Just when people need the government most, is when you will find politicians at their sleaziest.
Over a month after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, about three-quarters of the Island is still without power.
But rather than respond in the best interest of citizens, the government engaged in a crony deal with an inadequate energy company. Puerto Rico gave a $300 million contract to rebuild their power infrastructure to the company Whitefish Energy.
The public later learned that the company only planned to send 300 employees to the island. With such a small crew, it would take years to fully restore power to Puerto Rico.
Whitefish Energy is based in the small Montana town of Whitefish. A local news station visited the headquarters and found that it was based out of a rural residence.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is also from the small town of Whitefish, Montana. He denies that he had anything to do with the contract.
Zinke is already embroiled in a handful of other scandals, involving chartering expensive flights with tax dollars, and attending donor events while on duty, which means he paid for travel with tax dollars.
We still don’t know how exactly the two-year-old company Whitefish landed the no-bid contract. But it is quite clear that it is not because of their ability as a company. For starters, the company only has two full-time permanent employees. The company has never worked on a project with the magnitude of rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power structure.
The contract has now been canceled by Puerto Rican authorities, but that decision takes 30 days to go into effect. In the meantime, the company will receive $30 million for already completed work.
Puerto Rican officials, however, have wasted precious time and resources. The controversy is expected to delay the restoration of power to Puerto Rico by over a dozen weeks.
The great irony of situations like these is that when the government is most needed, they take the most advantage. In a crisis, the government could shine by quickly helping the people affected. But instead, they all too often prove just how untrustworthy they are.
Some people think of government as an insurance policy. You may not need much government protection on a daily basis, but what about when disaster strikes? Who will rescue the people?
This is one of many examples that shows much of what government does is make-believe. They offer a false sense of security. It is all for show. They talk big, and present themselves as important. But when it comes time to act quickly in order to avoid human suffering, they reveal the true nature of government. That nature ranges from corruption to incompetence.
It is unfortunate that the taxpayers are robbed of their hard earned money to pay for sweetheart deals like the absurd contract awarded to Whitefish. That leaves less money for individuals to take matters into their own hands.
But that doesn’t mean it is impossible. You can still act to protect yourself from facing the brunt of terrible situations like these. Never depend on the government to save you in bad circumstances.
These days, it is not hard to take care of power and water needs yourself. Solar panels and battery banks are a great way to make sure you don’t depend on the government to supply power to your home. They may cost a little more up front, but they pay for themselves in the long run. And the real benefit is the security they give you. You don’t have to depend on third parties to act appropriately when you need them most.
The cool thing is, you can already order cheap solar panels online. Deep cycle RV or marine batteries are a great way to store the energy. Higher tech options include Tesla’s Powerwall units, of which they donated hundreds to Puerto Rico.
But you could also chip away at adding solar to your home. The panels are easy to install and connect. Any additions in the backyard, like sheds or floodlights, could be powered by solar. Or you could even get a solar phone charger so that in emergency situations you can still communicate.
That would allow residents of Puerto Rico to take advantage of Google’s efforts to get the internet grid functioning again. Google has been able to restore internet access to most of the island by deploying balloons equipt with 4G connectivity. But without electricity to power their devices, many residents may still be limited.
It is also simple to collect rainwater. A relatively inexpensive filtration system can make rainwater clean enough to drink.
So basically for a few thousand dollars, you can make sure you are never at the mercy of the government and their cronies when it comes to providing you electricity and water. Now that’s an insurance plan.