Op-Ed: Heavy-handed corona response impacts future success of Puerto Rico’s Acts 20/22
For eight years, Puerto Rico has painted a picture of itself as a welcome refuge in the United States for residents of the 50 states to come do business.
Acts 20 and 22 have brilliantly painted that picture and have helped to drive more business, spending, and jobs into the Puerto Rican economy. The only downside to the Acts 20 and 22 is that not all residents of Puerto Rico are included. To lift the burden of income tax for all who reside in and do business in Puerto Rico, would drive even more prosperity to the island.
The experiment has worked for a small portion of the population. Now with the success of Acts 20 and 22 so well demonstrated, the policy should be applied to the rest of the population. The results would be phenomenal.
Sadly, Puerto Rican officials, inheriting this masterful example of how to show the world what freedom looks like, have done the opposite, by acting with great cowardice in the face of coronavirus, putting the island on lockdown, and doing damage to the Puerto Rican economy far beyond what the virus could possibly cause.
The Puerto Rican economy will not soon recover from this massive damage. Neither nature, nor the virus are to blame for the damage, but the over-reaction of Puerto Rican officials.
Globally, the reaction to the contagion is far worse than the contagion itself. It will take years for researchers to determine the damage done to society in these weeks of the corona scare. That damage has been magnified by government and the media many times over.
The Mexican government, in contrast, has said it refuses to participate in the corona crisis that is being blown out of proportion. Mexico has said it will not behave tyrannically as governments around the world lockdown their citizens, shutter businesses, and threaten arrest to those seeking to go about their affairs. Great effort is being put on Mexican officials to comply with the global alarm.
Two weeks ago, until about March 15, 2020, Puerto Rico was the freest jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere — a welcome land for those seeking to do business, to live life, to create jobs for themselves and for others, to raise a family, and to do their best in life without the burden of a heavy-handed government.
Since then, Puerto Rico, as a jurisdiction, has proven itself unwilling to follow through on that role. Observers that were closely watching Puerto Rico as the amazing refuge for human prosperity that is being formed on the island through Acts 20 and 22 have grown saddened by the heavy-handed corona response of the Puerto Rican government.
Puerto Rico had something truly special, truly unique, and is now, day-by-day, strangling that opportunity.
The government’s response couldn’t have been a more awful, fear-filled response toward a health concern that is daily proving itself far less dangerous than originally thought.
Puerto Rico’s leadership, with Acts 20 and 22, looked a lot like a bold guardian ready to stand up for human prosperity. In the month of March, Puerto Rico’s leadership has shown itself to be more of a Chicken Little.
The rest of the United States, once a freer and prosperous place, they have locked down some of the major population centers. Media and public health officials have stoked a great deal of fear over a bug that isn’t known to kill 90% or 30%, but that number is more and more looking like far less than 1%. Fear pervades society as leadership — governmental and non-governmental — fails at its duty to clearly assess and to boldly lead.
The support for individual liberty and human prosperity shrank a great deal in the world this past month. In hopeful Puerto Rico it shrank most. Puerto Rico was once one of the freest places in the world, but the world has gone mad with fear, and the most vocal in some populations have asked their governments to quarantine them, as if they needed a government order to stay home themselves. Puerto Rico’s leadership has followed that same path blindly.
Puerto Rico was once the peerless champion. Mexico is now the freest place in the Western Hemisphere.