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In which Hank discusses the historical nature of yesterday's election, and how a bunch of Americans who don't live in America may end up having the most significant impact of all. But then again, maybe not.

Not only would Puerto Rico's statehood be a very uphill battle to a supermajority in Congress, it also remains an extremely divisive issue with the commonwealth. But it is fascinating that Puerto Rico remains, in effect, a colony of the United States and has been an autonomous country for all of four weeks (after the Spanish gave it up and before the US took possession) in it's 500 year history.

It's important to note that the question on the ballot was an odd one (I didn't have time to talk about this in the video). It was a two-part question, first asking if people wanted to see Puerto Rico's status change (a majority did) and then asking, if it did, how they would like it to change (even if they had just said that they /didn't/ want it to change.)

A large number of people did not answer the second question, indicating that the majority that favored statehood may have been overwhelmed by the people who didn't want any chance mixed with the people who wanted full independence or a different commonwealth status.

Nonetheless, the portion of Puerto Rico favoring statehood continues to increase, and this is an issue that we will have to face some day.


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A Bunny
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Good morning, John. This election was one for the history books. The first female amputee in Congress, the first female Asian-American senator, the first openly gay senator, the first second term for a black president, the first legalization of recreational marijuana, and the first legalization of gay marriage. But it is possible that the biggest piece of American history that happened yesterday was not discussed on any of the news stations that you watched last night. Indeed, it may not even have been decided in America. But interestingly, it was decided by Americans. Because Puerto Ricans, who live in Puerto Rico, are American citizens. They use American money, they travel with American passports, they can serve in the American military, and they must obey American laws. But Puerto Rico is not part of America; it is a territory, a colony basically. Puerto Rico, as it stands, governs itself. But their foreign policy is determined by the United States government, who decide who they trade with, who they go to war with, and they pay many, but not all of the same taxes that Americans pay. But they can't vote in our elections and they don't have representation in our government. The UN, which is sort of staunchly opposed to colonization, unsurprisingly says that this is not really okay, which is why the southern-most point in the Euro zone is *here* (points to Réunion island), which is an island that is part of France. But the people of Puerto Rico had always, until yesterday, just said that that's fine with them that things are the way that they are, so the UN in cool with it. And, you know, the people of Puerto Rico have it pretty well: they have universal health care; their life expectancy is longer than ours; they pay into and receive social security. But at the same time they have 13% unemployment and per capita income two-thirds that of the poorest US state. Also interestingly, the UN, president Obama, governor Romney, and the platforms of both the Democratic and Republican parties all agree that Puerto Rico should be able to decide for itself whether or not it should be a state. But now that, apparently, they actually have decided that, that raises some really interesting issues, and potentially problems beyond whether or not we can fit an extra star on the flag. The issue that I think we'll hear from the opposition is that there will be 20 billion dollars of extra costs for Medicare and Medicaid. But honestly, the bigger political issue here is that this will change the balance of Congress. If Puerto Rico became a state it would automatically get two senators, so there will be 102 senators. And it would also get five or six representatives in the House. Those five representatives would not just be added to the House, they would actually have to come out of other districts in America - in effect decreasing the representation of other states, which a lot of states I think would probably be upset about. Also, probably all of those congress-people would be Democrats, so this is not something that a Republican House, for example, would be super excited about giving a supermajority to. Because yes, in order to grant statehood to a place you don't just need 51% of the vote, you need two thirds. And in a country where we can, right now, barely get anything done with a simple majority, a supermajority just seems crazy. Another complication is that this remains an extremely divisive issue inside of Puerto Rico, and they just elected a governor - who is basically their president - who is not in favor of statehood. But what could end up being the bigger barrier to Puerto Rico's statehood has nothing to do with what's happening in Puerto Rico or the politics of the situation. It's simply that Americans don't seem to really like change very much. By now it feels like America's number of states is somehow numerologically fixed, and these 50 states have always been, and shall always be, these 50 states. Now of course that isn't true. We have had many different numbers of states throughout our history. But let's be honest, it's not about what's true, it's about what feels true - and to a lot of people that's what America feels like. And messing with the fundamental idea of American-ness is not a great political decision generally. Even if it's the right decision. Nonetheless, a fascinating outcome on a fascinating and historical day. Thank you to everyone who voted yesterday in the US and in Puerto Rico. Let us all please proceed toward a more perfect union, no matter how many states that union has. John, I'll see you tomorrow. Quick note: tomorrow morning on we will be starting a pre-order of an interesting new item. I'm just not gonna tell you what it is, cos it's...weird. But you might want to go to tomorrow morning, and check it out.