direct to PR, but they can't use their ships to ferry goods from the US mainland to PR.

The Jones Act was never an obstacle to Puerto Rico disaster relief. Supplies were delivered by ship but then stacked up in ports due to lack of trucks. Suspending the Jones Act won't conjure up more trucks and drivers.


The objection was that smaller ships flying foreign flags could be used to ferry supplies around Puerto Rico, using ports, and waterways that the large US-flag supply ships could not.

Instead the Jone's Act ensures only large ports will be used, which leads to a backlog because PR's infrastructure is shot.

That doesn't make any sense. There are many small US flagged and crewed vessels around the southeast mainland coast. For example, the Gulf oil industry has idle work boats available. Anyone willing to pay the charter fees can hire them today and immediately start moving cargo.

Do you have another source for that Daily KOS story? Daily KOS based that article on a video from Rachael Maddow, but she's not credible.

PolitiFact rated 48% of her statements that they reviewed "false", "mostly false", or "pants on fire".


Perhaps the most egregious example, she once falsely claimed a political candidate had advance notice of the Oklahoma City bombing.



You mean "recording of anonymous radio call in". It might be a first hand account, the video does nothing to establish the veracity of the account, or to establish that the person giving the account is informed (vs speculating/parroting rumors).

I have no idea what the situation is on the ground, I'm commenting on the quality of the evidence you have presented.

That's fair--I edited my comment accordingly.

I'm fascinated and scared of this "the buck stops anywhere but here" attitude displayed by the administration and its supporters. Aren't leaders supposed to have ultimate responsibility?

The US President is not the leader of every facet of the US. He is Commander in Chief of the Military and head of the Executive Branch, but outside of those domains, he is not the 'leader'.

Puerto Rico is a territory under the direct control of the US federal government, and the executive branch of that government is the appropriate one to handle short-term emergency relief. So while your comment is correct, I don't see the relevance.

I am not familiar with the specifics of the political/legal situation. Based on Wikipedia, it sounds like Executive Agencies such as FEMA treat Puerto Rico as they would a state, to the extinct possible. FEMA is not responsible for every aspect of emergency response in a state. Puerto Rico even has their own National Guard, which is under the command of the governor, and traditionally bears much of the burden for the footwork in disaster response situations (supplementing the permanent resources). FEMA then provides aid to support local agencies in the immediate aftermath and then funding for recovery efforts. (FEMA also provides resources to support local emergency preparedness efforts, but it is a bit late for that now).

I may be wrong, I am certainly no expert, but this is what I have learned from reading about it and what I have observed from other disasters and come to expect of the ways things generally work in the US.

FEMA has been accused of negligence and incompetence as far back as I can remember, under presidents of both parties- usually the loudest by those of the party opposite the current president. Are there specific accusations of things FEMA isn't doing that they have done in other areas that would help in PR?

They may treat PR like a state to some extent, but it isn't one. The Feds have far more power and discretion there than they would in, say, Texas.

I don't have specifics about what they should be doing that they aren't. I just know that the outcome so far looks pretty bad, and the guy who's ultimately in charge of all of this stuff is spending a lot of time golfing and whining about football while it's happening, and his supporters don't seem to be willing to acknowledge that responsibility ultimately flows up to him.

I am not a Trump supporter, I am just asking for proof that responsibility (for this mess) ultimately flows up to him. The same statements were made by Obama detractors after every major disaster, how is this any different?

The proof is: Trump is in charge of the government that is handling relief. Responsibility is his by definition.

In the past, we understood and celebrated the fact that the man at the top was the final word on this sort of thing: https://www.trumanlibrary.org/buckstop.htm

Puerto Rico is a bit different because there's no sovereign state government with local responsibility. In a state, the Feds can help out, but the state government is a separate entity with jurisdiction and responsibility for most of what's going on. In a territory, the federal government is all there is. There is a territorial government, but that is just a part of the federal government.

But it's not very different. If people blamed Obama for FEMA's failures while he was in office, that would be completely justified. The main difference I'm harping on here is that Trump and his defenders insist on deflecting the blame and saying "it's not my fault." When Obama responded to a natural disaster, did he ever say he was doing a great job and all the problems were due to corrupt local officials and crippling debt? I don't recall that ever coming from him, or from any other President from either party.

FEMA is part of the executive branch, is it not? Splitting hairs over terms is a poor substitute for substantive argument.

