Calexit – Independence for La La Land?


"When this first started getting massive media attention, I was pretty sarcastic about the effort, so let me be very "Yes, I'm a libertarian" clear: Californians should have every right to decide whether they want to remain part of the United States. I was previously a supporter of the right of the citizens of the United Kingdom to decide whether they wanted to remain part of the European Union.

Having said that, though, I have seen little to change my mind that the people who are pointing to CalExit as a possibility have little grasp of either the demographics of the state, nor its actual finances. It is oblivious to the fact that the non-coastal parts of California are similar to the non-coastal parts of the rest of the United States (more conservative folks who voted for Trump). It is oblivious to the reality that the state's financial crisis is due to overspending within California and not because they're sending money to D.C. (Gov. Jerry Brown just announced that the state is sliding back into deficit spending again).

It would be fascinating if CalExit passed, and then the citizens within the state said, "Well, why stop there?" and continued seceding to create their own little quilt of Luxembourg-style countries. After all, citizens within the state, particularly those in Northern California, have been trying to secede from California to create their own states. They feel as left out by a state government dominated by coastal progressives who don't care how their favored policies and regulations affect the economies in less-well-off parts of the state."


Well, now, pilgrims, this is fun!  IMO further secession within an independent California would be practically inevitable.  I lived in the Golden State for a while when a boy and have been back recently.  Yes.  the "coastals" are not the same as the rest;  loggers, cattlemen, farmers, fishermen, oilmen etc.  You know, the people the coastals go to gaze at, as in "Sideways."  BTW, the "Hitching Post" steakhouse in "Sideways" is a pale imitation of the real and original version in Casmalia a cowtown in the live oak covered coastal hills 30 miles away.  "Oh give me a home where the Black Angus" roam …"

BUT, the really funny thing about this secession thingie is the assumption on the part of this blogger, and others I suppose, that California has a RIGHT to secede from the Union.  The new state of California went to war against the Confederate States of America in 1860 over this same RIGHT."  pl


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34 Responses to Calexit – Independence for La La Land?

  1. BillWade says:

    Pelosi and Feinstein gone, whooopeee. I doubt they will secede though, projected to be totally broke by 2021, maybe the IMF can bail them out. lol?

  2. jsn says:

    Micah White, the fellow who along with David Graeber co-founded Occupy Wall Street, in his latest book “The End of Protest” is explicitly after the micro-secessions scenario you consider here. He’s counting on these self policing local forces (and “forces” they are certainly more likely to be than the urban “coastals”) to coordinate to resist centralized stupidities: good luck to him!
    Like most Libertarians I’ve debated, the author you’ve posted here assumes a kind of divine right of Markets, much as the Stewart Kings assumed a Divine right of Monarchs.
    White is at least beginning to take the coercive nature of power into account in his thinking while Libertarians continue to confuse themselves with “economic” thinking as it’s currently taught: in the absence of all its essential relationships to power, coercive at every tier from micro to macro.

  3. Jack says:

    While it is very likely the Calexit folks will get the necessary signatures (less than 600K) to place the proposition on the 2018 ballot, I am willing to bet that even many coastals will vote against it. This ballot measure to hold a special election will fail.
    What I find is that the liberals and particularly the MSM in their continued hatred of Trump and his norm breaking personality are trying to whip up sentiment against him. IMO, they’re failing and really getting upset at their colossal failure in upending his election despite their best efforts.
    I expect that the establishment Republicans are going to get into serious conflict with the President. McCain and his office wife will do everything to prevent rapprochement with Russia.

  4. Old Microbiologist says:

    I laugh with you at the paradoxes. California might try and secede but I think that will be shut down either at the State level or using the military should it go that far. People tend to forget John Birch was from a California as was Nixon and Reagan. As you say California is a divided state in several ways. There is the liberal conservative divide which as you indicate works out to lifestyle and career choices. I almost forgot the Hells Angels are from Calufornia as well. I digress, the other divide is a Northern with their bleeding heat liberal thinking and Southern California and that boils down to water. The other problem should California leave the US then they will get as much water out of the Colorado river as Mexico does, which is zero.
    The other big factor is that the liberals without California voters have zero chance of ever getting back into the awhite House. So, this idea will be killed should it begin to become some kind of reality. Until then, they can bemoan all the evils of Trump more or less harmlessly. He never had their support and certainly doesn’t believe anything he does will make them happy. That gives him a more or less, mandate to do whatever he thinks he can get away with. Only Congress or the SCOTUS can reign him in.

