- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The fate of Puerto Rico

It is interesting to see the reactions of the supporters for statehood in Puerto Rico (“Puerto Rican statehood,” Letters,Thursday). Essentially, you are seeing the obfuscation of the facts that we Puerto Ricans see on a daily basis in the statehood propaganda.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Luis Guinot Jr. is correct that the majority of Puerto Ricans believe that something has to change, but he is absolutely wrong if he thinks we believe that what has to change is the island’s political status.

A change in political status in Puerto Rico will have zero effect on the quality of life of Puerto Ricans. What has to change is the attitude of politicians, who think they are in office to serve themselves, rather than the people who put them into public office.

I believe that trying to join the union of states permanently as a beggar is an idiotic goal. Puerto Rico has many problems and many issues that it has to solve for itself. As it stands now, any move towards statehood would only benefit the upper class, the people who are hoping that their properties and holdings on the island will appreciate if the island becomes a state.

Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila is correct in stating that we need to have more autonomy and freedom in order to prosper. The U.S. Congress is focused on a continental economy, not an island economy, and rightly so. We need the ability to take the actions necessary to promote our own economic well-being.

JUAN E. JIMENEZ

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Your editorial questioning the move in Congress to reopen the issue of Puerto Rican statehood appears to have triggered a lot of criticism from those in favor.

However, your editorial failed to mention a glaring omission in all the pending bills that would require Puerto Ricans to vote on the issue of whether or not to become a state for the fourth time in 40 years. None of the bills would require Puerto Rico to adopt English as the language of its government operations as a condition for statehood.

Puerto Rico currently conducts its government operations in Spanish. Unless it is required to change, admitting it as the 51st state is certain to result in demands that the federal government conduct its operations in both English and Spanish.

That, in turn, will lead to the same type of domestic conflict and bitter divisions over language that we see in countries like Canada and Belgium today.

Puerto Ricans have fought bravely defending freedom as members of the U.S. armed forces, and made great contributions as citizens residing in the United States. But admitting Puerto Rico as a state without requiring it to adopt English would be a grave mistake.

K.C. MCALPIN

Executive Director

ProEnglish

Arlington

Double jeopardy

“Gay Protection Tacked Onto Defense Bill” (Page 1, Friday), sheds light on why the deeply flawed federal hate-crimes bill passed the Senate.

Debate over whether homosexuals should be covered by the bill diverted attention away from the bill’s biggest flaws, such as its erosion of protections against double jeopardy.

Federal hate-crimes laws are dangerous because a loophole in constitutional protections against double jeopardy allows people found innocent of a crime in state court to be reprosecuted in federal court for hate crimes.

The hate-crimes bill seeks to take advantage of that loophole by dramatically broadening existing federal laws, not just for anti-gay hate crimes, but for other hate crimes, too.

Supporters want to use it to retry people already found innocent in state court, showing their hostility to the constitutional presumption of innocence.

Supporters often call the bill a safety valve in case state hate crimes prosecutions fail. Attorney General Janet Reno claimed in 1998 that the bill was needed to provide a federal “forum” in case a prosecution failed in state court. A lawyer for the NOW Legal Defense Fund argued that those found innocent should be reprosecuted if state prosecutors had “inadequate resources” or were of “questionable effectiveness.” Amazingly, one lawyer cited the Duke lacrosse case to argue for the bill. He claimed the defendants avoided conviction only because prosecutor Mike Nifong was “ineffective” and “overzealous.”

HANS BADER

Arlington

Iraq imperatives

Friday’s Associated Press dispatch from Iraq misses the effect of alliances among the different Iraqi sects, encouraged by our efforts (“Sunni official seeks Shi’ite cleric’s help in Iraq,” World).

The officials conferred yesterday over proposals “designed to end Iraq’s sectarian violence.” Iraq’s Sunni Vice President Tariq al Hashemi and Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani may have found common purpose on a “25-point blueprint for political reform.”

The Iraqis, with our extensive help, are beginning to cooperate with us on the ground as well. Sunnis disaffected with al Qaeda in Iraq are fighting alongside coalition forces, encouraged by our surge combining “hearts and minds” efforts with military assistance.

We cannot let mentalities of defeatism allow us to turn our backs on newfound and “old” allies. We mustn’t repeat the disgrace after the first Gulf war, when Shiites and Kurds felt encouraged to revolt in Iraq, only to be abandoned by their American allies.

This is not just a moral obligation but a strategic benefit which has the potential of moving us toward the light at the end of the Iraq war tunnel.

ONA BUNCE

Bethesda

Unhealthy measures

I heartily agree with R. Emmett Tyrell Jr. that health care will be “the pre-eminent issue of Campaign ‘08” (“Health Care and the postal service,” Commentary, Friday). Can anyone imagine driving a car by depressing the gas and the brake pedal at the same time? Of course not. But that”s exactly what is happening in the health care sector.

The engine of insurance is propelling health care spending growth at a dizzying rate, leaving many behind in the process. The government-subsidized employer tax break, its spending for woe-begotten Medicare, Medicaid, et cetera, have acted to drive up spending to such an extent that what tell you at the doctors office doesn’t relay the real cost of services, just what you must pay.

Meanwhile, politicians who need to be seen as “doing something” about runaway spending are regulating what kinds of care, drugs and services are marketed, how things are produced and who should get it (and when), along with the medical prices. These onerous ad hoc regulations “apply the brakes” to rising costs, but not in the long run, and only at the cost of individual choice in the health care market.

So what are the politicians proposing? More of the same. More insurance to drive up the costs even further, by mandating insurance for everyone, creating additional government programs and enacting more government regulations to control the market.

A better response would be first to take government’s foot off the gas by cutting subsidies to the vast majority of people able to take care of themselves. Applying the brakes would then become a reasonable measured response, dictated by what is really needed.

AL PEDEN

Frederick

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