Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Letter to the Editor

Republic of New England

Separation is in the air!  Scotland is on a peaceful path to independence.
The Parti Quebecois is ascendant again.  Consider the number of new
nations created from the dissolution of the USSR and Yugoslavia.  If the
U.S. government is unable or unwilling to obtain fiscal solvency, a breakup
may be necessary.

Various secession movements have already been put forth from crackpots
like me.  My proposal outlines an independent Republic of New England,
composed of the six states and perhaps the maritime provinces of Canada,
which might be orphaned by a free Quebec.  We will have a full-fledged
constitution, stating fiscal policy, defense, immigration, governance, foreign
relations, and education.

It will be a charming little country.  Come visit!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Constitutional Convention of the Republic of New England

Constitutional Convention of the Republic of New England

A congress shall be convened in the city of Boston to draft a document
of secession from the United States of America., and a constitution for
the Republic of New England.

The seceding entities shall be the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut,
Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Said states shall send delegates to the congress in the same number as
the total of senators and representatives each has to the congress of the U.S.A.

Ratification of the constitution shall be by each state legislature in the
manner each chooses.

Ratification by all six entities shall be necessary for establishment of
the Republic of New England.

Some of the issues to be considered in the document of secession may be:

Repudiation of the national debt incurred by the U.S.A.

Takeover of former federal facilities of the U.S.A.

Replacement of the income tax system with a flat tax.

Discontinuation of all income transfer systems.

Establishment of a modest defense force.

Minimal government activity by the Republic.

Limited central powers of all branches of government.

Maintenance of good relations with neighboring countries.

Full citizenship for anyone after five years of residence.

Parliamentary style of election and governance.

Fiscal Policy -- The Republic of New England

The Republic of New England is a small country.
We cannot afford income transfer schemes.
No social security checks, no welfare payments,
No earned income credit, no unemployment benefits.

We have no government health services,
No medicare, no medicaid, no direct payments.
You get sick; that's your problem.
You either save your money or buy insurance,

The Republic always balances the budget.
In good times, a significant amount is reserved
For payment of essential services in bad times.
We don't spend the income of future generations.

We have no national debt.
There are no government subsidies for anything.
We are New England Yankees, our motto is
Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

Defense Policy -- The Republic of New England

Live free or die, the motto of New Hampshire
Can be the motto of the Republic of New England.
But practical considerations limit our ability
To defend ourselves against any and all threats.

The republic cannot be armed with nuclear weapons
Nor would it be able to employ them in any fashion.
We cannot afford a tactical air force,
Nor see any utility in having one.

Our principal military service has to be a robust coast guard.
Hundreds of miles of shore line are our principal feature.
The sea is our avenue to the rest of the world.
We already have the Mass Maritime and Maine Maritime academies.
Perhaps we can negotiate the transfer of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

A standing army would be impossible to maintain.
A small component of marines would suffice
To provide a land complement to the coast guard.
A small air arm would be primarily engaged in search and
  rescue operations.

We might also consider emulating Switzerland and Israel
By requiring military training of all able young men and women;
Calling them to service when required
To repel invasion and conquest, if that is possible.
No doubt, the cost would be prohibitive.

We may have to believe, as Washington did,
In the protection of Divine Providence.

Immigration and Drug Policy -- The Republic of New England

The Republic of New England admits all immigrants freely;
Not as a matter of policy, but from practicality.
We have no means of policing our border, nor wish to do so.
Immigrants who commit crimes are deported.

Those who come here are strictly on their own,
To find work, to find shelter,
To pay for medical care, to pay for education.
There are no free schools in the republic.

New immigrants will most likely be assisted by their former countrymen,
And by private organizations, in getting started.
All who come here are entitled to vote, without conditions.
Local jurisdictions will determine how to control elections.

There are no proscribed substances in the Republic of New England.
Alcohol, tobacco, and drugs may be used freely.
No medical or therapeutic care exists for substance abusers.
Or for those who lead a patently unhealthy life.

The Republic of New England is a welcoming country,
Not a controlling country, not a welfare state.
We encourage immigrants to succeed and prosper.
We only require that they behave properly in doing so.

Governance -- The Republic of New England

The Republic of New England will borrow the best of the parliamentary system
From those countries who have enjoyed it the longest.
England, the mother of parliaments, is the foremost example to consider.
The majority party leader becomes the head of government.

