Grant Puerto Rico Independence in 1998
Week of:
Dec. 28, 1997

F.R. Duplantier

by:

F.R. Duplantier

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Our first 50 years . . .
Our First Fifty Years
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It would be folly indeed to admit a 51st state "whose people don't speak English and don't intend to learn it."

"Congress appears to be rushing toward a vote on H.R. 856, the U.S. Puerto Rico Political Status Act," warns Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum. "Under H.R. 856," she explains, "a 51 percent majority for state-hood would commit us to begin the statehood process. What sense would it make to admit a new state in which 49 percent of the people are opposed to the idea?" Schlafly asks. "Do we want to admit a state that is ripe for secession?"

Mrs. Schlafly argues that a Puerto Rican state "would be a modern Trojan horse. The inherent problems of Puerto Rico would leap out and do irreparable damage to our nation." The foremost problem, of course, would be the language barrier. Noting that "three-fourths of the people in Puerto Rico don't speak or understand English," Schlafly emphasizes that "making Puerto Rico a state would transform America overnight into a bilingual nation." Our neighbors to the north can vouch for the impracticality of such an arrangement.

There are also economic and social problems to consider. "Statehood would cost the rest of us plenty in taxes," Mrs. Schlafly predicts. She points out that "the average income of Puerto Ricans is less than half that of our poorest state's citizens, and statehood would bring immediate demands for massive federal funding. Two-thirds of the population live below the federal poverty level. At least half of Puerto Ricans receive food stamps. Unemployment is about 15 percent," Schlafly reports. "Infrastructure, the environment, and education are all far below American standards. Drug-related murder is worse than in New York or Washington, DC, and the incidence of AIDS is higher than anywhere in the United States."

The political ramifications of statehood should not be ignored. "If Puerto Rico becomes a state," Phyllis Schlafly observes, "it would claim eight representatives in Congress and two U.S. Senators, and they would all be Democrats. That's more congressional representation than 25 of our 50 states enjoy." Schlafly proposes an alternative to statehood. Recalling that the U.S. acquired Puerto Rico as the spoils of the Spanish American War of 1898, she recommends that we "celebrate the centennial of that war by giving Puerto Rico its independence."

Better yet, why not encourage the Puerto Ricans to declare their independence? After all, there is a time-tested formula for this. Remember what set the Founding Fathers off? "Taxation without representation." If they were going to be taxed by the mother country, they figured they were entitled to send representatives to its parliament. Denied that representation, they resorted to rebellion. If taxation without representation fired up the Founding Fathers, maybe it will rouse the Puerto Ricans too. Unfortunately, what they have now is "representation without taxation." Who can complain about that? Let's reverse that relationship and raise taxes to ruinous levels. The San Juan Tea Party will follow in good time.

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