The PAN in block, with butter

Can any status plebiscite or transcendental political decision regarding the future of Puerto Rico survive if productivity standards on the Island are not turned around?

The ominous disquisitions are already beginning to creep in regarding what the transition from the PAN program, for which Puerto Rico receives $2.5 billion in a block, benefiting more than a million people, to what would be the so-called SNAP, which is the system that prevails in the United States and its territories, thanks to which a substantial increase in aid would be seen, but with one condition: people between 16 and 59 years old, without dependents and able to work, will have to do so, even if it is part-time.

If this group of young beneficiaries begins to be presented with the justification that the job is poorly paid and they will not have the opportunity for promotion, then it is better not to change anything. Leave the PAN as it is, in a block, writes Mayra Montero. (Martha Lavander)

Is that so monstrous, so unusual, so offensive to the dignity of those people who either do nothing and live off the help, with some little chore from time to time or look for it on their own, daily, charging in cash and evading taxes?

As far as I know, they would work in sectors where at least the minimum wage is paid.

All those people who do work in a workshop or in various jobs in the underground economy, at the end of the day, statistically, will join the ranks of the so-called "poverty levels", because of course, by claiming that they do not work and that they do not take a salary to their homes, where there is surely a diverse family composition that does not declare any work activity either, they are immediately included in the population that lives below the threshold of misery, when this is not the case.

The last thing that has been said about the transition from the PAN to the SNAP is that the beneficiaries could be forced to work in "poorly paid sectors and without the possibility of promotion."

As for the possibilities of promotion, I don't know of a single job in which there is no possibility of progressing, because that, most of the time, is part of the character, the vocation and the drive. Another thing is that there are employees who are not interested in assuming greater responsibilities, due to family or other reasons. I never aspired myself to occupy positions of responsibility in the advertising agencies in which I was employed, I just wanted a salary to support myself and dedicate my free time to what mattered to me, which was writing books. On the other hand, there are also people who do not have the ability or the ambition to become a foreman, manager or crew chief. This happens in every country in the world.

The important thing, in any case, is to be useful. And what the PAN encourages, in men and women of working age, healthy (or with some minor ailment) and without dependents, is uselessness. There is no party or political formation that does not try to tint this reality, justifying those who oppose the transition from one system to another, for the simple reason that it should not be a nice change. Tying the benefit to work, for those who only think about voting, is a headache. So, if that's going to be the attitude — you can't talk about austerity, you can't talk about sacrifice, you can't talk about conditioning the subsidy — forget about any form of sovereignty, and about any jump to statehood. No metropolis has ever guaranteed multimillion-dollar subsidies for long years after releasing its colony. It may offer better trade and other privileges, but block subsidies for a decade? Don’t dream it. Less in these times of geopolitical rearrangement and climate change. Whoever trusts that story about the ten years of aid is because, as the saying goes, God blinds what he wants to lose. As for statehood, in this particular point of the PAN and the SNAP, it would force the territory to enter through the hoop in the system with which everyone communes.

This week, outside a well-known ice cream parlor, I saw a sign soliciting employees. They pay $8.50 an hour and promise growth opportunities, a Christmas bonus, vacation and sick days, flexible hours and free ice cream (a pint), once a week, plus coffee that is very good there. What are they going to tell me, that in the United States, in the same ice cream parlor, they pay $15, and that is why the SNAP works? The eternal song of comparison. Well, very well, then let's be the United States.

There are sectors that allege that with $8.50 an hour you cannot live. But a young person, without dependents, fit for work, earns less by doing nothing. And I don't mean money; I am referring, once again, to the moral formation that only work provides, which by the way is consubstantial to the political formation, and that moves the necessary springs so that human beings value themselves, grow and acquire an ethic that is not gotten by looking at the shrews.

If this group of young beneficiaries begins to receive on a silver platter the justification that work on a farm, in a factory, in a hardware store, in a small business such as a community pharmacy, is poorly paid and they will not have an opportunity for promotion, then it is better not to change anything. Leave the PAN as it is, in a block, and if you can spread it with butter.

This piece was originally published in Spanish in El Nuevo Dia

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