Sunday, February 16, 2014

Study Finds Silicon Valley’s 6-Way California Split Is Doable

In December, when the Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tim Draper suggested splitting California into six separate states, it seemed like a pie-in-the-sky side show to the more serious movement gaining steam in the state’s far north, to create a separate State of Jefferson.  But Draper’s “Six Californias” idea has just got a sort of thumbs-up—from Sacramento, no less.  A 16-page report drafted for the California legislature concludes that splitting the Golden State into pieces is “clearly legal and doable.”

This would probably not be the flag of the State of Silicon Valley,
but it’s a nice try.
Draper may be best known to the general public as Principal Schmoke on the teen situation comedy The Naked Brothers Band, but in tech circles he is heir to a high-profile venture-capital dynasty.  Silicon Valley’s discontent with California’s corporate regulations and its redistribution of tax revenue from the wealthiest areas to the poorer, more remote ones has been discussed in this blog recently—notably with the San Francisco genetics entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan planning the Valley’s “ultimate exit” from the state by some means or other, as well as organizations like the Seasteading Institute which want to set up floating free-market cities off the California coast outside United States jurisdiction.  But Draper’s solution is more old-fashioned, following a state-secession trend going back to Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, who sliced a new state, Vermont, out of New York’s western flank in the colonial period.

Creating new states through secession has occasionally worked in the past.
Draper’s “Six Californias” plan includes a State of Silicon Valley, which would include the San Francisco Bay area and points south; a State of North California running in a thick band from Napa Valley to Lake Tahoe; a State of Jefferson composed of the state’s 14 northernmost counties; a primarily agricultural State of Central California centered on Fresno; a State of West California, stretching from San Luis Obispo to Long Beach, including liberal Los Angeles; and a State of South California composed of some of the inland, conservative, desert states that a Riverside County politician (as reported in this blog) is already trying to form, with a coastal toehold at San Diego and the Republican Party stronghold of Orange County.

A sketch by Draper shows which counties would be in which of six new states:
Jefferson (top), North California (just below it), Silicon Valley, Central California (the largest),
West California (including L.A.), and, at the bottom, South California.
The current state of California, the most populous in the U.S. and the most diverse in terms of ethnicity, landscape, and local economy, is, according to Draper, “ungovernable.”  There is already a movement to gather the necessary 1 million signatures which will put the proposal on the ballot in November.  The report, which was prepared by a legislative expert, Mac Taylor, and a financial specialist, Michael Cohen, notes that the states of Silicon Valley and North California would each have a higher per capita income than California’s current $46,477.  In fact, Silicon Valley would surpass Connecticut and become the state with the highest average income.

Tim Draper—guru of the state-partition movement
Draper says the highest interest in the “Six Californias” proposal is in the areas that would be Central California and the State of Jefferson.  The problem is that which counties want to be in Jefferson (listed in this blog as one of “10 Separatist Movements to Watch in 2014”) is being sorted out right now at the grass-roots level, without waiting for a top-down partition by any city-slicker millionaire technocrat.  To date, the boards of supervisors in Siskiyou and Modoc counties have voted in favor of secession, and Siskiyou and Tehama will put the question before voters in June.  Other counties are considering it, and in Siskiyou there is even going to be an alternate ballot initiative to create a sort of sovereign “Republic of Jefferson” within Siskiyou County’s territory.

But ultimately, the problem is that Draper is approaching the alleged problem of California’s ungovernability like a businessman, not a politician, and it will be politics that will decide, all on its own, whether to partition the state.  Just for the sake of argument, even if the U.S. Congress did agree to a subdivision of California that, let’s say, maintained the same balance between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, that still doesn’t tell us why California Democrats, who already control the largest state in the U.S., would settle for a smaller place to run.

Related articles from this blog:
“Glenn County Becomes 4th California Jurisdiction to Opt to Join ‘State of Jefferson’” (Jan. 2014)
“Northern Californian Voters Torn between ‘State’ or ‘Republic’ of Jefferson” (Jan. 2014)
“10 Separatist Movements to Watch in 2014” (Dec. 2013)
“State of Jefferson Idea Won’t Go Away: Activists across Northern California Push for Statehood” (Nov. 2013)
“Silicon Valley Technocrats Plan to Flee U.S. for Libertarian Floating Cities” (Nov. 2013)
“Modoc County Joins Siskiyou in Seeking to Split from California as State of Jefferson” (Sept. 2013)
“Other California & Oregon Counties May Be Jumping on ‘State of Jefferson’ Bandwagon” (Sept. 2013)
“Siskiyou County, California, Takes the Plunge, Votes to Secede as Kernel of New ‘State of Jefferson’” (Sept. 2013)
“Colorado’s Secession Wildfire Spreads to Northern California: Siskiyouans Raise “State of Jefferson” Flag” (Aug. 2013)
“Let a Thousand Secession Petitions Bloom: The U.S. Balkanized, but Perhaps Only on the White House Website, Nowhere Else—but Most Importantly: What Does All This Have to Do with Topless Car Washes and the State of Jefferson?” (Nov. 2012)
“‘South California’ Statehood Movement Reignites in Election Year” (Sept. 2012)

[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  The book is now in the layout phase and should be on shelves, and available on Amazon, by early fall 2014.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook.]

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