Category Archives: Economics

Animal’s Daily Heath Care Rights News

This just in from the folks at Reason magazine:  What Does It Mean to Have a Right To Health Care?  Excerpt:

Despite the popular misconception, health care is not beyond economic law; it is not a free good that falls like manna from heaven. It has to be produced, which means people must mix their scarce labor with scarce resources to produce the things used to perform the medical services we want. It would be foolish to expect them to donate their labor and resources because other people need them. They have their own lives to live and livelihoods to earn. It would be wrong to compel them. They are not slaves.

In other words, no one can have a right to medical care or insurance, that is, to the labor services and resources of other people—including the taxpayers. We hear a great deal about the need to respect all people; well, respecting people must include respecting their liberty and justly acquired possessions. Without that, “respect” is hollow.

Politicians, of course, can declare a right to medical care, but those are mere words. What counts is what happens after the declaration. Since a system in which everyone could have, on demand, all the medical care they wanted at no cost would be unsustainable, the so-called right to medical care necessarily translates into the power of politicians and bureaucrats to set the terms under which medical services and products may be provided and received. This is crucial: a government-declared “right” (that does not reflect natural rights) is no right at all; it is rather a declared government power to allocate goods and services.

Natural rights—which boil down to the single right not to be aggressed against—require only that one abstain from aggression. Thus all can exercise their rights at once without conflict. On the other hand, government-invented “rights”—such as the right to medical care—cannot be exercised at the same time; the potential for conflict is built in. For example, a person cannot use his own money as he wishes if the government health care system takes it by force through taxation to pay for other people’s services.

It’s difficult to add anything to that, but I’ll give it a shot.

Taxpayer-funded health care can’t be a right.  It is an indulgence, an exercise in charity on the part of government.  But most importantly, it is a fundamentally an infringement on liberty.  If one has a government-guaranteed taxpayer-funded health care, that requires someone else (a taxpayer) to surrender a portion of their own wealth, their own property, to pay for it.  That means that the taxpayer is required to labor for a portion of the year with no recompense.

There are several words for that; indenture is probably the most polite one.

I’m a minimal-government libertarian, but I’m not an anarchist.  There are legitimate distributed interests that are best handled by government:  Defense, for example.  But defense is not subject to market forces the way health care is.  Here’s the key excerpt form the Reason article:

The market method of deciding what is produced solves this complex problem. How? Through the price system. When people are free to trade goods and services in the market, they generate prices that inform others (even if anyone is aware of this) about the relative supply of and demand for things. Those prices then guide producers and consumers. While their objective is not to create a grand and complex process that encourages the coordination countless plans, economizes on resources and labor, and enables people to achieve their well-being in an unrivaled manner, that is in effect what they do. This is what Adam Smith meant with his “invisible hand” trope. Prices guide people to do “the right thing.”

But politicians don’t understand price theory – or if they do, they ignore it, to garner votes.  I don’t know which is worse.

Rule Five Energy Finds Friday

Our economy, like it or not, runs on oil, and it looks like two oil companies have just found a metric shitload of it (for the record, that’s 1.14 standard shitloads) in Alaska.  And there’s more.  Excerpt:

Spanish oil giant Repsol (REPYY) has revealed the largest U.S. onshore oil discovery in 30 years, located in Alaska’s North Slope.

Repsol and joint venture partner Armstrong Energy claim to have found a massive conventional oil play that holds up to 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable light crude. The discovery was confirmed after Repsol drilled two test wells during the 2016-2017 winter season. According to the company, the area was previously considered to be a mature oil basin. Oil is expected to flow beginning in 2021, with a potential rate approaching 120,000 barrels per day.

Denver-based Armstrong, a privately held exploration company, operates the North Slope project and holds a 75% working interest in the Horseshoe discovery. The Repsol discovery follows the revelation of what geologists believe is the largest shale oil play in the country.

In November, the U.S. Geological Survey said the Midland Basin, which is part of the oil-rich Permian shale play, is estimated to contain 20 billion barrels of oil and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas. The new figures would make the Midland Basin about three times bigger than North Dakota’s Bakken formation.

Exxon is betting on these finds – betting big.

President Trump has already opened the door his predecessor closed on the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines.  Opening that door will being another shitload (metric or standard, you choose) of Canadian crude into American refineries, and protests from environmentalist radicals aside, that’s manifestly a Good Thing for President Trump’s stated goal of kick-starting the American economy.

