Abraham, a Vietnam veteran, shared his vision for statehood.

“My vision would be better health, a better economy, more jobs, more opportunities. better opportunities!”

Better health

Would statehood lead to better health? Almost certainly.

Here are some of the issues that create obstacles to good health in Puerto Rico today:

  • Lack of federal funding — Puerto Rico’s access to Medicare coverage is not equal to the coverage for states, and the local government does not have the funds to make up the difference.
  • Dwindling numbers of health professionals on the Island. Highly trained healthcare professionals can earn far more in the states, with fewer logistical problems and better infrastructure support. There are also limited numbers of places for medical students available. It’s hard to keep medical professionals on the Island.
  • Infrastructure problems, leading to difficulties with electricity, internet access, and even basic transportation and supplies.
  • Inadequate nutrition assistance, along with reliance on imported food. 40% of Puerto Ricans are food insecure, in spite of the long growing season and plenty of arable land.
  • Environmental health hazards and persistent poverty lead to increased rates of many chronic diseases.
  • The large number of younger people leaving the Island because of lack of opportunities leads to an aging population without enough caregivers.

As a state, Puerto Rico would be treated equally with all the other states, as required by the Constitution. As a territory, Puerto Rico can legally be treated unequally.

A better economy

Puerto Rico faces many economic difficulties, from crushing debt to crumbling infrastructure, shrinking population leading to a shrinking tax base, and extreme levels of income inequality.

Statehood would not be a magic solution, but as a state, Puerto Rico would be treated equally with the other states. The Island would also have a full voice in U.S. democracy, with senators and more Members of the House to stand up for the needs in Puerto Rico.

Every territory which has become a state saw enormous economic improvement, including Alaska and Hawaii, the most recently added states. Puerto Rico could expect, based on the facts we see in U.S. history, to be in a stronger economic position after statehood.

More jobs

While Puerto Rico’s unemployment levels have shrunk significantly in recent years, labor force participation is still very low. This number may reflect casual, uncounted labor, but it’s still very low. Many young people in Puerto Rico feel that they don’t have work opportunities available on the Island.

One aspect of the problem is the tax tricks that encourage foreign investors to shelter profits in Puerto Rico. It looks as though manufacturing in Puerto Rico is bringing in a great deal of money — but the actual number of jobs involved is much smaller than the profits being claimed would suggest. Large companies like Microsoft may claim that millions of dollars in profit are being produced by a few hundred employees. Those profits do not stay in Puerto Rico, and they are not reinvested into jobs on the Island. It’s a shell game.

In addition, more tax tricks encourage a colonial economic situation in which wealthy individuals siphon funds from the Island, spending their money in states where they will receive incentives for spending, and merely claiming profits in Puerto Rico, where their profits will hardly be taxed.

Fortunately, history shows that territories which become states see economic growth. More investors, more jobs, and more opportunities in general flow into a new state.

Act 60, Section 936, and Puerto Rico

Better opportunities

An improved economy and more jobs will translate to better opportunities. Equal representation in the federal government will translate to better opportunities.

Statehood, in fact, will translate to better opportunities.

“If it comes during my lifetime, it would make me happy,” said Abraham. “because something that I have worked for came.” Join Abraham and be a #VoiceforStatehood.


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