  5. Peter says:

    Im one of those Loggers up in the Emerald Triangle (Emerald Triangle is a area of Three northern California Counties comprised of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties” economically dependent on propagating Marijuana).
    Kind of fun to watch the succession idea.
    Back in the 30s and early 40s the far Northern California Counties and Southern Oregon Counties wanted to succeed form California and Oregon and form the State Of Jefferson. The day Pearl Harbor was attacked toll road collection sites were being set up in the proposed State Of Jefferson to raise road funds. The whole process was given up on that day and the citizens devoted their energies to the war effort. There was a gold mining district called Rough and Ready that declared an independent state back in the 1850s, but somehow got lost in the shuffle of the gold boom and bust.

  6. doug says:

    LA LA land is right. California’s big city elites live in their own world. Realistically, the only thing that has any chance of occurring is changing the Cal. Constitution which currently states California is an inseparable part of the United States. That change would do nothing itself. There are other states that don’t make that declaration.
    And the Cal. Constitution is easily changed requiring only a majority vote of Californians.
    But then comes the rub. They would then have to get the US Constitution changed to permit California to secede. 2/3’s in Congress and 3/4’s of the States. Not happening in any realistic scenario. I suppose if California agreed to take on the Nation’s debt in addition to their own rather large debt there might be enough interest. It’s just ridiculous and is largely being promoted attach negatives to Trump. Lots of other FUD being flung at Trump these days.
    And yes, the divisions in California between the Urban and Rural are deep fissures. But hey, the weather’s great here.

  7. Out here in the Gamma Quadrant, it is common to see State of Jefferson signs. It is also easy to understand the reason. They feel left out and ignored. Well in a democracy, one man one vote, politicians will cater to where the votes and money are. So. Cal. and the Bay Area.
    The State of Jefferson right from the get go would have a negative Gross State Product. With two senators representing trees, cows and retired folks they think they could clamp a firm grip on some Federal money.

  8. A. Pols says:

    Well, this could happen, but not now.
    There may come a time in the future when the federal govt. could lose legitimacy, lose its power to coerce and its power to confer benefits. Then it could happen.
    Most Americans can visualize the end of the world, but not the fall of the United States. But great powers wither and empires dissolve.

  9. fubar n wass says:

    If the State of Jefferson can encompass the counties in the Sierras, they would control the water supplies for San Francisco and Los Angeles. They could balance their budget by charging a water export fee.
    If still short of funds, the State of Jefferson could charge an energy transmission fee, since California is a net importer of electricity and natural gas.
    One complexity for the State of Jefferson would be the marijuana being illegal. Since it is the major cash crop, I assume the new state would negotiate legalization as part of the terms for remaining in the Union.

  10. Lesly says:

    Every four years the Texas GOP revisits secession language in its platform. Reasons are given why secession is a priority, or not, depending on the White House occupant. Whenever the president must mind the federal deficit it is time to pack up.
    CA has debated secession along logistical/lifestyle disputes since the mid 19th century. The latest entrants in this debate include tech barons who can’t bear the tax burden. Whether the state leaves the union is not their primary concern. They’re incorporating Trump’s unpopularity following the election to get what they want: a luxury underground bunker to go with their New Zealand vacation house in case they can’t make it to the airport as society collapses.
    IMO the contemporary party of the South wouldn’t see the irony of enforcing the Union on coastal states anymore than they noticed the irony of overthrowing ME governments and did nothing to check the aggression during a Democratic administration. They may enjoy it.

