I almost feel sorry for the nascent movement to have Tea Party states secede from the union. The secessionist effort seems almost like a continuation of the Romney/Ryan campaign- full of grandiose sloganeering, but devoid of actual plans for governance if their campaign succeeds.
One of the first things a new secessionist nation needs is a national identity. The nation needs a name that instantly identifies it in the world’s eyes. The secessionists have not yet announced a name for their proposed new nation. I suggest one that combines the imagery of macho bravado and social policy that characterize the secessionist philosophy – Texassippi.
Seceding from the Union involves actually governing the territory that secedes. It involves maintaining roads, police departments, schools, prisons, diplomatic relations with other nations, a war department, departments to protect building and structure safety standards, and to protect the purity of food and medicine. It might even involve a national department of tourism, to convince people from other nations to visit, observe the new Texassippi, and spend their tourist dollars there.
In Texassippi, there will be no taxes, of course, and no tax revenue to support governmental operations. Under Teahadi theory, that won’t matter. All functions that other governments perform for themselves will be handled by private enterprise in Texassippi.
In the state of Texas, leader of the secession movement, the official Republican Party position is that there should be no public schools. They say that anyone who wants an education should buy it from a for-profit school business. With a Teahadi government running the new Texassippi, education is likely to be outlawed altogether, except for that provided by the established church, White Southern Baptist.
There will be no need for food or medicine safety standards, or wasted government spending to enforce such rules. It is an article of faith for Teahadis that businesses never offer dangerous products, since that would offend and drive away customers. That is why they know for sure that all the news stories about tainted food, medicines containing fungus, luxury cars with bad brakes, and children choking on small parts from toys are just false, scare stories from biased media.
Besides, they tell us, if someone is injured or their child dies as a result of the very rare instance of a business mistake, people can always sue for damages in Court. Of course, such lawsuits don’t help the child that died from choking on a toy part, or the family breadwinner who lies alive but comatose, in an expensive for-profit care facility, after being crushed by a runaway car, driven by a salesman legally texting on the phone, while sipping a legal martini in celebration of closing a big deal.
The idea that people can sue for damages is interesting, considering that Texassippi will not have courts. Courts are a government function, intended to keep people from using whatever abilities they have to resolve disputes between themselves. But Teahadis generally believe that private enterprise should solve problems – so courts won’t be one of the things that the tax-free Texassippi provides.
If people want to resolve disputes, they can set up their own courts, with their own rules. And, since gun worship will be part of the established state religion in Texassippi, some people might simply decide that private dispute resolution is best done with a system that allows the person with the biggest gun, or the most accurate shooting, to prevail in a dispute.
Such an example might sound ridiculous. But it does so only to the mind of someone used to life in a society that believes in basically fair dispute resolution. The reality of the philosophy behind the secessionist movement becomes clearer when we move past the headline sloganeering and try to develop scenarios based on actual fact situations.
Consider the example proposed above. A salesman celebrating a big deal gets into his company car to drive back to the office. Texassippi law doesn’t restrict the freedom to text while driving. So the salesman rushes to text brag about his success to colleagues as he drives. Because Texassippi law doesn’t restrict the freedom to enjoy alcohol while driving, the salesman sips a martini as he texts and drives. While engaged in a meaningful text, the salesman runs a stop sign, T-bones a car driven by a father who is the sole earner for his family, leaving him quadriplegic and comatose. Because Texassippi law doesn’t restrict the right to drive without insurance, the salesman has no insurance on his car.
How does the worker’s family get compensated for his injury and the loss of income to the family? Can they sue the salesman? Can they sue the company for providing a car in which their salesman drives while drinking, texting and smashing in to other people? Remember, Texassippi has no state courts.
What if the company or the chamber of commerce sets up a private court, providing the structure and personnel and invites the family to file a lawsuit in that court. Will a judge or jury, hired by the business, paid by the business and following the rules set out by the business, give a judgment in favor of the person injured by an employee of the business?
If the company has the right to set up a court and insist that the injured man’s family use that private court, shouldn’t the injured man’s family have an equal right to set up a court and insist that the salesman and the company come to his private court? How will Texassippi decide which private court gets used? Or will it simply leave it to the parties to resolve, letting the company’s mercenaries duke it out with the injured man’s sons and brothers?
The proponents of secession are loudly in favor of establishing “Biblical values” in their new nation. An eye for an eye is one of their favorite “biblical” values. Can we expect that in Texassippi’s view of justice, one of the proper decisions in a private court will be to impose eye-for-eye penalties? Should the injured man’s private court be able to order that the salesman be made quadriplegic and comatose to satisfy the biblical eye for an eye value? Should the chief executive officer of the company be similarly punished? Or at least the executive who hired the salesman, or the one who provided him with the car or the cell phone?
This is an example of questions that might arise from a simple set of facts. Consider what questions might arise when (not if) a factory pumps out pollution that gets into the public air, or into a stream, and poisons thousands of people. What about when a truck strikes a bridge abutment, forcing the bridge to close, and forcing thousands of commuters off of their normal route. The secessionist’s Teahadi world view is that government should have no role in redressing the injuries inflicted by such private actors as a polluting factory, or an industrial accident that affects the public at large.
Will Texassippi follow the example of so many “Red states” by having private, for-profit corporations run the new nation’s prisons, with unregulated beatings, starvation and lack of medical care for prisoners? Will Texassippi allow the for-profit school operators to bring back corporal punishments, and to reject students with disabilities?
The secessionists haven’t addressed such issues, and will not address them. They have found another lucrative campaign, like the anti-women’s health campaign and the anti-gay rights campaign, through which they can raise millions of dollars from emotion-driven followers.
Like the pols who route millions of tax dollars to favored law firms to refight battles about forcing Jewish, Moslem and other non-Christian students to listen to Southern Baptist prayers, the secessionists will reap huge profits from vague promises, without having any plans for what to do if their campaign is successful.
The secessionists present a perfect example of modern American corporatism – completely focused on short term profits, with no concern about the side effects or long term consequences of their action.
Friday, 7 December 2012