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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Divided We Stand

Sweden is often held up as an example of an excellent political-social-economic system, especially by those on the Left.  And while it's possible to quibble over the numbers, it's pretty hard to deny that in virtually every measure of well-being of a society, Sweden ranges somewhere from quite good to top notch.

As a result, everybody can probably learn something of value by studying Sweden.

I'm no exception.  What I've learned from looking at Sweden over the years is that 2 to 20 million people is a really nice size for a country.  It's big enough to have the diversity of talents and desires to form a vibrant economy, yet small enough that the people have a feeling of belonging and camaraderie with their fellow citizens.  It's big enough to support the necessary institutions of government and trade in the modern world, yet small enough that the government feels accountable to the citizens. It's big enough to create and accumulate wealth, yet small enough that it's worthwhile for citizens to protect their property and country from those who would use political power to take it.  All of the advantages of being big enough, but not too big.

When the United States declared independence in 1776, the population was about 2.5 million, a nice size. But even at that small size, the founders focused on forming a federation, with the individual states keeping the vast majority of legislative power and a high level of autonomy, even though each state only had a few hundred thousand people.

A few hundred thousand in this day and age may be too small to support itself effectively.  But what Sweden proves, unequivocally, is that 9 million is definitely not too small.

The United States has over 100 times as many people when it was founded.  It has also concentrated the power in the central government.  This has led to an Angry America where tens of millions of people don't have a feeling of belonging and camaraderie, don't feel that government is accountable to them, and feel like they are being taken advantage of by the ruling political class.  I believe this has led to constantly rising hostility, government shutdowns, out-of-control government spending, subdued economic growth, and a desperate and hopeless feeling on the part of many that their country, and a place where they can live in peace and prosperity, has been irretrievably lost.

My belief is that if we could reduce the population of the United States to 9 million people, the vast majority of these problems would go away.  310,000,000+ people is not a manageable size.  9,000,000 people is.

Obviously, it's not possible to reduce the population, even though it would be an interesting experiment to send 300,000,000 million people to Sweden and see how it goes there.

The only possible approach is to split the country into smaller Pieces.  Around 50 Pieces would work well, leaving, on average, 6.2 million people per Piece.  Each Piece would be given complete sovereignty over itself. I would suggest that all the Pieces form an alliance for mutual defense and foreign relations, sort of like a mixture of NATO and NAFTA.  They could call this alliance the Northern American Pieces, or NAP.

Then people could move to the Piece that best fit their ideology and way of life and that would diffuse the anger in Angry America.  The Pieces would let people in other Pieces live in peace and prosperity.  Divided we stand, united we fall.

62 comments:

Harry Eagar said...

William Appleman Williams beat you to this.

For a business-friendly person, you have strange ideas. Quite a few very large businesses would have to shut down if the US got small.

Perhaps the problem is that the people feeling this anger and displacement are badly misinformed.

That's possible. It was the case in the South when the mean old national gummint made them stop oppressing black people.

And is true that a large proportion of the angry people are manifestly delusional. Look at the surveys of how many think their homes are under attack by demons.

Bret said...

Madison and the other founders beat me to it as well. I'm just proposing federalism as some of them envisioned it in the federalist papers.

I'm not big business-friendly. I'm free market friendly. To the extent that big businesses are corrupt, I dislike them. I dislike big Wall Street almost as much as you. I have an upcoming post on this.

It could well be that we're badly misinformed. Doesn't much matter, especially since we've been told many times that we're not smart enough to understand the correct information.

Peter said...

If you broke up into pieces, you would have to worry about an invasion from Canada. Turnabout is fair play.

Harry, I gather you are now so frustrated by conservatives that you have decided to join the beautiful people and rely on diagnosis rather than argument. If Steinbeck were writing today, the establishment left would dismiss the Joads as dangerous funadamentalist racists.

erp said...

