Good News Everybody! Letting Red States Secede Would Help Balance Budget

Futurama character with big can of "Butthurt Cream"

After gittin’ that big can o’ whoopass on Election Day, secession states could use a nice tube o’ butthurt cream.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank argues that if President Barack Obama were to approve any of the secession petitions from sulky Republicans in conservative states–it is not going to happen for a number of good reasons–then America would be a lot better off financially:

President Obama’s opponents have unwittingly come up with a brilliant plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” They want to secede from the union.

If Obama were serious about being a good steward of the nation’s finances, he’d let them.

The White House hosts a “We The People” petition program on its website, ostensibly to allow citizens to express grievances, provide positive or negative feedback, and make suggestions. Petitions created on the We The People site which manage to accrue a minimum of 25,000 signatures are promised a response from President Obama’s administration staff (though, as it happens, the responses received are not always favorable to the petitioners). After Obama won re-election, some Republicans, not content with throwing temper tantrums online and pouting, posted petitions asking for permission for their states–as Milbank notes– “to withdraw from the United States and create [their] own NEW government.”

Notably, only a teeny, tiny percentage of the population in even the reddest states have signed the petitions. Closer examination of some of the more successful petitions (those who have already surpassed the 25,000 signatures requirement) reveal that many signees omit location information, and an even larger number of signees do not actually live in the state petitioning for permission to secede. (There are also some stunning examples of appalling spelling and grammar errors.)

One might be tempted to suspect that some liberals, bored and annoyed with the non-stop conservative whining and ignorance since Election Day (if they weren’t weary of it before), hopped onto the We The People website to signal their support for the idea of getting rid of the most Fox-poisoned nimrods in America.

Milbank notes, correctly, that “red states” consume far more federal government money than they pay in taxes. In other words, red states consume more federal money-supported programs than do blue states, and blue states pay more in taxes than do red states. In fact, on a list of states with the most non-taxpayers, the Confederacy states are all in the top ten.

Milbank explains:

Among those states with large numbers of petitioners asking out: Louisiana (more than 28,000 signatures at midday Tuesday), which gets about $1.45 in federal largess for every $1 it pays in taxes; Alabama (more than 20,000 signatures), which takes $1.71 for every $1 it puts in; South Carolina (26,000), which takes $1.38 for its dollar; and Missouri (22,000), which takes $1.29 for its dollar.

[It would be] a Confederacy of Takers, including relatively poor states such as Alaska, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. One of the few would-be Confederacy members that pays more than it receives is Texas, which because of oil money is roughly break-even at 94 cents of benefits for its tax dollar. (The statistics, from an analysis of tax and revenue data by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, were published in 2006, but the broad pattern doesn’t vary much over time.)


It occurs to me, yet again, that when progressives are unhappy with their political representatives, then, if they fuss about thinking of running away to another country, then they actually have a lot of more progressive and enlightened countries to run away to, where their standard of living will remain the same or improve.

Butthurt conservatives who don’t like their duly-elected politicians and whine about leaving the country…where can they go that isn’t a hellhole? Somalia? Guns, yes, Obamacare, no, government restrictions, nope! Uganda? They don’t like gay people, so there’s that, if you’re a butthurt Republican homophobe. The Middle East? Lots of theocracies there, just poke around and you’ll find them, and they have little interest in women’s rights, but these countries are probably not the particular flavor of theocracy that some of these unhappy conservatives might want. Also, some of them are being bombed all to hell right now, so good luck getting a good night’s sleep.

No matter where they go, first world countries tend to be as progressive or more progressive than the USA. If they are limited to English-speaking countries (a lot of them are monolingual–if one is being generous–and they lose their ever-loving minds that most businesses with a robophone answering service offer a Spanish-language alternative you must press a button to select), then their choices are even more limited. They might find some tiny backwater dirt-clump of a town to move to in Canada or Australia or the UK, but they’ll still be vastly outnumbered by progressives.

