A quarter of Americans want to secede

Forty-five percent of Scots wanted to secede from Great Britain, and other secessionist movements are building up steam around the world (the Catalonians in Spain, the Flemish in Belgium, the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, the Russians in the Ukraine, etc.).  And according to a recent poll, almost a fourth of Americans would like their states to secede from the Union.

The would-be secessionists come from both conservatives and liberals.  I haven’t noticed much nationalistic sentiment directed to one’s state or region, unlike in the Civil War days.  (For one thing, the states and regions have become much more homogenized than they used to be.)  Then again, I don’t notice nearly as much nationalistic sentiment directed to the United States of America anymore, unlike the broadly-felt patriotism of my youth.

Do any of you want to secede from the union?  Could you explain why? [Read more...]

States fare differently under Obamacare

More quirks in Obamacare:  The same policy from the same insurer with the same coverage costs $1,800 per month in Virginia, but it costs only $285 in adjoining Maryland.  This is because Maryland mandated that all policies cover, among other things, gastric by-pass surgery for obesity.  Virginia did not, requiring those interested in that surgery to pay extra for that coverage.

Presumably, insurance companies–which are not allowed to charge extra for the $15,000 operation in Maryland–are having to make up the difference when selling policies elsewhere.   I suspect that liberal states will be more generous in mandating coverage, with conservative states requiring fewer services unless consumers pay for them.  That will mean people in liberal states will get more comprehensive health care coverage at a lower cost than those in conservative states, which will also have to foot the bill for the liberals’ generosity! [Read more...]

The casino-government complex

More and more states are not only legalizing gambling, they are cashing in on it, raking in lots of revenue through mutually cushy deals with big casinos.  Michael Gerson discusses the problems with what he calls “the casino-government complex.” [Read more...]

Big state government vs. little local government

In classic conservative political theory, the most significant form of government is what is closest to the people; that is, local governments in which the people select their neighbors to govern the community.  As levels of government get farther and farther away from the people who elected them, political involvement becomes ever more abstract and the distant government gets potentially ever more problematic, especially when it usurps power from the officials closer to the people.

Nevertheless, today many state governments–particularly some that are Republican-controlled–are working to minimize the authority of local governments.  Some of these conservative state legislators complain about a too powerful federal government usurping the rights of the states, while themselves working to increase the power of state government at the expense of city and county governments.

Debates about the relative authority of state and local government are not new. But in places such as Tennessee, where Republicans claimed comfortable majorities in the legislature in 2010, they come with a different subtext.

Many of these state lawmakers have accused the federal government of adopting an imperious, one-size-fits-all mentality and of subverting the rightful powers of states. At the same time, many high-profile debates in the Tennessee Capitol over the past two years — on topics such as local wage rules and local non-discrimination rules, among others — have centered on the state trying to limit the power of localities to make decisions for themselves.

To some critics, that’s a sign of hypocrisy. What conservative supporters of these laws argue, though, is that localities sometimes use their power in ways that are inconsistent with values the state holds dear, such as defending property rights and reducing government regulation. Their case is that the only way the legislature can enact its vision for government is to use the power it has, not delegate it to others.

Most of the legislation in Tennessee hasn’t passed yet, and some of it seems unlikely to pass soon. Still, in Tennessee and elsewhere, it’s clear that for conservative lawmakers, local control is just one principle, a principle that sometimes is superseded by others.

While the extent of local government autonomy varies from state to state, nowhere is that autonomy absolute. Even in states such as Tennessee that offer limited “home rule,” state governments can act to overrule the localities.

“What the locals need to remember,” said Tennessee state Rep. Jim Gotto (R), “is that all the power they have is what has been delegated to them by the state.”

As a result, states and localities are engaged in a constant push and pull in state capitols. In Indiana, for example, the legislature rejected a bill this year that would have given some local jurisdictions the power to ask voters for tax increases to pay for public transit. The move came even though the mayor of Indianapolis considered the bill a top priority and the measure had the support of other local officials and business groups.

via Republican legislatures move to preempt local government – The Washington Post.

It sounds like the emphasis is on final results rather than conservative principles.  Taxes are bad and development is good, reason the state legislators, so they are voting to prevent local communities from raising taxes and limiting development.  But shouldn’t the particular communities have the right to make decisions on issues like those?   Are those bottom-line issues more important than the principle of limited government?  If the federal government were to issue mandates on those issues that were to conservatives’ liking, would conservatives be OK with that, even if it meant usurping the jurisdiction of both state and local governments?

How free is your state?

Check out this site from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which gives rankings and assessments of the level of “freedom” in each state in the union.   According to these findings, New Hampshire (“Live free or die!”) is the state with the most freedoms, while New York is the most oppressive.  See

Now what is interesting is the way the study factors in both “economic freedom”  (low taxes, minimal government regulations on business, limited government, etc.) and also “personal freedom.”  This category includes both things conservatives like, such as openness to homeschooling and minimal gun control, but it also puts a premium on gay marriage and lax drug law enforcement.   Nevada scores big (at #6) because of its legalized gambling and because it allows localities to legalize prostitution.

Freedom in the 50 States | Mercatus.

Today conservatives tend to want economic freedom but decry this version of “personal freedom.”   While liberals demand this version of “personal freedom” while decrying “economic freedom.”

My prediction:  The new political and cultural consensus will demand both, with libertarianism reigning supreme.   Right now, this kind of libertarianism is opposed by both the left and the right, but for different reasons.  But I suspect a realignment may be in the future.  It’s already happening among some in the Republican elite.

So if you are a “freedom loving American” opposing government intrusions into the economy, how can you also oppose “personal freedoms” such as the liberty to use drugs and go to prostitutes?

Conversely, if you are a liberal who believes that gays should have the freedom to marry and that women should have the freedom to get an abortion, on what grounds would you deny a business owner the freedom to make money without government interference?

Or are you willing to accept libertarianism if it would give you whichever kind of freedom you find most important, even at the cost of the kind that you do not approve of?

HT:  Jackie

The other Republican victory

The Republicans also made big gains in our nation’s political infrastructure; that is, the important but often neglected state governments:

While the Republican gains in the House and Senate are grabbing the most headlines, the most significant results on Tuesday came in state legislatures where Republicans wiped the floor with Democrats.

Republicans picked up 680 seats in state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures — the most in the modern era. To put that number in perspective: In the 1994 GOP wave, Republicans picked up 472 seats. The previous record was in the post-Watergate election of 1974, when Democrats picked up 628 seats.

The GOP gained majorities in at least 14 state house chambers. They now have unified control — meaning both chambers — of 26 state legislatures.

That control is a particularly bad sign for Democrats as they go into the redistricting process. If the GOP is effective in gerrymandering districts in many of these states, it could eventually lead to the GOP actually expanding its majority in 2012.

via Devastation: GOP Picks Up 680 State Leg. Seats – Hotline On Call.


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