The U.S. government has imposed all sorts of misguided policies on Puerto Rico, and public and private players in the commonwealth have made bad choices of their own.
No one forced the commonwealth to build up $50 billion in public pension plan underfunding.
Many commentators have written articles about how unusual Puerto Rico’s situation is. Puerto Rico can’t, for example, even seek the kind of ordinary bankruptcy court protection that a city in the 50 states can seek. The petition the commonwealth filed last week was for protection under a special restructuring law designed specifically for Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is so very, very different. Detroit was a lot different from most U.S. cities. I know nothing about Stockton, California, except that its bankruptcy filing involved pension obligations and post-retirement health benefits, but maybe it was a lot different from most cities. Maybe champagne came out of the taps.
Certainly, long-term care insurers are different. Issuers of life insurance and annuity products that offer long-term guarantees are different. Anyone who’s promised to do anything much other than exist in 2040 is different.
All 70 million baby boomers are so different. They’re so weird. They’re in a special economic situation that has nothing whatsoever to do with us. Nothing at all. They’re fine. Stop looking at them.
Of course, none of these groups is really much different from any of the others.