I Love This Plan

We've heard the sanctimonious "Blue States pay more in taxes!" arguments for more than a decade now, and of course the moralizing about how Red States are full of losers is old hat. Still, the actual plan here is wonderful.
We give up. You win. From now on, we’ll treat the animating ideal on which the United States was founded—out of many, one—as dead and buried. Federalism, true federalism, which you have vilified for the past century, is officially over, at least in spirit. You want to organize the nation around your cherished principle of states’ rights—the idea that pretty much everything except the U.S. military and paper currency and the national anthem should be decided at the local level? Fine. We won’t formally secede, in the Civil War sense of the word. We’ll still be a part of the United States, at least on paper. But we’ll turn our back on the federal government in every way we can, just like you’ve been urging everyone to do for years, and devote our hard-earned resources to building up our own cities and states. We’ll turn Blue America into a world-class incubator for progressive programs and policies, a laboratory for a guaranteed income and a high-speed public rail system and free public universities. We’ll focus on getting our own house in order, while yours falls into disrepair and ruin.
That's fantastic. In return, let's cut Federal taxes to the bone so that it has the money it needs to take care of the military and its other few explicitly Constitutional functions. That'll leave more money for blue states to redirect to all those local projects.

Frankly, I think much of that spending done in Red States is harmful anyway. The opioid epidemic is paid for by Federal welfare money: poor people can't afford all those pills. However, they get food stamp money that can launder, and they get subsidized pills thanks to Federal medical aid. So ending all those transfer payments would ultimately be of benefit to our society: the transfer payments and welfare schemes often cause harm, however much they are intended to do good. Likewise, I don't worry too much that industry will flock only to blue states (with their high state taxes) and avoid red states (with their far lower ones).

This is what I think of as "true" Federalism -- the Federal government has a few, specific, explicitly stated duties. It has all, but only, the powers it needs to do those few things. Everything else is reserved to the states, or to the people, as the 10th Amendment plainly says.

So by all means, let's get to work on this new idea of theirs.


Anonymous said...

"We’ll turn Blue America into a world-class incubator for progressive programs and policies"

I'm pretty sure they've already tried this part. If their plan for the future is to double down on it, then the blue states are going to look like something out of Mad Max in the near future.

Grim said...

Well, notice that he specifically gives us Detroit -- its Red now because Michigan voted for Trump. So we inherit their failures.

But hey, I'll take it.

Christopher B said...

IIRC Megan McArdle had a discussion of Vermont's plan to implement a single-payer model instead of an Obamacare exchange, and how they quickly realized such a plan would swallow their entire state budget even with federal subsidies.

These people really have no clue how much tax money would be required to implement the social programs they advocate and, on the flip side, how relatively little spending is associated with everything else the Federal government does.

Grim said...

That's true. They will be the first to tell you that the military budget dwarfs everything else -- and the last to realize that this only holds if you talk about "discretionary spending," which omits the entitlements that are the vast majority of total spending.

David Foster said...

Let's be sure they either generate all their own electricity...or, alternatively, if they want to use 'renewables' 90% of the time, make sure we charge them appropriate (stratospheric) peaking surcharges for those times the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow and they want to get power from *our* grid.

Grim said...

You guys are all talking about the problems they're going to encounter. These things are not downsides for us.

David Foster said...

One interesting thing to observe would be their approach to transportation, both passenger and freight.

A (very brave) Chinese railway expert has been unhappy about what he sees as the excessive emphasis on 'prestige' passenger trains versus workaday freight trains, and referred to 'government officials playing with train sets.'

The same would be true in the US seceded areas, on steroids.

Grim said...

We addressed that here by conceding ownership of the rail lines to freight companies. Amtrak runs, as I'm sure you know, chiefly (exclusively?) on track it's leasing time on from freight outfits.

I love riding trains, but I rarely do because it's just impractically expensive and slow for most trips. Still, when I do have business that takes me to the Northeastern Corridor, the train from DC to Philly or NYC is way better than trying to drive or ride through all those cities.

Christopher B said...

Grim - I agree. What I mentioned wasn't a downside, more of an observation of why the more moderate Left better overrule the fire-breathers (and I'm choosing that moniker deliberately) if they know what's good for them.

As to Amtrak, it runs on freight RR track via a statutory requirement that allowed the railroads to discontinue passenger service pretty much everywhere except the NE Corridor, which it does own. There are some services funded at by several states but run under the Amtrak umbrella (out of Chicago and in CA, primarily) to take advantage of that statutory language, and some of those may be on state owned track.

Anonymous said...

You know, the more I think about this plan the more it basically sounds like Bender being kicked out of the theme park. To wit;


Texan99 said...

It would be lovely to let people in different areas try different things without so much spiteful "You need us more than we need you!" ragging. I'm a chief source of spite on this subject. Would love to see them rage ahead with the fabulous Blue State utopias without somehow dragging us along. Federalism should allow a bit of experimentation here, without our constantly having to keep score on who's failing the worst. The idea should be to see what ideas work and what ideas don't. Different areas of the country might even decide that things work for them that don't work for others! Hey, and then citizens could decide where they prefer to live. It would be anarchy.

Grim said...

Yes! Glorious, glorious anarchy.