Friday, July 10, 2015

What Congress Should Do to Help Puerto Rico out of her Fiscal and Economic Crisis

 If the Congress truly wants to help Puerto Rico there are four things Congress should do.  FIRST, lowered the minimum wage in PR to two thirds of the federal minimum wage, or no more than 6 dollars an hour, whichever is less.  SECOND repel or amend the Jones Act of 1920 to allow international ships to transport cargo between Puerto Rico and the United States. THIRD set a minimum set of requirements for admitting any territory or country as a State of the Union; make clear what the linguistic, sociological and economic requirements are, so that the false and misleading propaganda of the Statehood/colonial establishment in PR will come to an end and Puerto Rico will focus his whole attention on reaching the economic development we need before any change in our political status can be implemented. FOURTH recognize that Puerto Rico is not a mere territory of the United States but a unique nation, with a clear-cut transcendental identity of our own, and readjust your dealings with PR accordingly.

The economy of Puerto Rico is that of an emerging country, and in order to compete with other countries in our region we need to  lower wages. Yet local politicians will not promote that, for if they do, they will lost popular support. Lowering wages across the board is a difficult and painful process but as the Kreuger Report clearly states, it is essential for the reorganization and growth of our economy.  

So, dear friends in Washington do what PR leadership is not in a position  to do.  Lower the minimum wage in PR to 2/3rds of the minimum wage in the United States, or 6 dollars an hour, whichever is less.  Using the present federal minimum wage as a reference, the minimum wage in PR should  be no more than 5 dollars. Even if Congress were to decide to raise the minimum wage in the United States, PR economy cannot afford to pay a minimum wage of more than 6 dollars an hour. 

Of course there are jobs in PR that now pay and would ever pay much more than 6 dollars and hour. Yet there are many more low pay jobs that are not viable in PR at the time. With a lower minimum wage, those jobs, perhaps tens of thousands of them would become viable, and ten of thousands of individuals who are now unemployed will have  jobs.  Obviously with the entrance of so many low paying jobs, the salary scales in PR will be readjusted, from top to bottom.  That will be a painful process, as we learn to live within our limits, and under own own economic reality.   A painful but necessary process that no local politician would be willing to promote or advance. That's why it is necessary that you, dear Congress, do it.

 As an emerging economy and tropical Island, there are many low cost agricultural and manufacturing  products that PR could export  to the United States. But  In doing so we would be competing with other Caribbean Basin Nations.  Yet those nations have an artificial advantage over PR.  They can use the cheapest international ships to transport their products, while we must use the US merchant marine. That raises the cost of transporting our agricultural and low cost manufacturing products, effectively writing us out of that market.

Please fully repeal or at the very least amend the Jones Act of 1920 to allow us to ship our products to the United States using the cheapest ships available, just like our neighbors in the Caribbean do.

Set up a realistic policy for admitting new states into the Union. In PR the statehood movement have had a historic support of only 35 to 45 percent.  Yet the Statehood promoters seek to inflate that number by promising the poor and needy that Statehood is for the poor, that statehood will entail no change in language or social obligations and that welfare benefits will immediately be raise to the same levels as in the States.

This false representation of what Statehood is has two immediate effects. Under the present fiscal and economic crisis,  it raises support for Statehood to a level above 50 percent, probably between 55 and 65 percent. High enough to inspired a "Statehood for PR" movement in the US that may end up making PR the 51st state of the Union. And yet once Statehood comes and the masses in PR learn that in order to achieve true economic development they MUST rolled up their sleeves, stretch their arms. and start working in PR as hard as they can, which is a paradigm for individual progress anywhere in the world; as soon as that happens the support for statehood WILL most likely than not, drop below the  historic levels  of 35 to  45 percent, creating an impossible, never before seen, dilemma for the Federal system that do not provided a way out of Statehood, just a way in.

Another negative effect of this Statehood for the poor campaign is that it creates an expectation that Statehood is around the corner, that Statehood will solve everything, and thus we, the residents of PR and our Government need not to make any fundamental change to our economy or any major collective sacrifice; but to request Statehood, and when statehood comes, we will be in paradise.  Even more, since they believe that the solution to everything is to become a state, as soon as the pro-statehood party comes to power, immediately they try to terminate any government program, social institution or commercial/manufacturing enterprise,  no matter how successful  they may have been, that could be conceived as an impediment for statehood. Even worse, when in power, they try to implement all the programs and social realities that exist in the States with no regard to our cultural, fiscal and economic capacity to implement and finance them. Billions and billions of dollars have been wasted that way. That is the way they have acted in all their previous administrations,  and they would do it again in 2017, if they win the November 2016 election,  which under the present crisis is the most likely thing to happen. And to win that election the illusion of statehood as a magical solutions to all of our problems will be waved as carrot in from of our noses. Please help us make that electoral process a fair one where fair and realistic solutions are presented and seriously evaluated by the people.  We need  an Statehood for PR reality check,  and we need it now. Congress should prioritize that; but if they won't do it, it would be the responsibility of any serious think tank in America, from left to right, from top to bottom to do their own.

A change of status, toward statehood or National Sovereignty, by itself will not change what is wrong with Puerto Rico's economy or fiscal crisis.  To solve this crisis we need to work hard and consistently for various years. There is no easy way.  Yet the Statehood supporters tell us otherwise. Vote for statehood, and everything will be resolve automagically.

In order to deal with this I believe that Congress should establish a policy on the admission of new states that will address social, linguistic, economic, and political issues; and establish clear-cut requirements.

With regards to language, I believe that any country or territory that request admission as a State should have had English as the primary language for both, Government Communications and Educational purposes, for at least 5 years, prior to requesting Statehood. Once again the Statehood movement in PR got English raised to the level of Official Language, along with Spanish. Yet the fact remains that the language of Education and the primary language for government communications in PR is Spanish. In my opinion that is how it should be, for Puerto Rico is a Spanish speaking country. So Spanish should be the primary language of the Government and the language of education in PR , just like English should be the language of Education and the primary language of Government communication in the United States.

But, on paper, the Puerto Rico pro-statehood movement have manage to give the impression that both languages, Spanish and English are official languages in PR, interchangeably used by Government,  which in practice it is not so. To prevent that lie to muddle the truth, the requirement that English becomes the primary language of Government Communication and education must include the provision that this  must be the reality on the ground for not less than five years prior to requesting Statehood.

With regard to the economy.  A clear cut set of economic conditions must be defined, that any territory requesting statehood must meet, before requesting statehood. A given level of economic development must be reach and documented, before requesting Statehood.

Finally,  a super-majority in favor of Statehood must be reach and sustain for several years in order for Congress to consider granting Statehood to any given territory.  Becoming  a State of the Union is, under present conditions, an irreversible decision. Thus Congress must demand that the vast majority of the residents of any territory requesting Statehood endorse that decision, and those who don't , are able to live happily with it.  Remember becoming a State of the Union is not a right. Congress is not obliged to grant statehood just because someone requested it.  Congress should only do so if accepting that country or territory as a state is proven to be beneficial to the Union.

So, in order to accept any territory as a state Congress must make sure that the decision to request Statehood is a final an unwavering determination, that no matter what, the residents of the territory will stand by their determination to become and remain an integral part of the Union. That no matter what may happen in the future, what social or economic turmoil, recession or whatever may follow they will remain strong in their determination to continue to be a Federal State.  Congress has an obligation to set whatever conditions it deems appropriate yo make sure that it is so.  A super majority in favor of Statehood, sustained over several years is a must. It is a condition the federal government must set right at the beginning.

Under these conditions,  I do not believe that Puerto Rico is ready for Statehood. As an apologist for Puerto Rican National Identity, sovereignty and eventual Independence, I personally believe that PR will never be ready for Statehood. Other Puerto Ricans think otherwise. According to the last referendum held on November 2012, 44.6 percent would want Puerto Rico to become a Federal State, 5 percent want immediate Independence, 33 percent wants free association (a form or variant of Independence, with close political and economic ties with the US) and the other 15 percent would be happy to retain the present status as it is.

Yet it must be noted that those who want Free Association would like it to come as a gradual development of the present status.  So in reality the present status have the support of 53 percent of the people.  Some want it to remain as it is, others, myself included, would like it to grow or develop into an eventual Free Association as defined by international law.

Yet the statehood and immediate independence supporters would say that  in the first question in that referendum the people rejected the present status.  In reality, the present status was nowhere in that referendum. The first question was worded as a reference to the territorial treatment Congress grants Puerto Rico, insisting that we, the people and nation of PR, is a mere territory under the plenary powers of Congress. Of course most Puerto Rican are against that, but that does not translate into a desire to change the present status in a radical and immediate fashion. 

Just a clarification from Congress, you could do it in one session if you want,  would suffice the terminate the territorial abuse of our national dignity. Everything else represented by the present status would remain as it is. No need for major change, just a long due recognition of our national identity and a new attitude from Congress would do most of what need to be done. Is not us the ones who need to make radical change, it is you, dear Congress, who need to recognize that you are not dealing with savages scattered across a mostly underpopulated territory, as the founding fathers understood the land west of the States and int inhabitants to be.  It is you the ones who need to recognized that when General Miles invaded Puerto Rico, PR was already a distinguished Province of the Spanish Kingdom, a western style nation, in the full sense of the world.  If you would have not interfere in our affairs, a few years latter and due to the hard times in Spain, that followed the fall of the Spanish Empire, PR would have become an Independent Nation. Instead we were reduced by your intervention to be regarded as a Naval outpost somewhere overseas., an outpost that remained ignored and abuse for half a century, and whose real  identity as a people, as a nations  has never being recognized by Congress.

