Carving Up The Golden State

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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35 Responses

  1. Kolohe says:

    Well, if breaking up is hard to do, and we’re all in this together – how about a merge with Nevada and Arizona? What’s so overidingly great about the status quo that it needs to be preserved?Report

  2. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Assuming a split did happen, wouldn’t water needs just become a question of one state paying a fee to another (if it was an issue at all)? I can’t imagine it would even be an issue unless the population near the water source expanded so much that downstream users were going dry.

    Water rights in the US boggle the mind at times.Report

    • That’s one plausible way it might get worked out. There are others. But there’s also nothing to stop the new states from simply refusing to do business with one another, and given that the leaders of these states would have orchestrated the split off from one another precisely because as co-citizens of California, they did not get along — and particularly not getting along because of water rights — it is also plausible to imagine a well-watered but financially impoverished State of Jefferson telling a wealthy but parched State of Los Angeles to kiss its northern ass.Report

  3. matt says:

    i support the slit Sacramento is massively corrupt and abuse to the people in the north, its time to give us our freedom to live as we choose not how you in the south feel we should liveReport

  4. Pinky says:

    Every state I’ve ever lived in has had some intrastate tensions or some credible historical or geographic argument for splitting. California is the only state I can think of that would ever actually pull the trigger, though. I dunno, I don’t live there, but the sentiment for a North/South split seems high. No state is ever going to split unless there’s a state-sized population in both parts (sorry, North Colorado). Texas is big enough, and has the option of doing it, but they seem too happy being Texas.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Pinky says:

      Oh, I should add a note about land mass. NY State might be very happy getting rid of NY City, and they’d both have a large population, but NYC just doesn’t have the square miles. I can’t give a rational explanation why, but the phsyical size matters. I think DC’s chance of statehood is also hampered by its geographical size.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Pinky says:

        Are Rhode Island and Delaware large enough, or just historical aberrations?

        If we were carving up unallocated territory on the east coast today, we probably wouldn’t bother to create Delaware at all, what with Maryland already existing.

        But I’m also pretty sure that even if Rhode Island were a part of Greater Massachusetts, Bostonians still would never go there.Report

  5. Will H. says:

    Alta California will never split from its lower section.
    Well, maybe not.Report

  6. aaron david says:

    As a NorCal resident I can attest to the sense of “who are those people down there” feeling. But I do think you are right, and not just from the water perspective. The only real solution I can see would be to take the large urban areas and make them semi-autonomous zones. This could work in other states such as NY and IL that have area’s that are fairly different from the rest of the state, with different solutions to major problems.Report

  7. Francis says:

    Since I’m never actually going to get around to writing guest posts on either the Colorado River, or the State Water Project, or the Central Valley Project I’m just going to put this link here and encourage people to recognize that certain marriages just cannot be sundered.Report

  8. Michael Cain says:

    Draper points out that more states would mean more Senators representing the area in Washington. That’s an advantage, I suppose. I’m not sure how significant an advantage it is.

    Seriously, if you’re going to play games for increased political power, this is the wrong game to play. Think bigger — an independent California, along with most of the rest of the American West. GDP would be fourth in the world, just ahead of Germany (per-capita GDP would be significantly better than Germany’s). The 11-state contiguous West is a net federal tax donor to the rest of the US. More local control of the federally-held public lands — note that the Western Governors Association has begun to discuss a regional air tanker fleet for fighting forest fires funded by the states, because it looks more and more like Congress is going to effectively defund that federal capability in the future. The “natural” dividing line is down the middle of the emptying Great Plains — the US portion of the Western Interconnect power grid would be an excellent starting point.

    It takes a long-term plan — for example, it’s important to convince the East that letting the West go is a good idea — but it’s as doable, I think, as splitting California in six.Report

  9. Michelle says:

    I think it’s more likely that California could become it’s own country than that it could be split into smaller state-lets. As a nation, it would be something like the sixth or seventh largest economy in the world, if I remember correctly. A sixth of the country’s population lives there.

    Don’t splinter, secede.Report

    • Michelle in reply to Michelle says:

      Oops! I see Michael had the same idea.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Michelle says:

      I’m sure the US govt. would let all that money, resources and coastline go without an armed struggle.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Glyph says:

        Since Western secession is my retirement hobby (and yes, I know how crazy that sounds)… One of the key things that has to be accomplished is to convince the East (or non-West, if you prefer) that they would be better off without having to govern the West. That’s a long-term project, but there are several trends that I think make it more feasible as time goes by. Think 25-50 years.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        If this is correct, 3 of the 5 busiest ports in the US are in CA.

        I just don’t see letting those go any time soon as realistic, barring cataclysmic changes that so weaken the central Federal govt. that they’d have to swallow it.

        And that’s to say nothing of the other resources. Given CA’s centrality to the software industry, the US govt would consider it a national security disaster to let CA go its own way.

        Sorry, never gonna happen. Not without war or supervolcano or comet strike or something.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Er, asteroid strike. Though a good-sized comet could be bad too, per Tunguska (IIRC they lean towards a comet as cause now).Report

      • Michelle in reply to Glyph says:

        I don’t really think California is going to secede, but it’s even more unlikely that California will be split up into smaller entities so that the Red parts of the state can escape all those ungodly liberals.

        Still, if you’re going to dream, dream big. California uber alles.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Glyph says:

        Draper’s proposal looks like the opposite to me: split off his California (“Silicon Valley”) from those hicks in the inland areas and those icky gauche Angelenos to the south. “Inland” to him is San Benito County.Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Glyph says:

        Let’s be honest. This was a proposal by an asshole tech millionaire (I’d say glibertarian, but to be fair, it’s entirely possible this guy didn’t give money to Ron Paul in the past) to make sure none of “his” money went to any poor Latino kids in Los Angeles, white redneck farmers in Bakersfield, or well, anybody in San Diego.

        Even conservatives who I read thought the counties being included in each “state” was silly.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

        Feel free to go to

        He donated to two people, one of the two people twice. Guess who they are!Report

      • trumwill in reply to Glyph says:

        If the western eleven did secede, you’d want to split California up several ways anyway.Report

      • trumwill in reply to Glyph says:

        Splitting up Californian would become more important in a WSA, I mean. Otherwise Cali would have waytoo much influence.Report