The sovereign, the head of state, provides stability to the system
In the change of governments, calling upon the prime minister to form a cabinet.
In Canada and many other countries, provinces are largely self-sufficient,
Thus reducing the temptation for the central government to micromanage.

Israel is a victim of proportional representation
That gives splinter parties a disproportionate role.
A plus in Israel governance is the fluid movement
Of experienced politicians to cabinet posts, regardless of party.

Switzerland functions without a strong central executive.
In France and Russia, the president and the premier jockey for power.
The United States of America gives the president unlimited authority in war,
But keeps a tight grip on the purse strings in Congress.

Our republic shall have a citizen legislature like New Hampshire.
A figurehead president will be the ceremonial head of state,
Who, like England's sovereign, calls upon an elected leader
From the majority party to form a cabinet.

Trade and Foreign Relations -- The Republic of New England

The Republic of New England is too old for foreign affairs.
We only have foreign relations,
Which should be friendly, long-lasting, and free of confrontation.
We don't want any other nation to be mad at us.

We are not concerned about the possibility of invasion and conquest.
Our only natural resources are tall trees for ship masts,
And there isn't much demand for them anymore.
We do have a vast supply of brainpower, though.

Beginning with the colleges on the Charles River,
Our higher education spawns technological innovation
To rival Silicon Valley and Israel.
Manufacturing of anything but high tech gear left us a long time ago.

Tourism is good, from the mountains to the sea, although
New England does have some of the worst drivers
And the most dilapidated road systems you could imagine.
Plus road signs deliberately designed to confuse visitors.

Our only real worry is the infiltration of ideologies
Which demand control over our lives and persons.
The traditional New England character is flinty individualism.
Now somewhat attenuated by loopy New Age spiritualism.

But the weather does build character, particularly
If you never had any character and did not know you needed it.
We have a glorious spring; last year it was on a Tuesday.
Fall is our season; that's when we get things done.  Come visit.

Education -- The Republic of New England

The Republic of New England shall have no public schools,
Supported by taxes and free to all.
Instead, religious and civic organizations may establish schools
To which parents pay tuition, perhaps on a sliding scale.

This system worked well for parochial schools,
And could be replicated on a larger scale.
Charter schools exemplify achievment at the elementary level.
Education is a privilege, not a right.

Advanced education will be apprentice programs for careers,
In institutions sponsored by the industries who need their graduates.
Literature and arts will depend upon the public and eleemosynary organizations
To support those who pursue aesthetic disciplines.

There is no place in the Republic of New England
For those who do not seek to better themselves
In the pursuit of knowledge and its application to the common good.
No occupation is less worthy than any other.

Canadian Reconnaissance

You may recall that the constitutional convention
For the Republic of New England in October, 2010
Was cancelled in light of the promises for
Restoration of fiscal sanity in the forthcoming U. S. election.

The election did indeed inspire some hope that
The ship of state might begin to steer a straight course.
Since then, the House of Representatives in Congress
Has committed to a goal of balancing the budget.

Still, the proponents of possible secession
Keep a wary eye on current developments in Washington.
We wish to remain ready to spring into action
Should newly inspired efforts at economizing fail.

Some time ago, we exchanged ideas with a
Separatist movement in the maritime provinces of Canada.
Without getting into details, we floated the notion
Of linking them with the nascent Republic of New England.

Earlier this year, we received an invitation to
Visit, meet, and discuss our mutual purposes.
We booked passage on a cruise to explore
Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec.

We were interested in Quebec primarily to get some feel
For the state of the the long-standing separatist movement there.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Irene blew us out to sea
So we never did get to touch down in Nova Scotia.

Prince Edward Island is a gem, much similar to Cape Cod.
Its residents seem to be proud citizens of Canada,
Grateful for subsidies from the federal government
And proud to be the cradle of the Canadian Confederation.

An additional stop in Saguenay gave us the opportunity
To see Canadian industry at work, which illustrates
The relative prosperity of the country, in its unapologetic
Exploitation of vast natural resources.

Quebec City lives off its charms for the tourists.
We saw the field where France lost Canada to the British,
And the old town where Benedict Arnold almost claimed it
For the new country not yet named the United States.

