"Basically Destroyed" - Puerto Rico's Back In The 18th Century

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Welcome to America’s first experiment in the World Made By Hand lifestyle. Where else is it going? Watch closely.

Ricardo Ramos, the director of the beleaguered, government-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, told CNN Thursday that the island’s power infrastructure had been basically “destroyed” and will take months to come back.

“Basically destroyed.” That’s about as basic as it gets civilization-wise.

Residents, Mr. Ramos said, would need to change the way they cook and cool off. For entertainment, old-school would be the best approach, he said.

“It’s a good time for dads to buy a ball and a glove and change the way you entertain your children.”

Meaning, I guess, no more playing Resident Evil 7: Biohazard on-screen because you’ll be living it - though one wonders where will the money come from to buy the ball and glove? Few Puerto Ricans will be going to work with the power off. And the island’s public finances were in disarray sufficient to drive it into federal court last May to set in motion a legal receivership that amounted to bankruptcy in all but name.

The commonwealth, a US territory, was in default for $74 billion in bonded debt, plus another $49 billion in unfunded pension obligations.

So, Puerto Rico already faced a crisis pre-Hurricane Maria, with its dodgy electric grid and crumbling infrastructure: roads, bridges, water and sewage systems.

Bankruptcy put it in a poor position to issue new bonds for public works which are generally paid for with public borrowing.

Who, exactly, would buy the new bonds? I hear readers whispering, “the Federal Reserve.”

Which is a pretty good clue to understanding the circle-jerk that American finance has become.

Some sort of bailout is unavoidable, though President Trump tweeted “No Bailout for Puerto Rico” after the May bankruptcy proceeding. Things have changed and the shelf-life of Trumpian tweets is famously brief. But the crisis may actually strain the ability of the federal government to pretend it can cover the cost of every calamity that strikes the nation — at least not without casting doubt on the soundness of the dollar. And not a few bonafide states are also whirling around the bankruptcy drain: Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Kentucky.

Constitutionally states are not permitted to declare bankruptcy, though counties and municipalities can. Congress would have to change the law to allow it. But states can default on their bonds and other obligations. Surely there would be some kind of fiscal and political hell to pay if they go that route.

Nobody really knows what might happen in a state as big and complex as Illinois, which has been paying its way for decades by borrowing from the future. Suddenly, the future is here and nobody has a plan for it.

The case for the federal government is not so different.

It, too, only manages to pay its bondholders via bookkeeping hocuspocus, and its colossal unfunded obligations for social security and Medicare make Illinois’ predicament look like a skipped car payment.

In the meantime - and it looks like it’s going to be a long meantime - Puerto Rico is back in the 18th Century, minus the practical skills and simpler furnishings for living that way of life, and with a population many times beyond the carrying capacity of the island in that era.

For instance, how many houses get their water from cisterns designed to catch rain runoff? How many communities across the island are walkable? (It looks like the gas stations will be down for quite a while.) I’ve been there and much of the island is as suburbanized as New Jersey — thanks to the desire to be up-to-date with the mainland, and the willingness of officials to make it look like that.

We’re only two days past the Hurricane Maria’s direct hit on Puerto Rico and there is no phone communication across the island, so we barely know what has happened. We’re weeks past Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, and news of the consequences from those two events has strangely fallen out of the news media.

Where have the people gone who lost everything? The news blackout is as complete and strange as the darkness that has descended on Puerto Rico.

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Bunghole's picture

Freaking 'Ricans

EcoJoker's picture

You should try crawling up your bunghole and staying there.

Gen. Ripper's picture

Puerto Rico has been a shithole since the 18th century

NoDecaf's picture

They just need quatloos!

hedgeless_horseman's picture


Ball and glove?

I'll take a bat in that situation.

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

The mainland U.S. just doesn't give them enough money. If they had enough of other people's money PR would be a paradise.

Same with Venezuela

Same with Cuba

Same with North Korea

Same with...

HisNameIsRP's picture

Plenty of broken windows for the keynesians 

ergatz's picture

P.R. may be back in 18th Cent. But IsraHell has been there since its creation. http://wp.me/P4OZ4v-1LA

Manthong's picture


18th Century…

Are we sure this is not a leap into the future there?

Slack Jack's picture

When the temperatures are higher, hurricanes are (potentially) more powerful. Since hurricanes are formed by the evaporation of sea-water. The warmer the water, the more evaporation and the stronger the hurricane. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that global warming will add to the average strength of hurricanes. The occurrence of hurricanes depends on many factors, in particular the wind shear. So it is not clear that global warming will necessarily increase the number of Hurricanes, although it might.

Record-Setting Hurricanes; Record temperatures; Record-Setting Wildfires; ya think it might be global warming?


So, why is the global rise in temperatures so worrisome?

For one thing, as temperatures rise good farmland will become desert (e.g., dust-bowl conditions will probably return to the American Midwest).

Another major problem is sea-level rise.

Have a look at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs2-00/

The U.S. Geological Survey people claim that;

The Greenland ice sheet melting will raise sea-level 6.55 meters (21.5 feet),
the West Antarctica ice sheet melting will raise sea-level 8.06 meters (26.4 feet),
the East Antarctica ice sheet melting will raise sea-level 64.8 meters (212.6 feet),
and all other ice melting will raise sea-level 0.91 meters (3 feet).

For a grand total of about 80 meters (263 feet).

So, what does an 80 meter (263 feet) rise in sea-level mean. Have a look at the following map of the world after an 80 meter rise. It means that over one billion people will have to be resettled to higher ground and that much of the most productive agricultural land will be under water. Fortunately, at current rates, the Greenland ice sheet will take over a thousand years to melt and the Antarctica ice sheet, much longer. However, the greater the temperature rise the faster the ice sheets will melt, bringing the problem much closer. Remember, the huge ice sheet that recently covered much of North America, almost completely melted in only 15,000 years (today, only the Greenland ice sheet, and some other small patches of it, remain). Since then (15,000 years ago), sea-levels have risen about 125 meters (410 feet), only 80 meters to go.

The ice sheets have been continuously melting for thousands of years. What is left of them today, is still melting, and will continue to melt. Human caused global warning will cause this remnant to melt significantly faster. This is a big, big, problem.

For HUGE detailed maps of the "World after the Melt" go to:


Global temperatures are increasing. And by quite a lot each year.

2016 is the hottest year on record for global temperatures.

This is 0.0380 degrees centigrade hotter than the previous record year which was 2015.

0.0380 is a large increase in just one year.

2015 was the hottest year (at that time) for global temperatures.

This was 0.1601 degrees hotter than the previous record year which was 2014.

0.1601 is an absolutely huge increase in just one year (at this rate temperatures would increase by 16 degrees in a century).

2014 was the hottest year (at that time) for global temperatures.

This was 0.0402 degrees hotter than the previous record year which was 2010.


The conspiracy to hide global warming data.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is given tax money to make global temperature records available to the public. However, certain people at NOAA continually sabotage this aspect of NOAA's mandate. For example, these people have (deliberately) sabotaged the web-page that delivers the temperature records.

Look for yourself:

Go to the page: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/faq/anomalies.php scroll down to the The Global Anomalies and Index Data section and click the download button and see what happens. Well, you get the message:

"Not Found. The requested URL /monitoring-references/faq/anomalies-download was not found on this server."

I guess that the 2017 data must be truly horrible if they have to hide it away.

It turns out that this seems to be the case; NASA reports that:

July 2017 had the hottest average land temperatures on record.

The new July 2017 record was +1.20 degrees centigrade above the 20th century average (of the July data). The previous record average land temperature for July was just last year. It was +1.10 degrees above the 20th century average.

Did the media bother to tell you about this? No!

The average land temperatures for August 2017 are second only to those of last year, August 2016.


FixItAgainTony's picture

That's nice dear. How was work today?

cynicalskeptic's picture

Unfortunately, this may be a preview for all of us.  Beta testing full out disaster - no food, no power.

No hurricane required for the reat of the country.

I wonder what the population reduction rates will be.

StarGate's picture

They have sun and rain to grow food year round. Plenty of sun for solar electricity and fans. Seas to fish. Maps show island riddled with fresh water rivers. Hurricanes but no winter weather to deal with each year. They have an opportunity to rebuild with a simple lifestyle.

Being broke, they may need to completely rethink how they define civilization.

weburke's picture

Clearly the royals want a few islands devoid of the pesky natives.watch the islands go corporate

stinkypinky's picture

Time for some Pollo con Arroz made out of cat and mealworms soon.

peopledontwanttruth's picture

Probably actual repairs 30 Billion

So the USA will give them 153 Billion to cover their
Repairs Bonds and pension crisis.

American Psycho's picture

The federal govenment is just a huge excuse for these territories (read: FL, TX, LA, and Puerto Rico... soon to be CA when the big one hits) to not save for such catastrophes.  The states know the FEMA will step in followed by a federal bailout.  Puerto Rico has borrowed so much in bonds to finance their public sector (which is obviously shit, because that is what .gov does) that there is no more borrowing capacity.  I say if people want to live in flood / hurricane /earthquak areas they should finance the risk PRIVATELY with insurance.  States should then look into developing their own emergency funds (if so desired) to handle such calamities.    

Escrava Isaura's picture

Puerto Ricans too made a leap into the future……….Not by collapsing but by moving to the US.

