July 30, 2014

TEN MILLION APPEARS TO BE ABOUT THE MAXIMAL SIZE:

Break up the states! The case for the United Statelets of America : Here's how Wyoming, Vermont and North Dakota are exercising tyranny over the rest of us -- and how to stop them (MICHAEL LIND, 7/29/14, Salon)

A ballot initiative that would support breaking California into six smaller and more coherent states is being backed by Timothy Draper, a tech investor.  It's a great idea.  But why stop with California?  Breaking up all of the too-large states would increase both the accountability and efficiency of the U.S. government.

America's state governments are too big to be democratic and too small to be efficient.  Given an adequate tax base, public services like public schools and hospitals, utilities and first responders are best carried out by cities and counties.  Most infrastructure is either local or regional or national.  Civil rights, including workers' rights, should be handled at the federal level, to eliminate local pockets of tyranny and exploitation.  Social insurance systems are most efficient and equitable when they are purely national, like Social Security and Medicare, and inefficient and inequitable when they are clumsily divided among the federal government and the states, like unemployment insurance, Medicaid and Obamacare.

So what are state governments particularly good at?  Nothing, really.  They interfere in local government, cripple the federal government, shake down lobbyists and waste taxpayer money.

Few if any state borders correspond to the boundaries of actual social communities with a sense of shared identity.  A look at county-level voting maps shows that, in terms of politics, rural Americans everywhere generally have more in common with their fellow hinterlanders than with their urban fellow citizens in their own states -- and vice versa.  Arbitrary state boundaries merely insure that state legislatures will be the scenes of endless battles between country mice and city mice, resulting in stalemates that don't serve the interests or reflect the values of either mouse species.
Posted by at July 30, 2014 4:33 PM
  
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