Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
Now, More Pleasing Odor!

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.

user:
pass:
register,


                                                     

Remap The States

Natural borders only, please. . .
  (+4, -15)(+4, -15)
(+4, -15)
  [vote for,
against]

States existing ENTIRELY as lines drawn on a topographical map (eg. Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, California. . .) should be eliminated in favor of states whose borders consist of permanent physical features. Rivers and lakes are an obvious example. Surface fault lines could work as borders as they can be set at some specific time and coordinated with GPS or NAVSAT data for later clarification if they move. This would be important for resolving legal issues involving land.

There could still be 'borders drawn on a map' where there are clear physical features establishing a definite 'halfway point' where the border could be set. These would be much rarer than is currently the case.

The lower 48 states would be divided into 48 topographic regions of more or less equal areas (within at least 5%). This would result in some states maybe losing a city or two, but never without either gaining land (and potential revenue from it) or population. Smaller states (eg. Rhode Island) would likely benefit more than larger states, but the end situation would better reflect the kind of democratic balance we tried to establish in the Congress with the bicameral system we have there.

There could also be more states as a result. The Upper Penninsula of Michigan is a natural candidate for statehood as is the Eastern Shore of Maryland. There are no doubt many other similar situations.

I'm not clear about whether Alaska would be divided into several states. There is no particular reason for it and there are no border states for Alaska to have issues with. Ditto the Hawaiian Islands.

There would be no change to the national borders with Canada or Mexico and the ever-present issue of statehood for Puerto Rico is not considered part of this plan.

Individual counties sometimes span major rivers, this would be resolved by creating new counties when the river is used as a state boundry.

Admittedly, there is no such scheme possible that doesn't leave someone feeling ripped off - but new borders does not change their right to move elsewhere. . .

A major benefit of the scheme is to more evenly distribute land such that smaller states with larger populations can expand their landowner tax base - ideally resulting in lower individual tax rates. I would add a five- or seven-year moratorium on new taxes and increases on existing taxes for the entire nation after the new borders took effect.

Moonguy, Jun 17 2008

Gertrude Bell http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Gertrude_Bell
apropos the conversation, if not the idea as stated [calum, Jun 18 2008]

I prefer this idea Flexible_20State_20Borders
[hippo, Jun 20 2008]

[link]






       This would have interesting implications if applied to Arabia.   

       Also, re. //the river is used as a state boundry//, some basic human geography for you: Rivers unite. Mountains divide.   

       If rivers were really the natural borders that they seem to be on maps, then the whole history of Europe (and probably other places) would have been a great deal more peaceful.
pertinax, Jun 17 2008
  

       Would France extend to the Rhine, or would Germany extend to the Seine?
Laughs Last, Jun 17 2008
  

       Napoleon thought the former. Not everyone agreed.
pertinax, Jun 17 2008
  

       Note that this is referenced to the American states, not borders between nations. Is entirely different context.   

       States cannot change their own borders - it takes an act of Congress to approve any changes to state borders and there have been very few significant changes as a result. Also, the national Supreme Court can arbitrate the disputes between states without resort to inter-state warfare.   

       Also, 'rivers unite mountains divide' sounds to be more about transporting around through a country then defining political boundries. States in the US would have the same open relationships they have now. Sure, they compete economically and in other ways, but there is rarely outright hostility.   

       Rivers in Europe did not either prevent or start wars - Europeans did. States in the US have never engaged in warfare to obtain territory. In fact, the overall record in the 232 years this country has existed has been remarkable for the relatively bloodless way states have resolved disputes - usually through the Supreme Court but sometimes through inter-state negotiations. I know of no equivalent period in European history - or even in the histories of individual European - where there has been no bloddletting conflicts. Not even the Pax Romana lasted that long or was as 'blood free'
Moonguy, Jun 17 2008
  

       // relatively bloodless way states have resolved disputes //   

       Save those disputes arising with the existing occupiers of the land (merely because it contained something the white population wanted, i.e. gold, grazing rights, buffalo), the resolution of which was often very far from "bloodless" ......
8th of 7, Jun 17 2008
  

       You are referring to the 19th century. I'm discussing the 21st. BTW, none of the Native American tribes that survived after 1850 could recall any period of time close to 200 years where they were at peace with neighboring tribes - in other words EACH OTHER - because they did not have 'Rule Of Law' between them.   