What? Since when do we, as Americans, look to our leaders as the “ultimate” authority? That’s not an American value at all.

I said ultimate responsibility, and I’m talking in the context of the government carrying one one of its functions.

If you want to call someone else's statements 'propaganda', please provide evidence of it. Without it, the word has no meaning. Why is the GP, in particular, propaganda? It's substantiated with good sources.

Someone could as easily call your statements "proganda' and dismiss them. I could declare every comment on this thread or everything anyone says that disagrees with me to be propaganda. But what does the word mean at that point? Nothing - it becomes just a sound I make when I don't like something.

Getting down to evidence: On the Internet, we can find links to support any claim; metro.pr and someone's YouTube upload are not particularly persuasive to me - is there a better source? Also, if true, I'm not sure of the point of it - what does the conduct of Puerto Rican mayors have to do with the GP's post? If some mayors are behaving badly, it's ok for the federal government to fail in its responsibilities?

It's an impossible standard. Let the government without sin throw the first stone ...

To be clear, I didn't meant to call the GP's statements propaganda. I meant to call the barrage of anti-Trump media propaganda, because that's typically what one calls anything that's almost exclusively one-sided.

It seemed to me that GP's statements were rooted in such media reports, which doesn't mean the GP's statements are propaganda, but could mean they aren't entirely true.

I should have been more specific there.

I don't know what the actual situation is on the ground, and I'm not claiming I know what it is either. I'm simply questioning the prevailing narrative: specifically, that the US federal government did less than it could have, leaving the Puerto Rican government stranded for resources in an unbelievably difficult time. Fpr example, FEMA reports indicate a LOT was being done [0, 1] WHILE reports spun it another way [2]. Is [2] flat-out wrong? Not necessarily, but it's clearly trying to get people to think in a certain way.

Granted, the source of my video source is not clear. But the metro.pr article I cited merely states the announcement of an investigation into Puerto Rican distribution of crisis resources...it makes no other notable claims. The company behind this publication is a multi-national media firm that publishes newspapers in 19 countries. While it may not be recognized here in the States, it's not some rinky-dink blog someone threw up for clickz.

[0] https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2017/09/23/federal-governm...

[1] https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2017/09/24/federal-respons...

[2] https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/171974551805...

> I meant to call the barrage of anti-Trump media propaganda, because that's typically what one calls anything that's almost exclusively one-sided.

It's too easy to attack the messenger (or reporter) when someone doesn't like the report. The attacker needs evidence too.

The media in total isn't all critical. Consider Fox, the leading cable news channel, and the Wall Street Journal, the leading newspaper among the business elite, as examples. Many smaller publications are strongly pro-Trump.

A barrage of criticism isn't necessarily propaganda; sometimes the subject of criticism is doing a lot that's wrong: Uber got a lot of criticism recently; Kim Jong-Un is continually criticized; the coach of a winless sports team is continually criticized; Harvey Weinstein is getting it now; that's not propaganda.

Trump is in office and it's part of being a public figure. The NY Times, for example, goes after all public figures. It broke the story of Hillary Clinton's email servers, ran continual reporting on the DNC emails, and criticized Obama plenty. Every politician complains about the press coverage.

Trump, IMHO and in that of many others, including many Republicans (Sen. Corker, as a recent example, and apparently Sec. of State Tillerson), does an extraordinary amount that's wrong and therefore gets a lot of criticism.

> I'm simply questioning the prevailing narrative

Always a good idea, but quoting FEMA to support how well FEMA is doing is not much support. I'm doing a great job today - just ask me! :) I know what Metro is; I've read it before but I've never seen its reporting taken seriously - I wish I knew something about its credibility.

The logic behind quoting FEMA is that the figures in there seem to contradict the mainstream media accounts of the USA not doing anything right about the Puerto Rico disaster. Of course, figures alone mean little without context, but they somewhat dispell the spirit of the mindset that was pushed in the past few days. Simple example: it was commonly stated that the USA was late in sending rescue personnel/resources to Puerto Rico...when in reality, forces were already on the move before the storm even hit.

> A barrage of criticism isn't necessarily propaganda; sometimes the subject of criticism is doing a lot that's wrong: Uber got a lot of criticism recently; Kim Jong-Un is continually criticized; the coach of a winless sports team is continually criticized; Harvey Weinstein is getting it now; that's not propaganda.

