Posts tagged ‘Puerto Rico’

01/29/2012

Republican Debate: Florida (1-26-12)

ROMNEY’S TAXES: Gingrich said Romney owns shares of Goldman Sachs and lives in a world of Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts. He said he did not “know of any American president who had had a Swiss bank account.” Romney, who all along has said he is a great money manager, said “my investments are not made by me.” They have “for the last 10 years have been in a blind trust, managed by a trustee.” His trustee invests in mutual funds and bonds, he said, and not in stocks. When Gingrich said Romney made a million dollars off of stock in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Romney denied it. He said his trustee loaned money to Freddie and Fannie and received interest, like from U.S. savings bonds. His trustee diversified investments and reported the money held in Swiss accounts to the U.S. and he paid U.S. taxes on it. Romney repeated he did not inherit money and claimed to have earned it. He said his taxes and charitable contributions took about 40% of his income.

ROMNEY’S PARTY: Gingrich claims Romney voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas in 1992, and when he ran against Kennedy in 1994, he said he was an “independent” who did not want to go back to the Reagan-Bush era. Romney said he never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot.

FOREIGN POLICY: Paul rejects a foreign policy that says we must be the policeman of the world. He opposes nation-building.

PUERTO RICO: Santorum was asked whether Puerto Rico should become a state. He said he believes in “self-determinism” and Puerto Ricans should decide for themselves.

CUBA: Paul said the sanctions against Cuba backfired and caused the Cuban people to rally behind Castro. The Cold War is over, and they are not going to invade us, he said. Romney said he will help the people of Cuba enjoy freedom when Fidel Castro is dead. He thinks Obama has ignored Cuba and Venezuela, and wants more trade with Colombia and Panama. Santorum opposes liberalizing trade or travel with Cuba.

LATIN AMERICA: Paul opposes dictating to Latin Americans what governments they should have. He said Santorum’s definition of standing up for Latin America means supporting dictators and undermining governments through the use of money. Santorum thinks Iran and the jihadists want to set up training camps in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. He opposes Latin American leaders Chavez, Noreiga, and Morales. He accused Obama of hanging our friends out to dry for 3 years in Colombia, and of standing with Chavez and Castro, instead of the people of Honduras. He denied wanting to use force in Latin America.

PALESTINE: All of the Republicans pandered to the Jewish vote in Florida. There is no peace between Israel and Palestine, Romney said, because he believes all Hamas wants to do is eliminate Israel and teach people to kill Jews. He incorrectly believes Palestinians do not want a two-state solution. He found fault with Obama for rightfully castigating Israel for illegally building settlements in Palestine in violation of international law. He showed ignorance on this subject by faulting Obama for suggesting a return to the 1967 borders. In an incredible statement, he said thought it was Obama who “disrespected” Netanyahu, when in fact it was Netanyahu who ungratefully and inappropriately lectured our U.S. President. Gingrich continued to defend his prior ignorant statement that Palestinians are an “invented people,” as he stated a belief that they are Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian or Jordanian, but not Palestinian. He thinks Obama undermined Israel. He would provoke greater tensions by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem.

MILITARY: Gingrich promised to make Jacksonville, Florida the home of a nuclear aircraft carrier battle group.

SPACE: Gingrich wants six or seven space launches a day. He reminded us when Kennedy said in May 1961: “We will go to the moon in this decade,” no American had even orbited the earth, and the technology didn’t even exist. He wants to give out prizes like the $25,000 Lindbergh received for flying to Paris. He asked: Does the Washington NASA office just sit around and think about space? 90% of those employed under his space plan would come from the private sector. He would get NASA out of the rocket business. Santorum wants young people involved in math and science, but said promising new space programs, when we are borrowing 40 cents on the dollar, is not responsible. Romney accused Gingrich of pandering, by telling NASA workers what they want to hear. He believes in a vibrant and strong space program, but described Gingrich’s plan to put a permanent colony on the moon, as an “enormous expense.” He would fire someone who wanted to spend a few billion dollars on it. He wants a space program related to commercial products. Paul would vote for only that part of the space program that supports national defense. The only things he would send to the moon are “some politicians.”

TRADE: Paul supports free trade in Latin America, including Cuba. Gingrich said the Jacksonville seaport has to be expanded, because the Panama Canal is being widened.

