Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Have a look at the 51 star flag - just in case...

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 13th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Puerto Rico will petition the U.S. government for statehood, but the measure isn't likely to pass. While the territory could generate billions in revenues, it will also prove a costly acquisition.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Puerto Rico has had a difficult history. The island hasn't enjoyed independence in 500 years, despite enjoying a unique culture and a desirable spot in the Caribbean which makes it popular with East coast tourists.

A week ago, Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens, went to the polls to vote and cast a ballot on a referendum that would set Puerto Rico on the path to statehood. That referendum passed with a majority saying they would like to end the territory's commonwealth status and become the 51st state.

There are advantages to both sides. If Puerto Rico becomes a state, then the U.S. economy could benefit from an estimated $22 billion in additional revenues. However, the state would become the poorest state in the union with almost half of its population living below the poverty line. These people would become available for social services including welfare assistance, which would be costly to the federal government.

Puerto Rico would also change the delicate balance in Congress adding six representatives to the House and two Senators.

However, history does not suggest statehood is likely for Puerto Rico. While the island has helped the U.S. solidify its hegemony in the region and helped export a capitalist message to communist Cuba and other states in the region, the island has also become a hotbed for drug trafficking and murder.

Historically, petitions from the territory have been denied. Already, politicians are searching reasons to deny the coming proposal. The strongest argument running is the two-question format of the ballot referendum. The referendum asked two questions, the first is Puerto Rico should abolish its commonwealth status with the U.S. The second question asked what the alternative should be, between independence, free association, and statehood.

Fifty -two percent of voters called for an end to the commonwealth status. Sixty-one percent said they'd like to become a state. This outcome has proved puzzling, since more people chose to become a state than to end commonwealth status.

Critics say the questions should have been asked on two different ballots during two different elections.

Nonetheless, the people of Puerto Rico have spoken. They do want statehood.

However, in what must be a relief for American flag designers, they're unlikely to get it.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)