The United States Should Annex Haiti as the 51st state

January 15, 2010 at 5:59 pm (Current Events, Haiti, Political) (, , , , , , )

The United States should annex Haiti as the 51st state.  Smart taxation policies could allow the annexation to be accomplished with little short-term cost to the United States with many near-term benefits for Haiti.  In the long-term, Haiti’s population size and density guarantee that Haiti will be one of the large states that contributes more to federal revenues than it receives without being so large as to overwhelm the existing political make-up of the Republic.

Haiti has a population of approximately 10 million people, with a median age of around 18 and nearly half of the population below the age of 18.  Haiti is comparable to Michigan in population size.  The low median age, however, presents a unique opportunity for an investment in educational services that will pay-off in larger margins, more quickly, than investments in education typically pay-off.

The United States has contributed approximately 5 billion dollars in aid to Haiti over the last 20 years, with another 100 million dollars of federal aid imminent in earthquake relief with a comparable amount of private American philanthropy to match.  Yet, Haiti has little to show for years of sustained development assistance save for a costly US military intervention in 1994 and the enduring costs of narcotics interdiction.  Corruption is frequently cited by experts as the cause for Haiti’s lack of prosperity.

Haiti has suffered for decades under military dictatorship, only breaking free of these self-imposed bonds in the 1980s.  The 1990s should be viewed as a transition period, but recent years have seen relative stability since elections in 2006.  The current president, despite balloting difficulties and demonstrations, was elected with a peaceful transition from the previous regime.  Haiti today displays similar political stability to many territorial governments of would-be States inducted into the Union throughout the 19th Century – who often avoided the appearance of political difficulties by simply excluding disruptive elements from the electorate.  The Republic of Texas only allowed American-born Whites to vote.  Territorial Utah denied suffrage to non-Mormons.  The stories of Zorro were inspired from the times of colonial California.  Haiti, however, stands on a political precipice.

The earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince was not the first ecological tragedy to visit the island of Hispaniola.  Last year, Haiti was buffeted by four hurricanes and was still working to recover from these when the earthquake hit.  A bad hurricane season this summer could cause the government to collapse and doom Haitian democracy for a generation absent external support.  That support would prove lacking in the current paradigm of Haiti as a foreign power.  Immediate induction into the Union would lend the necessary political support to see Haitian democracy survive their current difficulties.

As it stands, the United States has already invested billions in Haiti, with billions more forthcoming through immediate relief aid and the continued normal means of development assistance.  While humanitarian motivations are more than sufficient to justify our continued support of Haiti as a foreign power, why should the United States not profit from their investment when Haiti would profit equally – if not moreso?  Upon induction into the Union, the United States would absorb Haiti’s debt, a pittance at 1.4 billion dollars, half of which is odious debt incurred by the military dictatorship decades ago.  Haiti’s standard of living would skyrocket as it adopted American labor standards and practices and investment would be spurred by the guarantees of political and economic stability.  While American governance is not free of its own corruption, as Haiti adopted federal laws, Haitian corruption would be purged.  The bad actors in Haiti that cause corruption in the status quo would simply be co-opted or out-competed by the larger, richer, stronger, and smarter political machines of the Republican and Democratic parties as they reorganized Haitian politics to suit their own electoral desires.

The United States has little desire to invest in another nation-building campaign at present, and a world where Haiti was brought into the Union would not see strong political desires in Washington to dump money into Haiti beyond immediate relief aid and the normal development assistance that would occur in the status quo.  Legislation could be drafted in such a way to limit federal spending outside of entitlement, defense, and law enforcement to the amount of revenue that Haiti sends to the federal government for a transition period of 15 or 20 years.  Haiti’s exceptionally young population entering the workforce would be more than sufficient to pay for their own entitlement spending.

Federal spending should be made dependent upon the local government maintaining an exceptionally high local tax rate to dampen price inflation and to invest in necessary education, health, and infrastructure to bring Haiti up to American standards within a generation.  What Haitian-American would complain about a 50% local tax rate when they watched their minimum wage jump from $2.60 a day to $7.25 an hour overnight?