       There definitely was greed at work among whites against Native Americans, but that only strengthens the case for consistent rule of law. Just try and steal an acre of land from a Native American today; its a seven-year prison sentence at least.
Moonguy, Jun 17 2008
  

       > There is no particular reason for it   

       There is no particular reason for any of this.
tatterdemalion, Jun 17 2008
  

       [boysparks] Strictly speaking, it isn't. The smaller states will suffer grieviously in years to come as their populations expand but their property tax rates increase. Equalizing the land areas of states - and I acknowledged you wouldn't likely get EXACT equality - is a way the smaller states could reduce individual property tax rates. Topographic borders would not do this. I just figured, if you're making one change. . .
Moonguy, Jun 17 2008
  

       Many (but not all) of the current problems afflicting the continent of Africa can be traced directly to European settlers drawing arbitrary borders on the map without reference to the history and culture of the inhabitants; thus often a tribe, social grouping, or "people" will be either lumped together with another grouping to which they have a historical emnity, or end up split by a border. By and large this has not been a success.   

       It takes a very long time for any sort of integration to take place. Wales was administratively integrated with England in the 13th Century, yet there is still a distinct border, a seperate language, customs, and 'culture' (hem, hem). The antipathy between the English and Welsh along the border region - the Marches - has diminished little over time, memories of sheep-rustling and other such heinous crimes being handed down in familes in rural areas.   

       Left to themselves, humans will tend to organise into heterogenous tribal units, usually with the objective of getting the better of the next tribal unit along, be it a football team, a nation-state, or the People's Independant Democratic Socialist Republic of No. 23 Pembroke Avenue, who would like nothing better than to have a tactical nuclear exchange with the fascist regime of the National Free Democratic Republic of No. 25 Pembroke Avenue because his dog barks all evening and he hasn't returned the hedge clippers he borrowed.   

       Leave it alone, [Moonguy], leave it alone. We know you mean well, but it's just a highly effctive formula for having everyone hate you.
8th of 7, Jun 18 2008
  

       "sheep-rustling" - is that a euphemism?
hippo, Jun 18 2008
  

       [8th of 7]I'm not sure where the sheep-rustling aspect is involved with this discussion, but I'm not Welsh or British so I will leave that alone. . . One has to dilineate between the actions of individuals and groups of unchartered/unsanctioned individuals (aka mobs) from those of authorized political units such as provinces, counties or states. Our current world is too far along the communication efficiency curve to support the kind of insular cultures you suggest would develop. For better or worse, we are all influencing each other's cultures (and I include political and legal systems here) to a point where artificial borders are meaningless.   

       The value to the remapping proposal is that it corrects a historical mistake that will create excessive (taxes, lowered quality of living) burdens on too many people - and merely relocating all or most of those people only creates other, more numerous problems elsewhere. The concept of individual states within a federal union is still relevent because it gives people options for pursuing their lives as they want.   

       As for people hating me, my choices are: A) speak up and be hated, BUT COUNTED or B) say nothing and be disdained AND ignored. I'm just too egotistical to accept choice B. Sorry.
Moonguy, Jun 18 2008
  

       // Our current world is too far along the communication efficiency curve to support the kind of insular cultures you suggest would develop. //   

       You've never been to Wales, have you ? Boy, are you in for a shock ....   

       //borders are meaningless //   

       Are you referring to the ones on the ground (which can be moved) or the ones inside people's heads (which are rather more difficult) ?   

       Much many wish it otherwise, the Manson-Nixon line still means something to a lot of people, even after nearly 150 years and a great deal of bloodshed.
8th of 7, Jun 18 2008
  

       There's an interesting philosophical (if that's what I mean) conflict here between Moonguy's American Can-do fix-it spirit of improvement and 8th of 7's grizzled old weary Old Worlder.   

       And speaking as an Old Worlder, and in the interests of accuracy (or at least accuracy as it accords to my world-view), I would tend to water down //we are all influencing each other's cultures (and I include political and legal systems here) to a point where artificial borders are meaningless// by the deletion of everything from and including the first parenthesis.   

