‘At the Table’ or ‘On the Menu’

Go Lean Commentary

There are those that reflect society and those that effect society.

Unfortunately, these may not be the same people.

While we are not impugning any bad motives to these men, we accept that in the United States, the leadership in the Republican Party – the party in power, also called the GOP, with control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate – all reflect White Men over the age of 45. Clearly, not a Pluralistic Democracy!

At the same time this real census demographics apply for America today:

Race: 77.1% White; 13.3% Black; 5.6% Asian; 2.6% Other/multiracial; 1.2% Native; 0.2% Pacific Islander
Ethnicity: 17.6% Hispanic or Latino; 82.4% non-Hispanic or Latino
Age & Gender: Under 18 = 24%; 18 to 44 = 36.5%; 45 to 64 = 26.4%; Over 65 = 13%; Median age = 37.8
Female = 50.8; Male = 49.2

Change is hard! Reforming and transforming a community is heavy-lifting. A lot of societal reforms – human and civil rights – only come about as a result of advocates fighting for change … “at the top” or “from the bottom”. Changing “at the top” means conferring, convincing, consulting and cajoling leaders (political and business) to implement changes in policies and procedures; it means being “at the table”. Changing “from the bottom” means “taking to the streets” and rallying the masses to force governments and businesses – the establishment – to hear demands and make changes.

Truthfully, the former – Top-Down approach – is much easier than the latter – Bottoms-Up approach.

But, in order to confer, convince, consult and cajole, Change Advocates must have a seat “at the table”. When some interest group is absent in their representation, the possibility of disregard – and victimization – is highly possible.

“If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu”
This quote is believed to have originated around [the year] 2000 in Washington, DC, and is of unknown origin. Basically, it means that if you are not represented at the decision-making table, you are in a financially vulnerable position, you get left out, or, worse yet, you are on the menu.

See this fear manifested in the news-article-commentary here … and the Appendix VIDEO below:

Title # 1: Ryan pressed on all-white, all-male GOP leadership

By: Juana Summers, CNN

Washington (CNN) House Speaker Paul Ryan acknowledged Thursday that the Republican Party needs more women and minorities, and pointed to Utah Rep. Mia Love — the only black Republican woman in Congress — as evidence that the party was making progress.

The discussion, with CBS News host Gayle King, was prompted by President Donald Trump’s tweet of a photo from a dinner he hosted at the White House for members of Republican leadership.

In the photo, which was tweeted Wednesday night, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are surrounded by five members of congressional Republican leadership, including Ryan. All of the lawmakers included in that photo are white men.

“When I look at that picture, Mr. Speaker, I have to say, I don’t see anyone that looks like me in terms of color or gender,” CBS News host Gayle King told Ryan. “You were one of the main people who said you want to do more for the Republican Party to expand … Some say this President really doesn’t want to expand the base.”

“I don’t like the fact that you feel that way,” Ryan told King, adding that “we need more minorities, more women in our party and I’ve been focusing on that kind of recruitment.”

Ryan, who announced Wednesday that he would retire in January, then pointed to [Congresswoman Mia] Love, who he has mentored, as an example.

“She’s somebody I recruited in a primary to come to Congress. There are a lot of candidates like Mia that we’re recruiting all around the country,” he added, saying that even though he is retiring from Congress he was going to “keep being involved and focusing on inclusive, aspirational politics.”

While Congress has undoubtedly grown more diverse, the ranks of leadership in the Republican Party have not. Every member of Republican leadership on both sides of the Rotunda is white. There is one woman, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, in House Republican leadership. There are none in Senate Republican leadership.

Source: Posted April 12, 2018; retrieved April 15, 2018 from: https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/12/politics/paul-ryan-republican-diversity-photo/index.html

This American drama is more than just theoretical; there is an actual manifestation associated with it. There are real world consequences and it is all bad! And this is not only an American drama; it is a Caribbean concern as well. There are two American territories in the middle of the Caribbean; and guess what?

This same group of White Men – in the foregoing – effect the populations of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, though they do not reflect their populations.

Things are bad; consider this bad episode:

Title # 2: Here’s how an obscure tax change sank Puerto Rico’s economy

As GOP lawmakers and the White House put the finishing touches on a proposal to overhaul the American tax code, Congress and the Trump administration are also considering multiple options to help storm-ravaged Puerto Rico get back on its feet.

Even before the storm brought Puerto Rico to a near standstill, the government there already struggled with an economy in shambles and a default on billions of dollars of public debt.

That fiscal mess, partly the result of a prolonged downturn that lingered long after the rest of the U.S. had recovered from the Great Recession, has its roots in the repeal of a controversial corporate tax break that helped spark an exodus from the island and sent its economy into reverse.

More than half a century ago, U.S. lawmakers sought to help Puerto Rico emerge from a colonial past, transforming its largely agrarian economy into a manufacturing powerhouse. The effort, known as Operation Bootstrap, began with a series of tax breaks designed to attract manufacturers who would provide steady factory jobs.

For a time the plan seemed to work, as standards of living in Puerto Rico rose. Between 1950 and 1980, per capita gross national product grew nearly tenfold in Puerto Rico, and disposable income and educational attainment rose sharply, according to the Center for a New Economy, a think tank based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

One of those tax breaks, enacted in 1976, allowed U.S. manufacturing companies to avoid corporate income taxes on profits made in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico. Manufacturers, led by the pharmaceutical industry, flocked to the island.