IMMIGRATION: Santorum wants to enforce the immigration laws we have. We need legal immigration he said, to keep our population growing. The first act of responsible immigrants is to obey our laws, and then continue respecting them. He would use the employer E-verify system to enforce immigration. He speculated illegals steal Social Security numbers (who says they are not paid cash under the table, and use no SS number at all). Gingrich pledged to control the border by Jan. 1, 2014. He would fix the visa system to make it easier to come and go. He wants to make deportation easier. He doubts grandmothers would self-deport and would not enter church sanctuaries to deport those who sought shelter. He said Miami has 94 languages, and wants English as the official one, adding everyone should learn it to get jobs. He denied calling Spanish a ghetto language. Romney said the problem with illegals is they take jobs legal residents would like, put their kids in school districts that can’t afford them, and get free health care, because emergency rooms must provide it. He favors work permits and identification cards, an E-verify system, and severe sanctions against employers who hire illegals, so those unable to find work will self-deport. He would not round up people or deport the 11 million illegally in this country. He said his father was born in Mexico. (Since the Constitution limits the Presidency to “natural born” citizens, how was his father able to run for President in 1967?) Romney wants English as the official language and schools to provide English immersion classes. Paul said resentment towards illegals goes up when the economy is down. Businesses are now looking for workers, but can’t find them. We worry about the Afghan and Pakistan borders too much, Paul said, and not enough about our own.

JOBS: Romney said there is 9.9% unemployment in Florida, but it is really 18%. Lowering corporate taxes would get people back to work, he said.

FINANCE: Paul said the Middle Class is losing their jobs and houses, but Wall Street got bailouts. He wants to bring back the gold standard, since it is mentioned in the Constitution.

HOUSING: Paul said, after the crash, the bad paper should have been auctioned off and sold, and it would have been cleansed by now. The problem was caused by excessive credit and interest rates that were too low for too long. The Community Reinvestment Act is affirmative action, he said, which tells banks to make risky loans. The line of credit from the Fed to Freddie and Fannie should have been cut. Romney said Fannie and Freddie are a big part of the housing crisis. They caused a housing bubble that collapsed, and are still offering mortgages to people who can’t afford them. Santorum wrote a letter in 2006 with 24 Senators warning of a meltdown as they requested reforms of Freddie and Fannie. He said we need to decrease the amount of mortgage that can be financed by Freddie. Gingrich said he told Republicans in July 2008 to deny money to Freddie and Fannie.

ENVIRONMENT: Gingrich said the Everglades Restoration Project must be completed.

HEALTH CARE: Santorum said medical savings accounts would get consumers involved in the cost of health care. He reminded voters that Romney and Gingrich supported the individual mandate, and if they are nominated, the issue will be forfeited to Obama. He claims people in Mass are now opting to be fined, because the cost of health insurance is too high. Paul said health care is a greater priority than going to the moon. Health insurance should be affordable for individuals, he said, so employed or not, they can have it. He claims the cost of medicine went up, because the government distorted that sector of the economy, and pumped money into it. He repeated his unfounded belief that before Medicare and Medicaid, nobody was on the streets without health care. Gingrich said the system that existed in the early 1960s was fundamentally less expensive. Romney said it doesn’t make sense to lose your health insurance if you lose your job. He insisted on personal responsibility in Mass to end free riders. He distinguished his plan from Obama’s, saying the President’s cuts Medicare 500 billion, and raises taxes 500 billion.

BUDGET: After Gingrich repeated his claim he balanced budgets four times in the 1990s, Paul pointed out the National Debt actually went up by a trillion dollars in those years, because money was taken from the Social Security Trust Fund. He said neither Reagan nor Gingrich had balanced budgets, as the National Debt went up. Santorum said we must get our financial house in order.

TAXES: Santorum opposes a 0% capital gains tax, saying guys like Romney wouldn’t pay much at all. He theorized when tax rates increase, the rate of return decreases, leading to investments in non-taxable instruments. He said a 28% top bracket was good enough for Reagan, and is good enough for him. His lower bracket would be 10%. Gingrich was asked why under his tax plan he would let someone like Romney pay nothing, and Gingrich said he wants everyone to pay 15%. Paul favors getting rid of the 16th Amendment, which allows income taxes, and said we also would have to get rid of the warfare and welfare systems.

RELIGION: Romney thinks our nation is based on Judeo-Christian ethics. He would seek the guidance of providence in making critical decisions. When the Founders drafted the Declaration of Independence, he said, they referred to being endowed with certain inalienable rights. Gingrich would seek guidance from God. He thinks there is an aggressive war being fought by secular elites in the news media and in the judiciary, against the Christian religion. Santorum actually believes the Constitution exists “to do one thing: protect God-given rights” and said our rights are “god-given rights and not government-given rights”

06/17/2011

Puerto Rico: Choose Independence

President Obama’s recent visit to Puerto Rico serves as a reminder that a plebiscite will be held there before the end of 2012, on whether the island should: 1) become independent; 2) remain a U.S. Territory; or 3) seek statehood. Independence would affect U.S. aid; statehood would be an unwarranted U.S. expansion; and keeping the current arrangement would perpetuate an outdated neo-colonial system. Although plebiscites in 1967, 1993, and 1998, resulted in leaving things just as they are, this time, Puerto Ricans should vote for independence.

