To the Editor

Hello Westfield, and especially Ward 3. I would like to take a moment for us to appreciate all that has been done to help Puerto Rico trying to recover from the hurricane. Especially because our Federal government has not. There are still 40% without electricity and much without water on a regular basis. Western Mass., I am so proud of you, along with the North East in General, and Florida.

While I guess I am used to the President being crass and disrespectful, his comment, when he visited an up-scale neighborhood in San Juan, was that: Puerto Rico is already costing us, and needs to get itself fiscally responsible. While the Republican leadership in D.C. excuse his misstatements because he is new at this. He is supposed to have had a good education, and as an educated billionaire businessman who developed his fortunes around the same time, he should have known that much of the economic problems of Puerto Rico that came out of D.C.

Puerto Rico became a part of the U.S., after the Spanish American War 1898. In 1952, Puerto Rico’s constitution was ratified, by Congress that included the economic rules and regulations that they imposed as: Section 8 of Article 6 of their Constitution requires that the Puerto Rican government must make payments to reduce its public debt before paying any other expenses, including the funding of basic public services. Section 936 worked by exempting from federal income tax profits earned by U.S. companies in Puerto Rico and other possessions (under certain conditions). Corporations were quick to set up subsidiaries in Puerto Rico, and massive tax-dodging and profit shifting soon followed. In the 80s, corporations had an estimated total of $8.5 billion in tax savings and, in 1987 alone, these profit shifting activities are estimated to have cost the Treasury Department $2.33 billion in revenues. In 1998, during the phase-out period of the credit and when corporations were significantly disinvesting in Puerto Rico, six companies had a total of $912 million in tax breaks. Does all this sound familiar? This was once called blaming the victim.

Another that contributed to the local bias; for those my age will remember in the early 60’s I think, local you had worked the tobacco farms over the summer. Then, they wanted a 5 cent per hour pay increase. The tobacco farms then chose to import labor from Puerto Rico (that was cheaper than a nickel?), but the Puerto Rican government demanded a safe working environment, with med personnel available, safe living conditions, so they dropped that idea and looked elsewhere in the Caribbean. As for the kids they brought up, any loss of work even if to injuries often cost them the flight back. What to do??? They were directed to Welfare Offices. Thus, the anger at taking our jobs!, then going on welfare. But it was the tobacco companies who actually caused both. I want to thank State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez of Springfield for the info to confirm my memories.   Your former Ward 3 City Councilor, Brian Hoose, [email protected]

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