EspañolSilicon Valley businessman Tim Draper is sponsoring a proposal to divide the state of California into six different states. He argues that politicians in Sacramento have created a government that’s bloated and inefficient, unable to meet the varied needs of Californians throughout the state. California’s regional diversity, with its varied interests and needs, would be better served by smaller governments with local politicians.
California is huge — about the size of Japan — geographically and culturally diverse, with its mountain ranges, desert, urban and rural areas. It is also industrially varied, including agriculture, manufacturing, entertainment, technology and tourism. These disparate regions have been bound together by a border, a vestige of the Mexican-American war. But why should they continue to be constrained in an inefficient governmental territory?
Granted, there may be some legitimate-sounding arguments against this proposal: it would be a big hassle.
Each state would have to renegotiate water rights, for instance. The state’s enormous debt would have to be divvied up. There would be years of transition. Some people have also pointed out that the federal government would end up subsidizing the poorer states.
Power and Politics
Article IV, Section III of the Constitution requires that, in order for new states to be formed out of an existing one, the proposal first must be passed by that state’s legislature, then approved by Congress. Along the way, Draper’s proposal would still be vulnerable to judicial review. And even if Congress were to approve, the president could veto it.
Of course, the proposal will never make it that far, because it threatens the power of California’s incumbent politicians, as well as the political status quo at the national level.
Consider Senators Feinstein and Boxer, accustomed to ruling over this large territory, the nation’s most populous state. They would take any necessary action to stop such a threat to their influence and clout.
For similar reasons, many California congressmen would also oppose it. Especially in economically weaker areas, where local representatives would have less money to play with.
Collectivism: The Bigger Obstacle
Of course, they’ll never admit their fear of diminished power and prestige. Instead they’ll seek to convince people by using collectivist reasons for their opposition.
These days, having been successfully indoctrinated by public schools and religious institutions, most people automatically agree that the needs of the whole supersede the needs of the individual. To them it follows that the government’s role is to decide what’s best for the entire populace: the will of the state as morally dutiful.
That mindset impedes innovation, prosperity, and individual rights, but it is so ingrained in the citizenry that most people will accept these arguments as “fair.”
Through this unearned guilt, taxpayers are subjected to the whims of politicians who impose policy after policy, ostensibly intended to raise the status of the poor. In reality, these policies succeed more at elevating the status of said politicians.
They’ll point out that some regions of California don’t produce nearly as much wealth as Silicon Valley or the Los Angeles area. The hypothetical state of Central California would lose revenue that previously came from wealthier areas.
Less redistribution may be undesirable to residents who are accustomed to it, but it’s not wrong.
But collectivists insist on taking that wealth away, spreading it far and wide, throughout the state — inefficiently allocating it in whatever manner the central planners seem fit. Too much of this money is spent in ways that doesn’t even benefit the community of those who produced it.
They refuse to recognize the unintended consequences that result from these ideologically misguided policies. Instead, they re-conceive reality in a way that props up their own ideas.
Innovation versus Anti-Market Bias
Opponents point out that state school funding might be reduced in some areas if Draper’s proposal succeeds. But throwing ever more money at education hasn’t done much to boost results.
Perhaps some of these newly created states would become free to allow innovative, market-based solutions to education that actually work. Educational freedom, more than taxpayers’ money, has the potential to improve education. However, educational businesses, which are significantly motivated by profit, are often viewed with suspicion. Only nonprofits, they assume, are virtuous enough to educate our kids.
This demonstrates what’s known as the “anti-market bias.” Many people tend to underestimate the contributions of markets to society, and they overestimate the harm of these profit seekers. Here’s where politicians come in.
Politicians vilify businessmen such as Draper, asserting that they must be kept in check with more regulations, even though that impedes success and inhibits the economy. Yet politicians claim the moral high ground. But what’s more moral: pursuit of power through force, or pursuit of wealth through hard work?
Other Options for Liberty
I hope that the uphill battle I just described doesn’t discourage people from pursuing goals similar to what Draper’s proposal is trying to accomplish. If you desire a smaller, more localized and efficient government, there are alternatives.
The Neighborhood Legislature proposal, for instance, would create more representatives in smaller districts, effectively bringing representatives closer to their constituents. In general, local elections provide the most effective way to be heard. Focus on initiatives, not politicians.
When it comes to unconstitutional federal laws, nullification can provide an effective means for states to push back. Form coalitions, cross party lines, find common ground, and learn to work with your neighbors, despite different political persuasions.
Spread the word about natural rights, individualism, and the importance of liberty. Find ways you can nudge people’s opinions, increase political awareness, and empower other individuals against onerous and nonsensical laws.
While powerful, entrenched politicians, along with collectivist mentalities, may have doomed this proposal from the start, it’s still an idea with admirable goals. Currently, the citizens of California aren’t ready for such a radical idea. Let’s help get them there.