Why?  That’s simple.  As stated, our economy runs on oil and natural gas.  More domestic sources mean less energy we have to purchase from other countries.  A significant amount of those other countries don’t like us very much, and at present we’re sending them a lot of American petrodollars.

But more to the point, the laws of supply and demand obtain here.  A find this size, once developed – and it looks like the North Slope finds will be coming online pretty quickly – will reduce the price of oil (which, I remind you, is a fungible commodity with a global market) significantly.

Want to kick-start the economy?  Cheap energy is the best way to do that.  It doesn’t matter what your company does, what product they build, what service they provide, they need energy to do it.  Solar and wind power don’t produce enough for a modern industrial economy.

And there’s more.  Take a look at your computer, or your tablet, or your cellular phone; whatever you are using to read these virtual pages.  A good part of it’s material, whatever it is, derives from petroleum.  Take a look at your car; if it’s a recent model a good part of it’s high-tech, modernly engineered structure is plastic; plastics derived from petroleum.

Our modern technological economy runs on oil and gas.  Repsol and Armstrong have just changed the oil and gas game with this discovery.  President Trump may take the credit for the boom that should result (and in the case of the pipelines, he does deserve a bit of the credit) but Repsol and Armstrong are the names to watch for the next couple of years.

Animal’s Daily NutBallery News

Just when you thought California (where I am temporarily hanging my hat) couldn’t get any more harebrained ideas than they already had, they are now thinking of making teachers exempt from state income taxes.

And here I thought the Left never saw a tax they didn’t like.  Excerpt:

A bill moving through the state Legislature seeks to give California teachers a big tax break to entice them to enter the profession and stay — a nationally unprecedented approach to boosting salaries amid a shortage in the field.

Senate Bill 807 would exempt veteran teachers from paying state income tax for 10 years and help new teachers pay for their education and certification costs. Teachers with at least five years’ experience who earn a $75,000 salary would gain the equivalent of a 5 percent raise, saving nearly $4,000 on their annual tax bill.

About 300,000 teachers would benefit from the tax cut in the first year. The measure’s sponsors believe the financial support would increase the number of people entering the field and retain more educators who are already in classrooms.

A statewide teacher shortage has hit many districts hard, with more than 7,000 classrooms staffed by teachers operating under some type of emergency credential or waiver. The San Francisco Unified School District started the school year with 38 teacher vacancies.

Californians being economically illiterate (with a few notable exceptions) is nothing new.  But this just beats all.  The labor market is like any other market; supply and demand obtains.  Any market will only pay a certain value for any commodity or service; when demand falls, so does the price.

But San Francisco, that home-base of nutballery that lies about 40 miles north of me as I type these words, has a different problem.  Decades of restrictive zoning laws and NIMBY building restrictions have raised Bay Area property values through the roof and on into the stratosphere.  Nice if you already own a home in the area (and have since the late Seventies) but lousy if you are trying to start a career there.  I know the malady; my own Denver is seeing much the same thing on a smaller scale.

If young teachers were able to afford homes in the Bay Area, maybe they wouldn’t have trouble filling teacher positions.  The solution is obvious – deregulate land use –  but here in looney old Californey, it just ain’t gonna happen.

Goodbye Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks once again to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five linkery!

Ever ridden in an Uber car?  I do this rather a lot, in fact will be using an Uber service provider later today to take me from San Francisco airport down to Silicon Valley.  I use Uber frequently, and have always been very happy with the service.

But some government regulators don’t like Uber.  They are trying to crack down on Uber, and Uber is fighting back.  Good for them.  Excerpt:

As Uber faces some public relations problems right now connected to complaints of sexual harrassment and mistreatment of its drivers, The New York Times has what it apparently thinks is an expose of sorts. It doesn’t. Or at least it doesn’t from the perspective of the lives of ordinary people.

The way journalist Mike Isaac has approached this story betrays a type of media bias that seems to naturally assume that government regulators are in charge of us all, and those who are trying to find ways to work around them are up to no good.

To wit, Uber uses a tool called “Greyball” to circumvent officials. It’s a tool that Uber says is designed to help it deny ride requests to people who violate their terms of service, disrupt the system, or threaten their drivers. They also have been using it to operate in places where government officials have been trying to shut them down.

