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Blue Meltdown
Young People Abandon Puerto Rico

On top of ravaged finances and poor credit rating, Puerto Rico now has another problem: Its citizens are fleeing the island in droves. Since 2000, Puerto Rico has lost nearly 300,000 people to the mainland—a large number considering the total population of 3.6 million. What’s more, the exodus is only speeding up, with an average of 54,000 leaving the island over the past few years. And with the unemployment rate hovering near 15 percent, nearly double that of the mainland, the trend shows few signs of reversing. As the WSJ reports, this does not bode well for a speedy recovery:

Today, many of the people leaving are young professionals the island wants to retain, said Mario Marazzi, executive director of the Institute of Statistics. […]

That could have profound effects on the territory, which already is struggling with a 14.7% unemployment rate. The population decline will shrink the island’s tax base, lower demand for goods and services, and reduce investment, economists say.

In addition, “if we’re losing young professionals, people at their most productive ages, we may have a huge problem trying to support the elderly population,” said Sergio Marxuach, public-policy director at the Center for a New Economy.

Unless Puerto Rico can do something to turn its economy around and hold on to the skilled young people it has been losing, things are likely to get worse before they get better. But doing that is a tall order for a territory with high debt and low credit.

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  • free_agent

    You write, “Unless Puerto Rico can do something to … hold on to the skilled young people it has been losing”.

    Heh, you can always do that. Just ask the young people, “What do you want to see the government do?” Spend money on those things; don’t spend money on other things.

    Of course, that may be diametrically opposed to what the *rest* of the population wants (e.g., pensions, help for the poor, stable employment for middle-aged people), and so be politically impossible. But that’s the brutal calculus of updating the “location services” provided by a local government — which customers, i.e., residents, do you want to attract? Which do you wish would go away?

    • Kavanna

      There’s no reason to think that the Puerto Rican government could do anything constructive at this point to hold on to young people. Even if they spent more (and they’re spending a lot), what would await those young people on the other side, so to speak? No decent life, that’s for sure. We’ve seen this film before; it was the Great Society and the War on Poverty. The best cure for poverty is stable, real economic growth over generations.

      What Puerto Rico has attempted instead is a “blue” fantasy of massive spending, including a lot of federal aid (which Democrats like), mixed with gimmicky tax breaks (which Republicans like) and lots of borrowing by issuing bonds (which Wall Street likes). It’s similar to the EU, actually, in its attempt to make the poorer eurozone countries magically look like Germany or northern Italy. And like that scheme, this one is about to come crashing down.

  • TommyTwo

    It sure is nice to have somewhere to escape to. What will Americans do when their own nest gets too fouled?

    • TommyTwo

      (To forestall the obvious comments: Yes, I am quite aware of the irony of choosing this particular version. Chalk it up to a quirky sense of humor.)

    • Corlyss

      The nest has already been fouled. What are we doing? Engaging in a rhetorical war about immigration and its value as a prelude to the inevitable forced acceptance of illegals and the consequent flight of native borns. There’s an article in Economist’s year end double issue on Cockney funerals. Delightful look at a vanishing way of life (the Cockney part, not the funeral part). Why? Because with the recent decades massive immigration from the east and Africa, and the reflexive British elites’ establishment of multiculti PC, recent immigrants don’t assimilate like immigrants since the 1600s had. As the article noted, they don’t assimilate; they displace. They harden their ethnic identities and make residents feel like the aliens. How did the colorful native residents cope? They fled. The elites refuse to acknowledge that communities create their own history and value, and that massive unrestricted immigration into those communities can destroy the character that residents valued. When Robert Moses ripped up entire ancient black and other ethnic communities in New York to install roads, Jane Jacobs birthed a movement against such ruthless and indifferent urban renewal. Now we’ve come full circle: a ruling elite decision that there is nothing worth preserving about distinctive communities when immigration that might vote Democratic and favor Progressive policies is concerned. I guarantee you that if immigrants were guaranteed to join the Republican party, the positional shoes would be on the other feet.

      • TommyTwo

        “The nest has already been fouled.”

        Note my deliberate use of “too fouled.”

        I have nothing to add to your sad (in what it describes) comment, but I was vastly amused by the following: “Delightful look at a vanishing way of life (the Cockney part, not the funeral part).”

        What better description for a funeral than “a vanishing way of life?”


        • Corlyss

          LOL I understand it’s fatal when punsters don’t even realize they are doing it.

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