Totally agree. But I see the problem with Trump as permanent, unconditional criticism. It's not wrong to criticize, and there's certainly a LOT to criticize this administration for, and none of that is propaganda. Much of the time it's just poor performance and stupid antics being called out, fair and square. The issue with Trump, however, is that this criticism pervades everything. Even positive glimmers are drawn as negatives too. I think this could be demonstrated by asking a non-Trump supporter to name a single positive thing he's done so far--I don't think the vast majority of people could do it.

Trump didn't go to Texas to survey & help; he & Melania were disrespectful because she wore high-heels when walking out of the White House. Trump wasn't standing for the long-ignored ghettos in Chicago; he was being bigoted because he called them "inner-cities." Trump wasn't being thoughtful in proposing safe-zones to keep Syrians safer while keeping them near home; he was being a monstrous idiot whose stupid idea deserves no consideration.

Now I know there are a gazillion things you could say to criticize the examples I cited above, and that's fine. But what I'm trying to say is that the bad sides of those examples are the only sides most media expose people to--the criticism overwhelmingly outweighs the praise, every time. I don't think that's a healthy way of guiding national discourse. And I guess I see it as a sort of propaganda in itself...none of those items are themselves false, but in the aggregate, the resulting mindset is a negative one with little balance.

But yes--you're totally right on all counts. That certainly wasn't my best comment ever, and I guess I paid the price :/


It is classic propaganda "whataboutism"[1]. Very popular in the Cold War and in modern day Russian botnets. Crazy enough, it was also popular this last election.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism

To give help: https://hispanicfederation.org/unidos/

The Unidos fund has 100 percent of donations going toward relief for Hurricane Maria.

thanks! just donated. i encourage others to do the same!

If I give 1$ to wikipedia, I can give for people in distress.

ps: anyone knows a paypal alternative ?

Wow, someone's on a serious downvote brigade tear on this article if this is (edit: was) getting downvoted to grey.

Within the last few weeks especially the botnets have gone on overdrive on all touchy topics, very interesting indeed.

Botnets with >500 karma per account on Hacker News? Seems unlikely.

There are many possibilities, but I have no idea what happened here: Troll farms and astroturfing could have an effect, but I don't know who would be motivated to act on this thread. I doubt the Russians care, though simply creating dissension is part of their (and others') strategy. The white supremacist movement certainly would oppose white people supporting PR, and they are active on HN.

Again, I have no idea. My point is, there is much more than bots out there. HN needs to find a solution; what it does now isn't working well enough and IMHO empowers the trolls. That's not a criticism; nobody has solved it yet but HN is the right place to take on the big problem and solve it.

You might not be a bot, but it is definitely bot talking points, you just fell for them. You fell for the "whataboutism". People are dying in PR, but but what about ... debt and and .. kneeling.


Botnets are out in force on touchy subjects in force recently. You cannot see private upvotes/downvotes so you don't know the user that upvoted or downvotes a comment. I think eventually we will have to see this on reddit/hn etc as the botnets are en masse now and mostly just brigading when there is an important subject.

I wasn't calling you a bot per se but I see lots of people puppeting botnet "whataboutisms" that is some hardcore propaganda and getting giddy when they are upvoted by these same fake users. Strangely the brigading is mostly when the news is political. Just based on what I have seen the last few weeks especially, they are ratcheting it up. It is making discussion of serious topics relegated to battling bot armies rather than individual opinions, a losing battle unless you have your own bot army.

Have you considered that they may be people with different opinions than you?

Reddit is one thing, but Hacker News does not allow downvotes until a user earns 500 karma. That's a high bar to cross for a bot.

I also don't see where I subscribed to any "whataboutisms." My point is that you shouldn't attribute to botnets what can be adequately explained by the existence of people who disagree with you.

Great, we now have "fake votes", too?

We need to make them a state finally and never allow this to happen again.

For people putting this on budgets/PR, lots of states are in dire situations with budgets/funds and healthcare on the mainland. If you swapped a few states with Puerto Rico in the "big water" you'd have the same exact situation. Many states are in the red. A country should stand up for their citizens in emergencies and tragedies and that includes Puerto Rico.

I think this is the intended effect. They operate in a special grey area created by generations past to great advantage. Then they have corruption and mismanagement in their politics until their economic wellness is a dumpster fire. They literally did this to themselves by selling bonds that they can't pay back that they are obligated "before even necessary services are provided for the citizens".

It's sad that they abuse their tax free status and made themselves into a tax haven that is abused without actually bringing much income into the country, then changed tax regulations and increased deficit spending before being forced into austerity.