       Finally, on a point of housekeeping, I'd ask Moonguy to move this idea from the other: general category (where it doesn't belong) to, say, public: country: changing borders, where it does.
calum, Jun 18 2008
  

       //In fact, the overall record in the 232 years this country has existed has been remarkable for the relatively bloodless way states have resolved disputes - usually through the Supreme Court but sometimes through inter-state negotiations. I know of no equivalent period in European history - or even in the histories of individual European - where there has been no bloddletting conflicts.//   

       Wasn't there the small matter of the American Civil War, also known as the 'War Between the States'? 600,000 or so soldier deaths alone?
imaginality, Jun 18 2008
  

       The civil war is often referred to as the 'war between the states' but this is actually a misnomer. It was actually an attempted rebellion by several states against the Federal authority as expressed in the Constitution. Sometimes it is thought of as a very extreme case of 'states rights versus national authority'. Yes, it was horrendously bloody. But it is very much the exception, not the rule, for how trans-state issues are resolved.   

       And, no, I have never been to Wales. I'm very reluctant to go deep into issues inside other countries where I have no first-hand experience. FWIW, my heritage goes back to England, Scotland and Ireland with some Spanish and Souix Indian thrown in. To say the least we have lively political discussions during family reunions - assuming we can get everyone out of jail for them. . .
Moonguy, Jun 18 2008
  

       [calum] I have nothing to say about what category this or orther writings get put into. You might wantt to contact Jutta about that, though i'm not sure why it matters.
Moonguy, Jun 18 2008
  

       //But it is very much the exception, not the rule//   

       That is a pretty massive exception, to be sure.   

       //I'm very reluctant to go deep into issues inside other countries where I have no first-hand experience.//   

       Are you sure you're an American?
theleopard, Jun 19 2008
  

       //Just try and steal an acre of land from a Native American today; its a seven-year prison sentence at least.//   

       And you'd have to move the casino.   

       I'm from Texas, and I live in Oklahoma, so I'd really like my states to keep their unique shapes. Maybe Coloradoans or New Mexicans wouldn't mind so much having their borders changed.   

       Still, the idea is so half-baked I gotta bun it. It might actually be a better way of doing things if we'd started that way. So [+] for a nearly perfectly half-baked idea.
Noexit, Jun 19 2008
  

       If you think this idea is something (or not), just wait until you see what I have in store for the Moon. . .
Moonguy, Jun 19 2008
  

       I disagree with this idea.   

       I don't see the need for natural borders. I understand it is satisfying to know 'why' a border is drawn, and free range organic borders are more enjoyable then artificial ones, but that is a satisfaction apart from state governance.   

       The best part of states is not their separation of people from people using natural territory, but the competition they engender when like states compete for the same resources.   

       The entire idea of states, especially the American state, is ideological anyways, so the straight line is perfect.   

       It also allows mountain people to try out multiple states, instead of forcing mountain people to live in one state.   

       I believe interstate competition would be reduced by this idea. It would cause more like people to be grouped with like, it would increase stereotyping, and it would generally be divisive.   

       With that said, I would divide states equally by resource and population, along purely and obviously artifical grids. This would make each one have the potential for as much variation as possible.   

       In this scenario, Alaska would be split into multiple states, whereas the Midwest would glom together into one larger state, and Nevada would probably expand to the entire Sierra Basin, or even cut across northern California out to the sea.   

       State politics would be all jumbled up, established politicians would lose power and connections, and the common citizen would gain more say.   

       Since this would temporarily weaken state rights, at the same time federal powers would need to be restricted; for instance, banning the creation of new laws or regulations for ten years.
mylodon, Jun 20 2008
  

       mylodon: I think the word we're looking for is "gerrymandering".
Noexit, Jun 20 2008
  

       Not quite.
mylodon, Jun 20 2008
  

       Yeah, and what ever happened to "54-40 or fight"? I say it's about time to open the books and make good on an old threat long since forgotten.   

       <packs rucksack in preparation for mobilization to Canada>
MikeD, Jun 21 2008
  

       // packs rucksack //   

       Take plenty of mosquito repellant.....   

       Besides, why would the USA want to fight for BC when the Canadians would give Quebec away for free ....
8th of 7, Jun 21 2008
  
      
[annotate]
  


 

back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle