Before leaving to enjoy their long and well-deserved vacations, some legislators are pushing a pilot plan to reduce the workday in government agencies -and later in private enterprise- to 32 hours per week, with the same salary and benefits.
Senator Ana Irma Rivera Lassén has proposed a four-day workday for public employees, with no reduction in salary. It is argued that the measure will increase productivity and improve the quality of life. As an initiative of a serious legislator, with an impeccable trajectory, the proposal deserves fair consideration.
The preliminary costs of the bankruptcy, amounting to $1 billion so far, should be a powerful incentive for us to force structural reforms that will save Puerto Rico from a second bankruptcy and an economic cliff. It would be an act of collective folly to ignore the reasons that led us into the fiscal hole and to have become the first state government in the United States to file for bankruptcy.
The immigration fiasco on the southern border is not the only ongoing U.S. crisis involving an exodus of Spanish speakers. Since 2006, Puerto Rico has endured an economic and fiscal collapse that has seen nearly a million people emigrate to the mainland United States, which is now the home to more Puerto Ricans than the island itself.
Despite the collapse of the economic model brought about by the end of Section 936 (1996) and the eventual bankruptcy of the territorial government (2016), it is evident that Washington, much less the territory's officials, want to think about structural changes that would make it possible to devise an economic strategy that does not depend on federal aid. As it is, it appears that we will remain hostage for the short term. Local politicians and in some instances, business groups, have preferred to go to the federal capital to ask for new aid disconnected from a coherent economic development program.
Puerto Ricans have lived through decades of this left-wing utopia, and they are fleeing it. The island’s working-age population declined by 100,000 since 2005, as the economy shifted from stagnation to depression. In a parallel universe with free markets and low regulation, Puerto Rico could have become the Singapore of the Caribbean.