I hope they will allow Congress to incorporate them into the USA as a state after this.

> selling bonds that they can't pay back

That is not at all unique to PR.

It's a widespread problem in U.S. government. That's the reason the city of Detroit went bankrupt. Many, many government entities have liabilities, especially pensions, that they can't afford. Many companies have the same problem; it drove General Motors to bankruptcy. The federal government toys with bankruptcy each time Congress needs to authorize additional debt, and now the leading tax legislation will drive up debt considerably more.

But the overwhelming example is the Great Recession of 2008, which was due to the exact same problem, on a very wide scale, on Wall Street. In that case, the bonds (and other financial instruments) were based on fraudulent housing loans.

In most of the above cases, the taxpayers of the U.S. stepped in and rescued the debtors. Also, in the West, debtors prison is no longer considered a good thing - bankruptcy lets debtors recover. There's no reason PR shouldn't benefit from the same support.

>That is not at all unique to PR. You cut off the part that is unique, which was that PR citizens are also US citizens but they do not pay federal income tax unless they come to the mainland. They do not pay capital gains tax either. They sold bonds with special clauses that they must be paid back, even before critical services are provided to the people. They defaulted and now they are being forced to pay it back even though they can't fund their emergency preparedness, hospitals, or infrastructure and emergency response.

PR was not at all prepared for something that was obviously coming and they are trying to use political pressure to get the huge anti-Trump sentiment in the country to think it was all Trump's fault when he has little to do with overseeing FEMA's response. I'm sure there are things he could have done better. His statements have been asinine and politically tone deaf for sure, but this isn't about him. This is about the mess PR made. If they want to be a state, then be a state. Otherwise, they offer nothing to the USA and in my opinion should be dissolved as a US territory.

> Trump's fault when he has little to do with overseeing FEMA's response.

Trump is the elected President and is directly responsible to the citizens for the Executive Branch, including FEMA. His job is, specifically, the performance of the Executive Branch. If FEMA isn't delivering, he needs to see to fixing it ASAP. He needed to see to it that they were prepared.

> PR was not at all prepared for something that was obviously coming and they are trying to ...

Is there more to that then words typed in a web forum? That is all I've seen; nothing to support that story.

> Otherwise, they offer nothing to the USA and in my opinion should be dissolved as a US territory.

Membership isn't based on contribution, nor is past contribution a prediction of the future. Should poor people be kicked out? What about Mississippi? The US has always been based on the belief that people, if given freedom and opportunity, can prosper and achieve.

FEMA is dealing with the aftermath of 3 hurricanes at the same time. Their entire staff is working hard to respond. They aren't failing to deliver; they're facing a unique challenge.

All while being condemned for their inability to wave a magic wand and fix everything immediately, and attacked by the media's endless anti-Trump campaign.

If you could provide any basis for any of that, it would be valuable. Otherwise, it's just characters someone typed into a field on their web browser.

As opposed to what? Characters someone typed into a corporate content management system?

Which part do you dispute?

The Pew Research center found that, excluding the right-wing media, only 5% of the media's coverage of Trump was positive.


Edit: 6% of the centrist media's coverage, for those inclined to nitpick.

> As opposed to what? Characters someone typed into a corporate content management system?

I don't understand your point

> Pew Research center found

Some information at last! That's what I'm talking about.

First, "excluding the right-wing media" is a pretty major omission. Excluding my right leg, I have no easy means of walking. The right-wing media is enormous, including the leading media companies in many segments (Fox, WSJ, talk radio, etc.).

Second, reading the report, the number the parent quotes excludes both media with a right-wing audience and with a politically mixed audience (the report defines it by the political leanings of the audience, not of the news outlet); the number includes only media with a predominantly left-wing audience.

Third, the parent comment implies that 95% was negative, omitting that 39% of the coverage, even in media for left-wing audience, was neutral.

So here's the actual data, for media consumed by predominantly left-wing audiences: 5% positive, 39% neutral, 56% negative.

When right-wing media lambasted Obama day and night for over 8 years, opposing everything he did, calling him everything from Kenyan to Communist, I don't recall such an uproar about coverage. And the left serve as his propaganda outlet either, the way Fox et al serve Republicans - the progressives didn't like him, and there is no Democratic propaganda front with major reach.

> When right-wing media lambasted Obama day and night for over 8 years, opposing everything he did, calling him everything from Kenyan to Communist, I don't recall such an uproar about coverage.

