anatomy of a dependency culture
why puerto rico was ripe for bio-tyranny and lessons for the rest of the US
puerto rico has had some of the harshest, longest, and most far reaching covid restrictions in the US. we had months of real, shelter in place lockdown where cops would swarm you on the street if you went outside and demand to know where you were going, a year of closed schools, curfews for 18 months (sometimes as early as 7pm), bars and restaurants closed, gyms shuttered, full bans on business being open on sundays, arbitrary limits to alcohol sales, and even bans on going to the beach or going surfing. masks were requires even outside. police handed out steep tickets for violations. despite the highest vaxx rate in the US, you need proof of vaxx to go to 90% of bars, restaurants, attend any school, and increasingly to work.
it has been, frankly, insane and it shows few signs of stopping or even gaining calibration.
but many, many people here rooted for it. they welcomed it. they not only invited this vampire in, but laid out a welcome mat and took iron supplements to be sure their blood tasted good.
many have asked: is this some defect in the boriqua culture, some problem specific to local attitudes rooted in history or tradition? it is latin or catholic or native culture?
i think that is the wrong question.
the right question is “how can you render a people so not only submissive to but outright fawning over authority?”
the answer is “adverse selection.”
generations of misrule, anti-freemarket law and legalism, crony capitalism, graft, over-centralization, hideous bureaucratization, failing infrastructure, and dependency culture have stymied puerto rico. this is a TERRIBLE place to run a business unless you are one of the fortunate families granted a set of functional monopolies in perpetuity by law 75.
this has led to massive flight from puerto rico.
population has dropped by about 25% since 1999. the island is now one of those places like ireland where there are more boriqua NOT on puerto rico than on it.
those leaving tend to be young. this has taken PR from being an island with a much lower average age than the US to one that is considerably higher.
but this only tells part of the story. the rest is in the demographic split. 22% are over 65 (vs 16% US)
this coincides with another issue: there has been an unending brain drain.
people do not leave at random, they leave because they want a place where they can start a business. they go away to college and never come back. they want the american dream that the government here does everything in its power to prevent.
this winds up amounting to “eugenics by moving truck.”
there need be nothing wrong with any group at start. siphon off the most motivated 2-3% every year for 20 years, and you’re selecting for negative traits.
what remains after this endless exodus is a dependency culture.
they call the unemployment rate 8.4%, but that’s an absurdity because the labor force is so small.
it’s only 38% of the population (vs ~50% for the US as a whole).
969k are employed out of 2.76 million. so right there, 75% of people do not work.
the “employed rate” is 25%.
of the 25% who work, 23% work for the government.
so only 19% of this island has a non government job.
46% of the island is on medicaid. another 20% is on medicare. so 2/3’s of the island is dependent on federal health benefits.
40% of the island gets NAP.
it’s hard to even get figures for the rest of the welfare state dependency.
but it’s so common and so egregious you have to plan around it. with the boosted welfare rates under covid, every time the checks went out, uber stopped working for a week as so few drivers bothered signing on. when uber drivers started getting PPP loans, uber basically stopped working altogether. even at quadruple rates, you could not get a ride.
every restaurant on the island struggled to staff even when open at 50% capacity limits. no one was working. no one would even apply.
when only 19% of a community has a non-government job and over 2/3 are on government benefits, democracy becomes a VERY problematic issue.
takers outnumber makers by more than 3:1.
and they vote like it.
so when government says “you must do X” who is there to resist? 2/3 are dependent. even among those who are not, their abuelas probably are. how can you resist the hand the feeds you?
dependence = submission.
that’s a simple fact of life.
you cannot fight for rights when you are dependent upon another for your daily bread and medical care. you’ve been functionally enslaved and your mentality adjusts to match.
you live in mom’s basement, so you have to play by mom’s rules.
rebellion is not an option. they can turn you off like a switch because you cannot stand on your own.
after a while, it stops even being a desire. you just settle in to being a thrall.
you are the opposite of ungovernable.
and for those that chafe under such oppression, you just use the escape valve.
rather than trying to roll that rock up this pointless hill, people simply leave. they move to new york (at least they used to). now they mostly move to florida.
you cull all the most ambitious and motivated and educated and leave the takers, and takers, on the day the government decides to turn on them, get taken.
hell, most of them love it. they get validated when the world closes because now you cannot work either. staying home and clucking becomes a virtue.
the state buys them by giving more and by swelling their ranks with the newly ruined and unemployed. this ruin of others represents relative status gains for the taker class. it feels like winning.
lots more people went on the dole during covid including many, many people who had never done so before. this is how you acculturate. this is how you take those who felt pride in self sufficiency and break them to the bit and bridle of dependence because “this time is different” and “you had no choice” and “everyone is doing it.”
stigma disappears. inertia sets in. there is a reason it’s so hard to hire right now despite low labor force participation.
welcome to the suck.
lots more people moved in the last 2 years than pretty much any time since the 30’s. they fled the oppressive dependency states for the free ones where life was normal and dreams were still alive.
california saw a net drop in population for the first time since it became a state.
can anyone doubt the effects?
miami swells with tech startups. san franciso is drying up like a dead weed. the restaurant scene is vibrant in austin and over in new york.
the maker/founder class is smaller than people realize and it tends to cluster. it wants to be where the others of its ilk are. it stays in places like SF and NYC through all manner of insult, mistreatment, regulation, taxation, and usurious cost of living. but at a certain point: the dam breaks.
and it broke. they are flooding to elsewhere and new york and califoria are about to get some nasty lessons in being the new puerto rico. they are used to being the center, but centers can move and when they do, it’s rapid.
a brain drain is a savage thing. it takes away growth, innovation, energy, and tax base and leaves behind all the things that consume government money.
and as the ratio of taker to maker rises, it makes the voting ever worse because more and more people know they get rather than pay for every new trip to the goody room.
this begets dependence, a trend already exploding exponentially as unprecedented inability to open and work and serve customers has demolished small business and forced airlines and cocktail bars alike to latch onto and suckle from the federal teat to survive. many employees were forced into the same bad choices.
now they are addicted and acculturated.
and now they can be made to obey.
the parallel to pimps pulling girls out of the port authority by acting friendly towards the frightened, taking them for a ride in a fancy car and to a nice dinner and then getting them hooked on junk and out on the street to earn for them is not inapt.
and it’s not accidental. not anymore.
wreck and rule by engendering dependence is a feature, not a bug.
the lies about covid causing the disruption and not the awful policy being enacted with covid as a justification are clearly false.
it’s obvious in the data and the idea that “only by controlling covid can we give you your life back” is the lie told to a brutalized circus bear on a tricycle that if he only rides a little better and obeys a bit more, he’ll one day be free.
it’s how you die in a cage.
there is no freedom to be won by more obedience, especially when that obedience is what gives the state its power and treasure and its leaders their stature and status.
such a nation of sheep begets a government of wolves.
and pretty soon, they forget that there even IS another way.