If Puerto Rico requests statehood, the U.S. Congress would have the final say, since the U.S. Constitution provides: “New states may be admitted by the Congress” (Art IV, Sec. 3). The problem is the Congress now has no appetite for new states. 45 were added before the end of the 19th Century, and only three joined in the early 20th Century: Oklahoma (1907), New Mexico (1912) and Arizona (1912). As Arizona became the 48th state, nearly 100 years ago, the continental U.S. was filled in and completed.

Alaska and Hawaii were admitted in 1959 by a Congress of young WWII veterans, who had developed sentimental ties to the Pacific in WWII. The problem with Alaska and Hawaii is their physical disconnection from the contiguous mainland. Since it is 1,500 miles from Alaska to Seattle, Washington, and 2,400 from California to Hawaii, it would have been much better if Alaska had been sold to Canada, and Hawaii was granted independence.

The two wrongs of adding Alaska and Hawaii, do not justify a third mistake of admitting Puerto Rico, located 1,000 miles from Florida. If Puerto Rico is joined, under a theory that distance is no object, then why not add Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands? At some point, we need a physical boundary.

The other issue as to Puerto Rico is their deep-seated historical tie to the Spanish culture. Even though English is taught in schools, anyone who has ever visited San Juan is well aware the island is a Spanish-speaking commonwealth. It was ruled by Spain for 405 years, from 1493, when Columbus arrived, until 1898, when the U.S. seized control, in the Spanish-American War.

The U.S. should have immediately granted independence to the island in 1898, but Republican President McKinley kept it. Things became more complicated in 1917, when citizenship was granted to Puerto Ricans, so they could serve in the U.S. Army in WWI.

It is time for the most successful island in the Caribbean to stand up as an independent state and to rid itself once and for all of their status as an American dependency. Upon independence, those born on the island would become Puerto Rican, not U.S. citizens. Those with U.S. Citizenship could keep that status. Puerto Rico and the U.S. must now finally end the colonial era dependency, reject the idea of statehood, and support total independence.

04/08/2011

Haiti Needs A Cultural Revolution

As Haiti elected a new leader, Michel Martelly, the issue now is whether he can lead the Caribbean island-nation out of poverty? With nine million people, Haiti has about the same population as a typical U.S. state, but it differs in nearly every other respect.

Haiti is a relatively isolated island-state. Unlike the 50 U.S. states, where commerce flows across borders with ease, Haiti has only one neighbor by land, the Dominican Republic, which is over a mountain range, on the east side of the island. Cuba is by sea to the west, but they are of no help to Haiti. The U.S. is of course to the north, by water, but the U.S. Coast Guard stands in the way.

With natural barriers to trade, Haiti is largely on their own. They grow coffee, bananas, corn, beans and mangoes, but the export market is competitive, and these industries can only hire so many, and pay so much. Haiti has problems developing skilled jobs via the internet, or by any other means, since 47% of the people remain illiterate. Unemployment has at times hit 50%. To make things worse, a major earthquake struck the island in 2010. So, they rely on aid, as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Why is Haiti not more prosperous, like the nearby Puerto Rico, or at least Jamaica, on another island? The answer is they have had different colonial backgrounds, economic alliances and languages.

Haiti was ruled by France for 157 years (1647-1804), which explains why they speak French-Creole. When the black slaves revolted and Haiti became independent (1804), France ignored their economy. Haiti has been on their own for the past 207 years.

Puerto Rico was governed by Spain for 405 years (1493-1898), which is why they speak Spanish. After the Spanish-American War (1898), they became a U.S. territory, raised their literacy rate to 94%, and added English as an official language. Their success is due to their linkage to the U.S. economy for the past 113 years.

Jamaica was a British colony for 307 years (1655-1962). They were a part of the British Empire and enjoyed the benefits of the Commonwealth of Nations. English was taught in their schools and literacy climbed to 88%. Since independence 49 years ago, they have used the English language to develop U.S. tourism.

Haiti needs to change their culture, so it is not so much of an orphan in the Americas. It is the only independent state in this Hemisphere that uses French-Creole as a primary tongue. The principle language in the other 34 sovereign states is English, Spanish or Portuguese. Haiti needs to be able to communicate with ease with the English-speaking U.S.A.

The new Haitian president should conduct a Cultural Revolution to make all of their children primarily fluent in English, and secondarily in Spanish. While Haiti cannot expect the kind of aid the U.S. has given to the Puerto Rican territory, and will probably not gain their standard of living any time soon, if all Haitians would primarily learn and practice English, they could do more business with the U.S., and improve their economy, at least to the level of Jamaica’s. If Haiti would increase their literacy rates and emphasize English, they would do much better with economic development in this English-Spanish speaking Hemisphere.