Here’s one I wrote for contextflorida.com, a political website. It was posted Dec. 4.
I get a kick out of these periodic threats by states or regions to secede from the United States.
Sometimes they’re boastful efforts by the likes of Texas, which has a great business economy, low taxes and dismal results to show for it — horrible on education, health care and the environment, so bad it might qualify for foreign aid from the United States if it were a separate country.
Other times the threats are more tongue-in-cheek, like Northwest Florida wondering why it can’t separate from the rest of the state and its wacky ways. Although we Pensacolians aren’t as sophisticated as Miami’s South Beach set, we don’t want to be lumped in with the high crime, chad-reading, early-bird-special image that the rest of Florida projects to the world.
But instead of letting states threaten to secede, let’s start reviewing states and deciding if they should be allowed to remain members of these United States.
After all, we’re getting kind of old to be such a sprawling republic, so maybe the U.S. of A. should do some downsizing and cut our overhead.
We already know that Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana are major drags on the nation’s bottom line, taking far more in federal aid than they deliver to Uncle Sam.
It’s not just in education, health care and other obvious ways, either. They’re even into us for huge subsidies for federal flood insurance. Mississippi got $5 in payments for flood damage for every $1 of premium its residents paid, according to a National Flood Insurance Program report on spending from 1978-2008. Louisiana got $3.33 for every $1 premium; Alabama pulled in $2.50.
That’s a sweet deal for states where people build on low-lying land, and then rebuild on the same site after it floods. Government shouldn’t mess with their property rights, they say. Government should just pay for their mistakes.
Floridians, incidentally, shelled out $3.60 for every $1 collected in flood claims, according to a Wharton Center study cited by Florida Tax Watch.
It’s not just Southern states that need to be kicked out of the union.
How about Iowa? What does that state do but hold us hostage to corn ethanol and huge subsidies which all presidential wannabes must endorse if they want to win Iowa’s early-bird primary voting? (Hey, Floridians, if fuel must include ethanol, we can make a much better case for sugar ethanol. Let’s move our presidential candidate-picking season ahead of Iowa and then we can cash in.)
Sure, I can hear critics denouncing me now. “You can’t kick a state out of the union just because it’s a poor cousin.” “It’s un-American to reject a state because it’s poor. We’re all in this together.”
But we’re already doing these things on an individual basis.
Right here in Florida, we’re reducing aid to low-income people and their children. And too many Floridians seem happy that we’re cutting food stamps and Medicaid, even if a large chunk of the recipients are too young, too old or too sick to get by, or they don’t make enough money at their low-paying jobs.
If a tough line is good enough for kids and the working poor, it’s good enough for states that don’t pull their weight.