Congratulations On Your $1,000 Donation To Puerto Rican Relief (At Gunpoint)

True confessions time: Until today, I was under the impression that the American response to the hurricane crisis in Puerto Rico had been a little, shall we say, stingy. How could you blame me for feeling this way? The media has continually told me about our stingy response. Hell, it’s been worse than stingy; it’s been trashy. Fully ten percent of the food aid to PR consisted of candy or snacks that you CANNOT FIND at Whole Foods! The idea that you would hurriedly box up a bunch of aid to starving people and have THE NERVE to let a full tenth of it be the kind of food that rich people in Los Angeles wouldn’t buy… We might as well have dropped Fat Man (the bomb, not the self-congratulatory automotive journalist) on the place and let it vaporize in the nook-u-lar flame.

Well, it’s time for you to feel better. I just sent a thousand dollars to Puerto Rico. So did you. In fact, I’ve been sending about $250 a year to Puerto Rico since I was a teenager, give or take a few bucks. And there’s more to come.


The determinedly iconoclastic Kakistocracy Blog tells me that Puerto Rico has received nearly seventy billion dollars from the USG in the past year for relief. There are only about 85 million homes in America that pay any income tax whatsoever, so that means that each of those households pitched in a little south of a G for hurricane relief.

But wait, there’s more. Puerto Rico runs a net deficit with the United States of approximately $18 billion dollars a year, which is also paid for by me and probably you. (Our demographics are very elite here at RG.) That’s maybe $200 per taxpayer “unit” so that brings us to up a nice round thousand-plus bucks in 2018.

But wait, there’s even more. Puerto Rico has run up a deficit of $120 billion. The rate at which it has run up is increasing because of — wait for it —

— are you still waiting —

the financial catastrophe of unfettered immigration to the United States.

So. Our open border with Puerto Rico depresses wages in New York and hurts the economy. But it also hurts the economy of Puerto Rico. There is now a deficit to make up. The deficit will be made up by you, the American taxpayer. You are subsidizing mass immigration; you pay the federal assistance in New York for incoming Puerto Ricans and you pay to clean up the mess they left behind.

Now, this has not been an entirely disastrous proposition. This triangle trade of people – to – tax money – to – sugary snacks brought us a fellow named, oh, let’s call him Robert. Robert spent most of his American experience in prison and/or committing elaborate organized crime. But before he died of unspecified causes in middle age he managed to father a very pretty girl. Twenty-eight years after that blessed event, this slightly Latina, thoroughly exotic girl became my absolute most favorite woman in history up to that point. Our time together was short but I don’t mind paying back taxes on it. The juice was worth the squeeze.

Puerto Rico also sent us another person, not so pretty as mine but not entirely without charm: the Imperial Yass Kween herself, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She campaigns on a platform of open borders and limitless immigration. She is one of what the eerily perceptive writer of “Up In The Valley” calls the Abolitionists. Their vision is of a human tide swamping the United States. There will be a tab for this party. You’ll pick up the tab for what the tide does here, the aid and the crime and the Kates and Mollies. But you will also pick up the tab back in the home territory, or the home country. You pay twice, but what do you receive? Ask a farmer in South Africa, perhaps, or ask a fellow who was unlucky enough to be wearing glasses when the Khmer Rouge came to town. The price of submission is more of it, and there is never an end. What is the Arabic word for submission, anyway?

101 Replies to “Congratulations On Your $1,000 Donation To Puerto Rican Relief (At Gunpoint)”

  1. AvatarDavid Florida

    I don’t pay, and you don’t pay. Rather, the Fed does Fed things and someday our kids will sell all the federal land in California to China, and so cover the tab. Think I’m wrong? Change my mind!

    Reply
  2. Avatarmopar4wd

    I mean they are US citizens and have been for a century. Mostly due to our actions rather then them asking for it. We have had chances to either change Peurto Rico to a state or let them go it alone and we haven’t done it. Basically Puerto Rico is in a odd position and no one much wants to make the hard choices to fix it one way or another.

    Basically my point is I don’t see how you claim people who have been US citizens for generations are immigrants.

    Reply
      • AvatarMopar4wd

        Well if you want to look at it Internally because I’m in CT I pay more then my fare share of federal taxes helping to subsidize not just Puerto Rico but the 34 states that take more in federal funding then they put in. If Puerto Rico were a state, there would be 18 states in front of it that receive more federal money. I mean I’m essentially subsidizing low tax states like TN and KY to take CT jobs away thru the federal tax system.

        You can look up immigration numbers and economic effect. First 5-7 years not good after that they tend to be a net gain in our economy. I’m not an open border guy, but I think we can maintain the status quo of around 10% non native born and have the melting pot work effectively.

        Reply
        • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

          Currently somewhere between 14% and 17% of American residents were born somewhere else. I wonder if it was that high a century ago when there was mass immigration from Europe.

          Reply
        • AvatarMrGreenMan

          You’d think people in NY, CT, and these places “paying more than their fair share” would want the federal government to stop attempting one-size-fits-all solutions and send things back to the states, but, as when Queen Bee Nancy was offered the choice between more federal revenues or more control, it’s all about control.

          Reply
          • AvatarMopar4wd

            You might think that but mostly people up here are fine with the idea of wealth distribution on the federal and state level (they seem to have odd issues on the local level). The reason they like to point out the disparity is to show hypocrisy. I should say that’s not everyone up here, we do have plenty of financial conservatives as well who would prefer we get more money back for infrastructure etc.
            On the local thing they are OK with funding things like Preschool for poor kids etc but generally reject the idea of paying to have the next poorer town over getting some of their revenue.

          • AvatarDaniel J

            I live in Alabama where we are one of those states that takes more per person. We have a large percentage of people who are at the poverty line. Our state also gets lots of federal dollars for defense and government contracts which I don’t include in the total federal dollars given while others do include that money.

            However, we do however have a large portion of our citizens on Medicaid . We also get a large sum for education. The argument is that we are a federation. What happens when Alabama loses those federal dollars? They poor will simply migrate to those states who have more education and Medicaid dollars.

        • AvatarMrGreenMan

          Also, to achieve a stable 10% number, there would need to be the political will to close the borders, like they were closed at the start of the 20th Century. We were at 12.9% in 2010 and it was climbing. It historically took a generation to change that number several percentage points. The idea of returning to 10% is a call to close the borders. This is not 1992; we are not debating NAFTA with 7.9% foreign born populace.

          https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2013/10/03/what-percentage-of-u-s-population-is-foreign-born/

          Reply
          • AvatarMopar4wd

            Looking thru history it seems we can absorb spikes of up to around 15% without major issue but I think 10% would be better.

          • Avatarhank chinaski

            We’re not quite to the level of violence that helped trigger the last closure (eg. Sacco-Vanzetti or McKinley assassination) and much more diverse since then. The left sees fit to virtue signal even over the slaughter of it’s own daughters. Political forces on the right like the Kochs still act in the interest of profit and power from cheap labor, and the establishment left hasn’t yet figured out that their ‘new Democrats’ will be ousting them (Ocasio-Cortez, Feinstein losing CDC endorsement).

            Let’s organize another bike ride across Isis territory to Afghanistan, and others to cartel territory in Central America or to Zimbabwe….for educational purposes.

          • AvatarCJinSD

            It seems like the Poetic Justice Warriors simply won’t be educated, no matter their body count. The dead cyclists experienced constant hostility during their attempt at proving moral relativism to be a useful theory for assessing cultures. They didn’t let it deter them. They were like the parents of the white-hating Iowan Mollie Tibbetts, who will not let their daughter being the sacrifice du jour separate them from their global Marxist ideological rigor.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            Somebody on Vox Populi said it best: “We regret that our daughter had but one life to give for open borders.”

      • AvatarDisinterested-Observer

        I think it was a tortuous (tortured?) analogy. Like Mopar points out we also subsidize quite a few other states and while I don’t think it’s great at least they, like Puerto Ricans, are Americans. To call them moving to New York “immigration” makes as much sense as saying it’s immigration when someone from Michigan moves to Arizona.

        Reply
  3. AvatarTom Ohio

    I guess I don’t understand your point here. The whole point of government is to manage common resources and send them from places where they are less needed (relatively speaking) to places where they are more needed. This is true both at the macro level (highway dollars) and the individual level (medicaid, food and housing assistance, etc.). Unless we decide to adopt an “every man for themselves” mentality, this kind of thing goes along with all of us throwing our lots together and working towards a common goal.

    You could take your entire argument and substitute “Mississippi” for “Puerto Rico,” or any state that receives more from the federal government than they contribute in taxes (most of which happen to be Red states).

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      If the points aren’t clear that is my fault as a writer, but here is a restatement:

      A) we gave PR a lot more help than the media is willing to admit;

      B) the economic effects of immigration can be doubly crippling – this would be just as true if everybody in MS up and moved to NYC.

      C) the future of politics is masses of people with zero skin in the game voting for the Free Shit platform.

      Reply
      • AvatarDaniel J

        Counter argument: So we should go back to property requirements for voting?

        I get your point, but we aren’t going to change the system of who can vote. We might have a shot at changing the minds of the voters, but I doubt. It’s really a zero sum game.

        Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      One reason why “red” states get more federal dollars is because that’s where a lot of military bases are located.

      Reply
      • Avatarrnc

        And they were put there primarily as a form of ESRM (economic surplus recycling mechanism), moving tax $ from the rich industrialized north to the poor south. And now that there isn’t a rich industrialized north, they are really just area welfare. If you don’t believe that, look at a) how a local community/state reacts if you try to close one and b) how much of local area tax $ are spent on lobbying to make sure that doesn’t happen.

        In terms of PR, since they are part of the US, the US has two choices, pay to rebuild as they do for any other area or relocate them (same as after Katrina, Houston sure regretted the relocate part of the equation)

        Reply
  4. AvatarJohn C.

    Thank God that pain in the neck of PR and the then Philippine states of America turned the USA off to colonies. Imagine if we had gotten our share of all the Shitholes/charming backwaters that became the expensive responsibility of the UK and France.

    Reply
  5. Avatarlink3721

    I don’t agree with calling US citizens immigrants just for moving from a US territory to a US state. What’s the difference between the federal government effectively subsidizing Puerto Rico and the official States that consume more welfare dollars than they put into the system? How much of Puerto Rico’s problems are due to ridiculous laws like the Jones Act (all Puerto Rico goods must come from a US Port on a US ship thus significantly increasing consumer prices)? Yes it sucks that so much money is spent on hurricane relief, but the entire situation is complicated by a variety of factors.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Your point about the “welfare states” is well taken and I’m going to discuss it in the near future. The bottom line is that welfare states contribute in ways that don’t show on the tax bottom line — but that is also a necessary cost of having a geographically unified state. An independent Kentucky would be a genuine problem for the surrounding states and for the Feds, but an independent Puerto Rico would be a net gain for the United States and for Puerto Rico, assuming you believe the self-reliant rhetoric of its leaders.