Haiti will still primarily be an agrarian society for decades to come – most States were when they were inducted into the Union – but dedicated local government, with federal support and oversight, could reorganize this exceptionally young Haitian society immediately to provide enough food for themselves for this generation.  While it may be too late for the current generation of Haitians coming of age, working together with smart local governance they could provide the education their children will need to bring their living standards in line with the rest of the United States.  Haiti already has compulsory education for all in law, if not in practice.

The Haitian culture is also uniquely suited to adopting foreign language and custom.  While French is an official language of Haiti, less than 5% of the population actually speaks it fluently.  Government and secondary schools are conducted in French, and French is a cultural ideal more than a reality for the average Haitian.  As partners in a larger Union, there is no reason why the next generation of Haitians, educated in English-speaking schools with English-speaking government would not substitute English for French as the cultural ideal within the Haitian societal norm.

The United States also has a long history of inducting foreign-speaking nations into the Union.  The original state constitution of Louisiana was written in French.  A few thousand White Americans in Austin voted tens of thousands of Spanish-speaking Mexicans into the Union with Texas.  California’s first constitution was published in both Spanish and English.  Spanish-speaking Puerto Rico has a standing invitation to join the Union (which they refuse every few years in referendum).

Haiti, as a long-term investment, could prove to be an immense asset to the United States.  Haiti’s population of 10 million is very densely concentrated at 930/square mile (the national average for the United States is 83/square mile).  Nearly a third of the country lives in the metropolitan area around the capital.  It is far more cost-effective to provide common services in to a dense population than a sparse population.  Part of the reason the Deep South and the Mountain West are drains on the federal treasury every year is because they are rural and sparsely populated.  Haiti’s dense population coupled with investments in infrastructure, education, and industry would more than repay itself a generation from now.

The United States will exist into perpetuity and we are not a young nation anymore.  We need to look for investments with an eye toward the horizon and a mind that accepts we will still be around to see the 22nd Century.  Haiti, today, is a sound investment that will bring strength to our Union. 

More importantly, it is the Manifest Destiny of the American States to govern themselves in Union.  All of us share a common tie that we have thrown off the shackles of European Imperialism.  Americans should ignore criticism that our actions in the Western Hemisphere are imperialist, because as long as we embrace our neighbors in Union as equal partners and sovereign states the American project rejects the imperialism of the past.

It has been 50 years since we brought a new sovereign partner into the Republic.  The American character requires a frontier.  As a maturing nation, we must work harder than ever before to reaffirm our values and ideals and few values are more American than Expansionism.  Within a century of our founding, the United States spanned from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  And then we stopped.  Our nation is noble, our values are good.  But Americans look to the future with uncertainty, they fear stagnation.  Few actions could dispel these fears more quickly than reclaiming our purpose of uniting all Americans.

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8 Comments

  1. Chris said,

    Ha! Great idea, wish I’d thought of it. 😉

    http://wilybadger.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/is-annexation-the-answer/

    You make a lot of good points I didn’t. I forgot about how much money we’d already dumped there over the years, just to watch it disappear into a cesspool of corruption, etc. I don’t know that I would go so far as to suggest statehood right away, but annexation, yes.

    • donritchie said,

      Hey, it’s got 60,000 people and a republican constitution. We don’t do the whole “partner state” thing anymore. The only reason why not would be because they’re poor and french – but so was Louisiana! LOL

      Besides, we’re not establishing a new political entity. It seems somewhat insulting to me to offer an existing sovereign state a “junior partnership” within the Union – as if they aren’t good enough to be Mississippi, right? =D

  2. Chris said,

    I think it has more than 60,000 people. 😉 Anyhow, I don’t think we’ve had any entities that we’ve annexed/claimed and had them become states instantly. There’s always a bit of a delay.

    • donritchie said,

      HA! 60k and a republican constition is the standard set by the Northwest Ordinance.