  11. Paul Mooney says:

    This idea has been around for several election cycles and each time the proponents have failed to get the required signatures.
    I think they might be able to get the signatures this time but mainly because even if “Calexit” passes most believe nothing would actually happen. The chances of the rest of the USA providing a legal vehicle to leave the union are zero (and the initiative is pretty clear that only a legal exit would be acceptable).
    Thus “Calexit” is just a very dramatic protest against Trump and perhaps republican policies in general. Well I think so anyway. I think a lot of folks in CA will sign up for that.

  12. jerseycityjoan says:

    Just for fun I just looked up the poverty rate of California — to see how well its rich are really carrying their poor — and the surprising answer was:
    Taking cost of living into account, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation.
    I do not think they will leave the US treasury with its financial support for all those poor people behind for a CalExit.
    “From 2013 to 2015, California had America’s 17th-highest poverty rate, 15 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Official Poverty Measure. That measure uses income levels to determine poverty, but does not consider differences in cost-of-living among states. It lists the official poverty threshold for a two-adult, two-child family at $24,036 in 2015.
    During the same period, California had the highest poverty rate, 20.6 percent, according to the census’ Supplemental Poverty Measure. That study does account for cost-of-living, including taxes, housing and medical costs, and is considered by researchers a more accurate reflection of poverty. For a two-adult, two-child family in California, the poverty threshold was an average of $30,000, depending on the region in the state, according to a 2014 analysis by Public Policy Institute of California.”

  13. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Reminds me of my friends from the Basque country in Spain always talking about breaking away from Mother Madrid. But then I would ask them simple questions about what currency would they establish, and how they would finance an entirely new government with its services, roads, postal service, utilities infrastructure, office, courts, schools, social safety net, customs & immigration, trade agreements, etc.? Silence.
    It’s easier to scream and set off bombs in the square than it is to build a country.
    Yes, we did it 230 years ago. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing in the beginning!
    It ain’t going anywhere.

  14. VietnamVet says:

    The Koch Brothers Constitutional Convention is a real possibility now that the New Democratic Party has crashed into meaningless with no federal leadership positions and only five states with Democratic Governors and Legislatures (California is one of them). The Constitution can be amended to whatever the convention wants including a secession of 100 or so city states with Elon Musk leading one; Bill Gates another. The bi-coastal elite may have all the remaining wealth but they still have to import water, food and energy. As long as the rich cities freely spend to bribe the rubes, they probably will continue to survive like Chinese Singapore surrounded by Muslim Malays. 39% of California’s population is Hispanic. If things splinter apart as they are starting to do now; the Anglo/Mestizo religious and ethnic conflicts will inevitably rip off Southern California. Ushering in a new Dark Age.

  15. In addition to the California and Texas independence movements, there is a longstanding movement for New England independence (nexit). It’s heyday was the Hartford Convention at the end of the War of 1812. Of course, there’s less chance of New England independence occurring than California or Texas independence. I certainly don’t see a violent revolution in the offing and I don’t see the national will to even try to venture into this unknown through Constitutional means. Any of these independence movements would create economically and socially viable countries in spite of the inevitable disruption that would ensue, but the will is not there. I give it less than 5% chance even if Trump and Bannon succeed in destroying the current state institutions on the way to rebuilding a new country.

  16. Peter Moore says:

    “I do not think they will leave the US treasury with its financial support for all those poor people behind for a CalExit”
    You mean that Federal financial support that is less that what Californians pay in federal tax?
    There are plenty of valid arguments against CalExit (starting with the organizer living in Russia) but your argument above certainly isn’t one them.

  17. DickT says:

    Vermont’s secessionist movement slowed down somewhat after the passing of Thomas Naylor in 2012 Supporters have interesting and diverse backgrounds. Still see the flag here and there.

  18. charly says:

    They have an economy of $2.5 trillion and a “deficit” of something like 1%. A country with those numbers is super health and not going for broke.
    For political reasons people use nominal dollars to look if the budget has a deficit but constant value dollars should actual be used to look at the health of an “eternal” institution. And a currency needs something like state debt in the order of at least 20% to function well. An economy also needs a little bit of inflation (it helps in finding the optimal price and most prices are sticky so it allows to lower the price without changing the price)
    So a health inflation of 2% allows a state to have a nominal deficit of 0.4% without an increase in real debt. California has deficits of that order. What is also important is that US debt is much larger per capita than the California state debt and i assume that California gets to pay part of that debt if it became independent. Also the US government probably spends money in California than the state of California and while an independent California wont take over all US government spending it will take over most so current budgets simply don’t say much for an independent California.