We the people of Puerto Rico are tired of being treated as a mere territory, with no dignity or identity of our own. Open your eyes, open your ears, smell the coffee uncle Sam, you are not dealing with a territory inhabited by scattered savages, but with a proud Nation. We are not the one who need to change, The decision to treat us as a mere territory was your unilateral decision, and to change that there is no need for us to act, but for you to amend for the errors and horrors of your imperialistic past. Please do so.

 Now, we Puerto Ricans are very conservative and cautious in our political decisions. We have to be, it is our lives and well being that are at stake, and in our experience you are a powerful and violent metropolis... so while we want change, we don't want to jump into the abyss hoping that we would grow wings before hitting the ground.  We prefer to grow into things.  Our present status is imperfect.  Officially we are, on your eyes, not ours, an unincorporated territory subordinated to the will (and in our opinion the whims) of Congress, a mere territory that belongs to, but is not part of the Union. In other words a colony. And yet we also believe that this colonial realty can be modified in a progressive manner, eventually leading to National Sovereignty, in a manner where the national interests of both nations are well protected.

And please, realized and understand, that while we are not and has never been a Sovereign NATION, we have been and considers ourselves to be a NATION, in the FULL historic, sociological, and transcendental meaning of the word.  What is a nation in the historic and sociological sense, that you can look up in the dictionary. But when I use the term transcendental, I am referring to a nation that sees herself as having a transcendental, almost mythical origin, and a destiny to fulfill, so that till that destiny is fulfilled, there is no force on earth that will bring her to an end. Look at the Jewish and Aramaic national identities, if you wish to better understand what I mean.

Most of you in the States believe in the Manifest Destiny, the White men burden, or the Chosen People theory where you see yourself as chosen by God to guide and rule mankind.  Well, at the core of the Puerto Rican national identity there is a similar believe, not to rule mankind but certainly to fulfill a God given prophetic function that nobody else would do. Till that function is fulfilled PR will remain a nation, a unique people, a unique collective living entity, no one would be able to assimilate or overcome.

Our mythical origin takes us back to the days of the Old Testament.  The discovery of America was financed by those who wanted to know if  a certain place did exist, Colon did not know a holy thing about it... and he did not need to know. But those who did, found PR, and here a careful sociological process has taken place, over the centuries,  to create a people that would have in unique function to perform. More than a people, more than a nation, PR is the incarnation of a purpose, of a prophetic function. One that no one would be able to derail, assimilate or resist.

It is that sense of divine, transcendental origin and divine prophetic destiny, that defines the Puerto Rican National identity at its core: what makes it so strong and resilient. 

A people like that, a nation like that, the Union will never be able to assimilate or Americanize. PR will always be PR and when the times comes where it will be necessary for Puerto Rico to be a sovereign Nation, we will be a Sovereign Nation, there is not a thing the United States can do to prevent that from happening.  That is God's perfect will, and if it becomes necessary to divide the Union into a thousands pieces in order for PR to become a sovereign nation, God himself will  see to that. The United States is not essential for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled, PR certainly is.

You may think that I am a crazy, lunatic,religious fanatic. Other may consider the Manifest Destiny or the White Man Burden to be imperialistic bull and yet it is the basis, of Anglo/American Imperialism around the world.

Our nations are built on two different transcendental foundations,and  because of that the one, no matter how big and powerful it has become should never try to absorb or assimilate the other.  Instead we must respect  one another as equals. Thus, the best thing for the United States to do with regards to PR is to discard Statehood, or any  other form assimilation  and fully support a peaceful, progressive, step by step process for Puerto Rico to become a Sovereign nation, closely associated, with the United States but free and sovereign to seek and follow her own destiny.  

Congress, if you truly want to help PR to overcome the present crisis,  you can start with the easy things. Lower the minimum wage  in PR to no more than 2/3rds of what it is in the States,  and repeal the Jones Act of 1920. Continue with the approval of a clear cut set of requirements for any country or territory that would want to become a Federal State.  These will suffice for the moment. The situation would still be hard for PR, but free from the burden of the Jones Act and a salary scale higher than what we can afford to pay; and awaken from the  "statehood now magical solution"  dream, we should be able to focus on real immediate strategies to overcome the crisis and plunge ahead.

The transcendental considerations, please take them into consideration and meditate on the shameful colonial reality your forefathers imposed upon a country,  upon a nation that cannot be and will never become an integral part of the Union, not because we hate or despise you, but because we, the Nation of Puerto Rico have our own transcendental identity and purpose to fulfill among the free nations of the world.

You are free to fulfill yours to be best of your abilities. Grant us the freedom to fulfill our.  God will bless you for that. Otherwise, His will.... will be done. Just like Moses told the Pharaoh of Egypt once, let my people go to fulfill  my will in the desert. If you don't, he will take that into consideration, and act accordingly.