Where did they get the gas to drive those cars?


stacking12321's picture

Peter schiff, mike Maloney, and others have taken up legal residency in pr.

You don't have to pay USA federal taxes if you live there, only pay at 4% rate to pr.

Plus, land is probably going to be real cheap there soon, I'm gonna look into it

ghengis86's picture

Gotta spend 181 days there and can't be in US for >90 days a year according to a guy I just spoke too about the tax benefits. This was a few days before Irma in San Juan.

kbohip's picture

Although I'd wager Schiff isn't too happy with his move right now.

Bunghole's picture

You should use some of that white guilt you seem to have in spades by going into Baltimore and saving some Utes from the oppressor crackers, assmaggot.

HRH Feant2's picture

I like the phrase Bracken uses. It's more clinical. MUYs = minority urban youths.

stacking12321's picture

Not everyone that thinks that you're an idiot suffers from white guilt, don't make assumptions.

GUS100CORRINA's picture

"Basically Destroyed" - Puerto Rico's Back In The 18th Century

My response: Truly sad to see this kind event occur to a people who have been stuggling so much.

Per previous post, all (and I mean all) of the Power Transmission Infrastructure has been destroyed. I saw a program last night where they were talking 4 to 6 months before power would be restored to most of the island. These people need a more modern solutuion other then power poles that can be knocked down again by another storm.


We need to keep Puerto Rico in our prayers.

SWRichmond's picture

I am praying the Puerto Ricans stay in Puerto Rico.

BeansMcGreens's picture

New York is where I'd rather nap. 
I get allergic smelling crap. 
I just adore a penthouse view. 
Luis I love you but give me a rich Jew. 

Manipulism's picture

We need to keep Puerto Rico in our prayers.

My response: Amen, idiot.

cro_maat's picture

When I ran a solar energy company in NY back in 2009, I tried to put together solar projects for the large resorts (along with other solar companies) because they pay 2-3 times the KWH rate in PR vs the mainland. The PR Electric Power Authority used its monopoly status to block any commercial solar venture. We weren't allowed to even do small dive shops.

If you think the bureaucrats in PR will think outside of the box now, then I have some Chinese ICO coins that will help with your financing.

ipso_facto's picture

'I tried to put together solar projects for the large resorts (along with other solar companies) because they pay 2-3 times the KWH rate in PR vs the mainland. '

I can't imagine solar panels survive the ferocious winds of a hurricane.  The 'solar projects' would be completely destroyed.

sickavme's picture

Sounds like my kind of place.


How do I get to PR now?



stacking12321's picture

Well their airport is probably toast, but you can go to the Virgin Islands and surf the next big wave over

Herdee's picture

Monetizing debt and telling taxpayers "it's not that yet" - gotta love the bullshit.

OurManFlint's picture

Plenty of trees for the monkeys to hang around.


VWAndy's picture

 Dont worry folks the government/corruption is still working fine.

Rainman's picture

okay, so who's for lending America's Greece even more fiat that can never possibly be repaid....?

Bill of Rights's picture

When do the Local hacks start handing out fines?

chunga's picture

Like the 24/7 hype surrounding ebola. One snap of the ebola czar's boney fingers and poof, it's gone, almost overnight. 

TheDude1224's picture

LOL, what happened to ZZZZZZZZZZZZIIIIIIIIIKKKKKKKKKKKKAAAAAAAAA. Hope Solo is probably dreading opening her big dumb mouth now!

NoWayJose's picture

Basically destroyed - back to the 18th century... is the author talking about the hurricane or the collapse of their unpayable debt bubble?

economessed's picture

Time for big pharma to write Puerto Rican's lots of prescriptions for opiod pain killers.

saldulilem's picture

The problem is with Irma and Maria, it looks like they will be constantly in the crosshairs of the next incoming hurricanes. One is a chance, two is a coincidence ...

swissthinker's picture

Maria was not a hurricane.

It was a bloody strong gale.

The Duke of New York A No.1's picture

Puerto Rico bond holders get NOTHING!;






Catahoula's picture

Death, disease, violence, and chaos looms. People will have to be evacuated to, you guessed it, the USA. Many will never return 

HRH Feant2's picture

I expect to see a lot of them in Miami. When? Sooner rather than later.

saldulilem's picture

Nah  they'd prefer to be nuyoricans. Miami is already called dibs by cubans

Manipulism's picture

They will return immediatly when they see the shitshow USA.

Death, disease, violence, and chaos you name it.

I woke up's picture

Don't worry the libs in the US will donate all they need in PR

buzzsaw99's picture

grandma took a little spill at the sand dunes today, broke her coccyx... [/uncle rico]