Texit


The advisory vote in Great Britain, by which a majority of voters said yes to Brexiting from the European Union, had some catastrophic financial consequences in England, across Europe and even in the United States.

It has also motivated discussion of other potential “exit” plans … such as “Scexit” (Scotland departing from the United Kingdom) … “Unexit” (Sarah Palin’s looney suggestion that the U.S. leave the United Nations) … and “Texit” (an online petition proposing that Texas once again secede from the United States, which has garnered more than 100,000 signatures).

Texas State Flag

None of these proposed exits are going to happen, but the discussion reminded me of another alternative that Texans could actually implement.

The Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States, approved by Congress on March 1, 1845, and by which Texas became a state on December 29, 1945, included a provision allowing Texas to be sub-divided into up to four more states. Omitting the language related to slavery, the joint resolution provided:

“New States of convenient size not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas and having sufficient population, may, hereafter by the consent of said State, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provisions of the Federal Constitution….”

Texans have never made a serious effort to take advantage of this provision, but there have been a number of proposals for dividing up Texas into additional states … and I was able to find maps which could conceivably be used to make as many as 8 Texas states.

Here are some of the possible 5 state alignments:

Slide1

And some more 5 state alignments (the Houston Press plan by Jeff Balke appears to have been written tongue-in-cheek):

Slide2

And here are some maps dividing Texas into 3, 4, 6, 7 or 8 states. Other than the 4 state proposal, no one has actually proposed any of these alignments … and I included the state-shaped 3 state Texas flag only because I happen to think it would look cool on a US map.

Slide3

Texas is a huge state … here’s how big it is compared to central Europe:

Texas compared to European countries

And I can’t help wondering why there hasn’t been a serious effort to turn it into more than one state … after all, with five states, Texans would have 10 senators instead of 2 and comparably more influence in congress.

On the other hand, I also have to think it might be difficult to convince any of the prospective new states to give up the name Texas … which makes the Texas Department of Insurance Master Plan the most acceptable when it comes to the names of the new states: North Texas, West Texas, Central Texas, East Texas and South Texas.

Interestingly, this would also create for the first time in the nation’s history an “East” anything state … well, “Central”, too … to go with the North, South & West varieties that we already have.

Not suggesting that Texas should adopt any of these division plans, but all of them are better than the Texit plan that some Texans favor (especially since my youngest son and both of my grandchildren live in what might ultimately become North Texas!).

It is also worth mentioning that there have also been proposals to divide California into as many as six new states. Although the annexation of California to the U.S. contained no provision specifically authorizing it to split into more than one state, it is constitutionally permissible under Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution, which provides:

“New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

The most recent proposal to divide California was the so-called “Six Californias” initiative, for which insufficient signatures were obtained to include it on the 2016 election ballot.

Six Californias

The names of the six proposed California states would be Central California, Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, South California and West California … which would, once again, give us a “West” state without a comparable “East”.

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— FLA 82 —

TomDispatch: Ann Jones on Social Democracy in Norway


I subscribe to TomDispatch …

TomDispatch header

… an email service that describes itself on the “About” page of  its website as follows:

Tom Engelhardt launched Tomdispatch in November 2001 as an e-mail publication offering commentary and collected articles from the world press. In December 2002, it gained its name, became a project of The Nation Institute, and went online as “a regular antidote to the mainstream media.” The site now features Tom Engelhardt’s regular commentaries and the original work of authors ranging from Rebecca Solnit, Bill McKibben, and Mike Davis to Chalmers Johnson, Michael Klare, Adam Hochschild, Robert Lipsyte, and Elizabeth de la Vega. Nick Turse, who also writes for the site, is associate editor and research director.

Tomdispatch is intended to introduce readers to voices and perspectives from elsewhere (even when the elsewhere is here). Its mission is to connect some of the global dots regularly left unconnected by the mainstream media and to offer a clearer sense of how this imperial globe of ours actually works.

The Tom Dispatch offerings (which arrive in the form of email “Tomgrams”) are quite interesting and generally thought-provoking.  The one I received today …

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176096/tomgram%3A_ann_jones%2C_social_democracy_for_dummies/#more

… motivated me to comment.

Scandinavia Map

This is an interesting Tomgram discussion, primarily regarding the differences between how the U.S. and the Nordic countries (primarily focused on Norway) handle many aspects of modern life, most notably their national economic & social systems.

The author of the piece, Ann Jones, is an admirer of the largely socialist economic systems in place in the Scandinavian countries.  Many of the concepts she promotes are an anathema to my libertarian sensibilities — and I think she blithely ignores the fact that what works for small, largely homogeneous, countries like Norway (5.1 million people, roughly equal to North Carolina, in an area larger than Texas) would be orders of magnitude more difficult to implement in the U.S., which covers nearly four times the area of Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark & Iceland) and 13 times the combined population of those five countries.

Besides being a libertarian in my political views, I am also essentially anti-social and an iconoclast — I would not do well in the Norway Jones describes. Consider these excerpts from the Jones discussion of how society developed there in the 1970s:

“There, feminists and sociologists pushed hard against the biggest obstacle still standing in the path of full democracy:  the nuclear family. … the Norwegian state began to deconstruct that undemocratic ideal by taking upon itself the traditional unpaid household duties of women. Caring for the children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled became the basic responsibilities of the universal welfare state, freeing women in the workforce to enjoy both their jobs and their families.”

And:

“In Norway, mother and father in turn take paid parental leave from work to see a newborn through its first year or more. At age one, however, children start attending a neighborhood barnehage (kindergarten) for schooling spent largely outdoors.”

Both of those concepts (“deconstruction” of the nuclear family and starting school at the age of 1) are contrary to my personal views of how to best raise children. I don’t even like the current trend in the U.S. of sending kids to pre-kindergarten classes.

I also can’t help wondering how much of what the Scandinavian countries have accomplished with their social-economic systems has been possible only because they have been able to maintain a significantly insular existence thanks to their relatively isolated geographic location, the fortuity of the North Sea oil reserves (which are the primary reason Norway has a significantly positive export-import balance) and because, since the end of World War II, they have been able to essentially rely on other countries (primarily the U.S.) to insure their national security.

Have to admit that I also found the Tomgram tagline for the Jones article (“Social Democracy for Dummies”) condescending and offensive.

Despite my disagreements with the Ann Jones article, I highly recommend TomDispatch for anyone interested in current national and international affairs.  You can subscribe to the email service on the webpage linked above.

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FLA 77

Flag-Burning is Still a Crime in Texas …


… despite the famous U. S. Supreme Court decision of Texas v. Johnson, in which the court held the Texas law against flag-burning is an unconstitutional restriction on First Amendment freedom of speech.

While doing some research on Texas law for another reason today, I ran across Texas Penal Code section 42.11, which not only makes it illegal to “damage, deface, mutilate or burn” the American flag, but also the Texas state flag.

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