While the President Was Insulting Puerto Rico ...

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  1. In the midst of the shambolic government response to the disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico, our .... sigh ... "president" has been doing what he does best: Insulting people. He's insulted the mayor of San Juan, he's insulted the territory's financial state and infrastructure. Those spiteful attacks have not gone unanswered:
  2. Others have berated our Tantrum In Chief better than I can, but I think a point that needs to be made here is that a lot of the state of Puerto Rico's finances and infrastructure have not been entirely in its own hands: It's been a victim of whims of Congress, a body in which it is largely unrepresented. It has no senators, and a non-voting representative. This representing a population of 3.5 million American citizens.
  3. And there's no denying the federal government has done a number on Puerto Rico over the decades, capriciously adjusting its tax exemptions so drastically that half of its industries left almost overnight, legislating it so the territory can't declare bankruptcy, legislating it so that debtors have to be paid for services, which has led to the loss of funding for schools and hospitals, and of course, the recently much talked about shipping restrictions. It's one thing to hold any municipal government responsible for its own actions, but Puerto Rico has, in many ways, been buffeted by hurricanes from Washington as much as literal ones.
  4. Here's a good primer from last year by John Oliver. I should note that the bill he mentions at the end, H.R.4900, aimed at helping restructure Puerto Rico's debt, is still listed as "Introduced," which means it has not come up for a vote, nor am I aware of any subsequent efforts to do similar through other legislation, although I could be mistaken about that.
  5. Puerto Rico: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
  6. I have no real horse in the Puerto Rican "statehood vs. nationhood" debate, and indeed, have very intelligent, educated friends of Puerto Rican descent that disagree on the matter, but at the moment, they are Americans, and that means that there are 3.5 million Americans who are fundamentally unrepresented by their government, and that's a straight-up injustice, even before you get to their president insulting them. The people of Puerto Rico need and deserve assistance, not lectures or moral hectoring, especially from representatives of a government which is disproportionately responsible for a number of the territory's woes.
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