by Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.
(Editor’s Note: Langbert is starting to think clearly. But the idea of a Secession Party maintains the notion that liberty can be re-established by politics.)
The United States of America has become too large and needs to be broken in two. As well, New York and other states that have an urban-rural split ought to be split. The nation has become too large to manage, as today’s Congress attests. This would be so even if ideological differences did not divide the nation and the states. The nation should be broken up into a red nation and a blue nation and New York should be broken up into upstate and downstate.
The Secession Party would aim to dissolve the union, undoing the work of Abraham Lincoln and reasserting the aims of the anti-Federalists, who opposed the scope and extent of federal power that came to pass under Washington.
When the United States was established in 1789, there were approximately four million Americans and 65 members of the House of Representatives. That is 60,000 Americans for every Representative. Today the nation’s population is 310 million and there are 435 members of the House of Representatives, 713,000 Americans for every Representative. Only special interests and financial donors have full access to Representatives. Increasing the number of Representatives would be administratively difficult because a House as representative as it was in 1789 would have 4,800 Representatives.
One nation in western history has been equal to the United States in terms of its power: Rome. By the late third century Emperor Diocletian established a rule of four, whereby two senior and two junior co-emperors oversaw a quarter of the Roman Empire each. He also began a shift of power from Rome to other cities. Ultimately, Byzantium, later named Constantinople, survived the western Roman Empire by nearly one thousand years. Diocletian could not have anticipated that quartering the Empire would allow part of it to survive. I claim that halving the United States into free and social democratic halves would allow the free half to survive as the social democratic half sinks into a dark age.
The forces that encouraged Diocletian to think in terms of decentralization are at play here. Management theorists recognize that there are limits to rationality. The way to run a large firm is to break it into operating divisions. Likewise, the Founding Fathers or Federalists, including Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, believed that the federal government needed to be combined with decentralized states. Under the Constitution the states are responsible for much administration. Part of the reason is that the states are better able to represent their citizens. Large scale leads to complexity which makes management and representation difficult from the center. The federal government suffers from centralization without representation.
The Civil War began an assertion of federal power that has escalated past the point of diminishing returns. The Civil War’s cause, prevention of the expansion of the “slave power” was just. But a side effect of the Civil War was squelching of important aspects of states’ authority. It was not and is not clear that states do not have the right to secede or to nullify their participation in the union.
Progressivism a Form of Insanity
Recently, I had a discussion with an attorney who believes that regulation is desirable. I pointed out to him that workers’ compensation does not work. He agreed. I pointed out that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) has not worked well. He did not know much about it, but he was willing to agree. I pointed out that the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which was meant to limit monopoly, has had the effect of expanding the size and power of big business. I pointed out that the Federal Reserve Bank has massively subsidized the wealthy at the expense of the poor. I pointed out that Social Security turned out to be a wealth transfer vehicle from the 21st century’s workers to the 20th century’s retirees. He offered no meaningful counter-arguments, only to say that the sub-prime crisis was due to the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. But he could not explain how, after 75 years of securities regulation Wall Street is more destructive than it was in the 1920s.
Despite the long list of regulatory failures, the left-wing attorney believes that regulation must be increased. He suffers from a religious mania with which it is impossible to argue.
A recent study found that about two or three percent of government agencies are ever terminated. In contrast, 80 percent of businesses fail within their first five years. People who believe that government programs, no matter how destructive, cannot be terminated are incapable of rational discussion.
Since there is no common ground between those of us who believe in freedom and those who believe in socialism, there is no longer common ground required for a single nation. The United States was founded on a belief in freedom. But half the nation believes in the slavery of social democracy, in tyranny of the majority. The union is no longer tenable.
Large Scale Has Advantages
Large scale has advantages. These include the ability to support a strong military and to permit large scale economic activity. However, there are limits to these kinds of advantages, and there is no reason why independent units cannot permit large scale economic activity across borders.
The advantages of large scale have limits as do the advantages of small scale. There needs to be balance. But under the influence of New Deal Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans the nation has discarded the notion that small scale offers any advantages. When government employees are paid 40 percent more than private sector employees, it is just in the centralizers’ opinions. When private sector firms innovate, it is greed and must be regulated. No degree of centralization is sufficient for America’s big government mono-maniacs.
Party System Committed to Large Scale
Left-wing Democrats and the Rockefeller Republicans claim to hate each other. But both favor large scale. The Democrats have ritualized regulation. The Republicans have ritualized big business. The fact is that big business would not exist without big government, and vice-versa. Just as regulation has repeatedly failed even as the Democrats mindlessly chant its mantra, so has big business repeatedly failed as the Republicans chant its mantra.
Need for a Pro-Secession Party
The election of Barack H. Obama has proven that American democracy no longer functions. The nation is too large to represent its citizens. Smaller units are needed now. The two party system is too corrupt to permit the decentralizing impulse. A new, pro-secession movement needs to energize America.
Copyright 2010 Mitchell Langbert.
Mitchell Langbert is associate professor of business at Brooklyn College.