      Reply
      • Avatarrnc

        And yes, just as Greece has no business being in the Euro, PR has no business being in the $. It makes things great for a small few and really screws the majority.

        Reply
    • Avatardejal

      I live in Mass. For the last year, PRs have been coming to Mass. en-mass. Because there are tons of PRs already here. When they come here, the state treats them as refugees. If you come here with a kid that is college age, Mass. is giving the kid the in-state tuition rate at a public institutions. Many of these people have been put up in Motels with the state picking up the tab for year.

      The rule is a year here with a parent here. They dropped the rule for PRs. So, Mississippians and whomever who had their teeth kicked in with a natural disaster and moved to Mass. at the same time as someone from PR would have been told “Sucks to be you.”

      Reply
  6. AvatarRock36

    Meanwhile I’ve spent in the neighborhood of $20k in legal fees, and 4+ years progressing a legal challenge against the Dept of State all the way to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and I still have failed to obtain a visa for my German wife. Fortunately our kids have US citizenship Jus Sanguinis and will be able to move freely back and forth.

    I’m not one for open borders by any means, but certainly something has to give as far as immigration law is concerned. And I know from harsh and brutal reality that entering the US the legal way can be much easier said than done. As it stands, I will have to expatriate myself permanently upon my retirement from the service to keep my family together.

    Reply
    • Avatarmarkxjr

      I can relate to that. My university educated parents with decades of experience in their fields had to move to Canada because (at the time) there was no way for them to upgrade their work visas to a permanent status in the US. Two tax payers lost..
      “Open borders” exist only for criminals and people who never plan on paying taxes.

      Reply
    • AvatarEric H

      I feel your pain.
      My wife is Canadian and I tried for a couple of years to get her a work visa. You would think that with two degrees it wouldn’t be that hard. We eventually gave up and moved to Canada. A few weeks later I had a work visa, later I became a permanent resident. It’s been over 20 years now, I don’t think I’ll ever move back to the states.

      Reply
      • AvatarRock36

        Well I don’t know whether to take solace that I’m not alone in this madness or be even more upset that others have to deal with the same madness, the answer is both I suppose.

        Reply
    • AvatarMopar4wd

      Immigration from Canada is weird. I have heard plenty of similar stories but I also know lots of people with tenuous financials and little family connection to the US who have managed to become citizens. When I lived in rural Maine I knew quite a few who had come over for school or a job and managed to transition to Citizenship.
      Although now that I think about it I remember one guy who did this told me the key was having an employer that would go to bat for you.

      Reply
  7. AvatarRick T.

    I keep this article bookmarked for all the usual suspects making the usual claims about blue states and red states and taxes:

    Which States Get the Most of What They Paid?
    The answer to the ultimate question requires us to compare what the states pay in and what they get back. Immediately, though, we have to understand that these intergovernmental transfers—the source of most calculations about these claims—are only a fraction of what the federal government spends. In 2016, the federal budget called for $3.9 trillion in spending, of which just $604 billion was in intergovernmental transfers. All of the claims about which states take what, therefore, are based on an analysis of just 15 percent of all federal spending.

    Even within that limited range of figures, the results are not the open-and-shut case that critics from the Left would have us believe. For one thing: no state receives more in intergovernmental transfers than its citizens and corporations pay in federal taxes. The state that gets the most back in intergovernmental transfers is a blue state, New Mexico, at 80.27 percent. Red states West Virginia and Mississippi are the only other two that get back more than half of their taxes in this form of spending (67.30 percent and 63.12 percent, respectively).

    http://thefederalist.com/2017/11/17/red-states-tax-takers-blue-states-tax-makers/

    Not as clear cut as it seems.

    Reply
    • AvatarMopar4wd

      True enough. But looking at it from a non red and blue thing. You have a group of wealthy states that mostly have generous welfare systems they prop up mostly by internal taxes to the state (not all is from the state of course). Versus states with lower taxes and less generous welfare systems that still have to rely on getting way more back from the feds to balance their budgets. It is interesting.
      In the same vane here in CT it’s common for the suburbs to complain that the cities mismanage their funds and we shouldn’t bail them out when in reality the wealthy suburbs are way less efficiently run then the cities they just have much higher per capita revenue thanks to property taxes allowing it to not effect their budgets.
      Really I don’t have an issue with it but it does tend to change the way you look at things.

      Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      I’ve never seen a full accounting of red/blue state transfers that includes money spent to support military bases (which I suspect are heavily based in red states), Indian reservations (that make up substantial portions of many Western red states), and federally owned land (that comprise the bulk of many Western red states and prevent much taxable income generation for state residents), nor have I seen a good accounting of how much mostly blue states have historically been subsidized by federal tax deductions for heavy local taxes and inflated real estate loan interest. I suspect all or most of the supposed blue state subsidies to red states disappears or is even reversed if these an other variables are included to give a full-accounting.

      Reply
      • AvatarRock36

        Army posts seem to skew toward red state locations, but by virtue of the strategic importance of the west coast, there is a lot of military infrastructure and bases in California, Washington, and Hawaii.

        Reply
  8. AvatarJeff Zekas

    Jack, you summed it up perfectly: “The future of politics is masses of people with zero skin in the game voting for the Free Shit platform.”

    Reply
  9. AvatarEconomist

    Things Jack Baruth is responsible for bringing into my life:
    The Last Psychiatrist
    Mr. Upinthevalley’s blog
    2014 Honda VFR800
    That Smoking Tire episode
    A deeper appreciation foy Yacht Rock

    Pretty good stuff. Keep ‘em coming, Jack.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      It’s depressing how quickly the WWW turned from “hypertexted links to encourage additional information” to “walled gardens promoting tracked commerce”.

      I am certain that there are people who click links from here to Up In The Valley or elsewhere and simply never return to me, but if I’ve helped them find something they like better then I’m fulfilling the actual purpose of the Web rather than my own commercial interests and that has a fulfillment all its own.

      Reply
  10. Avatar-Nate

    “You are subsidizing mass immigration; you pay the federal assistance in New York for incoming Puerto Ricans and you pay to clean up the mess they left behind. ” .

    I’m thinking you meant to say ‘migration’ here Jack ? .

    As far as the mess in NYC, it’s been there longer than my Irish for-bearers who got off the boat @ Ellis Island long, long ago .

    I gotta admit, the PR Women can be *very* fetching .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      No, that was a Tex-Mex girl, a former hooker whose fiance had face tattoos demonstrating his fidelity to a cartel.

      It is a wonder I’m alive.

      The Puerto Rican in question is known to my long-time readers as Drama McHourglass.

      Reply
  11. AvatarWidgetsltd

    “The future of politics is masses of people with zero skin in the game voting for the Free Shit platform.”
    So, what’s the fix? Bring back the poll tax? Restrict voting rights to white, male, adult property owners, as it was in the early days? Or just close some polling places under the guise of saving money, like they do in the South. True Patriots will find ways to keep Those People from voting.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      There is a solid case to be made for restricting the franchise to property owners, regardless of color or creed. This leads to all sorts of beard-fallacy arguments — WHAT IF ZHE OWNS A SQUARE FOOT OF LAND UNDER TRUMPZ WALL LOL — but the fact is that property owners tend to vote in the interest of their communities because they are invested in futurity.

      It is utterly ridiculous, for example, that renters can vote on property tax measures. That is like me being a member of baseball’s HoF jury. And why should child-free people be voting on school measures? Lastly, why are the 50% or more of Americans who pay zero income tax voting on representation for tax policies?

      The “white, male” thing is a canard and it’s unworthy of discussion — but if we need to have that discussion, do you think that today’s Diversitopia Free Shit Nation could have beaten Japan and Germany in WWII?

      Reply
      • AvatarMopar4wd

        Well property taxes do effect renters. For instance in many states the property tax rates also hits cars and certain other property. And you also have the effect of property taxes distorting rental markets. Interestingly the property tax seems to more reserve a bottom on real estate rentals more then anything else. Here in CT high property tax cities have cheaper rents (in the bad neighbor hoods) then neighboring lower tax suburbs but not that much lower do to the cost floor. If you can deal with the commute the cheapest rentals are in rural towns with little services that have low tax rates.

        On schools you could argue that since everyone in town is paying into running the schools that they could have some vote on how the moneys spent. Or look at it like a backstop on school spending. Here in CT you don’t see huge swings in school funding but you will see minor ones as the population ages and they approve less bonding etc.

        On the income tax you get into a weird place. For instance thanks to the new Tax bill alot of middle class families with lots of kids may well hit no income tax despite hitting your other requirements.

        Reply
      • Avatarjz78817

        It is utterly ridiculous, for example, that renters can vote on property tax measures.

        (renter here)

        why? Are you under the impression my landlord just pays property tax out of pocket out of the goodness of his heart? No. I’m paying them, albeit indirectly; if they go up, my rent goes up.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          Agreed. However, as a rule of thumb renters tend to be disproportionate consumers of services.

          Take a typical Ohio middle class suburb. Average price of a home is maybe 350k. Average price of a rental unit is 100k, with the typical rent being $900.

          That homeowner is paying $9k a year in taxes, while your rental unit owner is paying under $3k. So you have the opportunity to basically leverage the homeowners’ income for services; for every dollar you put in the pot, the homeowner puts in $3.50.

          Where this becomes interesting is when the school levies come up. Many of the homeowners are already stretched financially. Others are using private schools and thus paying twice. But the family in the multi-unit dwelling can transfer costs to someone else.

          This, incidentally, is why so many suburbs fight tooth and nail against having apartment or condo buildings in their tax district.

          Now here is where it gets nuts; if the taxes get too high and push the rents too high, the renter simply moves out at the end of his lease. But the homeowner has to sell a home in a high tax district.

          Reply
          • Avatarjz78817

            ok, so now the goalposts have moved to “renters don’t pay enough.”

            In case you can’t tell, I have a real problem with the notion that we can pick and choose who is allowed to vote based on whether they’re “good enough.” That’s rather classist and is, sorry to say, one step down the road to authoritarianism.

            but I’ve long since noticed that a great many people are comfortable with the idea of an authoritarian regime, so long as the authorities resemble them.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            That’s not what the phrase “the goalposts have moved” means.

            In case you can’t tell, I have a real problem with the notion that two wolves can vote to eat one sheep, and that is the current situation. Half of the country is essentially receiving welfare from the other half. When it’s two-thirds against one-third, how far away will we be from Venezuela?

          • Avatarjz78817

            clearly the disconnect between us is that you believe the “wolves” are the people receiving welfare.

            this, I think, is an insurmountable obstacle. You have a ton of stuff. a big house, multiple cars and trucks (some of them track toys.) you buy fairly expensive bikes and karts. I don’t know how much you make, but you have way, way more shit than I do.

