Celebrate Secession!

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To honor the
United States’ secessions (yes, that is meant to be plural;
up until 1865, it was the “United States are” not the
“United States is”) from the British Empire, the good
folks at A Thousand Nations have been blogging on the topic of secession
all week. You can find an index of posts here,
and I highly recommend them, especially for those of you who have
never given much thought to breaking up the United States into more
manageable units.

Although those
contributions to the debate are ample, allow me to offer my own
take on why secession is still a good idea.

1) The most
basic reason for supporting secession is that it makes government
more accountable to the people it governs. The smaller a polity
is, the easier it is for an individual’s objections to be heard
whether that be through voting, petition, protest, etc. It also
becomes harder for one group to oppress another the more they have
to interact with each other. Dehumanizing some distant group is
very easy; it is much harder to do with your next door neighbor.
In the
of my all time favorite libertarian hero Karl Hess, “Adolf
Hitler as chancellor of Germany is a horror; Adolf Hitler at a town
meeting would be an asshole.”

But even if
some Hitlerian figure were to take over an independent state or
town, it is far easier to flee a small polity than a larger one.
Getting out of the old Soviet Union was extremely difficult; getting
out of Missouri, not so much.

2) The harmful
effects of bad policies are seen and felt far more quickly the smaller
the polity. A huge nation like the United States or China can easily
persist in wealth (or even life) destroying policies for generations
because their benefits are concentrated at special interest groups
that agitate to continue the policies while the costs are dispersed
onto the rest of the population. This is why our government subsidizes
corn so heavily. But it would be nearly impossible for Iowa to continue
those policies if it seceded. There would be fewer people to tax
and more people expecting benefits, leading taxpayers to demand
subsidy reductions and corn farmers to care less about keeping them
as each individual farmer’s share of the loot would drop.

the rest of the article

6, 2009

Payne is a social studies teacher at East Carter County High School
in Southeast Missouri. He blogs at RoughOlBoy.com.

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