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House Votes to Allow Puerto Rico to Become 59th State

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By Doug Powers  •  April 30, 2010 09:03 AM

Or would Puerto Rico be the 58th state? In any case, the House has voted and now the issue of Puerto Rican statehood is in the hands of Puerto Rico:

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to allow Puerto Ricans to decide their own political future and relationship with the United States.

The vote was 223 to 169. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., voted present.

The bill introduced a two-step ballot measure for Puerto Rico to decide if its residents want to change their current relationship with the United States. If they vote to change their status, they can then choose to become a state, pursue independence, or seek some other “political association between sovereign nations.”

‬‪The “Slaughter Solution” this time was to be totally wimpy.

For our consideration, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate is about 15.9% and 45% of its citizens live below the poverty level — so statehood for Puerto Rico would basically be like adopting another Michigan. If we’re hell bent to adopt another country, how about Singapore or New Zealand?

For some, statehood for Puerto Rico simply boils down to — you guessed it — “benefits”:

“First of all, we are demanding full benefits of our citizenship,” said Thomas Rivera Schatz, the president of the Senate (R-Puerto Rico). “Already, we haven’t those full benefits and we fight the U.S. wars. We are part of a U.S. government and we don’t have the full benefits of our citizens. We can’t vote for the president. We don’t have representation in the House or the Senate. So, those are some of the benefits we are demanding.”

It wouldn’t bother me in the least if I didn’t have representation in the House or Senate — I rarely do anyway — or couldn’t vote for president, if the tradeoff was that I didn’t have to pay US income taxes (odd, Tim Geithner doesn’t look Puerto Rican). But I’m guessing that “voting” isn’t the only benefit that is being sought since this is being attempted so hot on the heels of the passage of Obamacare and with Democrats hurting badly with the 2010 and 2012 elections looming. As the Democrats’ fight against the Arizona immigration law demonstrates, voters are needed badly (but many Republicans voted for Puerto Rico statehood too).

I believe, as has been a factor in past efforts to make Puerto Rico a state, that Puerto Ricans will ultimately be decided that non-taxation without representation is a lot more desirable than taxation with only occasional representation, if ever.

Bonus Puerto Rico fun fact: The Bacardi rum distillery in San Juan is powered by wind turbines. Talk about the ultimate dilemma for the Kennedys.

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