            I don’t know why you think you’re being eaten alive by anything other than your own spending habits.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            That’s fair. But you’ll notice that I dont buy a new Corvette every year. That’s because I pay a new Corvette’s worth of taxes every year. So while you might say that I have “enough stuff”, and I would agree with that, I am still handing over a shit-ton of money to other people.

            With that said, I’m kinda sorta okay with the world as it stands. If I didnt have a child I would just sit poolside, watch this country turn into Zimbabwe, and swallow a bottle of Oxy if I couldn’t deal with it.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            No… some years I’ve paid more. I’ve also been audited three of the last four tax years. I’ve learned that I’m lucky if I keep fifty cents on the freelance writing dollar.

          • AvatarEverybodyhatesscott

            Jack, you ever think about riverside green inc for your writing? Corps are a lot less likely to get audited than schedule c’s..

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            The overhead of doing it would be more than I could handle. I’ve run an LLC before, I don’t even want to think about a real corporation.

      • AvatarLucas Zaffuto

        I can chime in on the child free people voting on school measures. I would be happy to not do so if in return I did not have to pay school taxes for said kids I do not have. My tax was $2500 last year, $400 of which was services and property taxes, the remaining of which was school taxes. 84% school tax. For someone who doesn’t have kids. At least they passed a law in which people that have multiple families living under one roof have to pay school taxes now. There were a bunch of people that were getting houses in their grandparents names, paying minimal taxes including no school taxes because seniors are exempted, and in the meantime their 3 bedroom house had a few young families living in it each with their own kids going to public school.

        Reply
        • Avatarjz78817

          ” I would be happy to not do so if in return I did not have to pay school taxes for said kids I do not have.”

          if everyone could pick and choose what their share of taxes went to pay for, nothing would get paid for. it’s why everyone in Michigan loves to bitch about how bad the roads and bridges are, and bitch even louder about being asked to pay for their repair/replacement.

          besides, your viewpoint here is very myopic. You may not like paying for other peoples’ kids to go to school now, but you indirectly benefit later on. The better educated someone else’s kid is, the less likely 15 years down the line he’ll be sticking a gun in your ribs demanding your wallet.

          Reply
          • AvatarLucas Zaffuto

            “if everyone could pick and choose what their share of taxes went to pay for, nothing would get paid for. it’s why everyone in Michigan loves to bitch about how bad the roads and bridges are, and bitch even louder about being asked to pay for their repair/replacement.”

            Make it less than a quarter of my taxes instead of above three quarters and you’ve got a valid argument.

            “besides, your viewpoint here is very myopic. You may not like paying for other peoples’ kids to go to school now, but you indirectly benefit later on. The better educated someone else’s kid is, the less likely 15 years down the line he’ll be sticking a gun in your ribs demanding your wallet.”

            Except government has the gun in my ribs, and they are telling me to give my money to other people’s kids. It’s not really any better, is it?

          • Avatarjz78817

            “Make it less than a quarter of my taxes instead of above three quarters and you’ve got a valid argument.

            arbitrary numbers absent context. Don’t know what point this is supposed to make.

            “Except government has the gun in my ribs, and they are telling me to give my money to other people’s kids. It’s not really any better, is it?

            well, other than the fact that someone committing armed robbery against your person is much, much more likely to decide to end your life right then and there…

            you seem to have a particular inability to interpret things anything but superficially…

      • AvatarDaniel J

        Jack,

        As a renter for a long time, I diagree. Any tax rate increases were simply passed down to the renters. Many landlords actually liked increases, because it means the value of the home or complex is going up. I own now. But sure, renters should be able to vote on those measures as they are paying indirectly for those taxes.

        I think many renters do care about their community, even moreso in dense areas. In dense areas, the landlord or owner is sitting in Miami renting out hundreds of units. That owner doesn’t care two cents about the community.

        Do home owners living in suburbia care more about their community than renters in that same neighborhood? I don’t know. We have lots of military and contactors who rent homes who are very invested in their neighborhood. If anything, I’d blame the owners and property management companies for bringing in renters who slum down the community.

        I don’t have kids, but may someday. I’d concede to not to vote on school measures as long as I don’t have to pay for those taxes. But that’s not how it works, is it? Since yeah, as long as the state and county keep taking my money, I’m voting for who i think should run the schools and whatever the measures I think are appropriate. Again I don’t have kids, but I’d like to think my money can go to producing educated kids that will benefit my community and society as a whole. We all eventually have to deal with the new generations of adults in the work place and in society, and it would be nice if they are educated, creative, and hard working. That’s where my money, and everyone with or without kids money should a to achieve.

        I’m more for a voucher based system, but that’s a different topic.

        Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      I think we would have much more responsible government if only makers and not takers were allow to vote. I personally would support having voting rights restricted to citizens that are lifetime net contributors to government revenues (i.e. value of all taxes paid – value of all direct government welfare/subsidies = positive you get to vote), and active duty members of the military. If you work in the public sector other than the military, then your pay gets counted as direct government welfare. Only people with real skin in the game should get to vote. Switzerland is on right track – they only grant citizenship (and voting rights) to immigrants after they have repaid all welfare assistance they have received.

      Reply
  12. AvatarAoLetsGo

    You know what they say about this area of the Caribbean – those in Haiti are trying to get to DR, those in DR are trying to get to PR and people in PR want to go to the USA.

    I have been to PR many times but interestingly enough never to Old Town, since I have always been there for business. I have been to every big city and many small fishing and mountain towns and found the people warm and friendly.