Bret, there already are 50 (57 if you're Obama) pieces and they have proscribed duties and responsibilities as per the Constitution. We are not abiding by those laws, but have allowed the federal government to use the enormous power of taxation to usurp power, bribe people in the name of income redistribution, to either tacitly or through the legislature take over our lives.

We’ve spent considerable time all over the lower 48 and have felt kinship with the people and landscape everywhere. We don’t need to break up the country. We need to break up the federal bureaucracy.

Bret said...

Peter,

The population of Canada is a pretty ideal size as well. I think a lot of the success of somewhat more socialist Canada is the fact that you're pretty small and therefore more manageable.

Invade away. I for one, would welcome our new Canadian overlords (snort, guffaw, lol)!

Bret said...

erp,

That's of course what I was saying indirectly. That's why I "arbitrarily" picked 50 as the magic number of pieces.

I mean, what do we really need from the federal government? Defense of the borders (apparently against the Canadians, for example), a common diplomatic interface to the rest of the world, and some protection of individual rights. That's it. We don't need anything else. Otherwise, how can countries like Sweden be successful?

erp said...

I know that Bret. :-} That's why I interjected an Obamaism.

Clovis e Adri said...

Canada invading a few good pieces - now that's an interesting vision.

They would then enforce health care on them all, and half the pieces would need to learn French too.

Anyone in disagreement would be sent to Texas, since that's a piece not even the Canadians would swallow.

Cuba might take Florida, and what a happy vision would be to see them all saluting Fidel.

Mexico would take back California, and the the richest country among them all.

Ok, Bret, I support your idea. Have you learned Spanish already?

Bret said...

Yes, I know Spanish, so no problem.

Clovis e Adri said...

And have you checked how would be your taxes in the United Mexican States? And health care?

Bret said...

Somehow, I'm not too worried about Mexico taking over Pieces.

Nobody takes over Sweden and the citizenry here are much, much better armed.

erp said...

Mexico has a whole country in shambles, so there's plenty of work to do there. Mexicans not willing or able to fix up their country go through a lot of trouble to come here. Why would they then want Mexico to take over the U.S. any more than the rest of us?

BTW - Bret I'm not surprised that Clovis supports Fidel and probably has a Che t-shirt or poster también.

Cuba might take Florida, and what a happy vision would be to see them all saluting Fidel.

I wonder who means by all? All the gringos? All the expat Cubans? All Harry's right-wingers? The ghosts of all the people he's murdered?

I certainly hope he clarifies that.

erp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bret said...

erp,

I'm pretty sure Clovis is kidding. I know I have been in most of these comments.

Both of us have been bad at including smiley faces. :-)

erp said...

OK. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

erp said...

I just noticed the double comment again. Sorry. I only click SUBMIT once.

Peter said...

Cuba might take Florida

Back off, Clovis, Florida is spoken for. You Latins have more than your fair share of palm trees and beaches, so don't be so greedy. Canadian exceptionalism is defined as public healthcare, social justice and an annual winter getaway to Florida. Did you really believe all that crap about how much we love winter and hockey? Of course, it might be tough for us to hold against those fierce, sun-starved Scandinavians.

How about Missouri? Good food, friendly people, etc, etc. Yes, you can have Missouri.

Harry Eagar said...

'Nobody takes over Sweden'

Up to 1943, the Swedes were very afraid they would be taken over by Germany, to the point that they adapted their foreign policy to Nazism.

Only after it became apparent that the German army was being neutralized did the Swedes, eg, admit Jewish refugees.

It is also a fact, as I have noted many times, that despite its 'ideal' size, Sweden was the poorest country in Europe until around 150 years ago.

Bret said...

Sorry. Nobody is currently trying to take over Sweden.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I think you are all forgetting Gustavus Adolphus. A Swedish associate of mine was just lamenting the passing of those days of Swedish greatness.

Bret said...

There's a pretty good science fiction novel featuring Gustavus: 1632.

It happens to be free for kindle. I really liked it (5 stars), but the sequel was so boring I couldn't get through it.

erp said...