That’s why I laugh and laugh and laugh when Republicans threaten to move away from the USA when Democrats win elections. There’s really nowhere for them to go. As a Canadian friend said, “We are not a rehab center for your idiots, thank you very much.”

Secession is like threatening to run away to Canada, but being too lazy to actually pack a bag. People who don’t like how the United States is being governed have the right, as always, to try to find a country they like better. The problem for conservatives is that there simply aren’t any that they’d like any better…unless the problem is really that our President is a black guy.

We suspect that the people posting petitions to secede might not be the sharpest crayons in the box.

Seriously, though, suggesting secession? So, they like their stuff, and they like their home, and they may even like their neighbors, but they don’t like the President…so they are trying to force everyone else in their state to go through a secession. Even Gov. Rick “Oops!” Perry down in Texas, no stranger to idle (stupid) secession talk now and again, has reacted to the latest rash of pro-secession petition-creation with disapproval.

Why don’t they move? Why don’t they just renounce their citizenship, if they don’t want to be citizens of the United States as it is being governed today (and for the next four years)? Instead, they seem to want to subject everyone else in their state to the upheaval and misery of breaking ties with the country they normally profess to love, and that they have often professed to feel “patriotism” for. How baffling.

Have they even asked their neighbors how they feel about it? Facebook group The Knowledge Movement  shared an open letter from Texan Brad Proctor. In part, he says:

To all of the morons that want Texas to secede: First of all, how un-patriotic and shameful. I’m a 5th generation Texan and you DO NOT get to have my state. […] Anyone who is dumb enough to want Texas to secede from the union obviously hasn’t looked at this past the end of their nose. IF–and I say “IF”–Texas were to secede, the reasons that are stated on the ill-conceived petition are, at best, laughable. […]

The state of Texas has the 15th largest economy in part because we enjoy the protection that is afforded to us as part of The United States of America. It would take the United States military about half a day to shut our economy off from the rest of the world. We would not have the ability to have commerce with any of the connecting states or Mexico, not to mention ourselves. You idiots don’t seem to understand that the state of Texas is home to a large portion of the United States military. We would be occupied by the United States military before we could even notify our President of secession! Not to mention people such as myself that would NOT just stand by and let a bunch of fools screw up this great country and state. […]

This crap was settled with the Civil War and has no place in our public discourse. We are a better country than this crap. You should be ashamed to have your name on such a document. This is not heroic, it is petty. The people of this state and country are above this mindless crap. So know this: if you do not want to live in my country, in my state, then by all means you’re welcome to pack your crap up and leave! No one is stopping you. But I’ll be damned if your going to put my family, state and country at risk. All you accomplish by these stupid tactics is to cast the rest of the great state of Texas in a bad light.

That’s a firm “no” vote for secession, right there.

Perhaps, Milbanks muses, the United States, if it were to grant permission to the red states asking to secede, could set up protectorates (like the British did with Hong Kong) in places like liberal Austin, Texas, liberal New Orleans, Louisiana, and the southern, more liberal, half of Florida. Without the red states consuming more in government services and funds than blue states–and once they took the portion of the national debt that they contributed to with them–the newly red state-free United States would be able to lower taxes for all remaining citizens and offer the high level of government services which are currently appreciated by blue states.

We’d have fewer science-deniers in Congress, and fewer battles over the Separation of Church and State. We’d have fewer people opposing equal rights for all citizens.

Milbank notes that there would be additional non-financial benefits: “Tampa’s Central Command, now caught up in the David Petraeus sex scandal, would be the new nation’s problem. And the exit of several Southern representatives from Congress would give Democrats a solid governing majority.”

It’s all moot, of course, because secession is hardly painless or easy. It is certainly not as simple as trying to rage-quit America with an online petition. Also, differences aside, Milbank acknowledges that “The Union of the Makers would be fiscally healthy but spiritually poor without the Confederacy of the Takers.”

It is probably going to remain a perplexing conundrum that states which complain the most about how we need to cut government spending and lower taxes tend to be the same states that consume the lion’s share of our government resources. Some Americans stubbornly and repeatedly vote against their own best interests, and probably will continue to do so.

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