Secession? It Happens All the Time

Recently by Jim Fedako: Interrogated by an Agent of the State

It would seem those who cannot conceive of voluntary governing entities have never looked closely at a map of political boundaries in Ohio. For, if they had, they would have noticed pockets of resistance inside the political monoliths that are Ohio cities.

Although central Ohio is almost tabletop flat, city boundaries appear more like metastasizing cancers than squared-off grids, with the tentacles of each Leviathan reaching from its respective city center to burgeoning tax bases in outlying areas. Not in an orderly fashion, like a box being stretched on all sides, but more like cancerous appendages finding paths of least resistance. And where Leviathan meets Leviathan, city boundaries twist and turn, but never cross, in an effort to consume whatever additional taxes remain available.

As cities expand, they tend to island properties where residents want no part of the respective city's income tax and associated ills – with the cancerous tentacles reaching around recalcitrant residents and surrounding them. So buried within city limits, you will find sanctuaries of voluntary resistance.

The mix of cities and sanctuaries is made all the more obvious while driving area roads and noting the occasional quick succession of signs that read, "Enter Corp" and "Leave Corp."

Cities in Ohio grow through annexation, a mostly voluntary process whereby property owners decide to switch allegiance from their townships to neighboring cities. I say mostly voluntary, because, as with all things political, machinations sometimes come into play.

Typically, annexations occur when a developer purchases empty land adjoining the city limits. The developer desires benefits such as the higher density allowed by city zoning or city-funded road improvements for his proposed shopping mall, etc., while city government desires the additional taxes. The annexation is deemed beneficial to both developer and city government, though it typically ends up a detriment to taxpayers already within city limits.

It is important to note that almost every annexation includes a corresponding secession – with a property owner seceding from his township in order to be annexed into the city. So, in principle, secession is an accepted practice.1

Of course, secession is not currently an option at the state level. Nor does Ohio have provisions for secession through voluntary action as a means to leave a city to rejoin the township. However, secession is allowed, nonetheless.

So, if land is allowed to switch political boundaries, with the a priori result being benefits for the landowner and the political entity, it would seem that truly voluntary governing entities are both feasible and efficient.

I claim that such voluntary agreements would be efficient since both parties (property owner and governing entity) agreed to the switch from their respective standpoints of a priori gains – they both expected to gain from the agreement. And the concept of individual gains holds for both property owners who agreed to annexation as well as those who desired to remain in a newly encircled, low-tax enclave – both having benefited a priori by their respective decisions.

Now I have not come to defend the state, but to bury it. I only use the above as an example of where resistance and changing allegiances are reality, with no corresponding breakdown in society. Given this, it is but a small conceptual leap from the current reality to a future of freedom.

This vision is a society organized on mutual agreements, where services provided by governments are provided by private enterprises. In this structure, property owners can agree to services offered by any given provider in the market, or they can secede, so to speak, from all. In this world, a man can be an island (property wise), if he so chooses.

Of course, the provider would set their best price, based on the market and demand. And the property owner would choose a provider based exclusively on subjective preferences, with the market tending to eliminate bad behaviors on both sides of the transaction.

This would be similar to a contract to subscribe to (say) cellular phone service. Certainly more detailed, but similar nonetheless.

So the current map of governing entities in Ohio, with its occasional areas of resistance, would be replaced with a map of coverage similar to what would be expected if phone service contracts were disclosed – a vast checkerboard of providers, with allegiances constantly switching. One difference being that private service providers would likely offer group discounts to neighboring properties, so there would be more clustering than with cellular phone services.

The point is the existence of a model of society based on mutual agreements. And this model shows that it is but a small leap from our current structure to one based on a system of secession and switching allegiances – a leap from the Leviathans to Liberty.


1. Sometimes properties remain in both the city and the township, typically because the township fights annexation in the courts since it does not want its property tax base diminished.