Because that's expected from the right-wing media, just like HuffPo is expected to hate Trump.

The problem is that the "centrist" media is biased. Only 6% of their coverage is positive.

> just characters someone typed into a field on their web browser

Every post on Hacker News is just characters someone typed into a web browser. Every text post on the Internet is just characters someone typed into a text box. What was your point there?

Let's not overlook the context in which those bad policies took place, as if PR had been having a wild party while the mainland sobbed over its departure from the path of fiscal rectitude. Also, let's not forget that the citizens who live there have little input into the financial administration of the territory. You shouldn't need a degree in finance to assess candidates at election time, nor does voting for a particular candidate provide voters with anything resembling direct fiscal control.


Who you talkin about “they?” The poor and working class people dying of preventable disease because the medical system is being allowed to collapse?

If you believe in democracy, than the poor and working people voted for assholes that screw them. They also voted to keep their special status as income tax free rather than becoming a state even though it would have helped to prevent the catastrophe that was PR's entirely absent emergency preparedness.

take one look at the manipulation of the political systems in us and pr by monied interests and tell me its poor people’s fault.

For an alternative view on who is to blame:


A lot of the problem is their lack of autonomy. They are dependent on the federal government yet don't have the power of a US state. It's not so much corruption as desperation that drove them to this point.

I don't want to dive into alternative histories when everything points to what really happened:


> They literally did this to themselves

I don't think it makes sense to conflate the corrupt officials (who likely took money from US entities seeking to corrupt them) and the masses of poor and non-influential who are now suffering.

They get to elect the assholes and people time and time again elect people who do not do any good. Congress has an incredibly low approval rating, but individual congressman generally have good approval ratings in their district.

IMHO, If you believe in democracy, then the people are responsible for the actions of their representative republic.

Forcing their government to surrender control and become a state goes against the democratic process. https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/2095366

They recently voted to become a state. Certain groups don't want that to happen for some reason.

A referendum on the political status of Puerto Rico was held in Puerto Rico on June 11, 2017. The referendum had three options: becoming a state of the United States, independence/free association, or maintaining the current territorial status. Those who voted overwhelmingly chose statehood by 97%


I would think that the rest of the sentence that you deleted is important to understanding the vote.

; turnout, however, was 23%, a historically low figure.[3] This figure is attributed to a boycott led by the pro-status quo PPD party.[4]

Well voting for president in the US only 57% vote of available voters[1], even lower in non presidential votes or midterms at 40% [2], so is that also not valid since everyone doesn't vote? People choose to vote, if people don't vote to have their say that is their own bad.

In the US, if only 57% of people vote, you could say our president is only elected by less than about 30% of the people with the popular vote, half the eligible voters or about a third of the country.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_the_United_St...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_midterm_election

Those are very different things. U.S. elections are set forth according to the law, are binding, and have legally-defined results. If people don't show up, it means they don't really care about the result and are fine with getting whatever everyone else chooses.

The Puerto Rico statehood referendums are not undertaken pursuant to any law and are not binding. It's like the government of Maryland holding a referendum on secession from the U.S. If only a quarter of eligible voters show up, that doesn't mean that everyone else wants to go along with the minority. It means that the majority don't see the effort as legitimate in the first place. (There is a reason why people would view the 2017 referendum as illegitimate. The ballot was biased against the non-statehood options, e.g. calling Puerto Rico's current status that of a "colony").

The rules of US elections are fairly well spelled-out, so low turn-out results are not contested.

In this case, Congress would need to make the decision that is in keeping with the "people of Puerto Rico". If you read further in the referendum link you posted, there are a number of reasons why the referendum was boycotted.

I doubt that Congress would want to jump into the middle of such an ambiguous situation and declare Puerto Rico a state by fiat.

How is this relevant to an actual boycott?

We are talking low turn out votes, even in the US we have low turnout. People boycott the whole system here and don't vote at all. So you are arguing that our results aren't correct because people stopped voting?

If you are saying that because PR had a boycott and some didn't vote that the vote is a fraud, then you could say the same about ANY vote in the US because people boycott or don't vote because they don't believe in the system or think it is rigged etc or many other reasons.

That is why you have to vote, boycotting votes is not smart, probably the worst use of a boycott ever as it takes your power away. Usually boycotts are to gain power i.e. not purchasing from a certain company. Boycotting a vote isn't even worth mentioning, it is just not smart.