    One year I even took my then 13 year old daughter. I will tell you that in most places a pretty, blonde hair, blue-eyed girl would stop a block. On that trip one of the first things I did was stop at Kmart and buy a baseball bat – just in case.

    Reply
  13. Avatarsafe as milk

    the elephant in the room is puerto rico’s bonds. it’s the same situation as greece or michigan. they just aren’t payable. until that’s sorted out, no private entity will lend them a dime.

    Reply
  14. AvatarGreg Smith

    I think that today’s Americans could have defeated Japan and Germany in WWII. We can come together in times of true crisis. Just look at what happened after the 9/11 attack: even pacifists were looking to kick some ass.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      We could do a lot of good for this country simply by resuming the draft and removing the college exemption. Two years’ service in Afghanistan if you don’t have affluenza/bone spurs, two years shoveling shit at Fort Leonard Wood if you do.

      I read recently that the numerical majority of college students are too fat and/or mentally ill to make it through even a mild basic training.

      Reply
      • AvatarCliffG

        Actually the number is 70% of males 18-25, some obese, some can’t fulfill the exam/education requirements, some merely criminals. I guess we could equal opportunity the females as long as we are resigned to the fact that all of the real fighting will be done by males – just like the last 400,000 years of human existence. But that wouldn’t be politically correct now would it?

        Reply
      • Avatarjz78817

        We could do a lot of good for this country simply by resuming the draft and removing the college exemption.

        undoubtedly a coincidence that you suggest this long after you’d even be eligible.

        Reply
          • AvatarDougHouli

            Weren’t you and your brother both rejected for prior injuries (busted bones)?
            How does that work? Seems unreasonable

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            I broke my neck in March of my senior year and was still in a hospital bed when I would have been in Basic.

            I got my bachelors instead then went back to try Marine OCS. My father and I went doctor shopping to find someone who would look past my missing ACL and cracked neck while I brought myself up to the suggested entry fitness levels.

            The Corps didnt want someone who would need knee surgery after Quantico so that was the end of that. Looking back it was a blessing; my father was a model Marine but I’d have been marginal at best.

            Bark did not have much interest in the military and I cant blame him, he had s touring band with a record contract.

            JimZ’s comment aside, if they brought back the draft I would be happy to serve 2 years somewhere they would have me despite being 46. Presumably they have some potatoes in need of peeling…

          • Avatar-Nate

            “undoubtedly a coincidence that you suggest this long after you’d even be eligible.”

            I remind you that John is coming of age pretty soon and Jack is a 100% involved and committed Father .

            ” if they brought back the draft I would be happy to serve 2 years somewhere they would have me despite being 46. Presumably they have some potatoes in need of peeling…”

            Just so ~ I’m far beyond 46YO and partially disabled but if they could use me, I’d go too, America has given me everything and I’d like to pay it back .

            This is the difference between those who claim to be “! Patriots !” from the sofa but won’t ever do a goddamn thing to make anything better, not even clean up trash in their own neighborhood nor help out the local wayward youths .

            I could tell a tale of the local town that decided to stop paying school taxes after their kids were grown and gone, a nice little post WWII community built in orange groves, by the 1970’s the whole town was a serious crime infested shytehole no one wanted to live in so of course those who didn’t value their own children’s educational needs bought the now cheap homes and things spiraled ever downwards, just in the last 15 years has this town made a serious comeback and is now a very pleasant place to live, raise a family or retire .

            I go there weekly now but I’ll never forget the need to carry a gun there in broad daylight two blocks from the police station in the 1970’s ~

            Some simply have zero ability to look at the big picture, taxes are the price you pay to live in civilization .

            If you want low taxes, no government interference and mostly white people, try Croatia, Poland or the other places that check all your boxes .

            -Nate
            (broke but never “poor”)

          • Avatarstingray65

            So the Marines didn’t want to take someone that would need knee surgery, but under the more recent Obama guidance they eagerly recruited transgenders for the military who desired $100,000 sex change operations paid for by Uncle Sam. Obama doctrine for both immigration and the military: give us your tired, fat, lazy, academically challenged, and sexually confused.

  15. AvatarSpud Boy

    Most Federal spending is unconstitutional. And just because five dorks in black robes say something is constitutional, doesn’t make it so.

    Reply
      • AvatarPanzer

        Some internet dork saying something is ‘unconstitutional’ is still not that much worse than Supreme Court Justices deciding that there are in fact ‘unwritten parts of the constitution’ after all..

        Reply
  16. AvatarOhio Tom

    Clearly Jack has struck a nerve here, and I am glad to see the discussion has stayed (mostly) civil.

    I see a lot of classism on display here. I suspect few readers here have ever been truly destitute, or even know what it is like. Which brings me to my first point: Being poor is (often) not a choice. While there are some highly publicized abusers of aid systems, the vast majority of impoverished people are poor as a result of circumstance, such as poor health or (to go back to the topic of the original post), a natural disaster. But the biggest predictor of poverty? Being born into a poor family, which greatly limits your access to networking andhigh quality education.

    My other point is that everyone seems to take a Trumpian zero-sum view of aid (for someone to win, someone else has to lose). What do you think aid recipients do with their aid? THEY SPEND IT. Every dollar they get goes right back into the economy. That Medicaid money isn’t being hoarded in gold bars, it goes into the healthcare system. Those school tax dollars aren’t loafing around in CDs, they are paying for teachers, groundskeepers, and bus drivers, as well as giving a kid a potential road out of poverty. Those food stamp dollars go to grocery stores and farmers, and so on.

