10 Things I Would Do If I Led an Independent Puerto Rico
EspañolRecently, I had a brief conversation with a Puerto Rican statehood supporter in the comments section of a local newspaper. He pointed out that if the route toward independence was the way I have described it previously here at the PanAm Post, then he would see it as a viable option. This was very telling.
Previously and over a long period of deliberation and reflection, I changed my position from supporting US statehood for Puerto Rico to supporting its independence. However, I did so with great disdain for the current leadership of the Puerto Rican independence movement. They are socialists, if not outright communists.
One need not look any further than Venezuela, or any other socialist or communist republics in Latin America, to witness how such independence would bring great peril. However, nearly all of this has been self-inflicted, through bad policies and corrupt politicians.
So, while I support independence, I have not changed my basic conservative-libertarian ideals. I stand firmly behind individual liberty, private property ownership, capitalism, and free markets. I stand for individual choice, even if it is a bad choice. I also stand strongly against violent crime and crimes against property.
It is important to lay out to the pro-statehood forces what it is I am proposing and why. One need also caution the pro-sovereignty forces within the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), that they do not need to hide behind the notion of an “enhanced commonwealth” as a backdoor to independence. If you support it, shout it out loud and stand by it.
To those in the New Progressive Party, who would consider support for independence if it were done the right way, and those in the PDP but are disillusioned with their leadership and also want a free Puerto Rico, I would like to lay out 10 simple points that my administration would implement if my proposal for independence were adopted.
In this scenario, I would assume the role of cacique, the Taino Indian term for “chief.” In reality, I would serve as CEO for the transitional government, tasked with implementing the constitutional and economic plans of the new republic during its first 12 years.
This is what I would do:
1. The Economy
I would develop an economy based on free-market capitalism, eliminating needless regulations. I would make it easier to start a business and stay in business, as well as to hire new employees. I would explore new horizons of emerging markets, not just in the sense of countries but in the sense of technology, and invest in the creation of new businesses and opportunities on the island.
In short, I would pull Puerto Rico out of its long nightmare of a depression that it has suffered from since 2008. This would also include my economic plan to reshape how government is financed. Puerto Rico would be the economic center of the Caribbean under my leadership proposal.
I would cut crime by 50 percent within five years.
I’d do this by ending the war on drugs, establishing red light districts, and implementing swift death sentences for capital offenses. Businesses that wish to be licensed to sell narcotics in red-light districts would be required to open their books and share profits with the National Trust. Prison terms would require labor and education for all inmates.
I would establish a Justice Department that functions outside the political arena. The department would be led by an appointed and confirmed attorney general, who would not have to fear impeachment if he ever had to investigate elected officials. The department would answer to my office and not the president. Ending the war on drugs would also eliminate the primary motivation and impetus behind government corruption.
A chief financial officer would be appointed to function as comptroller of the republic and would also answer to my office. I would also keep partisanship out of the presidency and governing board.
I would improve the overall infrastructure of the island and resolve the water and electricity crisis caused by unions and government mismanagement that has punished the middle class. I would build a nuclear power plant and use this to reduce the cost of electricity and water. This would make it easier to both lower rates and pay off the enormous debt these public entities have accrued.
I would also open the door to competition and make it easier for individuals to switch to alternative energy sources.
5. Unions and Government
I would prohibit unionization in the public sector and primary services, and I’d make it illegal for these employees to strike. If they strike, they will be terminated automatically and prohibited from working in government at any level for one year.
Public servants work for the people; the people do not work for them. I will reduce the size of government by 50 percent, even while establishing a defense department and expanded state department, and without cutting emergency services. I would establish a real plan to tackle and pay off Puerto Rico’s massive debt and require balanced budgets as a part of constitutional law. I would also streamline and reduce taxes.
I’d protect the island’s many natural resources by streamlining and repairing environmental laws and regulations. There should be no choice between the environment and jobs; that is a false proposition. We can take care of the environment and create a vibrant economy. It starts with personal responsibility and with punishing those who litter and pollute by making them clean the streets and the messes they created.
I would lay the ground work to end poverty within 12 years. I’d use capitalism to fulfill the promises that socialist governments are never able to deliver on through their various programs. It would take several generations to fully eradicate poverty, but within 12 years we would make significant inroads.
8. Civil Rights
I’d guarantee basic liberty for all: freedom of speech, press, religion, and the right to peacefully assemble and petition government. This would be a right-to-work country. Membership in a union or other organizations cannot be required to get a job.
9. Parental Rights
I would restore parental rights and put an end to the government’s interference in the private lives of families. When someone commits a crime against a child, they will be punished accordingly, but we will not take children away from families simply because a bureaucrat believes they might be “at risk” of some ill-defined or intentionally vague threat.
I would revolutionize education by taking advantage of new technologies to keep children up to date on the latest information. I’d challenge children to complete an associate’s degree and be fluent in at least two languages by the time they graduate high school. I would also open the door to more homeschooling, distance learning, and private-education services.
And finally, I would not take a salary. Is there any politician in Puerto Rico who would promise you that? Under this proposal, my earnings would come directly from the earnings I help create for Puerto Rico. If I fail to create earnings, I do not get paid a thing. If, on the other hand, I do succeed in creating earnings, not only do I get paid but so does everyone else who participates in the system.
This plan merits urgent consideration. The United States is heading toward a default that will drag Puerto Rico down even further. If we do not act soon to chart a new course, we will suffer even more than we have in the last six years.