I think the problem with your analysis is that you left out the line of the boycott which is, in this case, quite important.

Your comment here about "people don't vote all the time for different reasons" doesn't amount to the situation in PR at all. It's significant, and to ignore it is dishonest.

Whether you believe a boycott is "smart" or not.

They have had several referendums over the years, and none have yielded a majority for statehood. This most recent referendum was in favor of statehood, but had less than 23% turnout. Yes, the low turnout was because the parties opposed to statehood boycotted the referendum. But anyone who boycotted the referendum would almost by definition be someone who was going to vote against statehood.

The 2012 referendum, in contrast, had 78% turnout. 46% voted to retain the current arrangement, and another 21% voted for either free association or full independence (i.e. increased sovereignty--the opposite of statehood).

You left out the rest of the sentence: "Those who voted overwhelmingly chose statehood by 97%; turnout, however, was 23%, a historically low figure."

Note that the percentage was that high only because of a boycott by the anti-statehood faction. But I’d expect that any attempt to actually grant statehood would be preceded by a new, binding referendum that wouldn’t be boycotted - or at least elections.

This is the same misdirected claim repeated over and over about Catalan, but turnout is boycotted by those who do not want to secede.

The politics of integrating Puerto Rico are likely impossible to make it happen anyway.

"We want to become a state now that we've run our territory into the ground".

Though downvoted into submission, the above point is perfectly valid.

A better stance to take might be: "We need to reiterate to the citizens of Puerto Rico that they are perfectly free to opt for statehood, or independence at any time."

How would becoming a state (and gaining senators, congressmen, and electoral votes) be a "surrender" of control? Your article doesn't seem to support this contention at all.

Perhaps because PR does not want it? I think that is the concern, PR basically voted it down with their low turnout this last time around.

> PR basically voted it down with their low turnout this last time around.

That's not how voting works, though...

Lots of voting systems have quorum rules.

I'm commenting on "voting" in general there, not specifically the referendum. But even with 100% turnout, there's no legal mechanism for Puerto Rico to force Congress to act.

Given the incredible amounts the USA spends on 'defence' one wonders where all the assets the pentagon buys are to help US citizens after a violent attack by the elements. Why isn't the army mobilized to help with all aspects of infrastructure including healthcare?

They're at least somewhat mobilized. For example the "medical treatment ship" Comfort is on the scene:

> There are urgent attempts to help. The federal government has sent 10 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams of civilian doctors, nurses, paramedics and others to the island. Four mobile hospitals have been set up in hospital parking lots, and the Comfort, a medical treatment ship, is on the scene. A 44-bed hospital will soon open in badly wrecked Humacao, in the southeast.

> But even as the Army Corps of Engineers is installing dozens of generators at medical facilities, and utility crews work to restore power to 36 hospitals, medical workers and patients say that an intense medical crisis persists and that communications and electrical difficulties have obscured the true number of fatalities directly related to the hurricane. The official count rose on Tuesday to 43.

> Matching resources with needs remains a problem. The Puerto Rico Department of Health has sent just 82 patients to the Comfort over the past six days, even though the ship can serve 250. The Comfort’s 800 medical personnel were treating just seven patients on Monday.

I don't really know enough to say whether our military is doing all it can, but it's certainly doing something significant. And they appear to still be hobbled by the laws of physics and the limits of human resourcefulness and endurance.

The U.S. has to be very careful about making the military the solution to everything. Due in part to the reasons below, it funds the military at incredible levels and the self-fulfilling result is that the military has the resources when they are needed. It's dangerous:

Military officers have unprecedented power in government. They now fill the roles of Secretary of Defense (the first since WWII; an essential reason for the job is civilian control of the military), White House Chief of Staff (and a very powerful one at that), and National Security Advisor. Many see them as the source of stability in the White House, given the erratic behavior of Trump. Think of the implication: Only military officers can be trusted; others (diplomats, other government leaders) are sub-standard.

In foreign policy, all issues are now handled primarily through the military, not the State Department - war not diplomacy. The State Department has been radically sidelined, to a degree unprecedented in memory or even history. Jobs are left unfilled, personnel are ignored - given no responsibilities or input - and talent is leaving in droves. (See foreignpolicy.com if you want to read coverage of it.) The President and much of the GOP openly advocate for military solutions to problems and mock diplomacy, and the America First people say that's how to deal with the world.

