Feb 19, 2018
Five months after the island of Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, a number of Bitcoin millionaires have taken over an old luxury hotel and a former children’s museum in the capital, as they look for property to create a new city, a new city they want to call a crypto-utopia, built on profits made in speculating successfully on Bitcoins.
Said one of them, “While it was really bad for the people of Puerto Rico, in the long term it’s a godsend if people look past that.”
What can he mean on an island where a million people have applied to FEMA for emergency aid, where some areas still don’t have power? How can thousands of Puerto Ricans, who still don’t have jobs, look past the hurricane to see prosperity around the corner? Even before the hurricane, 44% of Puerto Ricans lived in poverty.
For millionaires, land is available cheaply, likewise labor. And even better, Puerto Rico has favorable taxes, meaning very low ones for businesses, no federal personal income tax and no capital gains tax.
“We’re benevolent capitalists, building a benevolent economy,” said one of the men who came after profiting from Bitcoin speculation. As if capitalists have ever brought “benevolence” to the areas they exploit for cheap land, cheap minerals, or cheap labor everywhere around the world.