Puerto Rico Statehood: Pros and Cons

The advantages of statehood for Puerto Rico are obvious:

  1. The sometimes bizarre legal inequalities between Puerto Rico and the states would end, immediately helping Puerto Rico’s economy. For example, Puerto Rico would be eligible for D-SNAP, the special food stamp program for disaster victims. No one can explain why Puerto Rico isn’t eligible for the program now, but this situation would end if Puerto Rico were a state. The same holds true for the inequities in Medicaid, family tax credits, and many more federal programs.
  2. Like every territory which has become a state, Puerto Rico would be in a stronger economic position. Jobs for local people will come naturally as Puerto Rico rebuilds. Being part of the larger U.S. economy will increase tourism, entrepreneurship, and investment in business in Puerto Rico. Instead of having to rely on self-destructive tax loopholes, Puerto Rico will have the same opportunities for growth the other states have.
  3. Puerto Rico will have full representation in the U.S. legislature, with the ability to vote on laws that affect Puerto Rico.
  4. Residents of Puerto Rico will be able to vote in presidential elections, as well as in elections for senators and congresspeople. Full participation in the democratic process will be available to all residents of Puerto Rico.
  5. With increased power and prosperity, Puerto Rico will bring greater benefits to the United States as a whole, as every territory has done when it has become a state.

What are the disadvantages of statehood for Puerto Rico? We’ve researched this question, examining the disadvantages others have listed.

  1. Puerto Rico could lose its place in the Olympics or the Miss Universe Pageant. A complaint from the United States could remove Puerto Rico from the Olympics at any time, and the same is true for the international pageants. For example, Guadeloup and French Guyana used to participate separately in beauty pageants as Puerto Rico does, but since 1984 they have been included in the Miss France competition. This happened with no change in status for Guadeloup or French Guyana. Miss France 2017 was the contestant from French Guyana, as it happens, and Puerto Ricans have won medals for the U.S. in the Olympics.  The point is that this participation is not an automatic consequence of being a territory, and loss of this participation would not be an automatic consequence of statehood. This issue is independent of political status.
  2. Puerto Rico could become an English-speaking state. While it is not true that states must be English only or even English mostly, it is true that states like Louisiana and New Mexico, which didn’t have English as their majority language before statehood, are now English speaking states. Puerto Rico would not be the only state with more than one official language, and it would not be the state with the largest number of Spanish speakers. With 47% Spanish speakers, New Mexico has the largest percentage of Spanish speakers, followed by  California and Texas with 38% each. Eight states have more than 1,000,000 Spanish speakers, and the U.S. has more Spanish speakers than Spain. Spanish is clearly the second language of the United States. Nonetheless, it is likely that more people would speak English in the state of Puerto Rico.
  3. Residents of Puerto Rico would pay federal income tax. Actually, with a higher poverty level and higher unemployment than any of the 50 states even before Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s residents would not pay income tax. Like nearly half of their fellow citizens in the states, most of the residents of Puerto Rico don’t earn enough to pay income taxes. Instead, they would be eligible for family tax credits. As Puerto Rico rebuilds and becomes more prosperous, the Island will see a better quality of life and the United States will see more tax revenue from the Island.
  4. U.S. statistics will falter. Some national statistics are calculated without including Puerto Rico. If those numbers are recalculated with Puerto Rico’s information included, the United States could suddenly have a higher poverty rate, a higher crime rate, and a larger number of hours of sunshine. People who worry about this downside to statehood don’t usually mention the sunshine. They shouldn’t worry about the crime rate, either. Unless data is being sorted out by state, all statistics about the United States should include the states and the territories. If more accurate crime rate figures embarrass the U.S., they might also motivate the federal government to take action to reduce crime and poverty in Puerto Rico.
  5. The United States would become responsible for Puerto Rico’s financial troubles. We see this given as a reason for the United States to refuse statehood to Puerto Rico. This shows ignorance. There has never been a requirement for territories to be solvent before they become states. One good reason for this is that the United States is responsible for the territories she owns. She is in fact more responsible for the territories than for the states. Congress has complete power over territories, according to the U.S. Constitution. States have rights and powers of their own.  Unless Congress is prepared to force independence on Puerto Rico — and we don’t think they are — the buck stops in Washington.

Are there any real disadvantages to statehood? On closer examination, we don’t see any. Join us. Now more than ever, we can’t go backwards. We can only go forward, and statehood is our future.

Fact sheet on the integrity of the 2020 plebiscite

12 Comments

No

Your reasons for cons aren’t even a problems. You can’t make a pros and cons list for something you’re completely biased on, it just doesn’t work like that.

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Jack Alfaro

HELL NO. Why do we want to become fully responsible for an incompetent government? Also, why the hell do Puerto Ricans want to throw away their culture? I say Puerto Ricans are smart and capable to succeed on their own, they should be moving for independence to get out from underneath the United State’s control. The push for statehood seems like a misguided play due to uncertainty on it’s own merits to succeed as a sovereign nation.

