The Disunited States of America

Oct 15

My assigned term paper topic in Managing in a Global Economy was The Disunited States of America. The question posed was whether or not it could happen. I explored this from economic and ideological perspectives, drawing on the American Revolution and the Civil War as historical precedents. In both cases, economic pressure was the primary driver in favor of secession. Ideological division exacerbated existing economic tension. My conclusion from the paper is that it’s unlikely to happen, at least sometime soon. Secession in the United States is possible, but very improbable. Arguments that the government has failed in its constitutional duties and secession is the most logical course fail to capture the most likely outcome: increased economic hardship and decreased opportunity in a shrinking global economy. The economic costs and risk of global fallout is so high that a rift is unlikely to occur until conditions domestically deteriorate to a point that a significant proportion of the population believes there is no possible way to reform the existing government. Historically two very strong precedents for secession include the American Revolution and the Civil War. In both cases, economic duress was the dominant driver leading up to the conflict that brought secession. Secondary ideological divisions, of liberty in the revolutionary conflict and slavery leading up to the Civil War, compounded economic pressure, but were not sufficient on their own to lead to secession. Here’s a prezi I created to present my term paper to my class, followed by the actual term paper. Download The Disunited States of America Here’s the handout I used along with the presentation. It’s a short quiz on economic aspects of the constitution. I’ll put the answers in as a comment after the presentation. Download the...

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The Dis-United States of America – Motivation

Sep 09

In a previous article grounds were established on which an individual or state might desire to secede from the union. In that article, the basis for secession is disagreement about the character of the Constitution or an ideological shift away from its relevance given contemporary circumstances. What that article didn’t explore in detail are the differences that are likely to be sufficient to motivate secession. In other words, what differences could be so acute that they would drive a group of people to the point that they would want to sever ties with their mother country? We find a clue to that division in the wording of the Declaration of Independence, which identifies certain “unalienable Rights”, among which are “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. When men feel that their ability to provide for themselves and their kindred and to live according to their conscience is in jeopardy, they are much more likely to resort to extreme measures. We see this clearly in two major conflicts in American history. First is the Revolutionary War, which was a successful secession from British authority. The second, the American Civil War, was an unsuccessful attempt to secede from the Union. The drivers in both of these conflicts were economic and ideological. It may be the case that religious and ethnic tensions played a part in both conflicts mentioned, but a careful historical review provides much more evidence pointing to economics primarily, and ideology secondarily, as the major drivers behind each war. The American Revolution In his later years, John Adam’s sent a letter to Mr. Hezekiah Niles, which letter later took on the title “What is mean by American Revolution”. In this letter he asks the question “what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American War? The Revolution was effected before the War commenced.” He goes on to argue that it is in the interest of humanity to understand how the revolution in the hearts and minds of the people was brought about: “By what means this great and important alteration in the religious, moral, political, and social character of the people of thirteen colonies, all distinct, unconnected, and independent of each other, was begun, pursued,...

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The Dis-United States of America – Secession

Sep 03

It’s not uncommon that people’s views change over time, even with respect to promises they’ve made. Every day our courts of law are full of parties to contracts who haven’t satisfied the terms they agreed to fulfill. There are many arguments used to justify this breach of contract. Some of these arguments include fairness, changes in circumstances, non-conformance by the other party and even something as simple as a change of opinion. Regardless of the reason, a contract is a contract and a breach is a breach, or so say the courts of law. From an objective position it may be tempting to argue that many of these breaches are trivial, and that the contracts themselves are trivial to begin with. That doesn’t change the fact that a contract can be deeply personal and significant to the parties who originally entered into it. It’s also important to recognize that the courts are also busy from morning until night dealing with breaches of implicit contracts. These negligent claims stem from socially perceived “duties to care” which are generally accepted. This largely comes from common law. When it comes to the Constitution of the United States, a contract established and entered into by all citizens of this country, and which directs the affairs of the people, the government and the several states, is it possible to undo the contract and the obligations associated with it? Can an individual or a state argue against further need to comply with the terms imposed by the Constitution? From this standpoint it’s possible to examine the circumstances under which arguments might be made in favor of secession. A Platform for Secession Reference has already been made to some of the reasons that parties to a contract justify non-conformance, such as fairness, change in circumstance, breach by the other party, change of opinion, disagreement about the intention or meaning of the wording, ambiguity with respect to the terms, etc. It may be true that much of this confusion and disagreement could be avoided with increased clarity in the original contract. It is precisely that premise that has motivated lawyers to create contracts that are many pages long, spanning hundreds of pages in some cases. Despite these...

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