Sunday, September 20, 2009

Two Nations?

Two weeks ago I introduced the idea of splitting the United States into two distinct countries, and I provided data indicating that the southeastern states were, de facto, pretty much doing this already. These states generally score low on the Human Development Index, tax their residents at low rates compared to other states, and send conservative legislators to Congress, where they block progressive legislation backed by a majority of Americans (universal health care being just one current example).

So, the question arises, why not separate formally into two distinct countries, permitting both to treat their citizens in a manner consistent with their political philosophies? Then the people who want low (or zero) taxes could live in the south and dismantle their educational and social welfare systems, while those who have a better developed sense of social justice could live in the north and develop top quality schools, hospitals, and support networks, taxing themselves accordingly.

Yes, I know it's been tried before. But circumstances change. There is no danger now of a resurgence of overt slavery based on race. This time, the north would have no incentive to oppose succession; "good riddance" would be a more logical response.

Or would it? Aside from the obvious logistical and political problems, this country's massive dilemma is much too complicated for a geographical solution.

First, and probably least important, our states are not homogeneous. So-called red states contain pockets of blue voters, and vice-versa. Even if people wanted to move to their "country of choice," the process of leaving existing homes and jobs would be disruptive at best and completely impossible for many. You think it's tough being a liberal in Mississippi now? Wait until you're only 1% of the population and the Supreme Court rules that "free speech" no longer includes dissenting from popular views. (I can't help wondering: would the ACLU be permitted to exist in a "new south"?)

Secondly, this "solution" doesn't solve the long-range problems inherent in a world where isolation is neither desirable nor possible. Unless travel between the two countries was prohibited, contagious diseases could easily spill over the border. And atmospheric pollution knows no boundaries; if the planet warms up quickly due to complete deregulation of coal-fired utility plants in the south, fences along the Mason-Dixon line will not protect those who are willing to tax themselves to maintain a healthy planet.

Thirdly, how long would the north tolerate the extreme conditions that would probably develop in states controlled by reactionaries and the self-interested upper class unfettered by our current federal laws? Ethical standards occasionally result in international intervention (e.g. to prevent genocide and famine). Conditions might develop in the south that would eventually cause Civil War II -- and how unfortunate that would be!

Finally, I doubt that geographic separation provides the best model for the resolution of human differences. Regardless of political labels, liberals and conservatives don't agree even among themselves on everything. One imagines that substantive debates already do and would still occur in the cities of Berkely and Tuscaloosa. What are the residents going to do then -- move to the extreme eastern and western boundaries of the existing metropolis and declare that there are really two legally different cities? And the process of continuous fragmentation could continue indefinitely, as new issues would inevitably arise. Do we really want to see several million countries in the world?

No, let's not take that course of action. Let's move decisions to the lowest reasonable level of government, to allow individual enclaves to live in a manner of their choosing so long as the "externalities" (negative influences on surrounding people) are minimized. Let's facilitate better communication strategies among dissenting groups and encourage tolerance and compromise where possible. Oh, by the way, we probably also need to find a way to isolate politicians at ALL levels of government from the influence of wealthy self-interests. If decisions on health-care were made in 50 different political venues, drug company, insurance company, private sector hospital, and physician association lobbyists would be showing up in all of them, showering money on as many state legislators as necessary. (You say that already happens? Gee, we do have some intractable problems, don't we?)

I guess the National Football League won't have to change its name anytime soon.


  1. Indeed interesting, two extra boarders (depending how its split) for each of us to protect, how nice. I'm curious to know which country will house the rappers, pop stars, Jay-Zs and Mariah Careys once we split into two different societies patrolled by aging Minute Men? It’s no doubt the southern “Guv’ment” officials will repress the southern tokers till the end of time so we can’t just divide our infectiously international culture like that can we, rather we can’t just have 3rd world countries look to only to our foreign policy to determine if they like us or not can we? That’s never gone over well. And how else would Obama have been accepted as the Nobel Peace Prize winner? (You know the Norwegian committee of 1 woman and 4 men consider not just what their country thinks but also what those 3rd world countries soaked in American culture think before making their decision). So really, the international community just flat out likes us right now; Afghanistan permitting..don’t wanna mess it up much more :-/
    And granted the fact that even though the people in foreign countries that actually do like us tend to be very similar to those poor folk STUCK in our southern comfort states ruled by the republicans, they are also tend to be those highly influenced by the US through music, sports and culture as well as have a much higher international pull than you all may realize. They are the working class of the world and their politicians are so bogged down by their own firestorm of reciprocating corruption that we can only rely on these them to work tirelessly throughout the PST and EST time-zones to connect the globalized economies. Truly, The World Is Flat. ;-) And trust me, connect with us the rest of the world does; my jewelry company itself sources all of its products from numerous homegrown Chinese companies that have no political ties at all yet would never shake my hand unless I knew who the Black Eyed Peas where or that I was from a reformed Obama-Lovin country. Furthermore, I take my most recent trip of two to Uganda for example: Honestly, while I was there I couldn’t help but to hang out and party a bit. I mean while one travels to another land of lovely ladies, who wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with them as well, eh? Even if it is the businessmen and not the ladies that just happen to throw them on me in search of new opportunity. For all of us, it’s new, it’s exciting and it’s fun! Just like small business, it’s new, it’s exciting and is usually fun with cultural understanding and acceptance breading new business ventures.
    Also, I can’t help but to wonder what would happen to the acceptance ratings of our Southern comrades? You know, those responsible for the joystick controlled drones killing the Pakistani people, or as they would call them, our Al-Queda and Taliban counter folk. It’s that once all of us (north and southlanders) no longer have the golden toothed rappers and drugged out rockstars to fall back on to how else will we be able to garner love from the international community and how else will the world see us as anything more than just Texans with big honkey dory hats? Well, They WON’T! Cuz Africa won’t be able to watch MTV and see their black brothas ballin with bitches n’ booze unless they tune to MTV North and in which case that station is destined to fade in popularity as our source from the South for the hommies and ganstas, rather the musical geniuses of the original United States, dies out over time.
    So back to my little point, we can’t have all these other countries thinking that the Confederate States of America, I mean Southern States of America, is not part of another culturally rich country, can we? They’ll think that the drones, again coming from the south, will soon be out to kill the world! Unless those inbreds wise up and put Made In China stickers on the sides of um.

  2. Hmmm, so how do we seperate ourselves if those really are the two choices of direction a society can go? Especially when there's about 50% moving forward and 50% moving backwards/ being stagnant?

    I really don't know the answer to that, who does.. I liked your answer though, "Lets facilitate better communication stratagies among dissenting groups and encourage compromise and tolerance when possible". I'll say this about that solution, it's a pretty reasonable, and typical one among those who generally call themseleves "liberals".

    I think that mindset does come from the sixties, does it really work? Well sometimes, with some people, but circumstances can really show how impossible tolerance is sometimes. You can't be so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance. Sometimes some people do need some killing.

    If you put me in a room with Sarah Palin, am I changing her mind about anything or convincing her to compromise on anything? I mean, some people are trained to deal with the mentally handicapped but not me. And believe it or not, theres plenty of people less reasobable, and more ignorant than she is.

    Yes, the social changes of the sixties weren't all they were cracked up to be and theres a new generation living in this utopia created by that era of politics, and now also.., the greedy, arrogant bastard children of Regan and Bush.

    America is not the best country in the world, only inward looking Americans see that. And why? because people from 3rd world countries want to move here? Wow. I don't see the Swedish or the Japanese lining up to come live here.