Monday, December 20, 2010

Puerto Rico has a National Basketball Team?

Local basketball coach and Italian restaurant trawler, Rick Pitino, has been selected to coach the Puerto Rican national basketball team as it tries to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

Congratulations to Mr. Pitino.   Coaching at the Olympics would be an honor to anyone, and working with these athletes to get them there will be a feather in his cap even if they don't make it.  Good luck to all of you!

But this begs the question:  Why does Puerto Rico have a national basketball team?  Last I checked it was still a territory of the United States.  Heck, they've had several votes to either try for statehood or go on their own during my lifetime and decided to stay right where they are.

For some reason, the fact that there is a Puerto Rican national basketball team seems to catch in my craw.

The United States provides the people of Puerto Rico with the protection of our military.  Our laws, including NAFTA, have special provisions giving some industries tax breaks for setting up shop on the island.  Heck, when goods are imported onto the island from other countries, the import duties are paid to the territorial government, not the U.S. 

By some economists Puerto Rico's economy is considered somewhat fictitious. Puerto Rico has very few natural resources of economic value and its economy relies mainly on Federal Aid from the United States Government, which depends on the industrialization programs and the tax incentives that U.S. offers.

In 2002, the Federal government sent $4,793,333,000.00 to Puerto Rico in the form of direct aid to the Territorial government.  To put that in perspective, Puerto Rico received five times as much from the Federal government as all other U.S. Territories combined.  Another thing to consider is that Puerto Rico received more federal aid than the District of Columbia.  DC is almost fully supported by the Federal government, and it still didn't get as much money as this one territory.

Apparently Puerto Rico wants to have their cake and eat it too.  They want the money and safety of being part of the Land of the Round Doorknob, but don't want the responsibility of being a state.  They want the ability to act like a sovereign nation but don't want to take the responsibility of feeding themselves.

I'm not sure if the United States has the power to tell a territory that they're on their own, but if we do, then maybe it's time to pat the Puerto Rican Territorial government on the butt and watch them leave the nest.  No more tax breaks.  No more free military protection.  No more monthly check from Uncle Sugar.  You want to have your own treasury, laws, culture, and national basketball team?  Go ahead.  Good luck in trying to drag yourself up from being a Caribbean backwater.

4 comments:

cybrus said...

My wife is from Puerto Rico and most of her family still lives there. After visiting numerous times, I have to agree that when you say:

"Apparently Puerto Rico wants to have their cake and eat it too. They want the money and safety of being part of the Land of the Round Doorknob, but don't want the responsibility of being a state. They want the ability to act like a sovereign nation but don't want to take the responsibility of feeding themselves."

you are absolutely correct. They get massive amounts of funding the from the fed.gov and they don't pay Federal income tax.

Puerto Rico is a very nice place to visit but "third world" is a pretty accurate definition - even in San Juan, the capital city where 1/3 to 1/2 of the island's 4+ million residents live, it's still only slightly better than a third world country.

Definitely not some place I could ever live.

motoroz said...

You bring up some interesting points. It does seem strange they have a national team. Texas was once an independent nation - maybe we need to form a national team :)

Old NFO said...

Puerto Rico, like Guam are trust territories, so they get to have their cake and eat it too... They get US $$, AND play the nationalism card when it's in their best interests...

DaddyBear said...

It's been 100 years since the Spanish American War. I'm starting to think it's time we cut the rest of the territory we gained loose.

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