Squeeze it down

Scotland’s vote to secede from England and destroy “Great Britain” would be only one of many signs that government consolidation is over. Venice has voted to secede from Italy, and Sardinia may be next. Northern Spain is likely to break up into two states, Catalonia and Basque. In Belgium, the Dutch-speaking north wants to split from the French south. The Crimea is already split from Ukraine, and other regions may follow. Russia is trying to centralize but only to retake what territory it has recently lost.

In Canada, the French speakers have been bribed from seceding by subsidies from Ottawa, but the oil rich Western provinces are tired of being the ones taxed to pay the bribes and may secede. Conservative Texas has threatened to secede and so has liberal Vermont.

Closer to home, Incline Village has talked of secession from Washoe County. The differences between populous Las Vegas and northern and rural Nevada has led to talks of a split. Northern California wants to be called the State of Jefferson, and some Nevadans wonder if we could invite Nevada City to become part of Nevada. The agricultural central valley from Stockton to Temecula resents the urban coast. The Western States are trying to take back the federal public lands. Three Colorado counties want to split off. Some believe there are as many as eight separate cultural and economic regions of the US and wonder how long they will hang together.

One reason is lack of representation. It has been many years since the founders’ ideal of 30,000 souls per U.S. House member has been exceeded. It is now over 500,000 people per member. Washington, D.C. seems either indifferently distant or boorishly overbearing. It can’t seem to get anything right except to make its denizens rich. People are tired of being taxed to subsidize others.

The modern nation state system was created in 1648 in Germany after 30 years of religious wars. The idea was that centralized states were better than the old feudal system. In the process, they created entities that have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within their borders and can also set the price of their power and decide conflicts about their power.

The Civil War was the beginning of centralization in the US. That consolidation continued with only brief pauses in the 1920’s and 1980’s. Many people still believe in central planning, but the contradictions are producing huge cracks in the consensus. The major contradiction is that government exists to provide protection for lives and property but does so by theft of property through taxes and regulations and claims lives through heavy handed military and police action. It seems you always have to destroy the village in order to save it.

The economies controlled by central banking have been powerless to avoid a world recession or find its cure. Russia, China, Brazil, India and others are rising to counterbalance the power of the United States and Europe. As Yeats wrote, “the centre cannot hold.”

Freedom lovers would like secession to reach all the way down to the individual level. In other words, as information and production technology advances, monopoly government will become more and more obsolete. It is time to look ahead to the next generations. By 2099, individuals and families may have many choices to contract for services that only the increasingly authoritarian states now provide. Advances like 3-D printing, Bitcoin, social media, genetic and nano technology are pointing the way. Bill Clinton said it, and it will take a while, but the era of big government is indeed over.