Bret, doncha love technology. I just downloaded "1632" to my iPad and my new Lenovo PC running Windows 8 (don't ask). Took a total of 30 seconds. Thanks so much. I grew up reading the science fiction of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. After that they didn’t seem to present invention and possibilities of the future, but started to be adventure stories set off planet until now I haven’t read one in decades and the films I’ve seen, mostly at my daughter’s house, are orgies of violence.

Have you been watching “Sleepy Hollow,” a new TV show that has a similar theme (as described in a book review I glanced at -- I don't like to read reviews of anything until after I've experienced it for myself) and I can't decide whether I like it or not, but since it's still on the DVR, I guess I'm leaning toward the former. You might not have noticed but the lead character, Ichabod Crane, yes that one, is quite dreamy – the young lady is cute too.

I wonder if the girls in your family have noticed?

Howard said...

Bret,

What scales and what doesn't for entities of different size is one of those basics of poli-sci. Usually worth keeping in mind.


It was the case in the South when the mean old national gummint made them stop oppressing black people.

Yes, that's why the doctor prescribed "2 teaspoons" of strong central government. At a dose of 5 the medicine can be worse then the disease and 10 can be lethal. Statism can be be a very strong drug. Just remember, statism is the opiate of the elites.


Che has been popular in comments to the last few posts. Tom Palmer has a cute joke that is relevant. It's referenced in this Ed Driscoll item:

My friend Tom Palmer says that whenever he sees somebody sporting a Che Guevara t-shirt, he likes to ask the wearer, “That’s a great t-shirt; do you have the entire collection?” The wearer usually responds either with a blank stare or by asking Tom what does he mean, to which Tom then responds: “You know, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot…”

Harry Eagar said...

'At a dose of 5 the medicine can be worse then the disease and 10 can be lethal.'

In reality, at 2 the oppression continued for centuries. At around 5, it was a struggle. And it isn't over yet, as the latest RtO post reveals.

I have never heard a black person say the national government was too powerful. They know what happened in 1876 when the national government, then at 10, was dialed back to 2.

As I noted over at VC, there is the interesting case right now of the Becket Fund, using national laws to fight the oppression of the locals.

The idea that there is too much national government is not popular with underdogs.

Clovis e Adri said...

C'mon Peter, you have snow, white Christmas and sun up to midnight there in Yukon, why would you need Florida?

I could easily exchange Missouri for Alaska if you guys do not mind, we deserve our share of snow too, what do you say?

Geez, imagine Hey Skipper going back home after his holidays only to discover he is now under Brazilian soil. I can bet he would soon drop the Resistance and enter a Samba school. These gringos can't resist a mulata for too long.

Bret said...

erp wrote: "...are orgies of violence."

Ummm, well, this one has a bit of violence too, but what do you expect about a story involving Gustavus Adolphus, a central figure of the Thirty Years War? It wasn't called the Thirty Years Walk-in-the-Park, after all. :-)

The slightly odd (but fortunately short) beginning and the violence are well worth it IMO for the very nice job the author does characterizing interactions between a modern and older culture.

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "The idea that there is too much national government is not popular with underdogs."

Except, of course, when the underdogs are suppressed by the national government (for example, see Jews; Germany).

And what about Tea Partiers? They're certainly the underdogs in this fight, no?

erp said...

Thanks Bret. I'll persevere and submit a report. Harry's comment sounds vaguely familiar. Like something decades old from the middle of the Cold War.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I have never heard a black person say the national government was too powerful.

You need to read more widely than fever swamps like LGF and Wonkette. I can name three without even looking - Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, and Alfonzo Rachel.

There are those of us who realize that blacks are people too, and can in fact vary in their political opinions. I think if you really tried, you could get there too.

Howard said...

Another individual to add to that list is Walter E. Williams. Check out some of those book titles... Blindly grouping people together - really? Note his thoughts on welfare and the minimum wage.

erp said...

Add Kevin Jackson to the list of black people who don't accept victim status in exchange for their humanity. His is an interesting story. I could also give you a list of personal friends and acquaintances, but they're just regular people and aren't looking for media attention.

Harry Eagar said...

America is a big country but not big enough for Fox News, which searched its length and breadth for someone harmed by Obamacare and couldn't find one.

Heh.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/360665

erp said...

How could they? There ain't no such animal as Obamacare, only a huge pile of our money distributed to Obama's cronies where quality health care for all was supposed to be.

Annoying Old Guy said...

They should have called me, our premiums are doubling because we are willing to double our deductible (to $7K/year). Otherwise it would have been 168% increase.

Or these guys in California.

Or all the workers who have lost their insurance from their employers and now can't sign up on the exchanges because the exchanges are broken. One wonders whether POR-care will actually increase the number of uninsured.

We can wait a bit and look for all the working poor who are going to get harmed by the much higher deductibles. Or find out that, because the exchanges are broken, don't even have the insurance they think they signed up for.

I note that your article mentions only Sean Hannity, not Fox News in general. So your counter-argument to all of this is "Sean Hannity is an idiot". Wow, devastating. I have to admit, I certainly cannot argue against that claim.

erp said...

aog, you and the others whose premiums are being raised are technically not being harmed by Obamacare itself, only by the specter of it. It's no less painful, but with Harry precision of language is required. :-{

I don't understand the reference to Fox News as being somehow something we should feel some responsibility for. Harry can't possibly imagine we, or at least I, think it is conservative in any way. Since Bret Hume was fired, it is no different from any of the other news channels. Remember, Murdoch came out for Hillary in 2008.

Annoying Old Guy said...

erp;

It's an incantation. First you demonize a minority, make them despised, then use any symbol of them as an automatically derogatory statement. It's a classic technique. So by now, for Mr. Eagar, just the phrase "Fox News" constitutes a trump card regardless of whether any of us actually watch it. It's the tranzi version of the old ethnic slurs, which are too obviously hypocritical to use these days.

erp said...

Correct and the fact FOX News fired Crowder because he criticized one of their money makers, Hannity, who's a light weight in a field of light weights, confirms it.

I always laugh when I remember bubba's motto: Deny, Delay and Demonize. Short and to the point, but works like a charm.

Harry Eagar said...

Quick, call Roger Ailes! We've got a live one. Maybe.

Does it never occur to you guys tha you're being played?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Eagar;

It always occurs to me that you are trying to play me, that's why I never take your comments straight up.

Howard said...

... searched its length and breadth for someone harmed by Obamacare and couldn't find one.

Kind of like saying you can't find anyone harmed by a fall from a great height. It's not the fall but the landing that gets you!

Annoying Old Guy said...

Maybe they could talk to these hundreds of thousands of people who just had their policies canceled due to POR-care.

erp said...

aog, I just saw that too and, I hope you are sitting down, so you don't keel over, our local liberal rag didn't even mention it through four or five sections and dozens of pages.

Odd that.

Annoying Old Guy said...

More tales of the wonders of POR-care. Let's note that most of these are the poor. Some how I don't think they're thankful for what they are receiving.

erp said...

Just about everyone other than elites like us ;-} are of the opinion that health care will be free and they will just walk in to hospitals, doctors' offices, etc. wherever and whenever they want and they will be seen and treated and provided for. When the truth sinks in, then what? Even the masters of semantics will be hard put to blame Bush for this one and no other non-lefty has emerged with enough
gravitas (remember that one) to absorb the hit.

Annoying Old Guy said...

No, it won't be Bush's fault, it will be the Tea Parties fault. Or, as is commonly noted, whatever small vestiges of liberty and free markets is left will be blamed. That's the essence of the creeping totalitarianism we have today.

erp said...

aog, I don't agree about the tea party because they can't put a face to it.

