With the outcome of election season came a few important changes in legislation in the United States, including the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, as well as the legalization of gay marriage in several states.
Outside of the continental U.S. also came big news: Puerto Rico, a small island that is currently a United States territory, has voted to apply for statehood.
If Puerto Rico were to become a state, it wouldn’t really benefit the United States, but the benefits would be felt in Puerto Rico.
In turn, the United States would inherit Puerto Rico’s 13.4 percent unemployment rate, and its very small GDP per capita ($24,600 per person per year). The economic growth of Puerto Rico itself is also quite small, ranking 172 in the world with a growth rate of only +0.191 percent per year.
It should be noted that at some point Puerto Rico, as well as other U.S territories should become states, but now is not that time. We have too many economic problems to handle already without inheriting others.
The last two states to be admitted to the Union, Alaska and Hawaii in 1959, came at a time when economic growth in the United States was high (+7.2 percent to the current +4.969 percent in 2012). In all fairness, admitting Puerto Rico to the Union wouldn’t place an enormous burden on the nation’s shoulders, but it would be an unnecessary one.
The manner in which Puerto Rico put the application for statehood on its ballot was also very confusing to those voting, according to an article published by The Huffington Post. It didn’t come right out and say: “Do you want to become a state?” Instead it asked voters if they were satisfied with the current commonwealth status of the nation (although a United States territory, the people of Puerto Rico commonly refer to it as a commonwealth).
This confusion resulted in some 470,000 people casting ballots where that option was left blank. Leading to an inaccurate conclusion as to whether the people of Puerto Rico even want to become a U.S. state.
Either way, it’s unlikely that Congress will be considering any statehood options for Puerto Rico in the near future. If Congress decides to vote on statehood for Puerto Rico, it’s likely that it won’t be until long after Barack Obama has left office. Hopefully, at that point, our economy will be stronger and the option to take on another state would be a viable one.
Besides, no one likes odd numbers.