"Love" of the military - a widely used expression - has become an ideology and now almost a norm. If you don't "love" the military, you aren't patriotic. It is put on a high pedestal. In the NFL controversy, many say the people kneeling are being disrespectful to the military - but the flag and the anthem are for the country, not for one executive branch institution. I was at a small college graduation in a rural area and ROTC graduates, and only them, were given a standing ovation - not the summa cum laude grads, not the PhD's, not those providing other services to community and country, nobody else.

Civilian-military divide is a serious problem. With an all-volunteer military, many civilians have no contact with it and little understanding. When there was a draft, all of society was familiar with the military and it was seen as a normal institution with all that implies (remember where the terms SNAFU and FUBAR come from). Now civilians know little about it and therefore idealize it - as if the military are movie heroes - and in my limited experience a significant part of the military think they deserve that worship (e.g., recently Sec of Defense Mattis was on tape telling soldiers that people who didn't serve are (something derogatory); a year or two ago I read an editorial in a well-known defense policy publication that suggested only those who serve should get to vote; General Kelly this year said citizens had no moral right to question those who serve and should 'just say thank you'). Also, members of the military, and especially enlisted, are overwhelmingly conservative and disproportionately represent other demographics too, and are not representative of the society they serve.


Above is a roadmap to fascism; it's almost out of the textbook. The U.S. has powerful institutions, but you really need to stick your head in the sand to think it will just work out - that's not how prior generations built the country and institutions that were inherited by today's citizens; what will they pass on to future generations?

The idealization also is a critical disservice to the soldiers, to whom society has a great, very serious responsibility. If U.S. voters are going to send them to risk and otherwise ruin their lives, both physically and psychologically, the citizens had better do everything they can to avoid it and they'd better make a very careful decision, which requires a very clear-eyed, realistic understanding of the military.

And finally, this ideal military doesn't perform well. Corruption is rife; over the last ~5 years a large number of generals and admirals have been removed for it, and we all know about the weapons programs. Iraq and Afghanistan were badly planned and executed - the U.S. defeated both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in less than 4 years, yet these two current wars continue for 14-17 years and counting. How many soldiers lives and souls were wasted due to the military's failures? It's a horrible thing to think, but far more horrible is gloss over it and for citizens to not ask tough questions, see the military for what it is (a normal human institution), and fail their responsibilities to today's soldiers.

As much as the current administration deserves blame for the mishandling of this crisis, I think it's disingenuous to stop the conversation there.

The island was pretty much wiped out. Even with billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of people, you'd still have people dying. Right from the article:

> The Puerto Rico Department of Health has sent just 82 patients to the Comfort over the past six days, even though the ship can serve 250. The Comfort’s 800 medical personnel were treating just seven patients on Monday.

They do have resources, but I bet it's just extremely difficult to move people and supplies around on an island that is barely above water. You just can't fight nature and expect to come out with no losses.

Also, the heartless cynic in me thinks that the powers that be are letting this get a little drawn out so the poor people on public health assistance die off and eat up less resources. If 6,000 people no longer need dialysis, you're saving $300,000,000/year.

Supplies are still not being distributed across the island:


Power is still out for the vast majority of the island:


I have previously [1] suggested [2] crowdfunding the expatriation of Puerto Rican residents. If you know of someone in Puerto Rico, get in touch, get them a job on the mainland, and get them out of there on a commercial flight. If they're a retiree, consider taking them in.

EDIT: @ bueble

I suppose will throw out the statements and facts from the thread link about people dying from not getting the basic medical treatment they need due to power and facility shortages?

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15412122

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15416635

A part of the United States with more people than Kansas is 90% without power and 35% without water weeks after a disaster. Shameful, and disturbing how little attention is being paid to it by government and media.

> I have previously suggested crowdfunding the expatriation of Puerto Rican residents. If you know of someone in Puerto Rico, get in touch, get them a job on the mainland, and get them out of there on a commercial flight.

Preferably, to a swing state. The current lack of political power - no senators, no congresspeople, no electoral votes - will always mean PR is treated very differently than even the smallest state.

"Preferably, to a swing state."

Yep, move people who voted for the local governemnt that left them unprepared for a disaster like this and make them vote for the same government in a swing state.

The PR government may indeed deserve some blame (maybe even a lot!), but IMO it's absurd to think that their disenfranchised status on a national level doesn't play a role.

Their debt is $72 billion. We authorized $700 billion for TARP to bail out failing banks, and $17.4 billion to bail out the Big Three automakers.

