Op-Ed: Submitted by: James P. Harvey
July 10, 2010 by Joseph P. Schiaffino
(Note: How the mighty have fallen! Pennsylvania, the womb of secession, now cozies up to the DC criminals wantonly. The author makes some great points, and is at least thinking thoughts of true liberty. Some of his solutions for secession need a tune-up but one must start where one finds one’s self. Good work, Joseph.)
A majority of We the People appear to have finally reached the limits of our tolerance of the arrogance emanating from Washington and its elected servants of the People. Perpetual war, profligate spending, bailouts for irresponsible banks and Wall Street fat cats, the takeover of significant parts of our economy such as the auto and banking industries to name but two, and now the near certainty of a federal takeover of our health care system have pushed many of the People to the edge. How can the People fight back and reclaim their government? Let’s list possible options and then assess the prospects for success of each.
We can replace all elected officials; we can proclaim all unconstitutional statutes and mandates null and void in our particular state. We can amend the federal constitution, or we can secede from the union of united States and reclaim our sovereignty as an independent republic.
The first and theoretically easiest solution is to throw the bums out and replace them with new people who will then obey the constraints of the Constitution. The problem is that under our current electoral system which gives artificial entities that do not have the right to vote, like corporations, unlimited power to supply money to both major political parties; those entities exert inordinate power to influence elections. Those same political parties then lavish their money on candidates who will support the agenda of those corporate donors so as to guarantee the continued flow of money to the two major political parties.
We the People are decidedly not a part of the equation under the present system. Campaign finance reform will never go anywhere when the People must depend on the same elected officials who enjoy the benefits of incumbency and corporate money to change the system against their personal interests. That is like expecting pigs to fly. Until all corporate money is banned from elections and political parties, the People cannot rely on throwing the bums out as a viable solution to their dilemma.
A second solution would be to have the state legislature declare any offending federal statutes and/or mandates unconstitutional and refuse to enforce them. This has actually occurred where a number of states have refused to enforce the federal Real ID Act, to the point that the feds have basically given up on it at this point in time. However, as long as some kind of financial connection remains between the federal government and the states, the feds will always have the ability to play the money card and deny states their portion of federal revenues until the particular state complies with the federal wishes. That is called the crime of extortion.
For example, the feds threatened to withhold federal highway tax monies from any state that refused to adopt the federal legal limit of .08 percent for blood alcohol levels. Eventually every state complied. This solution wholly depends on how strongly the feds want to push a particular proposal. In the case of Real ID, not very much, but in the case of blood alcohol limits, very much; thus, this solution also leaves something to be desired.
A third option would be for the states to propose a constitutional amendment or several amendments to address the usurpation of state powers by the federal government. There are several grave risks which make this solution radioactive to the rights of the People. Article V of the federal Constitution provides for only two ways to amend the Constitution, 1) whenever two-thirds of the House shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to the Constitution, or 2) on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing amendments. All twenty seven amendments to the constitution have been proposed by the first method, the second has NEVER been attempted, although there was a strong movement for a constitutional convention by several states starting in the 1970’s.
Currently, they are one or two states shy of approval for a convention proposal. The history of our first and only constitutional convention presents a bold warning to the People of the dangers of calling for a constitutional convention. Like the first one, any subsequent convention will likely deteriorate into a coup-de-tat, scrapping the old constitution entirely and starting from scratch on a new one that the People will have no control over. That is too great a risk to take.
That leaves us our fourth and final option: secession.
That word strikes strong emotions in many Americans, and is considered taboo by many, if not impossible. However, it is an easily verifiable fact that the thirteen original countries, (yes countries), that ratified the original Constitution for the United States of America retained the right to reassume the limited powers they ceded to the federal government should that government pervert those powers. New York, Virginia, and Rhode Island explicitly stated so in their ratification documents.
First note that the Declaration of Independence referred to the colonies as “free and independent states” and that the Constitution contains no prohibition against secession, then consider that numerous times before 1860, states threatened secession from the union. For example, the Virginia and North Carolina legislatures discussed secession as early as the mid-1790s, in response to the undeclared war with France; substantial majorities in the New England states were strongly opposed to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, to the trade embargo of 1807-1809, and to the War of 1812 (from 1812 to 1815), so much so that Massachusetts and Connecticut took steps to begin the secession process by calling a Convention at Hartford in 1814. Also, in 1844 the Massachusetts legislature threatened to secede if Texas was admitted to the Union.
A well handled secession can lead to improved outcomes and manageable costs for both the seceding state and the remaining country, while a poorly handled secession can be highly costly for both. There are obviously costs and benefits to secession for Pennsylvania, but I propose the numerous benefits will far outweigh the few costs.
First and foremost, secession will provide an instant pay raise for all Pennsylvanians who previously paid federal income taxes. Most if not all federal excise taxes can be eliminated or reduced, with any revenues staying in Pennsylvania’s treasury. Social security and Medicaid/Medicare present a potential sticking point in that they could be used to extort Pennsylvania, but it should be noted that social security benefits are paid out to citizens living overseas, and to other qualified applicants. This can be an easily resolved sticking point in a well handled secession.
The one unquantifiable is Pennsylvania’s share of the national debt, which would have to be settled somehow. All offensive federal statutes and mandates, such as the proposed takeover of the health care system go away. No more intrusive and costly federal dictates in education, the economy, or the environment (i.e. Kyoto Treaty) will burden Pennsylvanians.
If Pennsylvania were an independent country, its diverse economy would rank as the 18th largest in the world. Lake Erie and the Delaware River give Pennsylvania access to navigable waters. Pennsylvania has the infrastructure to support its economy, although it is in need of upgrading.
For self-defense purposes, Pennsylvania can enter into a possible alliance with the United States or even Canada. There is no need to join the United Nations, which has historically worked against American interests and has a long record of corruption. There would be no entangling alliances or costly commitments to far flung places, saving Pennsylvanians’ lives and money.
While this article is not an exhaustive examination of the costs and benefits of secession, Pennsylvanians would be wise to consider the viability of this option and act accordingly. Time is a-wastin’.