The story of the technology itself is genuinely fascinating, but it’s caught up in this concept that Uber’s behavior is villainous, possibly even illegal, though the expert Isaac consulted, a fellow Times contributor, could only make vague claims.

This tool essentially creates a fake ghost version of Uber. People who are “greyballed” could order cars via Uber’s map and could watch them travel around. But the Uber drivers always canceled when the customer ordered a pickup. The cars were not actually real. They were fabricated by the app to trick the user into wasting time, without the user realizing they had been secretly been banned and maybe starting a new account.

Uber used this tool to operate in Portland, Oregon, as regulators attempted to use sting operations to catch them and shut them down.

The nerve of Uber!  Assuming that people should have the ability to enter into a completely voluntary transaction with another person for a ride to the airport, or to dinner, or home from a bar – without government permission!

In most places it’s not just overbearing bureaucrats trying to shut Uber down; it’s the taxicab companies, who are using the Aristocracy of Pull to try to preserve their outmoded business model.  I’ve ridden in plenty of taxis as well; they tend strongly towards dirty, smelly cars and rude drivers.  Uber cars are clean – why?  Because their drivers own them.

This is cronyism of the worst sort.  Good on Uber for defying these overreaching bureaucrats.  I will continue to throw them my business in support.

Rule Five Dissolving EU Friday

Is the EU coming apart at the seams?  Yes, and it should.  Excerpt:

At its core, what is the EU? And why, despite its vast resources, does it seem perpetually unable to make sense of the world and meet its objectives? The two answers lie hidden in the EU’s very DNA.

First, there’s the EU’s primary internal contradiction: EU federalism is an ideology that propagates post-ideologism; a culturally amorphous post-ideological world.

A cosmopolitan easy going agnostic world, in which the single market and currency have made nationalism obsolete. Indeed, a world where the European Parliament invites a long haired bearded shemale to perform in front of its building and announces him/her as “The voice of Europe” singing for equality, without anyone batting an eye.

The EU’s core problem, however, is that in its way of viewing and engaging the world beyond Brussels’ boundaries, it is acting as if the world has already arrived at this so badly coveted post-cultural/ideological end station.

This is why the EU’s foreign minister is convinced political Islam should be part of the solution for Europe’s bicultural malaise. It is why for almost a decade now, the EU is maintaining it is reasonable to expect a German fiscal discipline from Greece ― a country in which tax evasion has been a central pillar of its culture ever since it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire some 600 years ago. It is why the EU fails to grasp the fact it’s deepening the migration crisis by acting as a ferry service for human traffickers. It is why the EU refuses to acknowledge an inherently expansionist religion like Islam views Europe’s open borders as an invitation to conquest. And it is why it was caught off guard by the mass rapes in Cologne etc. Because in the EU’s world, man in its natural state never existed and the Rape of the Sabine Women was never told.

In short, the EU is treating the world as if it’s already an earthly EUtopia in which everything can be solved through dialogue and the right subsidies. And that’s why it will keep on chasing facts until its imminent demise.

You should read also author Jillian Becker’s comments on the situation here.  Excerpt:

Why was the corrupt and undemocratic European Union (EU) brought into existence?

The Germans wanted to dissolve their guilt  – for starting two world wars and perpetrating the Holocaust – in the sea of a European superstate. Which they knew they could dominate through their economic strength.

The French wanted to be part of an entity that was more populous, more prosperous, and more powerful than the United States of America, even though it meant sharing power.

The ambitious politicians of Western Europe wanted a bigger stage to strut on. As well as a perpetual ride on a gravy train.

That last sentence is key.  The EU was doomed to fail from the very beginning.  Nations like the United Kingdom, Germany and France have very little in common, culturally and economically, with the PIGS nations – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain.  The former have been tasked with supporting the easy living and generous retirements of the latter for a couple of generations now.

Asking these nations to share a common currency and economy is too much to expect from any body politic.  One has to expect the industrious Germans are growing as rapidly tired of supporting the PIGS as they are of Frau Merkel’s unlimited acceptance of Middle Eastern refugees.

The backlash has already begun in Europe.  The last time a sudden rise of European nationalism happened, it resulted in a world war.  This time, it may just result in the saving of Europe from the ash heap of history.

Death and Taxes?

The GOP – well, at least one Congressman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) – is proposing to overhaul our onerous tax structure with a plan that actually ain’t half bad.  Excerpt:

“We’re trying to fundamentally change the code,” Nunes told host Stuart Varney. “We’re getting rid of the income tax. We’re doing something that hasn’t been done in 100 years.”

“We’re moving to a consumption system — to a cash flow system,” Nunes said. He explained what that would look like in practice: “You take your income minus your expenses, and whatever’s left over, you pay a tax on that.”

He added that “this is a very simple system, yet it’s a dramatic departure from the confusing tax code that we have now.”

Nunes argued that the changes would increase economic growth and bring jobs back to America so we can be “the most transparent, business-friendly nation state in the world.”

He said that under the new system, the biggest winners would be wage earners and small businesses because “they will be on the same playing field as other businesses in this country.”

Speaking as one of those small businesses, I like the idea.  It might not be my ideal plan, but it would be a good start.  Like lots of small businesses, ours operates as an LLC, meaning the business income is in effect our personal income – so we pay personal taxes on the proceeds of our business.  This bill would eliminate that distinction, simplifying the tax code for everyone and accomplishing one of the GOP’s stated goals – broadening and simplifying the tax code.

Hopefully it will result in every working adult having some skin in the game, but I doubt that will be the case.  I’d like to see everyone having some skin in the game, but in today’s environment, that may be too much to hope for.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Ever tried an Airbnb stay?  I haven’t, even in all my travels, but I’ve considered it, and would avail myself if the housing matched the site where I was working.  But around the country, the hotel industry is engaging in the Aristocracy of Pull to shut Airbnb down.  Excerpt:

New York officials are on the job, protecting the world from the likes of Hank Freid and Tatiana Cames by slapping the two with a combined total of $17,000 in fines.

What threat to life, liberty, and property did this dastardly duo pose?

They were renting rooms to willing customers, the bastards. Fried and Cames were slapped for violating laws prohibiting apartment owners from renting rooms for less than 30 days if they’re not living on the premises, and a further law passed last year that banned advertising such rentals. It’s a direct strike at innovative home-sharing services like Airbnb and the people who use them that parallels similar attacks around the country.

“The law signed today will provide vital protections for New York tenants and help prevent the continued proliferation of illegal, unregulated hotels, and we will defend it,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) trumpeted last October.

Maybe I’m the suspicious type, but I think those “vital protections” Schneiderman refers to are against competition to the established old-school hotel industry. Just last summer, the Office of the New York State Comptroller fretted that the hotel business in New York City wasn’t doing as well as hoped. “Despite impressive gains, the average room rate (i.e., the average cost of renting a hotel room) has not yet reached its prerecession level” and, in fact, “room rates declined slightly in 2015.” This bums officials out, because “New York City collected a record $1.8 billion in tax revenue from the hotel industry in fiscal year 2015” and officials want to keep scooping up that revenue and maintain close, personal friendships with the people who generate that kind of cash.

Look carefully, True Believers, at that last bit.  New York City wants to prevent homeowners from voluntarily leasing a portion of their home to willing short-term renters, in a purely voluntary transaction in which both parties realize a gain.  Why?

Tax dollars.  The City of New York, it seems, is of the opinion that those tax dollars are theirs by right, and that the Airbnb renters are defrauding them of their due.  Why, it’s damned near medieval.

Incidentally, the same thing happens with the taxicab companies when they campaign against ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.  They can’t compete in the open market, so they enlist government cronies to shut their competitors down with excessive regulations.

The only open and fair competition is in the open market, where business models succeed or fail for the only reason tolerable in a free society – because they succeeded or failed in attracting customers.  President Trump has vowed to reduce business-killing regulations that add no value.  He should look into this.

Animal’s Daily Air Traffic News

Who wouldn’t like to make air travel easier, cheaper and more efficient?  If you travel a lot, like yr. obdt., then y ou’d probably like to see that happen.  If you work for the Federal Aviation Administration, apparently the answer is “probably not.”  Excerpt:

In an era of smartwatches and driverless cars, Americans traveling by air sit in planes guided by World War II-era technology, while the Federal Aviation Administration spends billions on its never-ending “NextGen” upgrade.

