Secession in the United States has been attempted before. It ended in the Civil War with the southern states being forbidden from seceding.
Texas has talked about it. California is talking about it now and even says it has its own embassy in Moscow, Russia (this according to secession supporters and not state officials). But what would an independent California country actually be like?
All we can do is look at current California policies and political leanings and attempt to project how they might operate as a country on their own.
California’s state government has a reputation for big spending and they live up to that with the highest in the nation welfare payout totaling $44.8 billion for the year 2016 according to USGovernmentSpending.com. The nearest state to California’s yearly welfare payout is New York at $18.5 billion. Most states are less than half of New York.
On top of that, California is referred to as a “sanctuary city,” meaning that they do not enforce federal immigration laws, so people who have entered the United States illegally and who are not citizens may go to California without anyone looking into them or trying to send them back to where they came from.
In fact, California goes beyond being a sanctuary city. They don’t just allow illegal immigrants to live in their state without any deterrent, they actually provide taxpayer-funded benefits to them. Some benefits provided to illegal immigrants by California taxpayers include in-state college tuition, driver’s licenses, and state funded healthcare for illegals under the age of 19 with a bill in the works to provide it for older undocumented adults as well. They even allow people without legal status to obtain law and other professional licenses.
According to a comment made to the L.A. Times by Joe Guzzardi, spokesman for the group of Californians for Population Stability, “Citizens are out of the loop on these immigration bills,” said Joe Guzzardi, spokesman for the group Californians for Population Stability. “I question whether or not any of them would have passed on the ballot, especially the ones dealing with outlays of taxpayer money.”
So a new country with handouts for illegals along with such lax laws, if any, concerning immigration would be an absolute magnet for illegals already in the United States who are looking for friendlier turf. This is especially true when thinking that the handouts might become more and the laws might become even weaker or nonexistent without pressure from the rest of the United States.
But here’s the catch. President-elect Trump has already proposed ending federal funding for states who ignore federal laws. So California could be financially on its own either way. And that’s where all of the big spending falls apart.
California is not just using its own state taxpayers for giveaways to illegals, it’s getting a huge amount from the federal government, who gets the money from taxpayers in states other than California. According to Breitbart, of California’s $252.5 billion in total estimated government spending for fiscal year 2015, the U.S. federal government provided $93.6 billion, or 37 percent. That works out to a stunning $6,451 per year for every man, woman and child in the state of California.
So one thing is for sure, a new country that was formerly a state known as California will be operating on 37 percent less income but a colossal amount of new expenses such as its own military and welfare system since it would now be its own federal government. And then with the influx of illegals wanting to board the gravy train to the country of California, well it could easily be Venezuela’s socialism wreck all over again with more people living off of the taxpayers than actually being taxpayers. And that would send taxes to the moon since they are already through the roof with California currently having the highest state income tax in the United States. They’d have to add a new federal income tax of their own on top of that and then the mass exodus of businesses and other taxpayers would begin.
California would become a country of people who have no citizenship in the United States or the new country of California. Would California, then, automatically make those people citizens of its new country? And if so, would that make them taxpayers? If citizenship automatically made them taxpayers, the new country might run into an interesting and ironic problem since a number of those non-citizens would not want to become citizens of the new country either in order to avoid the associated taxes. And since California now seems to pride itself on welcoming illegal immigrants without making them become citizens, well, they would have no way of solving that problem. They would have people who want all the benefits of citizenship but none of the responsibility or expense. Such a situation would bankrupt their new country.
And the country of California would, ironically, find itself in the same position that the United States is in right now. Might they then be forced to end government giveaways to illegals or even deport them? Or, if the giveaways were ended, would non-citizens leave on their own?
It could be a fascinating change of course for the current sanctuary state who would likely find that it can’t survive as a sanctuary country. Assuming such a country still had free elections, it could be that their people, made poor by the massive taxes that would be required to attempt to keep the country financially alive, would elect their own nationalist leader who proposed secure borders and immigration laws.
No one knows the future, but what a country of California might end up looking like could be much different than its current sanctuary state status and big spending, liberal government ways. Out of necessity, it might become something even to the right of the country from whom its wanting to secede. That’s as good a guess as anyone’s.
Rhett October is on Twitter @RhettOctober
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