Statehood for Puerto Rico – good or bad idea?

Pennireef Papers


This picturesque West Indian island is a self-governing commonwealth freely associated with the United States. There are some who would like to see it become the 51st State. On balance that would probably be a big mistake, but let’s look at the issue evenly.
Located 1,000 miles southeast of Florida, in the eastern Caribbean, Puerto Rico was seized as war booty from Spain in 1898. Today Puerto Rico is an enterprise zone. U.S. factories that set up shop there are exempt from corporate income taxes under Section 936 of the IRS code. Islanders need not file 1040s on April 15.

Currently there is legislation moving through Congress for a vote that would allow Puerto Rico’s 4 million to choose statehood, commonwealth status or independence. The Senate bill would require only half of the island to vote “yes” and statehood would be automatic. The 300 million Americans living in the other 50 states would have no say in the matter. Since the mainland citizens would be picking up the tab for the welfare programs it is important that their views be taken into account.

Three times in the past Puerto Rico has rejected statehood. Why the rush now? Are we ready to establish a trend of adding states haphazardly? What’s next – D.C.? Liberia? The latter has been waiting in the queue longer than either Puerto Rico or D.C. Other consequences to consider: Who benefits the most from Puerto Rican statehood? The Puerto Ricans? No, they’ll have to start filing 1040s and paying US taxes. The other 50 States? No, we’ll pick up the welfare tab. The Democrats in the upcoming mid–term elections? Yes, of course.

The new state would send at least six Democrats to the House of Representatives and two liberal senators to encourage Barack Hussein Obama with his giveaway programs. The cornucopia of federal goodies seems to leverage the vote toward statehood. Afterwards however all tax privileges would have to go and we would be faced with a tax revolt from Puerto Rico’s middle and upper classes.

There are good, loyal Puerto Ricans by the tens of thousands who are proud of their nation, their culture and who believe fervently in an independent island. They are supported by the country’s intelligentsia. It would be a dangerous folly to tell them, “Your dream is dead forever.”

With Puerto Rican statehood many believe the U.S. will have the same trouble tomorrow that Canada has today with Quebec. Understandably Puerto Ricans will want their own language and all legislative and judicial proceedings must be translated into Spanish. Hispanic leaders in Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona will echo their demands.

On the island there is no overwhelming clamor for statehood. Amid the cries for independence from many small nations, it would be better for a three-quarter majority to request it and then give the 300 million in the 50 states an opportunity to approve it.

Prudence indicates that we should think, and think again before irrevocably committing ourselves to expansion in this direction.

Bill Bathman – Mesa, Arizona

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