Our Union: It must be preserved.
” – Andrew Jackson , President Jackson’s toast at a Jefferson Day dinner, April 13, 1830.
This great Republic began as 13 States signed and ratified a new US Constitution. We currently have grown to 50 States, 5 Federal territories, and 1 Federal district. In all this time there have been times of turbulence and strife because people are so diverse and culturally different. At the time Andrew Jackson made his toast there was a difference of opinion about a State picking and choosing Federal laws it would accept and reject. The States with a slave labor economy wanted to just ignore any Federal laws concerning tariffs and expanded Federal lands that barred slavery. The dispute went on for another 35 years until it was finally decided in the case of Lee v. Grant. Then for the next 12 years the former slave States endured living under occupation with Federal troops guaranteeing the freed slaves were accomodated in exercising their new rights as US citizens. For the next 88 years the white southerners enacted Jim Crow laws to deny the free African Americans the same opportunities as the white citizens. The 1965 Civil Rights Act finally has made the institutional racism a thing of the past.
Today we have a difference of opinion about how dependent should the citizens of a state be to the Federal Government to provide them with money and services. We have a difference of opinion about whether or not the citizems of a state should have forced union labor or be a right to work state. We really should forget about deciding to use nullification as a way to settle this dispute. I do not want to see another Lee v. Grant kind of outcome. This dispute is not a Republicans vs Democrats problem as I describe the bad and the good below. There are no easy ways to fix this. Some ideas I will suggest are not complicated, but they are also not easy to implement.
First, let’s compare Federal Stimulus dollars for some states. (Source) Federal relief for state Medicaid programs for the first two quarters of 2009, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, adoption and foster care services, grants for: community health centers, hospitals serving low-income areas and meals for the elderly, states improving child support enforcement in the first quarter of 2009, community welfare projects, child care programs, immunization programs.
Social Spending per capita
District of Columbia $218.76
Rhode Island $152.23
Second, let’s compare accumulated debt for these same states. (Source) On January 1, 1835, the United States Treasury had a balance of $440,000, not a penny of which was owed to anyone–the only time in U.S. history when the government was completely free of debt. I do not think I will live to see a January 1, 1835 moment.
Rhode Island Debt 2010: $10.02 billion Pre-budget Deficit 2011: $395 million GDP 2009: $46.50 billion Debt/GDP Ratio: 21.54 %
Tennessee Debt 2010: $5.00 billion Pre-budget Deficit 2011: $1.00 billion GDP 2009: $256.53 billion Debt/GDP Ratio: 1.95 %
Alaska Debt 2010: $6.76 billion Pre-budget Deficit 2011: $0 billion GDP 2009: $36.55 billion Debt/GDP Ratio: 18.50 %
Texas Debt 2010: $41.73 billion Pre-budget Deficit 2011: $4.6 billion GDP 2009: $1.13 trillion Debt/GDP Ratio: 3.69 %
California Debt 2010: $137.74 billion Deficit 2011: $17.9 billion GDP 2009: $1.89 trillion Debt/GDP Ratio: 7.30 %
Georgia Debt 2010: $16.12 billion Pre-budget Deficit 2011: $4.20 billion GDP 2009: $402.07 billion Debt/GDP Ratio: 4.01 %
District of Columbia Debt 2010: $5.72 billion Pre-budget Deficit 2011: $104 million GDP 2009: $91.29 billion Debt/GDP Ratio: 6.27 %
Nebraska Debt 2010: $3.60 billion Pre-budget Deficit 2011: $329 million GDP 2009: $81.23 billion Debt/GDP Ratio: 4.43 %
Finally let’s compare rate of unemployment for these same states. (Source)
Rhode Island 11.5%
Washington DC 9.8%
My solution for the District of Columbia is simple, but it will not be easy to implement. I believe this Federal District should be deemed a work zone, and not a permanent residency for anyone. The people who per chance live in any building located within the boundaries of the district should be permanent residents of Virginia or Maryland. This way no US citizen is disenfranchised of being represented in the US House or US Senate or Governor. This way the US Congress is relieved of deciding what school a child may attend, and whether or not charter schools vouchers are an option.
My solution for Alaska and Rhode Island is that if they are going to behave like American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands then they should be Federal territories too. My hope for Alaska grows large with the prospect of Joe Miller becoming US Senator, but if the voters keep Murkowski, Begich, and Young they choose to be controlled by power brokers in Washington, DC. That makes them no different than a Federal territory. Since the folks in the nation’s capitol call all the shots why should Alaska send anyone but a US House Delegate member? I have no one who gives me even a slight bit of hope in Rhode Island, and I apply the same solution to them as I did to Alaska.
California is a special case, and I present a map as an aid for understanding my solution.
I think that everything from highway 101 west to the coast should be declared a Federal territory. All the land from highway 101 east to the Nevada border can remain as the new and improved State of California. I believe this portion of California would manage to govern themselves as a State capable of keeping spending under control.
No government is perfect. The four I listed as good examples have managed to make mistakes they had to walk back from. That ability to recognize you are on the wrong track and change is the mark of character necessary to be recognized as a sovereign state.
Cross-posted at The Minority Report