Started in 2004, NextGen was supposed to replace the outdated radar, radio communications, and strips of paper still used by air traffic controllers. Once in place, this satellite-based system would let planes travel more direct routes, improve safety margins, and save travelers billions of dollars a year.

But NextGen has been fraught with delays and cost overruns and, despite having spent $7.4 billion over the past 12 years, is still 13 years away from being finished.

Up north, meanwhile, the Canadian air traffic control system — which is the second busiest after the U.S. — has already deployed truly state-of-the-art technology throughout its system, letting it handle 50% more traffic while trimming its work force by 30%.

What’s the difference? In 1996 Canada sold its government-run air traffic control to a nonprofit corporation called Nav Canada. User fees finance its operations and pay for upgrades, and Nav Canada is free of the suffocating bureaucracy and endless budget battles that plague the U.S. system. The Canadian government’s role is limited to regulating Nav Canada for safety.

Other industrialized nations have taken similar steps. But in the U.S., any such talk has been blocked by Democrats, for whom privatization is a dirty word.

There’s nothing that motivates people, whether they be individuals or joined together in a corporation, like the profit motive.

It shouldn’t be too hard to come up with a system to privatize the air-traffic control system.  Set up a system of standards – on time departures and arrivals (barring those that are the airline’s fault) certain budget and personnel requirements.  If the first contractor can’t do it, find another that can.  The precedent is just over the border in the Great White North.

What the article here misses is the reason the Democratic party so ardently opposes such a measure; the public-sector unions, who are deep in the Democrats’ pockets – and vice versa.

That shouldn’t be enough reason to put up with a broken system.

Rule Five Tax Reform Friday

There’s been a lot of talk lately about what the GOP will do in the way of tax reform.  Speaking as a pretty hardcore libertarian, I’m guessing (in fact, I’m pretty damn certain) it won’t go far enough to suit me.

Let me tell you why.

Barry Goldwater once said “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.”  I agree wholeheartedly; but there’s an important distinction to point out.

There are basically two types of libertarians.  There are anarcho-libertarians, who hope for a society with no government at all, where all government functions are fully privatized and all interactions are voluntary.  I don’t think this is a realistic viewpoint.  An anarcho-libertarian system is dependent on a perfect society, and relies on perfect (or at least pretty damned good) people.  The other type, of which I am a member, are the minimum-government or ‘small-statist’ libertarians, who seek (as Goldwater did) to reduce government to the minimum possible.  I see government as an evil, but a necessary evil, one that needs to be chained in place and confined to a few narrow purposes – otherwise liberty is forever endangered.

So, how does that relate to taxation?  The key word is voluntary.  Now, no system of taxation is ever completely voluntary.  Look at the structure of taxation as it exists today; if I were to start a charity, no matter how worthy, I couldn’t come take you and lock you in a cage for not contributing to my charity.  But we allow government to do what private citizens cannot do.  In this case, we allow government to initiate the use of force to obtain compliance.

That’s a terrible, dangerous power, and must be tightly restricted.  Right now, it’s not.  The Imperial Leviathan grows more powerful with each passing year, and on tax policy, President Trump is proposing to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Here is his tax reform plan; the four primary points are:

  1. Tax relief for middle class Americans: In order to achieve the American dream, let people keep more money in their pockets and increase after-tax wages.
  2. Simplify the tax code to reduce the headaches Americans face in preparing their taxes and  let everyone keep more of their money.
  3. Grow the American economy by discouraging corporate inversions, adding a huge number of new jobs, and making America globally competitive again.
  4. Doesn’t add to our debt and deficit, which are already too large.

Don’t get me wrong; as proposed Imperial reforms go it’s one of the better of a bad lot, except for that last bit, which strains credulity just a tad.  But it’s just a reform of the existing system.  That, in my considered opinion, doesn’t go far enough.  It still depends on an involuntary surrender of the citizens’ productivity, a requirement backed up (maybe indirectly, but even so) by men with guns.

I’d rather junk the whole corrupt, overly complicated system.

Instead of taxing production, let’s tax consumption.  There’s already one such proposed system in the pipeline, where it has been sitting for quite a while with no progress; that would be the FairTax.  A consumption-based tax system, like the FairTax, would increase the tax base enormously, from maybe 155 million taxpayers to over 300 million – including tourists, temporary residents, and even illegal aliens.  It would tax the underground economy (drug dealers and con men buy cars, houses, and computers, among other things, and would pay the tax on those items.)

