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jueves, 8 de mayo de 2008

Puerto Rico Statehood - Economic and Social Aspects

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Economic Aspects As a state, Puerto Rico will no longer be draining approximately $22 billion per year from the American taxpayer. Thus, Puerto Rico will no longer be dependent on federal grants and will greatly contribute to the U.S. Treasury and the national economy. Opponents of statehood have argued that Puerto Ricans would be worse off financially since statehood would mean the repeal of the federal income tax exemption. This argument is misleading. While Puerto Ricans (with the exception of federal employees) do not pay federal income taxes, they do pay federal taxes on Medicare and Social Security benefits like all other U.S. citizens. Most importantly, since Puerto Rico is exempt from federal income taxes, Puerto Ricans have the highest local income tax rate in the United States. Thus, it can be said that the funds that would go to the federal government in income taxes, go to the local government in the form of local income taxes. With statehood, Puerto Ricans would contribute their fair share to the federal government, while seeing a sharp reduction in their local income tax rate. In just like any other state, the larger share of the taxpayer’s money would go to the federal government instead of the state government. Moreover, federal income taxpayers are allowed to deduct the amount paid in local income taxes from their adjusted gross income on the Form 1040 of their federal income tax return. Studies have shown that Puerto Ricans, especially the ones in the lower social classes, would financially benefit with statehood. Another argument frequently used by statehood opponents is that Puerto Rico is “too poor” when compared to the states, and therefore is not ready for statehood. This argument has no standing whatsoever. To begin with, any such poverty is the result of the current colonial status, where the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico do not have equal rights in regards to benefits, rights, and responsibilities. For Puerto Ricans with low incomes, statehood would mean that they will have the same access to federal support and tax relief programs, in contrast to the current territorial status where they do not have equal rights. Throughout history, every single territory that has gained admission to the Union has witnessed a period of sharp economic growth, and Puerto Rico would be no exception. Statehood has always meant economic growth and a greater standard of living for all territories that have joined their destinies with the United States. In a recent study called Puerto Rican Statehood: A Precondition to Sound Economic Growth, by Hexner, Jenkins, Lad and Lame, the case is clearly made that statehood is necessary and essential for Puerto Rico’s economic growth. Social Aspects Some opponents of statehood have also argued that having Puerto Rico as a state would mean the loss of the island’s cultural heritage, identity, and even the Spanish language. They also claim that Puerto Rico cannot become a state because Puerto Ricans “do not speak English”. The reality is that English, along with Spanish, is already an official language in Puerto Rico. In fact, Puerto Rico made history by becoming the first U.S. jurisdiction to declare English a national language. English is a required elementary subject in public schools and throughout high school. English is also the language used in all federal agencies in Puerto Rico and serves as the common language of multiple industries, like tourism, commerce, and banking. However, the U.S. Government has never imposed a language requirement on any would-be state. Such action would be unconstitutional, since matters of language and culture are delegated to the individual states to determine, not the federal government. A good example of a historical precedent where this principle can be seen lies with the state of New Mexico. The state constitution of New Mexico was originally written in Spanish and most of its residents spoke Spanish as a first language at the time it attained statehood.The people of Puerto Rico will never lose their identity. After interacting with the United States for over a century, Puerto Rican culture and identity continue to flourish and remain strong. After all, statehood is a political change, not a cultural one. While the United States is a melting pot of different cultures, it is also a nation of nations. http://prssa51.wordpress.com/why-statehood/

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