Thursday, November 14, 2002

I was just thinking about the Alaskan Independence Party and that ridiculous plank in their platform about being against government waste. It's the kind of plank that marks them as being politically amateurish. Real parties look for issues that distinguish them from the competition. EVERYBODY, from Communists all the way to Fascists and back around, is against government waste except for the people working for the government doing the wasting, most of whom should probably be fired anyway, whether you have a democratic republic or an absolute monarchy, on the grounds that they're wasteful. One way to get rid of lots and lots of wasteful bureaucrats would be to drastically reduce the number of states and thereby get rid of a lot of overlapping agencies. I figure that if you reduced the number of states by about four, you'd be able to cut the number of state bureaucrats by at least half; I also like the number 13, as it brings to mind the Thirteen Original States. We could go back to the thirteen-stars-with-thirteen-stripes flag. That'd be cool, with the stars in a circle. (Trivia question: If any non-American can name the Thirteen Originals, leave your answers in the Comments section. Canadians get half-credit.)

So these are the new Thirteen United States. I tried to make groupings that fit together logically, sometimes dividing existing states, especially in order to keep metropolitan areas together. I chose as capitals attractive smaller cities, none of which is capital of an existing state and each of which is centrally located in its new state. I provided two possible names, one geographical, like the French departments, and the other honoring a Founding Father or a former President. I considered transport routes, politics, and the ethnic makeup of the population. There are four states from the West, three from the South, three from the Midwest, and three from the Northeast. Six states tend Democratic and seven tend Republican. The populations range from about 10 million to about 45 million. The old states will completely disappear as entities; that is, we're not creating regional groupings of existing states here, we're creating all-new states.

North Pacific (Washington): AK, WA, OR, North CA (down to Bakersfield-San Luis Obispo). Capital: Eugene, OR. Population: 24.9m. Politics: Strong Dem.

South Pacific (Reagan): HI, South CA (below Bakersfield), S. NV (Vegas metro), AZ. Capital: Flagstaff, AZ. Population: 25.9m. Politics: Tends Rep.

Interior Mountains (Hamilton): MT, ID, WY, North NV (except Vegas metro), UT, CO. Capital: Jackson Hole, WY. Population: 9.8m. Politics: Strong Rep.

South Plains (Eisenhower): NM, TX, OK. Capital: Lubbock, TX. Population: 26.4m. Politics: Strong Rep.

Central Plains (Truman): NE, KS, IA, MO. Capital: Lawrence, KS. Population 13.9m, including St. Louis metro in IL and Quad Cities metro in IL. Politics: Tends Rep.

North Plains (Kennedy): ND, SD, MN, WI, Upper Peninsula MI. Capital: LaCrosse, WI. Population 12.6m. Politics: Strong Dem.

Great Lakes (Lincoln): Lower Peninsula MI, OH including Cincinnati metro in KY, IN except Louisville metro, IL except St. Louis and Quad Cities metros. Capital: South Bend, IN. Population 38.4m. Politics: Tends Dem.

Ohio-Tennessee (Franklin): KY except Cincinnati metro, TN including Memphis metro in AR and MS, Louisville metro in IN. Population: 9.9m. Politics: Tends Rep.

South Mississippi or Gulf Coast (Jackson): AR, LA, MS, AL, FL panhandle, except Memphis metro in AR and MS. Capital: Greenville, MS. Population: 15.9m. Politics: Tends Rep.

South Atlantic (Madison): FL except panhandle, GA, SC, NC. Capital: Savannah, GA. Population 35.7m. Politics: Strong Rep.

Chesapeake (Jefferson): VA, WV, MD, DE, DC. Capital: Charlottesville, VA. Population: 15.6m. Politics: Strong Dem.

Hudson-Delaware (Roosevelt): NY, PA, NJ, Fairfield County, CT. Capital: Ithaca, NY. Population: 45.7m. Politics: Strong Dem.

New England (Adams): ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT except Fairfield Co. Capital: Bennington, VT. Population: 11.9m. Politics: Socialist.

The political repercussions of this would be several. The states would be divided into House districts as they are now, on the basis of population. An almost round number of 501 seats seems about right. Each state would get six Senators serving six-year terms like now, with two per state up every two years for election. That would give us a Senate with 78 members. There would be a less strong rural bias than there is now, with California and Wyoming having the same number of senators; power would still be relatively decentralized and not all in the hands of the most populous areas, though. We could either throw out the Electoral College system all together and decide the President on the basis of popular vote, perhaps with the top two candidates going to a runoff, or we could set up an Electoral College just like now, with each state having the same number of electoral votes as it does number of Senators plus Representatives. I rather like a British-style system in which the top vote-getter of the Presidential election in each Congressional district wins one electoral vote. That'll keep down the third parties. As for the states, each would have a popularly elected governor and legislature to do as they see fit.

Since each state would have at least ten million people, a great deal of money could be saved through economies of scale; each state would also be large enough to handle many current federal government capacities. The powers of the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and the like could be returned to the states. The Feds would keep running the military and international affairs, along with other things that involve more than one state, and there are a lot of other things we'd want to leave under federal control like, say, I dunno, minimum acceptable environmental standards. Of course, the Supreme Court, just as now, could declare state laws unconstitutional in case somebody started getting a little too radical, so there'd be no need to worry about something like a redneck party in South Mississippi getting hold of power and segregating the schools again. We're not off an a radical states-rights kick, just arguing for a bit more decentralization and for saving a lot of money and complexities. Just think of how many bureaucrats we could fire and bureaus we could close!

Will this plan be adopted? Naah. Too sensible. Besides, it would require the current states to vote themselves out of existence, which ain't gonna happen. And, we guess, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The United States ain't broke.

What do you think? You probably think I've been wasting my time, and you're probably right, but in case you think anything else, let us know.

No comments: