Learn by listening- Puerto Rico, Dodd-Frank

In today\’s \”look at me\”, \”I need to be seen\” world it\’s easy to get trapped in the noise around us. Sometimes we have to stop and listen. There\’s a lot that can be learned in 30 minutes or less. It can come from the news, people around you, industry experts, or any number of sources. The key is to be ready to listen when the conversation starts to shift from the every day, look at me noise around us. This 30-minute education came at a leading IT industry conference during lunch. 

Mr. J serves as a subject matter expert (SME) in the retail banking industry. He handles the IT for a firm that lobbies on behalf of retail bankers. Although his agency is based out of Jacksonville, Florida he frequently visits D.C. to lobby congress. He recounted a recent visit with Florida\’s Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson. The legislation in question was the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that was passed as a result of the financial crash of 2008. According to Mr. J, the banking industry has all but accepted the regulations to improve the stability of our financial institutions focusing heavily on transparency, stable financial instruments, and consumer protection.

\”Reversing the changes that it took us over 2 years to implement would put us back in turmoil another 2 to 3 years,\” Mr. J relayed. Sen. Nelson reportedly responded that it sounded like the banking industry was all set. However, another person in the room promptly reminded the senator that this position was contrary to the party\’s and the there are \”politics to consider\”.  I guess politics outweighs common sense – even when it\’s lobbied for by the target of that regulation.

Then there was Ms. C\’s harrowing account of life in Puerto Rico in the wake of hurricane Irma. A Pennsylvania native who convinced her parents that living in Puerto Rico was safe and what she wanted to do. The beauty of the people and landscape was all she thought it would be and more until the last few years that were capped by Irma. The Puerto Rican economy had already been in decline. Partly due to legislation and corporate deals made by congress which allowed major corporations to work virtually tax free. Knowledge workers capable of working on the mainland had already stated their exodus. Then came Irma.

Ms C\’s account of the devastation coupled with an inadequate response magnified the tragedy. The accounts of death and destruction are real. The claims that Puerto Rico didn\’t receive nearly the support of other mainland Irma victims are real. Two under-reported facts were the lack of medical resources and its impact on a country with a 70% diabetes rate. Complicated by injuries related to removing debris which also impacted Ms C. Another under-reported fact is that mainland U.S.  citizens were given travel and financial preferential treatment over Puerto Rican U.S. citizens. When asked how long did she think it would take Puerto Rico to recover, she replied; Never!


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