    Consumer spending is the backbone of the economy (roughly 2/3 of total spending). There aren’t enough rich people willing to buy iPhoned at $50,000 apiece to keep Apple afloat. Without Medicare and Medicaid, the healthcare industry (1/6 of the US economy) might not collapse, but would certainly be thrown into disarray and cast of a lot of jobs.

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      Tom – you seem to be creating a new version of the Broken Window Fallacy. Break some windows to create jobs repairing windows or import some new welfare recipients to boost the economy. You also seem to be implying that if the rich and middle-class were allowed to keep their own money through lower taxes, that they would somehow waste it on frivolous purchases or perhaps bury it in their backyard, when the reality is they are likely to use/invest the money in areas that have far greater economic multiplier effects than some poor guy off the boat from PR getting food stamps to buy soda (number 1 use of food stamps) and chips (number 4 use) at the local 7-11. If your view was correct, we would all be better off if we voted ourselves an extra $150,000 in annual welfare payments so we could really boost the economy. Venezuela has tried a version of your policy in recent years, and look how well that has turned out.

      Being poor sucks, and being born to poverty is a great unfairness of life, in large part because most of the poor are born with low IQ and live in unsuccessful cultures (i.e. low worth ethic, low honesty, low conscientiousness, low respect for education, etc.). Due in part to these genetic and cultural disadvantages, research on the poor finds that their poor economic situation is largely due to their very poor life decisions such as high prevalence of single motherhood, not finishing school, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, unhealthy food choices, not showing up for work, breaking the law, and violence. There is little evidence that giving such people “free money” does anything besides feed their bad habits, which is a key reason poverty rates have not changed much despite over 50 years of “war on poverty” spending.

      Reply
      • AvatarMopar4wd

        Stingray
        If you look at recent UBI and cash welfare studies/experiments, it appears giving cash does exactly what you say it does not. Versus non cash assistance which yes seems to just keep the status quo.

        Reply
      • Avatar-Nate

        ” low honesty, low conscientiousness, low respect for education, etc”

        Talking about yourself again I see .

        -Nate

        Reply
        • Avatarstingray65

          Nate, From reading between the lines it seems you take offense at any criticism or realistic description of the poor, because your personal rise from poverty to the middle class “disproves” all the negativity. If my description of your history is correct, then I applaud your success and wish it could be much more widespread. Unfortunately, there is zero evidence that any public or private program can solve the problems of poverty, because the vast majority of people in poverty have permanent or long-standing hereditary/genetic or cultural problems that mean they are unable or unwilling to change their destructive ways. For example, scientists, social workers, and the military have been trying to find ways to raise IQ for over 100 years, and there has been virtually no success. Similarly the destructive tendencies of the “hillbilly” culture noted by the linked article above has been studied for centuries, and is largely unchanged despite 50+ years of war on poverty spending. In fact, a key problem for many such welfare programs is not that they are ineffective in moving people out of poverty, but that they are most effective as keeping the few people who have a chance to escape the poverty culture by feeding their destructive tendencies and/or making them totally dependent on the state.

          Reply
          • Avatar-Nate

            Actually no ~ I was referring to your constant lying and obfuscation .

            I’m well known as being rather hard on the denizens of any place I live and especially the Foster children I take care of .

            No one forces people to be dirty, throw trash where they live, carve their names on toilet seats (seriously, WTF ?!) walk around with their pants around their knees (this was a homosexual advertisement thing when I was a young man), deliberately speak non English ‘ebonics’ and all the other things those who never attain any status or success in life do by choice .

            This doesn’t mean anyone should be denied opportunity or good education at the very least .

            A fair playing field is at the base of America’s value system, you endlessly make excuses for why it isn’t and shouldn’t be so .

            -Nate

          • Avatarstingray65

            Nate – you are dead wrong. I’m all for a level playing field, but I am totally against the belief that we can expect equality of result because people have different skills, abilities, preferences, and luck. And to paraphrase an old saying about horses and water, the research shows that you can bring a poor person to Harvard with affirmative action and a full-ride scholarship, but you can’t make him learn and graduate.

          • Avatarstingray65

            Thanks for the podcast link Doug, but it basically reinforces my key points. IQ and culture are the biggest determinants of poverty, and it is impossible or near impossible to change either. The featured student Carlos has a high IQ it appears, but he comes from the destructive poverty culture of single motherhood, violence, low interest in education, etc. and hence gets no encouragement or help from home to utilize his IQ to excel at school and/or get into a good school. The LA public school system (unionized and more interested in teacher pensions and job security than education) does not appear to have any system in place to identify gifted students from poor backgrounds and give them any special attention, but fortunately the retired lawyer finds Carlos in 4th grade and gets him on a better track in an upscale private school from his own private effort. The podcaster also cites research that says there are 35,000 underprivileged kids scoring 90 percentile or above on the SAT graduating from high school each year, and makes it sound like a tragedy that they don’t all end up in the Ivy League. 35,000 sounds like a lot, but it represents about 4% of children living in poverty who turn 18 each year, and I expect a large portion of them end up in a good university with a scholarship (especially if they are black or Hispanic), even if it isn’t Harvard or Stanford. And although the podcast made sure to interview Hispanic Carlos, I expect a very large portion of those underprivileged kids with high SAT scores are Asian or White, who don’t count towards the diversity goals of top universities (unless they are gay or transgender). Furthermore, a 90 percentile admittance into Harvard is going to be an affirmative action applicant (or athlete) who will be competing mostly with kids in the 95 to 99+ percentile, which means they may struggle and drop-out or end up with a less valuable “easy” major.