  19. charly says:

    It is not regions that secede but only individual units and i think no county is big enough to became an independent country outside of the big cities

  20. charly says:

    Not true. You get a new division within the parties/voters so no eternal right-wing government.

  21. charly says:

    Constitutions are suggestion not rules set in stone and can be broken with easy. You just need the power for it not the legitimate right.

  22. charly says:

    They can only ask the desalination price as a maximum for water and probably less. That isn’t as much money as it sounds and marijuana is only a cash crop because of its (semi) illegal status. Legal and there is no money in it. See the price of hemp.

  23. charly says:

    The Basque want to leave Spain, not the EU and Spain is a very devolved country so the Basque budget probably already pays for all those services* so the only thing they have to do is not write a check out to Madrid and not get a check from Madrid. Difference between those isn’t big but without defense spending always positive for the Basque.
    *) every service you named except customs (and defense) is i think done regional in Spain. Money spend on Customs is a pittance

  24. Cortes says:

    Reality is generally a harsh teacher.
    Good luck to the Calexiters in persuading upstream states to continue to allow the water of life to flow. Resource scarcity and distribution of scarce resources seem to me to represent the prime areas for generating conflicts in the decades ahead. Struggles for ever scarcer fresh water ought to be interesting, in a Chinese curse sort of way.
    A fairly good dystopian novel by Paolo Bacigalupi covers the topic quite well:

  25. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    Casmalia is really off the beaten track – I laughed at the hitching posts’ description: “picturesque western town.”
    In the category of not particularly useful knowledge, the ostrich farm in Sideways is NOT between the hotel and the hitching post.
    I think Central California and Northern California could negotiate quite decent terms with the developing San-San coastal city country (San Fran to San Diego) post succession – agriculture and oil and marijuana for movies and iphones.
    But would the CalCoasties allow Napa to join the like-minded Red interior, or would armed conflict ensue?
    Would Orange county remaining with the blue coasties? Stay tuned….

  26. b says:

    California is dry.
    Would other states let the water flow, as they do now, when they can use it themselves? For what?
    To water green grass in LA suburbs? To subsidize Cal agriculture in the desert?

  27. Nancy K says:

    Most people living in CA are not from there, they have immigrated from other states and countries. CA is also very divided between a rural urban split and geographically between north, central and south. CA is liberal compared to the rest of the Country but they definitely identify as Americans.

  28. turcopolier says:

    Desalination of sea water? pl

  29. turcopolier says:

    I like Casmalia. when I used to go there it had one street. smaller is better. I said nothing about the pseudo “Hitching Post” in Buellton, right? near the Anderson Pea Soup Restaurant on Rte. 101. pl

  30. kooshy says:

    Colonel, you know your LA LA land well down to the Anderson’, that area of Santa Ynez/Los Olivos is now a great wine country, and very beautiful,fine wine and vineyards.

  31. kooshy says:

    Colonel, desalination not this year, so far this year rain is been better than last few.

  32. doug says:

    Desalinization used to be a non-starter. Energy requirements per delivered unit of water was too high. This is no longer the case as innovative techniques with much lower energy requirements have made it much more competitive.

  33. charly says:

    It will get even less energy intense with the technology to get electricity out of the mixing of water with different salt content.

  34. phodges says:

    Amen. I would love to see the Stalinist themepark of Commiefornia fall apart.
    I live in California by accident. In fact the county seat had to be moved because a re-survey discovered it was actually in Nevada. I can drive almost anywhere in Nevada without even going on pavement, but we are connected to California by only 2 passes open a few months a year. You can drive South to get to California but you have to go through one or maybe 2 counties that are even less California than we are. (We have a an urban center of displaced Californians in our county)

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