Secession Solves Social Strife

By Robert P. MurphyLibertyChat.com contributor

…and a little alliteration brightens life. Anyway, in his recent interview with Kirkpatrick Sale, Tom Woods brings up a wonderful point starting around the 23:05 mark. Specifically, Tom brought up the fact that in the United States, there is a rancorous partisan divide between “Red states” and “Blue states.” (Of course, Tom (and I) reject this dichotomy as bogus–there was barely a difference between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the grand scheme of things.) Nonetheless, Tom pointed out, it’s astonishing that these partisans never once entertain the idea of going their own ways in peace.

red blue states

Instead, every four years we have a divisive national election in which the losing side submits to rule under the candidate it has just spent a year demonizing as the next Hitler. (That’s my rhetorical flourish, not Tom’s word.) For example,┬áPaul Krugman passionately endorses “universal health coverage,” meaning that the federal government will make sure every American gets treatment. Yet Krugman also routinely disparages the Republican Party as evil and stupid, and makes gallows-humor jokes about Sarah Palin being the next president. So wouldn’t it be great if Krugman and his fans never had to live under a Palin Administration, with her right-wing religious zealot appointees making decisions about abortions?

On the other side, consider the crew at Fox. They were big cheerleaders of presidential powers under the George W. Bush administration, but when Obama took over, all of a sudden they remembered the benefits of a Constitution. Wouldn’t they be happier in a world where salt of the earth Americans voted on the political leaders, rather than those crazy liberal voters in California and New York who just wanted bigger government?

There is a way to make this reality happen: Secession. The people in the “Red states” can have their own federal government, while the people in the “Blue states” can have theirs. The beauty is that–with the possible exception of the military–it doesn’t really matter if these states are contiguous. You can have a Blue IRS (with super high tax rates on rich people) and a Red IRS (with a flat tax) applicable to 25 states each; after all, the individual states all have their own tax codes right now. I hope no progressive objects that this proposal would cause individuals or businesses to move out of the Blue states; Krugman et al. have been assuring us for several years now that the income tax has no effect whatsoever on economic decisions.

As I mentioned, the one area where secession might seem problematic is the military. But here too, it actually solves social problems. This isn’t an issue of “free riders,” it’s an issue of a large segment of Americans not wanting the U.S. military to bomb the heck out of Middle Eastern countries. So it’s a feature, not a bug, of secession that it give Americans more choice in whether their tax dollars fund (what they consider to be) immoral wars.

Last thing: Whenever someone brings up secession as a strategy for modern American politics, some wiseguy will say, “Didn’t the Civil War show that doesn’t work?” This is such a monstrous quip that it’s hard to know how to respond. The critic is effectively arguing that because the U.S. government slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people the last time someone took the Declaration of Independence seriously, that therefore it must not be valid after all. By the same token, if we’re debating whether an Indian tribe should get the right to open a casino, a wiseguy could ask, “Didn’t the Trail of Tears show that won’t work?”

Virtually every political problem in America could be cut in half…if we cut the federal government in half. Say it with me (if you can): Secession solves social strife.

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