Mishandling of food aid in Puerto Rico

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by Mike, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. Mike

    Mike The Traveler Contributor

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  2. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    Doesn't this always happen with food relief? Like, I know I've heard that whenever they send food to Ethiopia it always just spoils on the docks because the country has no infrastructure to distribute it.

    We need to be sending soylant and water.
     
  3. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Well, and I think the other thing lacking here is context - the article doesn't really draw attention to this, but they refer to "some" meals spoiling, and a single dumpster. I think, while it's unfortunate, some waste in emergency response efforts is probably avoidable. What matters here is if it was several pallets of food but say 95% of relief supplies were being successfully distributed, or if 60-70% of food aid was going to waste. There's a range in between, of course, but I suspect the answer is much, much closer to the former, and this is, indeed, fake news.

    Let's put it this way - if this somehow WAS the majority of US government food aid sent to Puerto Rico, and their Secretary of State was seen pulling spoiled meals out of a single dumpster, then what's criminal here isn't the waste, it's the US's response to a massive humanitarian crisis impacting an island of 3.5 million American citizens.
     
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  4. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Turn puerto rico into a bunch of silicon valley-esque hipster coders who each belong to like 3 different startup incubators.
     
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  5. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    Is that who drinks soylant? The last person I know who was all excited about it (who is actually the first person to tell me about soylant) was a weird anime guy
     
  6. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    I'm a bit removed -- didn't they mention it on Silicon Valley (HBO)? Anyway, I've got a bunch in my kitchen because this MIT PhD student was all about it while visiting our lab. It's nerdy, for sure.
     
  7. CrazyDean

    CrazyDean SS.org Regular

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    The only person I've met who drinks it was a physics undergrad who spent his life on his computer.
     
  8. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    The only person I know who drinks it is vegan. Which, given its name, is pretty ironic.

    Jokes about turning Puerto Rico into a Silicon Valley aside, part of the island's problem was that back in the day they had a tax incentive for pharma companies to encourage US investment. When that ended in, I believe, the 90s, most of the firms left for cheaper domiciles, and most of the Puerto Ricans who could took advantage of their US citizenship to move somewhere with better job prospects. It gutted their tax base.

    Meanwhile, Mike's been awfully silent here.
     
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  9. Mike

    Mike The Traveler Contributor

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    Your point being? I don't have much to say about soylant either way sorry bud. My two cents on the story is that something needs to be done to improve the distribution networks responsible for getting aid to people. How that can best be done, I don't really have an answer, but it'd be nice to hear someone with more knowledge about the subject chime in.
     
  10. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    :lol:

    My point being that for all your "fake news" talk, this appears to be a limited instance and that despite all Trump's bluster the main hindrance to helping American citizens in Puerto Rico is still the lack of aid, and not widespread aid waste of otherwise-adequate aid that's being sent there.
     
  11. Mike

    Mike The Traveler Contributor

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    So your stance is we're just not sending enough aid cause trump sucks right? and in no way shape or form is it the mishandling of aid, or the means of distributing the aid failing.
     
  12. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    My stance is we're not sending enough aid, period. Trump's response has been pretty awful, but there's more to it than that - congress should be doing more, too, as we've only approved a fraction of the aid made immediately available to the Houston area, several weeks later.

    I work pretty closely with a number of people down there, and the stories I'm hearing are pretty awful. The exact percent of the island with power fluctuates daily but is pretty consistently single digits to low teens, ice is a valuable commodity because there's no other good way to keep food from perishing, the harvest is absolutely decimated, many Puerto Ricans are left homeless or in badly damaged houses, and they've got a long road to recovery ahead of them. And we're not doing nearly enough to help.

    But yeah, I think if you want to make the problem that mishandling of aid is the root of the problem, I think you're going to need to do more than video of one dumpster. Like, for starters, I'd love to see where all the work being done to the utility grid is being "mishandled."
     
  13. Mike

    Mike The Traveler Contributor

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    I'm still not 100% convinced that the quantity of the aid is the problem though. I think the logistics of distributing aid is causing more problems. You've got roads and bridges destroyed, ports backed up with ships that can't unload what they have, and not enough people to distribute what they've got. Another part of the problem is Puerto Rico never had a very connected infrastructure to begin with. A large number of the people live in rural areas and those are the ones having the hardest time getting supplies now. People in and around San Juan are getting supplies. People on the side of a mountain are not.

    They don't need more shit to shovel. They need more people to shovel shit. I think funds would be better spent on getting more engineers, electricians, construction personnel down there instead of piling up food.

    You say we're not doing enough though, so where do you think we should concentrate efforts?
     
  14. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    This, basically. It can't be an either-or, and this problem isn't going to be a quick fix. We've got the Corps of Engineers and FEMA down there, but Trump's already threatening to pull them back. And, the island doesn't have enough able bodied workers to do the necessary work even remotely fast enough. The utility grids were in rough shape before the hurricane, but they're essentially nonexistent now. We need to be rebuilding them, we need to be clearing downed trees from roads, we need to be building bridges, we need to be sending building supplies, and then in the meantime we need to be coming up with creative ways to deliver emergency food and water supplies. If the roads are impassable, we need to be delivering via helicopter, or airlifting and airdropping them, or having troops deliver them on foot - the island is only a little more than a hundred miles long and 35 miles wide, and I can certainly carry a 65 pound backpack 15 miles inland if someone's life depends on it. We're the greatest nation in the world; this shouldn't be a hard problem for us to crack.

    If this was happening in a US state, and four weeks later most of the state still lacked power and running water, there would be massive outrage that we're weren't doing enough. These are American citizens, we need to be doing much more than we are for them to help rebuild infrastructure in the wake of a direct hit from a Category 5 storm.

    In this environment, when we even both agree one of the major hurdles is the infrastructure damage, it's insane that Trump is threatening to pull back federal manpower when there's still so much that desperately needs to be done.

    EDIT - rereading, I thought I was pretty clear, but I suppose it's possible that when I was referring to "aid" in my post above, you thought I meant simply sending more food and water. I didn't - I meant food, water, and supplies and manpower to rebuild.
     
  15. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    That's along my lines of thinking, as well. These are tax paying US citizens; we need to help them.

    According to this NY Times article, the US has 1.3 million active military personnel and another 865,000 reserve personnel, only ~200,000 of which are currently on active deployment. We could certainly spare a small percentage of the rest of those 1.9 million troops for a month or three to help rebuild the infrastructure, distribute supplies, prepare food for relief workers, provide fuel and refueling services for planes, helicopters, boats, and so forth helping to distribute supplies and rebuild, etc.

    What we don't need to do is pull out as Trump has alluded to; that can only make things worse.
     
  16. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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  17. Unleash The Fury

    Unleash The Fury SS.org Regular

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    Fwiw, take it as you may but while citizens in PR do pay taxes, they do not pay federal income tax......aka the BIG one.
     
  18. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    They pay federal income taxes on income earned outside of the country (for example, investment income), and they pay social security and medicare taxes, provided they're full time residents of the island. In turn, municipal debt issued by the US government is triple exempt, federal state AND local exempt. For a long time you'd see specialty state muni funds loading up on Puerto Rico bonds to ensure state exempt income - now, Oppenheimer is one of the few major retail fund holders, and their management team is probably sweating these days.

    That said - they're US Citizens, and we have a moral obligation to help them just as we would help any other US citizen. The kicker is I wouldn't be surprised if this whole clusterfuck makes statehood marginally more likely, because right now they have few of the benefits of statehood as a government, but all of their citizens with the means to do so (aka - anyone affluent) can leave to the mainland, meaning we're gutting their tax base.
     

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