I learned from the Los Angeles Times, Poll: Nearly One in Four in America Would Favor Secession. In one way, this doesn’t matter in the least. It seems that there is always about a third of the American people who are in favor of anything. But this is probably a real thing. Still, the Times is wrong to claim that, “Nearly one out of four Americans is so fed up with Washington that they are prepared to not take it any more and would favor their state breaking away from the rest of the United States.” I doubt that’s true, even if the writer is trying to be cute. What it probably means is that one-quarter of Americans are just crazy.
The data come from a Reuters/Ipsos poll. It also found that men were more in favor of leaving the union as were poor people (probably an indication that they lived in poor states more than that poor people in New York want to leave the union). It is above all an indication that there are a lot of frustrated and angry Americans. A whopping 53% of people who identified with the Tea Party want to leave the United States. This goes along with what I’ve long said: there is a strong tendency towards treason in the conservative movement.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the details of the data. It looks like they just didn’t release it for each state. It is very possible they didn’t have enough data to do a state by state analysis. But going off the regions in the map above, I decided to take a look at just how reasonable dropping out of the union is. As is well documented, the states where the people most complain about the federal government are generally the states that get the most money from the federal government. No one ever said Americans were rational.
I’m sure you’ve seen maps that show how much a particular state gets back from the federal government for each dollar it puts in. The biggest determinant of this is the age of the population. Like Florida gets a whole lot more back because there are so many retired people. Nonetheless, this percentage does tell us a lot about how different states would get along by themselves. But there is a problem: those maps you’ve seen are almost all wrong. That’s because they usually represent a single year. Things change a lot over the years. So what I did was to do the ten year average from the data fro 2004 through 2013. Then, to get the regional values, I did a weighted average based upon how much total money they send in federal taxes.
I only did the calculation for three regions: West, Southwest, and New England. I’m especially interested in the last two because they represent the most and least interested in leaving the country. The return on federal taxes for the regions are as follows:
- $0.85 West
- $1.19 Southwest
- $0.86 New England
In other words: the states are want to leave the union are the ones who depend most upon it. Now some might take exception with the Southwest, because Texas is generally presented as a state that pays more in federal taxes than they get back. While that is true of some years and was true of last year, it hasn’t generally been true. For the last decade, Texas has received $1.02 for every dollar it has sent to the federal government.
But let’s face it: this isn’t about economics. People who want to leave the United States want to do it for cultural reasons. They want to deny same sex couples equal rights. They want to make abortion illegal. And not to put too fine a point on it, but there are a lot more people than you think who want to deny rights to different races and to bring back Jim Crow or worse.
Still, it is interesting to see that economically it doesn’t make sense. And I have little doubt that those who call for secession think that the federal government is screwing them in terms of taxes as well.