- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Puerto Rico’s status

The editorial on the recent Bush administration policy report to Congress about the political status of Puerto Rico is fraught with misinformation (“Puerto Rico and statehood,” Sunday).

First, you question support of statehood by a Republican administration. In 2000 and 2004, the GOP platforms strongly supported statehood, and called for a referendum in which the current status, statehood and separate nationhood are defined in legally valid terms accepted by Congress.

However, the Report by the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status did not simply call for a vote between those three options. Rather, the White House report recommends a very neutral ballot choice between keeping the current status and seeking a new status. Under this approach, there would never be a vote on statehood or separate sovereign nationhood unless a majority voted to seek an end to the current status, so your allegation that the White House seeks to “jettison” the current status is simply wrong.

Because the administration’s report concludes that governing federal law defines Puerto Rico as a territory, the pro-commonwealth leaders of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) have hired Republican lobbyists to advance their theory that Puerto Rico became a nation when Congress authorized adoption of a local constitution in 1950.

Thus, their proposal is not to continue the current status at all, but to advance “Enhanced Commonwealth.” That status formula includes local power to decide which federal laws apply to Puerto Rico, the ability to conduct a separate foreign policy starting with international trade agreements, while keeping U.S. citizenship, permanent union and free trade with the United States, federal block grants and most other benefits of statehood, but none of its responsibilities. The White House report correctly concludes that status model is precluded legally and politically unrealistic.

Your assertion that voters approved the current status four times inaccurately includes the 1952 vote to approve the local constitution as a vote for “Commonwealth.”That was not a political status vote, since it did not change Puerto Rico’s status, and statehood, independence or “Commonwealth” were not on the ballot.

In three locally sponsored plebiscites, using disputed and highly controversial ballot definitions of commonwealth devised by the local political parties, the actual results were mixed. In 1967 the current status won by over 60 percent of the vote. In 1993 the current status got 48 percent, statehood 46 percent.

In 1998, over 46 percent voted for statehood, but the current status, labeled “Commonwealth,” was accurately defined as territorial, and got less than 1 percent. “None of the Above” received just over 50 percent voter approval.

Clearly, the status of Puerto Rico is not resolved, so your accusation that the White Houserecommendations for status resolution surrender ground gained in the Cold War against Castro and other critics of U.S. policy is simply absurd. President Reagan knew a thing or two about the Cold War, and he actively supported statehood as the best model for an American success story in Puerto Rico.

Ronald Reagan’s words were, “As a ‘commonwealth’ Puerto Rico is neither a state nor independent, and thereby has a historically unnatural status…To show the world that the American idea can work in Puerto Rico is to show that our idea can work everywhere.”

Finally, as a Republican in Congress representing 4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, a population close to that of Kentucky and Arizona, I find amusing your assertion that as a state Puerto Rico would send only Democrats to Congress. What does not amuse me is that Americans from Puerto Rico are serving in Afghanistan and Iraq at a per capita rate that ranks well within the top 5 among the 50 states, yet their Congressman has no vote, and they do not vote for their Commander-in-Chief.

I have introduced a bill, that currently has a 105 co-sponsors, to implement the recommendations of the White House report. By the time final legislation is passed there will be a record before Congress on the status issue that will lead to conclusions very different than those reached in your editorial.

DELEGATE LUIS FORTUNO

U.S. House

Washington

Growing the labor force

In her story “How immigrants make economy grow,” Patrice Hill commendably recognizes that immigration contributes to economic growth (Page 1, Monday). However, the story fails to make the strongest case for the economic contribution of immigrants because it focuses on a largely out-of-date theory of how economies grow.

Growth occurs not simply because the number of workers increases, as the story suggests, but also and more importantly because of something called “deepening in the division of labor.”

New workers (whether straight out of school or straight from across the border) enable established workers to do new things and give businesses opportunities to create new value for customers. To paraphrase Adam Smith, new workers encourage greater specialization by existing workers because the new workers take the lower-paying jobs. Then a more specialized work force provides opportunities for businesses to develop new production processes and better products.

Think of the differences in the types of jobs available in a large city and a small town.

The town might have a local doctor working as a general practitioner, but it’s not likely to have a cancer specialist. No matter how well the town’s doctor could do if he focused just on treating cancer victims, the town’s economy cannot support so narrowly tailored an expert. The city, however, has hospitals staffed with specialists in virtually every field, each of whom can do a better job than a GP at treating the diseases they have focused their energies on fighting.

Immigration works in the same way. By expanding the size of the labor force, immigration allows American workers to increase their degree of specialization and become more productive, earning higher wages. That same specialization also permits businesses to apply their capital in new and more productive ways, expanding economic growth.

WILLIAM W. BEACH

Director

Center for Data Analysis

Heritage Foundation

JAMES SHERK

Policy analyst

Center for Data Analysis

Heritage Foundation

Washington

Kidnapping is kidnapping is kidnapping

We grieve with the parents whose Japanese children were abducted by North Korean agents (“Japan presses N. Korea to resolve abduction issue,” World, Saturday).

Congress and the president were kind to meet with the grieving parents, but it is hypocritical for Japan to complain about the abduction of its children while American children are abducted to Japan with the approval of the Japanese government.

Japan makes its position very clear by refusing to join the 68 other countries that are signatories to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is designed to prevent international kidnapping

Walter Benda of Max Meadows, Va., has not been able to visit with his two daughters, now 17 and 15, for more than 10 years. The children, who were born in the United States, were taken by their Japanese mother when they were 6 and 4, while the family was temporarily residing near Tokyo. Mr. Bender has spent countless time in visits to Japan and has pursued the case to the Japanese Supreme Court to no avail.

Japan treats children as if they were suitcases or pieces of furniture — that is, as the property of the parent with custody.

This nefarious activity in Japan starts at the top — with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. At the time of his divorce, Mr. Koizumi got custody of their two boys. Their third child, who was unborn at the time of the divorce, was given to the mother. Mr. Koizumi has never taken the initiative to meet the son born after the divorce, and he has refused to allow the mother to have any contact with the older boys. This is from an article in The Washington Post by Kathryn Tolbert on May 19, 2001.

Japan is a glass house, throwing stones at North Korea while hoping the world will ignore its own abysmal record of allowing the kidnapping and hiding of U.S. children.

DAVID L. LEVY

CEO

Children’s Rights Council

Hyattsville

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide