Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A: States' commonwealth designation an antiquated term

Understanding commonwealths

Massachusetts is a commonwealth and I think four or five others in the United States are too. Is that different from the Puerto Rico commonwealth and how so? I have never understood why these are so.

This is a followup question to one posted in last week's column, explaining the differences between states and territories. Here, in part, is what that answer said:

"Additionally, there are commonwealths, like Puerto Rico, with their own constitutions and greater autonomy than territories. U.S. territories include the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam. Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands are U.S. commonwealths.

"Under the Constitution, residents of territories and commonwealths do not vote in elections for U.S. president and vice president."

The term "commonwealth" is a leftover from the 1600s and 1700s, when the word meant an organized political community. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky are all commonwealths, but when they became part of the United States, they also became states, and have the same rights and responsibilities as every other state under the U.S. Constitution.

Nowadays, commonwealth describes a political unit having local autonomy but voluntarily united with the United States.

Deflation bad for economy

I have seen several articles on the possibility of a deflationary spiral. I am on a fixed income — military retirement and Social Security. Assuming that neither would be terminated or significantly reduced, isn't deflation a good deal?

Yes, fixed income offers protection during a period of deflation — a persistent fall in overall prices. The steady income actually gains in buying power during deflationary periods, just as inflation eats away at fixed-income returns.

But deflation isn't healthy for the overall economy, and it can be very hard to get rid of once it settles in.

During deflation, as companies cut prices to encourage spending, savvy consumers put off purchases in order to get the best deals. This causes declines in corporate profit and revenue, and companies cope by cutting jobs to save on costs. The souring employment market causes nervous consumers to reduce spending even more, fueling the cycle.

Clarification

On Oct. 3, President Bush signed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, raising the amount in bank and savings accounts that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. covers from $100,000 to $250,000 — but only through Dec. 31, 2009. The legislation did not raise coverage for retirement accounts, which is still $250,000. An item in the Nov. 28 Ask the Times column referred to the previous limit.

Q&A: States' commonwealth designation an antiquated term 12/07/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 10:56am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 29-June 4

    Events

    Memorial Day: Among the free events paying tribute to fallen soldiers today is the Bay Pines VA Memorial Day Ceremony in St. Petersburg, with speakers including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Charlie Christ, musical performances, a rifle salute and taps. (727) 319-6479 . The Florida National Cemetery …

    Young blonde boy carrying an American Flag over a wooden Bridge.
  2. Sheriff's Office: Drug dispute preceded fatal Largo motel shooting

    Crime

    LARGO — A fight over drugs preceded the shooting death of a 47-year-old man Thursday night at a Largo motel, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Sunday.

    Angel E. Martinez, 24, is accused in the shooting death of Ricky Garland, 47, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. [Pinellas County Jail]
  3. Nearly 40 hospitalized on first day of Sunset Music Festival, on pace to exceed last year

    News

    To reduce the number of medical emergencies this year, sponsors of the Sunset Music Festival promised heightened security and safety measures during this weekend's event at Raymond James Stadium.

    Thousands of people crowd the main stage at the Sunset Music Festival on Saturday in the north Raymond James Stadium parking area. The temperature at the time of the photo was 92 degrees. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]
  4. Woman killed in overnight Temple Terrace apartment fire, city says

    Fire

    TEMPLE TERRACE — A woman died early Sunday as a result of a fire at an apartment complex, city officials said.

  5. Video: Indianapolis 500 drivers in fiery crash somehow walk away uninjured

    Auto racing

    Scott Dixon and Jay Howard avoided injury in a spectacular crash - or what Dixon labeled "a wild ride" afterward - during the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.