      I don’t know. Texas and California were inducted as states immediately into the Union, but both of them were also self-proclaimed sovereign entities prior to induction. I think delays historically in induction have waited for territorial population to meet the 60k mark, for the terrorities to organize themselves with a republican constitution, or centered around slavery-based politics in Washington.

      I advocate immediate induction because of the pre-existing nature of the sovereign entity coupled with the large population. Haiti has a larger population than 3/4s of the existing states. Also, I don’t believe the people of Haiti would accept second-class citizenship a la Puerto Rico – offering to make them a territory might be considered offensive and would certainly be viewed as such internationally. Finally, annexation and territorial reorganization just smacks of imperialism and colonialism. I believe there’s a bright-line between annexing a territory and inducting a state where one is imperialist and one is not. Essentially, my plan centers around the consent of the Haitian people.

      I also recognize and agree that there would be growing pains that a territorial phase would solve more easily than immediate induction. However, my plan advocates a phased induction. Obviously, Haiti couldn’t implement EVERY federal regulation immediately and would require time to do so – not to mention the price shocks inherent in a 20x jump in the minimum wage. Also, no one would want to see Haiti as a vast money pit for the federal treasury and I would suggest a period of 15-20 years where federal benefits (beyond entitlements which are paid to the individual and not the state) would be paired to the amount of revenue that Haiti brought into the Treasury. For example, the federal government wouldn’t dump a billion dollars in food stamps or highway spending into Haiti next year when they only recieved 500m in revenue, but it wouldn’t be ignored or used as a cash cow, either.

      It would be like the olden days where if the federal government wanted a railroad, they would appropriate money for a railroad, not write 50 checks for high spending, etc.

      Another unforeseen, tertiary benefit to this plan may be that Congress takes notice of the way they appropriate money. Maybe certain members of Congress are going to ask why states like California, NY, and Michigan consistently pay more taxes to the federal government than they recieve in benefits. I’m a cynic, I wouldn’t expect change, but it sure would be nice to see some members speak out on this. I was born and lived most of my life in Michigan and every single year of my life Michigan has paid out more in federal taxes than its recieved in benefits. Now, Michigan’s economy is practically collapsed, unemployment’s twice the national average and Michigan still paid out a buck and a dime last year for every dollar it recieved.

      You see folks stick up their noses at big, dumb, liberal California who can’t balance their budget – but if California was refunded the difference they paid in federal taxes their budget woes would go away tomorrow. Michigan’s the same way. We don’t mind helping out, but the Detroiter in me blanches at the notion that I have to flee to another state to find work because our economy’s collapsed, but my home is paying taxes to build highways in Alabama so their scabs can steal the rest of our jobs.

      HA! Sorry for the side rant! Thanks for your continued interest in my post! =D

      • Chris said,

        Nothing wrong with the occasional side-rant. Frankly, most of what’s on my blog is me ranting. 😉

        My main reason for offering Haiti territorial status for 20 years would be so that in 2030 they’d have the chance to vote and see if they wanted to become a state (and they can’t leave once they do that), or go back to being their own country. I’d make sure those are the only two options, because we don’t need another long, dragged-out situation like what we have in PR.

  3. Susan's locker said,

    Who should we ask to join next, Jamaica? How about Malawi? We have enough degenerates in this country as it is without the Haitian people.

    • Jill said,

      Have you been there Susan? I am guessing you wouldn’t put your delicate flower of a foot into such a cesspool, would you!? Your comments are enraging. I just spent a month in Haiti and found the people there to be some of the kindest and hard working individuals. You Susan deserve to be put in a country such as haiti and try to find your way out. Your hate is not wanted on this planet. Go back to hell where you came from!

  4. jcpoulard said,

    People are afraid about bring Haiti to the state will give the democrats party more vote just because Haitian are black. But the fact their ignore, most Haitian are christian and they conservator in the view of the society and I don\’t think their share most of the democrat social and political view. One thing Haitian will never accept is to legalize Gay marriage as the democrat want and start to do, they will vote republican to protect some aspect in their traditional live and protect their religion. Them I think Republican will have 2 more senators and must of the Congress site.

    Regards

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