Montreal is a thoroughly Americanized city
In all respects except the language and the cuisine.
We learned that the buoyant state of the Canadian economy
Has eradicated any thought of instituting Quebec Libre.

So the prospects for annexing the maritime provinces
Are not attactive at this point in our mutual history.
Well, maybe excepting New Brunswick, which
Would simply be a geographical extension of Maine.

Republic of New England report

The shadow cabinet of The Republic of New England
Met recently to discuss their current concerns,
Which I am obliged to report
As their faithful scribe.

The ascendancy of Parti Quebecois
In our neighbor to the north, raises once more
The spector of a referendum in the province
Leading to a vote for independence.

That would give separation anxiety
To Canada as a whole, some of whose citizens
Take the attitude,  "Let the bastards go,"
Most deplore breakup of the confederation.

A further complication in Canada is envy of
The western provinces and their wealth of
Oil and gas resources, leading to a healthy
Economic outlook, as in the Dakotas.

Thus, the idea of inclusion in our nascent republic
Has again attracted the maritime provinces.
New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are in.
Nova Scotia is conflicted; Newfoundland is out.

In Nova Scotia, some of the descendants of
The loyalists who fled New England
Favor rejoining the British Commonwealth,
Whereas Cape Breton looks to a free Scotland.

Needless to say, no one wants Newfoundland
Unless oil is found offshore or some other miracle.
P.E.I. wants to keep its monopoly on providing
All the frozen french fries to Canada.

We are more worried about the U.S. national debt
Than the outcome of the election in the excited states.
But we figure that if we secede and then become a
Conquered dependency, we will not be taxed by the U.S.A.


In response to questions, yes, the Republic of New England
is a spoof, but with serious overtones.  Certainly, the fiscal
adventures in Washington are insane.  We may be playing
with Monopoly money soon.  In Italy, a gelato grande costs
three euros, which doesn't seem too bad until you convert it
to USD.

Where are we going in Afghanistan?  I bow to the military
strategists for a proper estimate of the situation, but in
management speak (my academic field), it seems like a clear
case of:  "Having lost sight of our objectives; we redoubled
our efforts!"

Did you know that the subprime mortgage crisis began with
Massachusetts' own representative, Barney Frank, who
insisted that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae guarantee the home
mortgage of anyone who wanted one, regardless of ability to
pay.  Beware, he's up to more mischief.

Or that the real reason for our involvement in the Middle East
is the refusal of East and West Coast congressmen and senators
to allow offshore drilling along their shores.  We could be
nearly self-sufficient in oil from North America resources, if it
were permitted.  Alaska is different.  They want to drill more;
congress won't let them.

So there is merit in wistful thinking about a nice little country
like Slovenia, mostly unknown and under the radar.  New
England almost seceded after suffering an economic collapse
from Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807.  Repeal in 1809 headed
off the movement.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Saved! At Last

The Wall Street Journal is far more even-handed than one might expect from a supposedly 
right-wing rag.  The editors are perfectly willing to print op-ed contributions in which the 
authors are permitted to make definitive statements and recommendations..  Next to the 
piece below was inserted a photo of apparent rubble from:  "An American school adjacent 
to the U.S.Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, on Sept. 15.  Protesters burned the school the day before."

The article is itself entitled, "A New Course for the Middle East."  The (presumed) author
devoted 14 column inches to trashing the policies of the present administration.  Fair 
enough; that's a good lead-in.  Then in 3 column inches the new course is delineated:

"In this period of uncertainty, we need to apply a coherent strategy of supporting our partners
in the Middle East—that is, both governments and individuals who share our values.

This means restoring our credibility with Iran. When we say an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability
—and the regional instability that comes with it—is unacceptable, the ayatollahs must be made
to believe us.

It means placing no daylight between the United States and Israel. And it means using the full
spectrum of our soft power to encourage liberty and opportunity for those who have for too long
known only corruption and oppression. The dignity of work and the ability to steer the course of
their lives are the best alternatives to extremism."

There you have it.  We are saved!  It seems to me, though, that previous presidents might have
been more explicit, e.g., Jackson, Lincoln, TR, FDR, Reagan, both Bushes,  and even Bill Clinton 
in approving the bombing of Serbia.  There was only one Republican candidate willing to run who was 
certainly more definitive, and he got carpet-bombed out of the race.