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California and why size matters
Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
June 24, 2004
Behind all war has been the pressure of population. Let countries become overpopulated and war is inevitable. It follows as daylight follows sunrise. — Margaret Sanger
As a devolutionist I am always heartened when another progressive opinion finds a forum in the mainstream media. Such was the case with the May edition of Harper's magazine, in which Richard N. Rosenfeld makes the case for abolishing the United States Senate in an essay entitled What Democracy?
Talk about a revolution.
In his essay Mr. Rosenfeld clearly states how democracy has yet to be achieved in the United States of America. In making his assertion of unequal political representation he relied heavily on population statistics, although his point was how senators were an obstacle to a true democracy, he triggered for me a different line of thought.
The statistical reasoning that he employed heavily supports the case for California succession by demonstrating how the checks and balances, designed by the founding fathers, has always prevented representative democracy and rule by the majority. Avoiding the percentages used by Rosenfeld, I reverted to the raw data of the 2000 census for a clearer understanding of how the federal system works against the best interests of the people of California.
The 2000 census documented the population of California to be 35.4 million people; two senators represent these 35.4 million people. That is approximately 17 million per senator. The 2000 census also attributed a population of 493,782 to the state of Wyoming. Ironically, under the guise of equality, 2 senators also represent the people of Wyoming. That is approximately 245,000 per senator. Clearly the numbers do not balance.
Expanding that line of inquiry, to balance the California's population of 35.4 million with other states I went back to the census data only to discover that to achieve numerical equity the population of Wyoming would be counted along with that of Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Oklahoma, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Kansas. Doing the representational math, the numbers show whereas the 35.4 million people of California are represented by 2 senators, the 35.4 million residents of the aforementioned list of 14 contiguous states are represented by 28 senators. Such an accounting does not bode well for the citizens of California expecting equal representation under the law.
My reason for focusing on this topic is to illustrate how California has out grown any benefit the federal government now offers. As the most populated state in the federation, with the fifth largest economy in the world, California taxpayers give more to the federal government than it gets back. This is not the case with Wyoming (aka the Equality State). Think about it, with 4 times as many people in San Diego County than in the entire state of Wyoming, the people of the San Diego region are underrepresented in Washington.
Why does this matter?
Consider the issue of oil drilling off the coast of California. Right now a thin margin in the Senate protects the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from the circling oil companies. What's to stop Congress and Republican majority in the Senate from opening the California coastline to increased oil extraction? The Bush Administration and the Republican majority in Congress have already proven how little power Californians have over the natural resources of the state. The federal mandate to log Giant Sequoias is just one example.
The world is not the place it used to be, and California is no longer the land of gold rushes and Donner parties. And just as United States outgrew mother England, so too is California out growing Uncle Sam. Over-Population is real. Water scarcity is real. Shrinking cropland, expanding freeways, and crashing ecosystems are real as well. Californians must face these issues alone because it will be Californians who will have to deal with their increasing impacts.
In no way do I mean to disrespect the people of Wyoming or any of the other thinly populated western states. Wyoming has enough problems of it's own. Problems I'm sure they don't want compounded by a tree hugging hippy senator from California.
Aware the federal government of these United States is busy playing the world domination game, it becomes more important to look closer to home answers. One answer is the Green concept of decentralization. Decentralization allows for state autonomy, something long overdue.
California governed by Californians for Californians. How's that for a true representative democracy? Politics and population, it's all in the numbers.