But by the early 1990s, the provision faced growing opposition from critics who attacked the tax break as a form of corporate welfare. Much like the current debate over corporations parking profits offshore to avoid taxes, tax reformers saw the provision, known as Section 936, as too costly for the Treasury.

The tax break also had some unintended consequences, notably the unfair tax burden that fell to domestic Puerto Rican companies.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the law that would phase out Section 936 over 10 years.

Plant closures and job losses followed. Ten years later, on the eve of the Great Recession, employment in Puerto Rico peaked. Left with a dwindling tax base, the Puerto Rican government borrowed heavily to replace the lost revenue.

Today, the U.S. territory has nearly $70 billion in debt, an unemployment rate 2.5 times the U.S. average, a 45 percent poverty rate, nearly insolvent pension systems and a chronically underfunded Medicaid insurance program for the poor.

Puerto Rico’s job base continues to shrink, taking its economy along with it. Since the recession ended, a lack of job prospects has sent many Puerto Ricans fleeing to the mainland, where the job market is much stronger.

The devastation brought by Hurricane Maria has accelerated the exodus, as families who have lost their homes seek shelter with relatives on the U.S. mainland. Many likely see the relocation as temporary. Others may find better opportunities in one of the 50 states, where the average weekly wage is nearly twice that of Puerto Rico.

It remains to be seen how many will return, leaving even fewer workers to rebuild the territory’s battered economy.

Source: Posted Sept 26, 2017; retrieved April 15, 2018 from: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/26/heres-how-an-obscure-tax-change-sank-puerto-ricos-economy.html

That GOP Leadership is very important now for Puerto Rico’s viability – and the USVI – and they have no vote, nor voice in Congress. They do not have a “seat at the table”. Unfortunately, the Washington experience for Puerto Rico has been out-of-sight and out-of-mind.

This commentary has previously asserted that Puerto Rico reflects a Failed-State status; see this direct quotation:

Puerto Rico can do “bad” all by itself; it does not need to be America’s Failed-State!

They do not need the American Hegemony to create an unbearable situation for them. This is NOT an assessment based on the fact that Donald Trump is in the White House now, no rather, this is a summary-analysis based on 120 years of US-PR history. Like many abusive marriages, the US has reserved its most abusive behavior for its own family member, the island territory of PR. This, despite the President or the administration.

No one should be expected to tolerate 2nd Class Citizenship status … for 120 years!

This commentary continues the assertion of the book Go Lean…Caribbean, that Caribbean territories should confederate with their actual Caribbean neighbors and seek their own self-determination. Puerto Rico needs their Caribbean neighbors and the neighbors need Puerto Rico. The effort to reboot the regional economy may be too big for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands alone; they need the leverage of the full Caribbean neighborhood – a Single Market of 42 million people in 30 member-states. The book – available to download for free – presents this roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all 30 member-states, American territories included. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives for regional integration:

For our Caribbean effort to reform and transform our society, we need “all hands on deck”. Not just Old White Men; no, we need Black and White, Male and Female, Young and Old, English speakers and Dutch, French and Spanish speakers. We need the stewards that shepherd our societal engines to reflect and effect all of the Caribbean.

The mandate to forge an optimized regional confederation – with full participation of people that reflect our Caribbean population – was pronounced early in the Go Lean book with this Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 14); demonstrated with these opening statements:

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxvi. Whereas the Caribbean region must have new jobs to empower the engines of the economy and create the income sources for prosperity, and encourage the next generation to forge their dreams right at home, the Federation must therefore foster the development of new industries …

The subject of fostering a Pluralistic Democracy with full gender equity, equal access and equal protections have been directly addressed and further elaborated upon in previous blog/commentaries; consider this sample:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=14633 Nature or Nurture: Women Have Nurtured Change
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=13321 Making a ‘Pluralistic Democracy’ – Multilingual Realities
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=13063 Gender Equity without a ‘Battle of the Sexes’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=12035 Lean-in for ‘Wonder Woman Day’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=11812 State of Caribbean Union: Hope and Change
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=9216 ‘Time to Go’ – When there is ‘No Respect’ for our Hair
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8306 Women Get Ready for New Lean-In Campaign
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6937 Women in Politics – Yes, They Can!
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6836 Role Model – #FatGirlsCan – Empowering Women
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6434 ‘Good Hair’ and the Strong Black Woman
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6422 Getting More Women Interested in Science/Technology Careers

The Go Lean book posits that people of all races, colors and creed have the right to work towards making their communities better places to live, work and play. This should be the default perception of our stewards and shepherds – there is strength in our diversity. Plus, we need all the help we can get. So the book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to transition to a Pluralistic Democracy, one that better reflects and effects the full population of Caribbean people: Black or White, Men or Women.

This quest to elevate our regional society requires heavy-lifting! But this push towards a Pluralistic Democracy is conceivable, believable and achievable. We invite all peoples to devote their time, talent and treasuries to this cause. Yes, we can … succeed in this quest; yes, we can be a better society. 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix VIDEO – Speaker Ryan Lamenting Lack of Diversity – https://twitter.com/NorahODonnell/status/984411160207388672

@GayleKing: “When I look at the picture, I don’t feel very celebratory. I feel very excluded.” @SpeakerRyan: “I don’t like that you feel that way. We need more minorities, more women in our party.” @CBSThisMorning

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