Puerto Rico’s Chief Economist Calls Critics of Policies ‘Born Losers’ (VIDEO)

Last night’s episode of Al Jazeera America’s documentary series Fault Lines looked at the economic policies which have lead to the current debt crisis and which the Puerto Rican government only seems to be doubling down on.

Journalist Sebastian Walker spoke with Alberto Bacó Bagué, Puerto Rico’s secretary of Economic Development and Commerce, during which time the island’s chief economist repeated the same, tired, colonialist line about how economic policies favoring the wealthy and attracting foreign investors ultimately benefit all of society.

 

The reality is that each one of these people that have moved under [the tax exemption laws] have created three, four jobs, are using our engineers, are using our architects, are using our publicity companies, are buying the properties, are going to our restaurants, are using helicopter services — the pilots are very happy — are using catering for the jets, are creating economic activity that are giving jobs to people, are giving work. And it’s something that you had zero [of], and [now] you have nothing to lose. They are adding up.

The fact that some people want to criticize [recent economic developments] is because they are born that way. They are born losers. They have never been able to succeed. And they see something successful, they begin to find a point [to argue against]. But I cannot see a negative on all of this situation.

According to Bacó, Al Jazeera took his comments “out of context.” He told El Nuevo Día that his comments were limited to certain detractores and were not general comments.

Al Jazeera printed the entire interview with Bacó here. Here is the “context” of what Bacó said:

AJ: Do you think these investors have Puerto Rico’s best interests at heart?

Well, I will say it’s the same thing when you start dating. Probably you are dating because there’s a physical attraction. And I think the relationship develops. Some people get married, some people get divorced. Or they never get married.

AJ: This is one of the most unequal places in the entire United States. The gap between rich and poor is wider here than it is anywhere else.

That’s true.

AJ: Bringing in hedge fund billionaires and having five-star, six-star hotels opening up for those investors to come in and stay while they look for properties to buy so that they can take advantage of those tax incentive laws, isn’t that going to just simply exacerbate the inequality that already exists and is such a problem?

The reality is that each one of these people that have moved under Law 20 and 22 have created three, four jobs, are using our engineers, are using our architects, are using our publicity companies, are buying the properties, are going to our restaurants, are using helicopter services—the pilots are very happy—are using catering for the jets, are creating economic activity that are giving jobs to people, are giving work. And it’s something that you had zero, and you have nothing to lose. They are adding up.

The fact that some people want to criticize is because they are born that way. They are born losers. They have never been able to succeed. And they see something successful, they begin to find a point. But I cannot see a negative on all of this situation.

AJ: At the same time, there are so many painful austerity measures that are being carried out by the government. Some would say that, for the rich, there’s not the same level of sacrifice that is being undertaken by the working class.

But that’s the theory of poverty—that you create more economic activity by dividing the poverty and the scarcity of resources. You bring people out of poverty by education …

But you’re cutting education.

… and by bringing wealth to the system.

AJ: But you’re making cuts on the education. Teachers are losing their jobs. Schools are being closed.

But that has nothing to do with the economic promotions that we are doing. It’s something that needed to be done, because it was not done when it should have been done. So now it’s painful, because we have to make the right decisions that were long overdue, and it will create some pain. But the way to solve it is bringing wealth to work in the system, not by dividing the scarcity of resources between more people.

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