Tag Archives: Thomas Naylor

Is America too large? (Heck Yeah!)

13 Aug
Eli Dourado Wonders: Maybe America is Simply too Big (2016):

But I want to focus on something else. I can’t shake the idea that we’re way out of equilibrium in terms of optimal country size. If this idea is correct, then at least some of our problems could be the result of a mismatch between reality and the unexamined assumption that we all have to be in this together.

He goes on to summarize a classic paper on optimal country size, concluding:

…if economic integration prevails regardless of political integration—say, tariffs are low and shipping is cheap—then political integration doesn’t buy you much. Many of the other public goods that governments provide—law and order, social insurance, etc.—don’t really benefit from large populations beyond a certain point. If you scale from a million people to 100 million people, you aren’t really better off.

As a result, if economic integration prevails, the optimal country size is small, maybe even a city-state.

The number of independent nations in the world has been roughly tripled over the last century. As for the United States:

In his book American Nations, Colin Woodard argues that North America is actually composed of 11 distinct cultures, each dominant in different parts of the continent. Many of our internal political divisions—over gun control, the death penalty, abortion, the welfare state, immigration, and more—may actually reflect these cultural differences.

Therefore:

Given what we know about optimal country size, a monolithic America makes less sense today than it did a century ago. What made America into the superpower that it is today is its massive internal free trade area. Now that trade barriers have declined worldwide, this is less of an advantage than ever before. It’s not at all clear that this diminishing advantage outweighs the cost of our divisive politics based on unshared cultural assumptions.

All of which argues for a look at a pamphlet I edited, with some help from Charlie Keil, Thomas Naylor’s Paths to Peace: Small Is Necessary (Local Paths to Peace Today))

Celebrating the Future Independence of Vermont, at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier: Toward a Politics of Jubilee

16 Sep

I spent Friday, 14 September in and around the Vermont Statehouse. Sometime back in the mists of history past some good Vermont citizens decided that, in the face of the cancerous growth of the American state, that Vermont folks of conscience and caring had to organize and urge their fellow Vermonters to secede from the Union. And so the Vermont Independence Party (VIP) was born.

And Friday was their third state-wide convention, with visitors from several other states as well. This convention was organized toward the reading of The Montpelier Manifesto, listing 29 grievances against the Federal Government of the United States of America and urging secession. The conference was held in the House Chamber of the Vermont Statehouse, for it seems that, by law, Vermont citizens have the right to occupy use the statehouse when it is not otherwise in use.

I was there with the Northeast Irregulars, a contingent of the New York Path to Peace, organized by Charlie Keil. We brought musicians from Jersey City, New York City, Connecticut, and Vermont. At least.

Here’s some photographs of that glorious day. I apologize to all those who were there for the celebration but not in these photos.

* * * * *

IMGP0226rd

That’s Charlie Keil on the right and Jack Lazarowski on the left. Jack and his wife Linda put Charlie and I up for the night. Thanks, Jack and Linda!

IMGP0227rd

Julie Buck and Rob Williams at the podium on the House Chamber. They were co-chairs for the event. Continue reading