May 17, 2009

Let the Lone Star Republic Go in Peace

I was extremely disappointed by Keith Olbermann's uninformed, smarmy rant on his "Countdown" show the other night when he took Governor Rick Perry of Texas (maybe someday the "President" of Texas, or Generalissimo?) to task for mentioning again the possibility that Texas might secede from the Union.  His voice dripping with sarcasm, Olbermann "reminded" Perry of all the benefits of statehood his Republic would forfeit, and mentioned specifically such matters as federal aid, Social Security and the national defense.

Olbermann should have checked one key statistic before launching into his idiotic diatribe: according to the latest figures available (two years ago), Texas ranked 35th in the Union in return on investment (ROI) for federal taxes paid.  For every dollar that Texans send to Washington, they receive 94 cents in return.  (California's situation is much worse; there the figure is 78 cents).  This is a common misunderstanding about the "value" of statehood.  For most prosperous states, it's a net loss to be a member of the United States.  

I'm sure that Rick Perry is aware of this, even if Keith Ol'Blowhard is not.  Perry is simply doing the job he was elected to do: govern the people of Texas.  Their interests should be primary in his choice of policy, and it's become obvious to Perry (and to Sarah Palin's husband, to choose another loud and leading advocate for secession, this time for Alaska) that statehood simply comes at too high a price.  

For example, take a look at one of Olbermann's exhibits for the Union: loss of Social Security benefits.  In the first place, any prosperous state suddenly relieved of the duty of paying in FICA taxes to the federal government would free up enormous amounts of revenue for local use.  It has become a taxpaying fact of life that most Americans pay most of their federal taxes into this pay-as-you-go system; and since it's pay as you go, suddenly cutting off the federal payouts has no long-term effect other than allowing the citizens of a state (such as Texas) to escape the looming bankruptcy of the system and to replace it with something with a future.  The recent report from the Congressional Budget Office underscores how near-term that Social Security insolvency is.  Currently, the system produces only a $3 billion surplus above payouts, and while the forecast is that Social Security will not "go negative" until 2016, in fact this prediction is built on completely unrealistic economic guesswork.  Within a couple of years, at the present rate of unemployment, the system will be underwater.

So the "benefit" of the Social Security system is a mirage, the result of choices made by that vaunted federal legislative body (and Clown College), the U.S. Congress: they spent the 2.5+ trillion dollar surplus built up over a generation on high-tech toys for the military so we could fight unnecessary wars, replacing it with a file cabinet full of IOUs.  That's the sort of benefit you get from statehood: to see your tax payments go up in smoke.

Texas could field its own military - most of its citizens are armed to the teeth now.  With payroll taxes kept in Texas, Texas could easily devise its own solvent pension system and universal healthcare.  It's a big farming state so there will be no food shortages.

So as you're fond of saying to everyone else, Keith: STFU.  If Texas wants to leave the Union, let them.  It might, you know, start something.  Yugoslavia's breakup came about because Slovenia, a northern, European-style economy with close ties to neighboring Austria, wondered what the hell it was doing in a federation with a bunch of insane Southern Slavs and Muslims fighting endless religious pogroms and civil wars.  They announced they were leaving; essentially, the rest of Yugoslavia, too busy killing each other and never doing a damned day's work anyway, let them leave without firing a shot.

Texas: Don't Mess With It.  Perry is operating in the grand tradition of Stephen F. Austin, the Father of Texas, who lived just long enough to see the establishment of the First Republic in 1836, yet mercifully died before the tragedy of statehood in 1845.

1 comment:

  1. hammerud12:57 PM

    The feds are pushing too far, and, from what you're saying, it seems that that is not a good thing to do with Texas (from what I've heard, maybe you could include Montana too). I've thought about moving to Texas, but right now my job has me stuck in the malfunctioning engine room of our country, Washington DC. Maybe Texas wants to jump off the truck before the engine completely dies.