People in a smaller unit of government are talking about breaking away from the larger unit, because the larger unit is running itself into the ground economically.
No. Venice, Italy:
Venetians have voted overwhelmingly for their own sovereign state in a ‘referendum’ on independence from Italy.
Inspired by Scotland’s separatist ambitions, 89 per cent of the residents of the lagoon city and its surrounding area, opted to break away from Italy in an unofficial ballot.
The proposed ‘Repubblica Veneta’ would include the five million inhabitants of the Veneto region and could later expand to include parts of Lombardy, Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
If Venetians are discussing the possibility of secession, this can mean only one thing: The citizens of Venice, Italy are actually racist, pro-slavery Neoconfederates.
Because, as we all know, anyone who ever discusses the possibility of a smaller political unit breaking away from, or “seceding,” from a larger unit? That person is obviously doing so only because they pine for the days when black men and women were in chains.
If I can be serious for a moment, even if we discount the vote in Crimea, the vote in Venice is not unique. Scotland and Catalonia (in Spain) are also planning similar referenda later this year.
And there are many parallels between Venice and Texas, besides the rather obvious one that each is an economic powerhouse in a country whose economy is sputtering. Let’s start with that obvious point, though, and put some meat on the bone.
The CNBC story linked above says:
Italy receives around 71 billion euros ($96 billion) each year in tax from Venice, according to AFP – some 21 billion euros less than it gets back in investment and services.
Historically, Texas has also sent more money to the federal government than it has received. Although that is lately not the case, it appears to be because of a huge influx of poor people (read: illegal immigrants) — a situation that might well change if Texas were to become independent.
The Daily Mail story above says:
The floating city has only been part of Italy for 150 years. The 1000 year–old democratic Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia, was quashed by Napoleon and was subsumed into Italy in 1866.
Similarly, Texas became a state in 1845, and had a period (albeit brief) of independence before that. Like Venice, large parts of the state’s boundaries are natural, created by bodies of water — rivers and the Gulf of Mexico.
Texas has other advantages that go beyond Venice’s. For example, Texas has its own power grid, although it does not quite cover the entire state (missing El Paso and parts of the Panhandle and East Texas).
I don’t see secession, at least currently, as a likely prospect for Texas — or for that matter, for any state. Polls tend to show most Texans opposed to the idea — although a poll in 2009 showed 48% of Texas Republicans in favor of the idea. But I think it’s time to trot out a quote from F.A. Hayek that is nice to remind people about when folks talk about what is politically possible:
We need intellectual leaders hwo are willing to work for an ideal, however small may be the prospects of its early realization. They must be men who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realization, however remote.
Those who have concerned themselves exclusively with what seemed practicable in the existing state of opinion have constantly found that even this had rapidly become impossible as the result of changes in a public opinion which they have done nothing to guide.
Before I argued for the secession of a state in which I no longer live, I would rather use this stirring language to try to fix America. It would be ideal to remove the government interference with the economy that has set us on the path to ruin.
But if that’s not possible, then why not try to save the parts that can be saved? Just talking about it guides public opinion — on the fact that the idea is not the exclusive province of cranks, and on the economic realities that make this sort of talk necessary.
They will call you racist, pro-slavery, and Neoconfederate. Just tell them you’re on the same page as the people of Venice.