            The podcast is accurate in pointing out that waiting until high school is too late to help many diamond in the rough kids from the wrong side of the tracks, but unfortunately the education establishment is a major barrier to addressing this problem. Democrats and teachers unions (but I repeat myself) do everything they can to stop or shut down elite charter schools and school choice voucher programs that might offer more Carlos type students a chance to get into an elite public or private school at an early age. Democrats, unions, and race hustlers (but I repeat myself again) also don’t like any programs that allow bad teachers to be fired or disruptive/violent students to be disciplined or expelled. But even if by some miracle such changes to the educational system could be widely implemented they wouldn’t help everyone, because you still need a parent or guardian who cares enough to push their gifted kid into a good school and college track coursework, and Democrats also tend to shoot down any programs that might encourage “traditional family” norms in society (wouldn’t want those drug addicted teenage single moms or deadbeat sperm donors to feel bad about themselves), or taking action to get at risk kids away from awful parents. Yet as the podcast points out, foster programs are also a crapshoot, as not everyone can get put in a home with someone that cares and has the values of Nate.

            So in the end, you have a fairly small percentage of poor kids that have the mental horsepower to do well in school, and an even smaller portion that come from a culture that will support them. Unfortunately no government program is going to replace caring parents who put their kid’s welfare and education above blowing their welfare check on their next high, tattoo, or lottery ticket.

          • Avatar-Nate

            ” but it basically reinforces my key points. ”

            Flat out lying yet again, knowingly and shamelessly too .

            Unlike you, I happen to have Children in the LAUSD and Crenshaw High School (yes, that scary one) has a very aggressive program for bright students, not that you’d care as you endlessly parrot alt-right corporate lies .

            The plain truth about charter schools is : they’re for profit and don’t teach any better than the regular public schools and often are much worse .

            You’re either willfully ignorant, a corporate shill or plain old stupid, no other choices here ~ stop lying endlessly and maybe you can have an Adult conversation some day .

            FWIW, not that it matters to you or anyone else, my poor white trash Scots-Irish Father from the North Bronx managed to get ahead and graduate with honors from High School by age 15 then put himself though Harvard University, all this and came from a typical broken, drunken lout Irish home .

            Spare us your endless bullshyte dog whistles .

            -Nate

          • Avatarstingray65

            Nate, I enjoy our discussions, but your desire for adult conversations is not reinforced by your continual use of insults whenever you are presented with points you don’t agree with. Everything I write is based on extensive research by scholars who are most of the time leftists and therefore hate reporting that people are different and equality of result is impossible to achieve. Most of your non-insult based rejoinders to my comments seem to be personal anecdotes, but just because you personally know of some bright Hispanic kid who does well in school, or your own Irish parent overcame a poor family background to do well in life, doesn’t mean those individual cases represent the majority. Any scientist will tell you that basing policy on anecdotes instead of large scale samples is going to result in bad policy, which is unfortunately what we too often get.

            As for your latest comments. The podcast did not mention any LA school district programs to help gifted disadvantaged kids. Your information that Crenshaw High School has some such program is good news, but unfortunately doesn’t really address my criticism or the information from the podcast, because high school is too late to help many disadvantaged kids with potential. Your dislike for charter schools is also interesting as you seem to believe that all schools are the same in quality (do you also believe all cars are the same quality). Evidence is mixed on the quality of education in charter schools, but the key benefit they provide is not based on better teachers but a less disruptive study body, because mostly caring parents of typically high potential students apply to get their kids in charters, and many charters also have stronger ability to discipline, expel, or not accept disruptive kids, which is the single best thing that can be done to improve learning outcomes.

  17. AvatarTyler

    Renters probably vote more in line with long-term community interests when they *aspire* to own homes and businesses. It’s the guy who will sit tight as long as the programs come in over the wall-to-wall circuit that you have to worry about.

    Related note: Tyler Cowen had a column recently arguing that materialism is preferable to instagram-worthy “experience-seeking” because it at least builds a preference for enforceable property rights.

    Reply
    • AvatarDaniel J

      Tyler,

      I most agree but in my area, there is a significant percentage of renters who can easily afford a home. They choose not to because they don’t want to maintain a home and in some cases, it’s a no win situation. We have plenty of apartment communities where rent on a two bedroom home is 1200 a month, and a nice home can be had for 700

      Reply
  18. AvatarCoreytrevor

    This post speaks about Puerto Rico as if it’s a foreign country. It is not. Everyone in PR is a US citizen, like it or not. Thus “unregulated immigration” from PR is the same as complaining about the same arrangement with Wisconsin.

    Also, that amount of aid is about what a month of peak Iraq war cost, and that’s real money that has to be paid that was much more frivolously spent.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I should have done a better job of articulating one of my key points, which boils down to:

      If this is what unfettered immigration from a US territory does, imagine what happens when you’re dealing with another country.

      Reply
    • Avatarstuntmonkey

      > This post speaks about Puerto Rico as if it’s a foreign country.

      In another life I did consulting for the medical devices sector. One time I was tasked to talk with various hospital administrators about a certain vendor’s wares. One guy told me. “The stuff is great, but I sure wish they would move the manufacturing back to the USA.”

      Of course, he was talking about the Puerto Rico label on the box. What was really discouraging was that the guy I was talking with was in Florida and should have known better….

      Reply

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