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Steve Perez

Most mainland Americans have always called Puerto Rico a welfare commonwealth. Having read here that Puerto Rico is NOT a welfare commonwealth but an impoverished commonwealth let down by
Washington bureaucrats.
Our culture would never be lost or thrown away as some seem to view it. In actuality, we would become stronger people. Independence for Puerto Rico would be disastrous. We would become another Haiti or Cuba. Democracy would become a thing of the past. The future doesn’t lie in being poor but lies in enriching our lives. We already have much of the life the United States has to offer. Independence would make all that vanish and our island would be thrown into the dark ages.
Statehood would bring opportunity, jobs, better medicine and schools for our children, a stronger and more reliable infrastructure and safety for all our people. The thought of becoming it’s own sovereign nation may sound good and all but the reality of it is that it would not succeed. People would die and hunger, medical attention and crime would become major problems.
Puerto Rico’s government needs to move toward statehood to secure our place as part of our
American citizenship. Our culture will be fine. It will never leave us. Don’t blind yourselves with thinking we are a a separate culture, because we are not. We are a blended culture. Let’s finish the integration.

Reply
Hugh Wang

Your brain is operating under the assumption that Puerto Ricans are dumb and lazy when in fact we aren’t. We have one of the highest college graduate rates in the US. You remind me of British loyalists who opposed the American revolution because it was “safer” under King George. Sure making a new country is hard but who said success was suppose to be easy?

An independent Puerto Rico would flourish. Some of the wealthiest and brightest builders in the world are already living on the island. If Puerto Rico becomes a state they would be the first to leave and this place would turn into the Venezuela of the US. Sure it’s a state but who wants to live in another Detroit, MI?

On the other hand, if Puerto Rico becomes sovereign those builders would leverage their resources towards turning it into the next Singapore not the next Haiti or Cuba. Who would leave? Those who are currently having kids without a job and expecting others to pay for them. As US citizens they would have the choice to leave the island and head to the mainland for better welfare programs. Those who don’t expect a handout would stay and build. Those not here would relocate to help.

Open your eyes and have faith in the people. More government is never the solution.

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White Republican for PR

All peoples in the world have their dumb and lazy not just PR. I am white but, I haven’t met dumb or lazy PR’s yet. My sons God Father is PR. He is far from lazy and is not stupid. His whole family is very hard working and successful. As for other PR’s I have met along the way, they have all been hard working American Dreamers who have benefited from their hard work. So, I would be inclined to accept PR as a 51st state.
Yes, I have spent a year in PR. So, I am aware of their issues. It’s not something that can’t be remedied and with us joining together we on the Mainland can help PR. Send in Rudy Giuliani. He cleaned up NYC. He can make it happen for Puerto Rico.

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Hugh Wang

People create jobs in areas where there is a good risk reward ratio with favorable economic conditions. PR as a state would have close to an 80% taxable income rate. It would have the complete opposite effect of “opportunity, jobs, better medicine and schools for our children” and instead be just another welfare state. If you want to support something you should study the history of the worlds economic power houses and how they came to be. Here’s some homework:

Panama
Singapore
Hong kong
Macao
Australia
New Zealand
Montenegro

All former were former colonies. All pro-business. All economic powerhouses.

Reply
pr51st

Hi, Ben, We are biased. We are not a balanced news site. We are an advocacy site, talking to statehood supporters and people who want to know more about statehood for Puerto Rico. We are specifically asking people to take action to help Puerto Rico become a state. I see that you are writing from a school. It’s important to note that bias doesn’t always mean that published materials are false or unreliable. You should always consider whether a website is biased, because some sites may be biased but dishonest about that. Consider the purpose of the website, whether it provides sources for its information (we do), ands whether it fairly depicts the arguments on the other side (we do). Good luck with your project!

Reply
Hugh Wang

The only people pushing for statehood are those looking to increase the welfare state and the bondholders looking for debt reimbursement. Fact is those investors knew it was bad debt in the first place and deserve to lose their investment.

We already have the largest public housing project in the US. They want to turn the entire island into public housing. The world doesn’t need another Venezuela and neither does the US. Given the choice between paying federal income tax and casting a vote for a president, which doesn’t matter anyways due to the electoral college, a Puerto Rican will always vote to keep more of what they earn. The only exception to this rule are welfare recipients, something we have too much of on the island.

Let’s do the math. Our sales tax is 11.5% + 33% fed income tax + 33% PR state income tax = 77.5%

Try being transparent with the people and include the potential tax rate after becoming a state and see how much of the vote you get. You claim most on the island won’t pay income tax because they don’t qualify.

Translation: everyone who earns enough income to qualify will pay out almost 80% of their wages to the government in the meantime those who can’t afford kids have more, don’t work and live for free.

