21 thoughts on “Secession?

  1. Edward Wright

    America has an unfortunate history with secession, which led to the bloodiest war in our history

    Yes, but not directly — Prof. Reynolds is giving a very glib account of a very complex event.

    When Texas seceded, Union forces withdrew peacefully, turning control of their forts over to the State of Texas. It wasn’t until the hotheads in South Carolina fired on Fort Sumter that the Civil War began. Absent that event, it’s unlikely Lincoln would have found sufficient political support for a military invasion of the South.

  2. Fletcher Christian

    Federalism, with radically different laws (at least in some areas of law) in the various states, would lead to some (possibly soluble) problems. An example of the sort of thing I mean is the well-known example of small areas (counties?) in the USA that decide to ban the sale of liquor within their borders. Of course, people being people, the only real result of this is the springing up of numerous liquor stores within half a mile or so of the border, in the surrounding areas that don’t have such a ban.

    I believe Canadian pharmacies within a few miles of the US border do a roaring trade in prescription drugs, due to the immensely higher cost of medications in the USA caused by pharma company protectionism and profiteering. Admittedly, this is an international difference, but it serves to illustrate the point.

    To sum up, ban the sale of something in one state and all you do is harm its economy and help those of its neighbours. Unless you start setting up border controls, of course.

    1. Edward Wright

      An example of the sort of thing I mean is the well-known example of small areas (counties?) in the USA that decide to ban the sale of liquor within their borders.

      Counties? In Dallas, it’s by voting precinct. Not much of a problem, really, except for the confusion since no one knows where precincts begin and end.

    2. Michael Kent

      “I believe Canadian pharmacies within a few miles of the US border do a roaring trade in prescription drugs, due to the immensely higher cost of medications in the USA caused by pharma company protectionism and profiteering.”

      No, it’s due to the Canadian government setting prices based on the marginal cost of the drug and not the total cost.

    3. Paul Milenkovic

      And the United States is also host to “medical tourists” from Canada.

      Pharma protectionism and profiteering. Come. On.

      Drugs are insanely expensive to develop owing to a variety of technical and regulatory challenges, and yes, the regulation is necessary and saves lives. Yes, there is no free market in drugs as every sovereign power demands cheap prices, so it is largely the American public footing the bill for drug discovery and “drugs in the pipeline.”

      This sort of like the U.S. Defense budget and NATO. Or Canada. So spare me the “cheap drugs at the border as evidence of corporate greed.”

    4. Bart

      “…caused by pharma company compliance with their fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders, including pension funds for teachers, firefighters, and policemen.”

      Fixed that for you. Pharmaceutical companies do business in Canada because they can still eek out a positive return with US citizens providing the R&D. It’s outrageous that we let the Canadians mooch off us that way. But, if we all become moochers, drug development stops, and we all share equally in the misery.

    5. McGehee

      An example of the sort of thing I mean is the well-known example of small areas (counties?) in the USA that decide to ban the sale of liquor within their borders.

      It’s called the 21st Amendment.

      I actually live in a county where only one incorporated city has issued licenses to sell hard liquor for off-premises consumption (package). From my house the nearest package store is in another county altogether.

      It’s inconvenient, and I do wish the county would normalize this — but I’d hardly consider it a problem worth calling federalism into question over.

      1. MfK

        The only advantage of living in California that I ever encountered was the fact that you could buy any kind of alcohol in existence at any supermarket, Trader Joes, 7-Eleven, etc. And they still had a booming liquor store base.

        Having moved to Maryland, I’m constrained to buying at specific liquor stores (fortunately, not state stores). It is inconvenient as hell. But I’ve noticed that the number of purpose-built liquor stores here is vastly smaller than that in California. Since they don’t sell alcohol anywhere else, one would think the alcohol consumption here would be much less. But the consumption of alcohol is WAY more here than anywhere else I’ve ever lived.

        I bring it up only to point out that varying state laws seem to have no effect on outcomes — for what it’s worth. Oh, and as a newly minted Leftist Democrat, I think it is racist. Or something else bad.

    6. pennypincher

      Fletcher Christian says bug, I say feature…

      One of the GOOD features of federalism is that if state governments try to ban things that people really want, they can almost always get it by going across the border, unless it it something for which there is nearly unanimous support for.

      It’s like saying that in order for the government to effectively ban something, all 50 states have to ratify that action.

      Which leaves government more free to focus on roads, national defense, maintaining the currency, etc.

  3. Edward Wright

    Let the central government do the things that only central governments can do — national defense, regulation of trade to keep the provinces from engaging in economic warfare with one another, protection of basic civil rights

    Have the Ukraine, Lithuania, etc. lacked national defense and protection of basic civil rights since they seceded from the central government of the Soviet Union? Has trade come to a grinding halt due to economic warfare?

    Europe has never had a central government, but its states do not lack national defense, which they achieve through their own armies as well as treaties with other nations. They also manage to negotiate trade treaties with one another. Most of those states are smaller than Texas.

    This is a rather odd view from someone who has argued the European Union is unnecessary.

  4. Bart

    The basic problem, however, is that we have become critically balkanized. People in the Northeast, South-Central, and West regions are alien to one another. We no longer share the same values or priorities. Honestly, I see little hope for reconciliation, and I have a very bad feeling for how it is going to end.

    1. Daver

      I think studies have indicated that producers understand moochers, it’s the moochers who have the understanding problems. They’ll also have the highest mortality rate when the lid comes off.

  5. Fletcher Christian

    Bart – Presumably the drugs sold in Canada still show a profit. Were it not so, they wouldn’t be sold at all. I could start talking about the utter lack of ethics in the pharmaceutical industry, the phony studies, the ruthless crushing of dissent, the bribery of medical professionals, the promoting of completely useless drugs (example: statins) for profit…

    But that really would be a derail. Incidentally, I put a question mark after the word “counties” in my first comment because I don’t know how on what scale such things are decided and I’m prepared to admit it.

    I’m fairly sure though, without checking, that liquor stores in the immediate vicinity of the Utah border (outside it) do fairly well.

    The problem with federalising everything is that in some states the Moral Minority would fairly soon have its leaders morph into Nehemiah Scudder lite.

    1. Larry J

      There’s two levels to the profit equation. First and simpliest, there’s a profit of having the selling price higher than the production price. From what I understand, Canada allows the US companies to charge based on production costs. However, the full cost of the medicine has to include the substancial investment in R&D before the medicine is approved for production. From what I’ve read, Canada doesn’t allow US drug companies to charge sufficiently high prices to recoup their R&D costs. That means US consumers pay higher prices to effectively subsidize Canadian consumers.

      1. Bart

        Fletch – It’s sort of like static versus kinetic friction. The “profit” in Canada is the excess force above the kinetic friction – the static friction is simply dropped from the ledger. But, the static friction is overcome in the US. And, if the US stops providing the threshold force to make the mass move, it will stop in both places.

  6. ken anthony

    The problem with federalism is control freaks never let it happen. Even Glenn, not a control freak AFAIK, wants the commerce clause to remain in force (how?)

    Commerce does not need any regulation other than by consumers which assumes a certain amount of transparency which is supposed to be provided by unbiased investigators (perhaps the media could look into that?)

    You have to have faith that citizens, given choices, will tend to make the right ones. You have to have faith the media will do its job of informing the citizens.

    Faith like that is getting harder to come by, but the two are not of the same. The media has become a threat rather than a faithful friend. Our citizens would come around with some adult guidance (where the adults know that just giving without responsibility does not work.)

    1. Brock

      The commerce clause is like a negative power. Basically as originally conceived, it was to prevent the States from imposing trade barriers among the States to “protect” local jobs and companies. For instance, in Bibb v Navajo Freight the Supreme Court invalidated a Wisconsin law that limited long haul truck length to 55′ – when most US trucks were 65′ long. The purpose of the law was keep all in-State deliveries by local trucking companies; pure protectionism.

      The problem with the current commerce clause is that the Supreme Court has reinterpreted “commerce among the States” to mean “commerce within the States”.

      1. McGehee

        This.

        I’d be satisfied if my state could secede from Wickard v. Filburn. But since that isn’t an option…

      2. ken anthony

        The problem with the current commerce clause is that the Supreme Court has reinterpreted “commerce among the States” to mean “commerce within the States”.

        No, that’s not the central problem. It should not exist at all.

        Bibb v Navajo Freight

        This and everything like it resolves itself without any central govt. involvement.

        The constitution has flaws. Short as it is, it includes too many things and is not specific enough (because they couldn’t imagine us not getting this individual liberty thang.)

        States that try protectionism will lose to those that don’t without any need for federal involvement. This is exactly the same issue Rand Paul talked about regarding civil rights. A person that wants a ‘whites only’ cafe is long term going to restrict and then lose their business.

        It is not the governments job to prevent stupid.

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