Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bye Bye Texas

The governor of Texas made a statement on Tax Day in which he obliquely referred to the possibility of Texas seceding from the union. As a former (dare I say it--seceded) Texan, I feel the need to continue the discussion. First, I will toss a link to a video Ron Paul made saying that secession isn't un-American. He relates some interesting points.

For the sake of semantics, let me just say secession is un-American by definition, however, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Paul's argument is basically that when most of the states joined the U.S.A., they did so with the understanding that they would be able to secede later if they decided that independence would be better. He points out that no one really believes that anymore since the Civil War, and some other nifty tid-bits: that New England came very close to seceding at one point and that the pledge of allegiance was penned in 1892 by a socialist and the word "indivisible" was put in there as a reflection of the author's socialist dogma. Then at the tip of the tail-end of the video, Congressman Paul says that there will be more talk of secession when the dollar collapses.

First, I went to high school in Texas and the idea that Texans feel like they can just secede whenever they want to is not only true, it's grossly understated here. I was taught that very thing in high school. Nevermind that Texas did secede and was forced back in via a brutal and bloody war. The supposed right of secession is a point of pride, and it contributes to that uniquely Texan mindset. Seriously, it's a very different state, and a lot of that has less to do with the "everything's bigger in Texas" cliche than with the fact that it used to be an independent nation. And I'm not being derogatory. Texans are very normal people, but Texas is a world apart (back me up, y'all).

And it's funny that money is being cited as a potential cause right now, because money was a huge motivating factor in Texas' joining the union to begin with. Here's another point of Texan pride: Texas is big, but it used to be bigger! Denver, Colorado, is in a strip of land that used to be part of Texas. But about half the land was sold to pay off debts and Texas joined up because, amongst other reasons, their currency was worthless.

I do think it's interesting that Dr. Paul seems to regard the crash of the dollar as a foregone conclusion. Be that as it may, if the dollar were to crash, that could be seen a strong motivator for states to secede, but it would mandate the creation of regional currencies. Here's where we have a host of problems. The lesson to be taken from Europe right now (and arguably from California as well) is that a government needs to be able to control its own currency in a crisis. The flip side of that is that with multiple currencies, cross-border commerce becomes complicated.

Sidenote: under the Articles of Confederation the U.S. states had control of their currencies and it was supposedly quite hard on commerce. Or so I learned from my high school history teacher. One of the same teachers who taught us that whole Texas-can-secede-if-it-wants-what-do-you-mean-the-Civil-War-contradicts-that bit. I digress.

So one wants to find a happy medium. It might not make sense for Texas to secede, but it might make sense for Texas and a few others to secede. I've long espoused the idea that the U.S. should split into three countries: an East Coast, a West Coast, and the middle. My reasoning is twofold:

  1. The U.S. is large, and that adds a logistical complication to any legislative process.
  2. Most controversial issues are divided along lines that are bound by geography.
  3. Caveat to above: we seem incapable of not handling controversial issues at a federal level.
So I largely agree with Dr. Paul. It's a subject that merits some discussion, and whether or not secession is un-American notwithstanding (it would be different if we had a history of letting people join and leave willy-nillly), the discussion of it certainly wouldn't be.  I guess what I (and a slew of Texans, it seems) resent is that the option is automatically off the table because... well...

Hell if i know why.


1 comment:

Ben said...

You're damn right intercurrency commerce is complicated!

Trying to account for foreign currency investments is next to impossible on paper. It can be done in a few hours if the situation is made arbitrarily simple (1 investment, with 1 foreign currency, with 1 year's worth of exchange rate changes, using nice round numbers as your base).

In a real world situation, it can become too large for even experienced accountants to follow. While it is possible to get a computer to do it, since nobody wants to spend weeks checking the figures, there's never any way to tell if you've done it properly.