Who in their right mind would stay on the island? That is the equivalent of working 10 months out of the year for the government. What services do we get in return for this slavery? I guarantee it won’t be any better than it is right now. Social Security is a ponzi scheme and won’t last the next generation. Obamacare will make health care system even worse and more expensive than it already is. University costs will skyrocket to mainland prices when right now they are the most affordable in the county.

I’ll tell you what will happen if we get statehood. All wealth creators will relocate to mainland and PR will becomes the Venezuela of the US.

Instead imagine if your groups efforts were directed towards real growth. An independent Puerto Rico could become the Singapore of the Americas:

1 – declare real bankruptcy and wipe its debt clean
2 – forge new trade deals with other nations
3 – open up the country to billions in potential foreign investment
4 – create a golden visa program to bring in more revenue and talent
5 – opt out of a bankrupt social security system
6 – turn PR into a hub for crypto industry instead of being beholden to fed government and its archaic regulations

These are just a few things that can be done to turn the island into an economic power house instead of the next Detroit. The people who want to live on the system will leave for the mainland where they can apply for welfare programs. Those that want to build a better PR will stay and work. Those who aren’t here will relocate to help. This is called economic migration. Nobody is migrating to Venezuela.

Singapore broke away from Malaysia which broke away from UK. Only possible through independence. We have some of the best talent in the US already living on the island. Peter Schiff and Brock Pierce to name a few. Imagine if those minds and others were used to help an independent island grow into a world power. Statehood comes, they’ll be the first to leave.

Reply
AA AA

Mr. Hugh Wang,
I have read all your above comments and appreciate your point of view. We can agree to disagree respectfully.
1- P RIcans – have consistently voted against an independent PR, they simply do not want it. The local well known “pro- independence leaders” – have homes in the States and will likely be the first to continue to make noise, while enjoying their lives in the mainland. Your main reason for promoting an independent PR and be against Statehood appears to be mostly financial, there is so much more to the story of PR and its relationship with the USA.
2- Based on the poor administrative PR Gov track record – under varied and multiple administrations – the financial administrative utopia you are describing- will simply not occurred. IF anything, a completely independent PR will be wide open to more private and public corruption without federal oversight.
3- The “best talent in the US”- already living in the area -Are there exclusively because of the domestic- foreign tax benefits – Laws 20/22- through which the contribution to local growth has been minuscule, if any. Did they relocate to PR before those laws were pass ? – I think not.
4- Your comments on federal taxes are not accurate – It is likely that state and local taxes will be reviewed and the federal taxes will be based on individual income. Corporate taxes will be competitive BUT they will not continue to be A foreign tax heaven that gives very little back to PR. Also, with Statehood – it is likely than the PR local residents will get more out of their tax dollars than they no now- better federal oversight for infrastructure, education, housing – all of which will improve their quality of life.
5- An independent PR – has no way to defend itself militarily and control illegal immigration or narco traffic – just ask the USA COAST GUARD. This will translate in a very poor – even worse than it is now- local quality of life.
6- American Citizenship- Local residents overwhelming agree- they are and want to remain USA citizens. Granted, Some want Statehood , others want to continue the Status Quo – but more than 95 % of the PR local residents – will simply not give up their citizenship. An independent PR will bring folks from everywhere, but I can almost guaranty you – it will be the fastest way to get rid of local P Ricans in exchange for everyone else. An independent PR cannot have a USA citizenship – that is clear and definitive.
7- Statehood – Most logical after 120+ years of USA partnership, long courtship – but it is the next step in the relationship. Why – and the is probably the most important reason of all: The USA was founded on a philosophy – the Why ?- is the Declaration of Independence- The How? – is the Constitution. The USA residents of PR deserve equal rights under the Constitution, unequivocally and permanently.

Reply
FormerPResident

I lived full time in Puerto Rico for 15 years. I saw the best and the worst. The question of statehood is one that has pre-dated the current economic crisis. I can recall Plebisites in the 1960’s.

The largest thorn in the side of Statehood will be the Independence Movement which is still alive and well on the island. I remember the bombings in San Juan in the 1960’s. The ambush of American servicemen’s bus and the deaths that occurred. The shooting in Congress in the 1950’s.

I would like to see PR become a state but with a supermajority of approval instead of a simple majority. The 5% or so of residents who still support Independence can become a very loud voice should they wish to make themselves heard.

To think that the Independence movement will simply roll over and go away is kind of Pollyannish.

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Orenv

Puerto Rico should be rich and a mecca for those in the US mainland wanting to go on vacation. It is far closer to most of the US population than Hawaii. So why is it not a vacation wonderland? Why is it not successful economically? The powers that be there don’t want it to be, that is why. If it became a State, it would interfere in the power structure. I don’t know how active the FBI is in Puerto Rico, but maybe things would tick up a bit.

Puerto Rico has wonderous advantages but squanders them. That is why their main export is Puerto Ricans.

Reply

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