02 December 2005

Autonomy Thoughts: Part I

Unlike usual blog routine, this post precedes in both topic and order its second part. So you can read straight through (down to yesterday's post) rather than reading the end then finding the beginning. Unusual, right? Maybe it'll catch on...

The Jenius was recently upbraided in a private communication over what were considered “persistent attacks on (Puerto Rico’s) status issue, without a HINT of a solution.” (Emphasis as in the original.) For those of you who want to agree or disagree, here’s the Truth on statehood, a needed swipe at commonwealthers and an overdue wake-up call to independentistas.

As for attacking without solutions, guilty as charged. Time to correct that.

Autonomy: n. independence, self-government; independence consisting of self-determination.

Rather than seeking mindless absorption into a disdainful maw, angling like wretches for contemptuous parasitism or engaging in more addle-pated jingoistic playacting, let’s aim for what We can achieve: self-government. The option takes into account four undeniable realities:

1) Puerto Rico will never actively seek independence. The idea that Puerto Rico can stand on its own feet and thrive in the modern world is anathema to over 95% of Us. Sad, but True.

2) The U.S. has a solidly valuable captive market in Puerto Rico and upsetting that balance would hurt them where they live: the bottom line.

3) Puerto Rico will never achieve any majority vote worth pursuing: neither independence (see #1) or statehood (see here, but in short, because the U.S. won’t grant it.)

4) The Puerto Rico-U.S. relationship is worth preserving if the economic and political arrangement can be improved. The current status is politically untenable to the U.S.: We are a colony, pure and simple. Being a colony, with a colony’s political limitations, is humiliating to Us and yet We don’t get Our act together and decide what to do about it.

Therefore, with autonomy as Our guide, We can seek a solution. Not the “autonomy” commonwealthers ask for, defined as “Give me more money and more freedom, but don’t ask Us for anything in return, okay?” The Jenius is talking about autonomy in the sense of partnership, sitting as an equal to and with the U.S.

This would focus on changing two major facets of Our current shipwrecked relationship:

A) Voluntary application of Federal laws to Puerto Rico. At present, Federal laws are imposed on Us with highly-limited scope for appeal. By limiting Federal authority to what We feel is applicable gives Us a greater degree of self-determination and immediately places Puerto Rico as a negotiating partner with the U.S.

B) Phased reduction of some Federal benefits along with a reduction of economic controls currently imposed by the U.S. At present, We have no control over Customs or treaties and many of Our tax programs must pass U.S. scrutiny. Let’s reduce and remove those controls as We reduce and maybe even remove some Federal benefits. Programs like Social Security, Medicare and Veteran’s benefits would remain intact, but the rest would be reduced as Puerto Rico takes greater control of its economic present and future. The power to pursue Our best economic interests is fundamental to making the most of Our growth potential.

Let’s start somewhere and these two launch points, obvious as they are, are large enough to make a difference, but manageable enough to be functional for seriously-minded, focused negotiators. If We can ever find them.

But: Aren’t these points that have been under discussion for decades? In fact, yes, and as to why they haven’t been signposts of progress is the topic of My next post.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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