A blog by Barry Edelson

Let Their People Go

If Texans Wants Out of the Union, Why Stop Them?

Since the Civil War, secession by an American state has been considered the ultimate act of betrayal against the nation, one so egregious that even all-out war is deemed to be a proportionate response. Nonetheless, some tax-crazed citizens in Texas, egged on by their visionary governor, Rick Perry, have been making noises lately about exercising the state's quaint claim that Texas, unique among the states, has the right to pull out of the United States of America any time it wants to. (It has something to do with fine print so small in the Congressional resolution admitting Texas into the Union in 1845 that no one has ever been able to read it.)

All of which begs the question: does it make any sense to go to war to keep Texas in the Union? Consider just a few of the many advantages of saying "adios" to Texas:

1) Since Texas is one of the more than 30 states that are net beneficiaries of Federal aid — i.e., it receives more Federal dollars than its residents pay in Federal taxes — it would be a financial boon to the other 49 states and the District of Columbia to get one of these deadbeats off our backs.

2) The Democratic majority in Congress would grow, as Texas's largely Republican delegation, including both of its U.S. Senators, would be booted out.

3) All of the immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally by crossing the Rio Grande — not our problem any more.

4) A new destination for international travel will be right on our doorstep, in a country whose residents speak a reasonably intelligible form of English.

5) The next hurricane to level Galveston will be just another awful tragedy for foreigners to cope with.

6) The Dixie Chicks can go back to being a musical group.

7) The election of anyone else named Bush to the White House becomes exceedingly unlikely.

Texas would face some unforeseen challenges, to be sure. All of the money it now receives from the rest of us would have to be replaced somehow. Of course, judging by how loudly Texans (among others) have recently protested against the paying of taxes, they will have to figure out a way to make a go of it as an independent country without collecting any taxes at all. But if our brethren in Texas feel they can get by without the Federal government's cash for agricultural subsidies, public education, child nutrition, universities, children and family services, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, highways, railroads, forests, park service, environmental protection, natural resource conservation, telecommunications, aviation, economic and rural development, job training, housing, homelessness, occupational safety, food inspection, law enforcement, prisons, anti-terrorism, substance abuse, weather forecasting, land reclamation, wildlife conservation and restoration, historic preservation, waste disposal, toxic and nuclear waste cleanup, emergency management and planning, not to mention the economic and self-defense advantages of military bases and access to the services of the Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard, National Guard and support for veterans, then we should respect their well-considered decision. And, lest we forget, Texas's share of the recently enacted economic stimulus package and bank bailouts — sorry, we're going to need that back.

The world awaits with baited breath the outcome of this brave experiment in nation building.

Let our neighbors in Texas (we could call them fellow citizens for the time being, but that would be impolite) be forewarned that those of us in the non-Texas part of the country will be deeply disappointed if it should turn out that Governor Perry doesn't really support secession after all. If, by some chance, he is merely taking craven political advantage of a momentary surge of anti-tax fervor in order to gain conservative support for his putative bid to oust Kay Bailey Hutchison from her Senate seat in next year's Republican primary, he will have gotten our hopes up for nothing. And once we've gotten used to the idea of an America without Texas, we may want to rethink the terms of that 1845 resolution. If Texas really does have the unilateral right to make a run for it, maybe the United States has the unilateral right to give Texas the old heave-ho?

Call it "de-Texation without reservation."

April 22, 2009

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