As to the debt (not the natural disaster): Let's be clear, Puerto Rico is a wealthy place. It's richer than Spain. It's $72 billion debt is from overly generous public benefits. It's basically Illinois or Detroit. The Federal Government isn't bailing those places out either, because unlike TARP (which we recovered with a slight profit), we'd never get that money back.

What are these "overly generous" public benefits?

They get substantially lower Medicare and Medicaid funding per capita, can't join the Federal healthcare exchange, and their citizens aren't eligible for ACA subsidies. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/03/us/health-providers-brace...

Puerto Rico's per-capita GDP is also lower than any US state.

> What are these "overly generous" public benefits?

Puerto Rico's debt arises from overly generous benefits to public employees and retirees and underfunding: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-puertorico-debt-budget/pu.... As in Illinois, Detroit, etc., this is purely a local issue, the result of local expenditures not matching local revenues. It has nothing to do with the federal government.

As for federal support, on the whole, Puerto Rico receives more in federal support than it pays in federal taxes: https://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Arthur%20MacEwa.... It's sandwiched right between Louisiana and Vermont in that regard.

> Puerto Rico's per-capita GDP is also lower than any US state.

Yes, but on a purchasing power adjusted basis, it's higher than South Korea, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, and other countries that manage to have solvent public services without relying on outside support.

It seems like the options available are:

1. Default on pension obligations, put those retirees on social security and eat the cost (transfer from general fund to SSA) if they haven't contributed in via FICA

2. Bail out their underwater pensions

3. Default on pension obligations, allow retirees to die in poverty

I put them in my preferred order of operations.

I agree the first one is the best option.

This is a disaster that nearly wiped away the island and left them entirely without power? How do you "prepare" for that, you racist troll?


FYI just use incognito mode.


> In my opinion, this seems like grounds for removal of the President, as he appears constitutionally incapable of carrying out the duties required of him.

What constitutional duties specifically are you referring to?

I strongly don't favor impeachment for this, not by a long-shot (and ironically, for a lot of the same reasons that I don't like Donald Trump), but you can find the information that you're seeking about his duties here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_Two_of_the_United_Stat...

As to the subtext of your question...

It's worth keeping in mind that impeachment is a political act, not a neutral act taken by judges who are impartial, and that as a result there's a lot of leeway when it comes to determining what is and is not impeachable.

From Wikipedia, I think this is an interesting and relevant note:

> Opinions differed, however, as to the reasons Congress should be able to initiate an impeachment. Initial drafts listed only treason and bribery, but George Mason favored impeachment for "maladministration" (incompetence). James Madison argued that impeachment should only be for criminal behavior, arguing that a maladministration standard would effectively mean that the President would serve at the pleasure of the Senate. Thus the delegates adopted a compromise version allowing impeachment for "treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors."

It's intentionally vague and inherently a political issue, where if Congress impeaches for a bad reason and overturns will of the people, those in Congress can be removed from office in the next election. It's not reviewable by the courts and literally anything is impeachable if Congress says it's impeachable.

I'm not interested in the subtext, rather the duties that the quoted poster is referring to in this specific case.

Disaster response through the relevant federal agencies is pretty clearly a presidential duty.

If it's so clearly a constitutional duty then you shouldn't have a hard time proving it. Just making a statement doesn't answer the question.

I'm not sure what you're arguing, that it's the purview of the judicial or legislative branch?

Not arguing anything, asking the original poster to explain his (and possibly your) claim. Nothing yet.

I guess you could argue that he's failing to adhere to Article 2 Section 3 Clauses 2 &3 but not calling congress to an extraordinary session and advising them on he he wants to deal with the crisis.


It's hard to contextualize $4.0B by itself. Quick Googling suggests it's more than went to Houston shortly after Harvey, less than eventually went to the New York area after Sandy (but that's the entire federal relief effort), far less than was needed for Katrina (but I didn't immediately see how much NO got from the feds).

In short, I don't think readers in this thread can tell if that's enough money or not, without doing a lot of research on their own.

Then why aren't the Feds stepping in to do it right? This isn't like a state government where it's a sovereign entity and the Feds only have limited power and jurisdiction.


Is that historical aid or just for this year's hurricanes?

#reeeeesist? It ain't gonna happen big guy, quit it.

And Trump's administration has even released a video showing everything is fine.

I don't know. Mark Zuckerberg teleported there and it still looks pretty messed up.

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