In a landmark report, Moody’s investor’s service said Puerto Rico no longer benefited from growth in the U.S. economy. Until 2006, according to a report in Caribbean Business; the islands economy essentially mirrored the U.S. greater economy. However, due to the closure of Roosevelt Roads Naval Station and the end of Section 936, the commonwealth went into recession a full two years before the crash of 2008.
While the U.S. economy has reportedly been growing since 2010 (economic figures this author is not fully convinced of) Puerto Rico’s has been stagnant. A full one third of the islands manufacturing jobs are gone, 5 thousand civilian and contractor jobs at Roosevelt Roads and a domino effect of higher prices, extraordinary debt and gross mismanagement by the islands government has made matters worse.
There is no end in sight to the island’s sorrows. Unemployment remains above 13 percent with real unemployment above 65%. High utility rates, poor service, high crime and corruption abound. To add to this far too many people employed by government who create zero new wealth for the economy.
The report highlights the precarious nature of the Commonwealth status and will be used by the New Progressive Party to promote its statehood agenda. The NPP hopes, the increase in federal funds that would result from statehood will cure the territories ills, however; that is only a short term band aid solution. The U.S is in its own troubles.
A report this week in business insider details what the future holds. China’s steady rise is matching pace with a steady fall by the U.S. economy meaning that within just a few years, maybe sooner. This as the dollar continues to lose favor across the globe. More and more countries are establishing treaties to deal in each other’s currencies.
The U.S. problems in many ways mirror Puerto Rico’s. Oversized government, too many social programs and centralized control destroying the goose that once laid the golden egg. Continued commonwealth or a final push towards statehood will only guarantee the island will be dragged down further. Independence is now the only sane choice to make.
That bears repeating. Statehood and Commonwealth can no longer solve Puerto Rico’s perpetual economic problems. Independence is the only sane choice left.
Naturally, this cannot be a communist or social democracy independence. It has to be a well thought out, seriously focused free market capitalist proposal with the correct level of controls to fight corruption and crime. It is time to make the final push towards a permanent change in the islands political status. It is also time to break the power lock held by the political parties and public sector unions; and make a clean, thoughtful break from U.S. policy.
Time and options are running out for the island. It is time to make a choice and begin taking the steps needed to put an end the 500 year colonial saga of Puerto Rico.