President Trump, have we got a deal for you! As a master real estate entrepreneur, and now Chief Executive of the United States, you gotta love this once-in-a-presidency chance to win big for America.
You are no stranger to the niche market for distressed property that has been mismanaged and undervalued, but has proven potential for profit and gain that is huge. Well, this deal is where private sector economics and national economics converge to create a unique one-time opportunity.
We are talking, of course, about Puerto Rico, which should have become a state or a separate nation after WWII. That was the period when the U.S.-owned Philippines territory became a nation, and the U.S. citizen populated territories of Hawaii and Alaska became states.
Instead of resolving Puerto Rico’s status, President Roosevelt appointed a territorial Governor who had some very odd ideas about government. He convinced local leaders Puerto Rico could have the benefits of U.S. citizenship but also have separatist “national government” outside the constitutional federation of states.
The inevitable outcome of this social engineering experiment is now clear. Puerto Rico is a failed U.S. client state in a fiscal and economic tailspin. You are the first President since FDR imposed New Deal policies in Puerto Rico who has the business experience to recognize the incredible opportunity given Puerto Rico’s pivotal position in Caribbean tourism.
Can you imagine the investment inflows once it is clear Puerto Rico will be the 51st state? Even more important, after decades of welfare dependency the creative energy and industry of our fellow citizens will be unleashed once the failed “commonwealth” economic model based on tax gimmicks ends. Federal subsidization is no substitute for integration into the national economy as a state.
Each of the 32 territories that became states since 1796 has experienced a dramatic and sustained upward economic growth spiral. The U.S. model of equal citizenship rights and equal footing for each state in the life of the nation has always seen all boats rise with the tide.
Thus, you enter office this month faced with the same opportunity to enrich our nation that President Madison faced in 1812 when Louisiana was admitted to the Union. The territory was an economic basket case, the people spoke Spanish and French, and the U.S. was facing war with Britain.
But the people were U.S. citizens and Congress as well as the President realized the only thing worse than the challenges of admission was denial of admission with equal citizenship. Louisiana was launched and has never stopped to look back!
You also face an opportunity similar to President Polk when Texas was admitted to the union under his leadership, and fertile ground was plowed to clear the way for the greater Oregon Territory to become part of the U.S. instead of Canada.
Consider these data points for a prospectus on investment in Puerto Rico statehood:
- Since WWI, U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico have served in the U.S. military at a per capita rate higher than most if not all states, a legacy which includes Medals of Honor and thousands of medals for valor in combat.
- Puerto Rico is three times the size of Rhode Island, larger than Delaware, with the same combined land and waters as Connecticut. Puerto Rico’s coastal marine zone equals Georgia’s, but is larger than that of South Carolina, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
- Puerto Rico’s population (3.5 million) is greater than that of twenty-one states, and an additional 5 million U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico are living throughout the fifty states.
- U.S. citizenship at birth has been federal law in Puerto Rico for a century of common citizenship with the rest of America.
- The Constitution, laws and treaties of the United States have been the supreme law of the land in territory for 114 years.
- Puerto Rico voted for statehood by sixty-one percent in 2012, with more votes cast separately for statehood than for the current status, which was rejected by fifty-four percent in a separate up or down vote. Assertions that the vote was inconclusive are anti-statehood propaganda.
- Government and private studies show a private sector encumbered by limitations of the current status, but with the predictability of statehood sustainable growth will enable Puerto Rico to pay its way in the Union.
Perhaps most importantly of all, statehood based on democratic self-determination will affirm that government by consent of the governed is still the driving moral force that makes the USA the land of freedom and prosperity.