By Howard Foster -
Puerto Rico is even worse than Illinois. Billions in debt, barely able to pay the interest on its notes to creditors, corrupt, tied down by powerful unions and political machines, an economic basket case. The difference is, we can get rid of it by a simple act of Congress. Instead, Congress, that means Republicans, are about to pass a bail-out bill that will cost taxpayers billions.
I have yet to hear a single member of Congress advocate getting rid of Puerto Rico, i.e., giving it independence. We did that with Cuba and the Philippines, also acquired after our victory in the Spanish American War. Cuba, of course, went on to be a major headache. The Philippines has succeeded as an independent nation.
There is no reason to fear Puerto Rico would go Communist. Communism is essentially dead. Even Communist Cuba, China, and Vietnam, all our former enemies, are going capitalist. Puerto Rico would end up like Greece, an economic beached whale begging for handouts from its more prosperous neighbors. But it would not be our primary responsibility anymore.
Puerto Rico has serious systemic problems: a third of its residents are on food stamps, the average income is about $12,000 and unemployment is high. It’s a fiscal drag on U.S. taxpayers. Let’s cut the cord.
As for citizenship, I’d point out Congress only made Puerto Ricans citizens in 1917, years after it became a Territory. The motive for doing so was to conscript draft age men into the army to fight World War I. Puerto Ricans resented it at the time and rightly so. Now we American taxpayers resent their sky-high welfare dependence and other expenses, such as the coming bail out. (And it is only a temporary solution. There have been years of Greek bailouts.)
So Congress can not only terminate the Territorial status but also decree no Puerto Rican born after that date will be a U.S. citizen. We can also cut off the welfare rights of Puerto Ricans even though they are U.S. citizens once they stop paying U.S. taxes.
It would be a net plus to the rest of the nation. Puerto Rico should not get to decide its fate. A majority of its population seems to favor statehood. But Congress should get to decide. And the bailout that’s on the verge of passing is just a way of avoiding the big decision.
Here’s a new issue for Donald Trump.