But most importantly of all, it would make the tax system as voluntary as a tax system would be; every consumer has to consume a certain amount (some proposals exclude essentials like groceries, rent/mortgage, and tuition) but one can pick and choose.  Another advantage, and this is a big advantage where privacy is concerned, is that the free citizens won’t be required to disclose all of their financial affairs to the Imperial and various State governments.

I’d like to see more talk about this, but I’m resigned to it not happening.  In the meantime, I’ll settle for the new arrangement of deck chairs.  I guess.

Rule Five CalExit Friday

Could California leave the union?  Well, since I’m on an extended project in Silicon Valley right now, I sure hope that if they do, they give me some time to scoot for home before sealing the borders.  There is some talk about a tax revolt on the part of the California state government,

 As a practical matter, though; could California leave the Union?  Probably not.  (Even though there are days when I think it might just be a good thing for the rest of the U.S. if they did.)  There are an awful lot of details that the CalExit proponents aren’t thinking about.  Let’s look at some of those details.

  1. Federal land in the state.  Almost half of the state’s area is Federally owned; National Forest, BLM, military bases, and so forth.  What would become of those Federal lands?  Would the new California national government pay the United States fair value for those lands?  Or would the state just seize the properties?  If so, how?  Which brings us to:
  2. The military.  Never mind for a moment that the several military bases in California are Federal property, and that the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen on those bases work for the Federal government and are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the state of California.  Would California start their own military?  Their own army, navy, and air force?  How would they pay for it?  More to the point, who would serve in it?  Who would lead it?  There is no Lee in California; no Longstreet, no Jackson.
  3. Water.  California doesn’t have enough native water to support its population.  Instead, they depend on water from the Colorado river.  If California secedes, how will they pay for this water?  Rivers can be dammed and/or diverted.  Colorado, Nevada and Arizona could certainly find good use for the 4.4 million acre-feet of water that go to California every year.
  4. Electricity.  California imports about 1/3 of its electricity from its neighboring states.  Given that the state is not fond of building new power plants – at least, the wealthy coastal elites who effectively run the state are not fond of building new power plants – what will California do for power?  Will the continue to pay to suckle at the United States’ power grid?  If so, how will they pay for it?
  5. Currency.  Will California start coining money?  Who will set monetary and fiscal policy for the new nation – the people who are running California’s economy now?  Welcome to the Greece of the West, folks.
  6. Politics.  California is a big, sparsely populated red state dominated by a few densely populated bright blue population centers – primarily Los Angeles and San Francisco.  The state’s farmers and tradesmen are ruled, effectively, by a well-off coastal elite.  Suppose rural northern California, the Central Valley, and maybe Orange County refuse to go along?  What if those areas vote to stay in the United States?  Will the new California national government stick to their newly found principles of self-determination and allow those areas to remain?  And if they do, how will a tiny coastal nation consisting of a couple of major cities and a few hundred miles of coastline feed itself?  Speaking of which:
  7. Food.  California is largely desert.  The fertile Central Valley produces less and less food all the time, strangled by excessive rules and regulations from the state and (to be fair) the Imperial government.  Should the secession prove acrimonious, could California find the wherewithal to release Central Valley farmers (if there are any left) to start producing grain and truck crops?
  8. Foreign Affairs.  Who would California’s international allies be?  The most obvious one is the mother country – the United States – but just as in the first time this was tried, it’s likely there would be some hard feelings.  Nations have no permanent friends, only permanent interests; who would serve California’s interests in an alliance?  Mexico?  China?

There’s also the 1861 question; should California announce their secession, would President Trump send in the Army to force them to remain?  If so, California wouldn’t be able to resist the way the old Confederacy did.  It’s highly doubtful half the professional U.S. military would defect to fight for California.

Honestly, the folks agitating for a secession of California aren’t thinking this thing through.  The one thing California would have to do to make it as a separate nation is to switch political philosophies and adopt personal liberty, free markets, and minimal intervention by government in the economy and the property rights of its citizens – and this, True Believers, is everything that California is not.  It would be a matter of decades at the most before California sank into a Venezuelan quagmire.  We don’t need that on our western border, and California’s citizens don’t need it in their bank accounts.