Try as they may with plants and setups, most people aren't threatened by tea parties and don't see it as racist. Tea parties are nice; the Boston Tea Party played an important part in our independence from Britain, etc.

Cruz isn't a good target because he's not from an "elite" family like Bush -- Cruz is smart, went to the best schools and most important of all, can apparently pronounce the word, "nuclear," correctly.

Will he have his head turned like Rubio (a bitter disappointment to me) and Christie? Too soon to tell. Anybody else out there riding a white horse (eeeeeeeeeeeek proof positive of racism)? Not that I can see.

Annoying Old Guy said...

erp;

That hasn't stopped it before. Just watch.

erp said...

Will do.

Harry Eagar said...

I had been planning to say that there hadn't been so many stupid racist gaffes lately, presumably because the reaction tended to be negative; but I'm glad I didn't because -- well -- never give a sucker an even break:

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/42682_NC_GOP_Precinct_Chairman_Resigns_After_Mega-Racist_Interview_on_the_Daily_Show

Harry Eagar said...

Or this:

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/23/mississippi-tea-party-candidate-for-u-s-senate-connected-to-secessionists-and-neo-confederates/

Bret said...

Secession and racism are distinct things. I don't watch videos so I was unable to see the first link. The second link doesn't seem racist to me.

Howard said...

It's all wearing a bit thin with moves like this. Regarding the larger view, the Sultan is on the case.

Harry Eagar said...

Well, you're the one that wouldn't recognize the Battle Flag. Depend on it, it's racist.

Elsewhere, I link to an LA Times story, so you don't have to watch video.

erp said...

Howard, it's textbook projection.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I'm still waiting for what the threshold is for a party to be "controlled by racists". Otherwise, as far as I can tell, Eagar's point is that the GOP is illegitimate unless it has no racists at all, ever, and no such rule applies to the party of Jim Crow, segregation, and elected KKK dragons.

Harry Eagar said...

The Republicans passed that threshold long ago. Proof is the voter suppression drive in almost all states where Republicans have he legislative votes to do it.

You might say that if it looks like a duck . . .

Annoying Old Guy said...

Yeah, whatever. Can't have any actual standards, for the risk they could applied to someone other than your opponents.

I certainly know what the current style of Democratic Party governing looks like...

Harry Eagar said...

Does that mean you support the voter suppression agenda?

Annoying Old Guy said...

It means I think your "voter suppression agenda" is just as laughably hyperbolic as your claim of racist control of the GOP.

Now, if you told me you really meant the decreased ability of the Democratic Party to use Chicago-style electioneering, that I would believe.

I mean, for a party that thinks POR-care is easy enough for the poor and disabled to use to claim that getting an ID is a barrier sufficient to count as "voter suppression" is weapon's grade chutzpah. You should be calling POR-care "health insurance suppression" in that case.

But that just gets back to your refusal to enunciate any actual standard for anything, because you know as well as I how dangerous that is for your political position and allies.

So, whatever. Blather on, it's amusing.

Harry Eagar said...

There's a difference.

The gubmint has hired people to assist applicants through the enrollment. The party has enlisted gubmint, to the extent it can, to prevent voting.

Since the Republicans have been trying for over 40 years to acquire the racist vote, a failure would call into question their ability to, you know, run a gubmint.

erp said...

Harry, I decided answering your ridiculous accusations was a waste of time, but this one about voter ID can't go undisputed. Democratic government prevented blacks from voting and now Democratic government is preventing them from voting in an orderly fashion just like the rest of We, the People by registering and presenting a Voter ID card.

IMO voter fraud was in large part responsible for bubba's election and most certainly in Obama's.

Republicans had nothing to do with any of it.

I don't believe much of what's in the msm, so whatever "evidence" you may have of racism among conservatives is suspect in my opinion.

erp said...

Sorry, I forgot. I do not consider myself a Republican anymore and despise the RINO's in congress who are far worse than the lefties. My comment above about Republicans was only a statement of fact.