So Puerto Rico wants to be a state. Yay! Let’s let ‘em in!

But why stop there? By American standards, Puerto Rico is rather poor. But compared to all sovereign states that touch the Carribean, Puerto Rico is doing fantastically well:

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Only the Bahamas come close, and 18 of the 24 are less than half as wealthy as Puerto Rico, accounting for 141mm of the 147mm people in these countries. Clearly, Puerto Rico has benefited from the security and stability of American rule and the prosperity of American institutions.

Now, in ye oldenne days, this would be followed by a call to conquer those countries. I am going to surprise nobody by saying that I oppose that, because that would be evil. However, what would not be evil at all would be to permit any of these countries to apply for status as an official Commonwealth and Protectorate of the United States. Any country so designated would trade their sovereignty for the current governance structure of Puerto Rico (essentially, US statehood sans federal representation), and after about 10-15 years any country so admitted would hold a national referenda on either reverting to full independence or applying for full statehood. I think it’s unlikely that most countries on this list would apply (hard to imagine Hugo Chavez leading that particular charge) but I bet Haiti is just chomping at the bit to take this deal, and I bet a few others would at least chew on it very heavily, and you’d see a few national referenda on the subject. If a state as large as Colombia (whose population is a seventh of that of the current USA) wanted to join we may want to integrate them piecemeal for purposes of political stability.

In general it’s good we’ve stopped conquering stuff. However, we do have strong institutions that produce good outcomes and there’s no reason why Hawaii got to close the door behind it. If any independent state, especially one in the Northwest Hemisphere, wanted to consensually become a United State I think progressives should be delighted and lead the charge for acceptance.

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