Last night, Puerto Rico overwhelmingly voted to become the United States of America’s 51st state. Surprisingly enough, there are libertarians who are approving of this notion. It is quite interesting that libertarians would think this good for liberty when the only results this will yield is a larger federal government, more debt, more centralization, and less autonomy.
For Puerto Rico to become a state is for the US tax payer to assume another $70 Billion USD in debt. One can find no reason that Puerto Rico should become a state, but there is a better solution.
First off, if Puerto Rico were to become a state today, it would have the highest debt per capita. Currently, the state with the highest debt per capita is Massachusetts, in which each resident owes slightly less than $12,000 USD. Each resident of Puerto Rico, however, owes more than $15,000 USD. This is only $4,500 USD less than the median household income of Puerto Rico.
In addition, the workforce participation rate of Puerto Rico is embarrassingly low. Of the 3.474 million people in Puerto Rico, only 1.3 million are part of the labor force. Adding Puerto Rico to the Union would add as many as 2 million people to the US welfare burden. Considering 45% of Puerto Rico’s residents live below the poverty line, this is not an unreasonable claim. Admitting Puerto Rico as the 51st state would lead to more taxation, more debt, and more welfare.
Not only is Puerto Rican statehood economically unwise, it is egregiously unlibertarian. Admitting Puerto Rico to the union will lead to a greater centralization of power under the federal government. It will lead to Puerto Rican members of the US Senate and House of Representatives. This means that people from Puerto Rico will have a say over how you and I live our lives. In the same way it is wrong that the people of Britain had a say over how the Founding Fathers could live before the revolution, it is wrong that the people of Puerto Rico may have a say over how I can live.
The core of libertarianism is self-ownership and property rights. If Puerto Rican statehood gives more people control over us, how in the world can you claim that this is a libertarian solution to the problem of Puerto Rico? You can’t. Admitting Puerto Rico to the Union is a threat to our sovereignty and right to self determination. It is a new form of colonialism in which all people are further subjugated under the chains of statism.
None of this is to say that keeping Puerto Rico as a territory is a good idea. There were three options on the ballot in this referendum in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, not even 2% of the 23% of the population who voted chose the best option for everyone: Puerto Rican independence.
If Puerto Rico dissolved its political bands from the US, it would be able to determine its own destiny without US intervention in their market. It would lead to a process of decentralization and localization that would diminish the power of the federal government over the lives of the American and Puerto Rican people.
After nearly 120 years, it is high time for the people of Puerto Rico to determine the future of their nation and cease to be a territory of the United States.