California

#Calexit? Great Idea! Secession Means More Smuggling Opportunities

There's money to be made by transporting banned goods across borders.

|

Amidst post-election secession talk fueled by disappointment with the results, the Christian Science Monitor's Washington Editor, Peter Grier, objected, "[F]or all practical purposes the Civil War did settle this question." At U.S. News & World Report, Managing Editor for Opinion, Robert Schlesinger, fulminated, "Secession is a deeply un-American principle. It is a principle that posed the greatest existential threat to the United States of America and was vanquished by our greatest president."

Oh, wait. That was after the 2012 election when residents of Texas and other, mostly conservative states, threatened to secede.

You hear less sniffy chiding now that the state considering withdrawing from the union is California (and Oregon, sort-of, though that state's separatists quickly dropped their effort). Some Silicon Valley heavy-hitters including venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar and tech startup guy Marc Hemeon have pledged funding and support for the California independence movement—the latest movement that is since California, like Texas, split in the past from Mexico and Spain.

Whatever the final outcome of efforts by any state to go its own way, and no matter what snarky responses to the same, there's little doubt that there's enormous benefit to be had from secession–by smugglers. And there is nothing more American than smuggling. "Both limits on trade and the defiance of those limits are intimately tied up with America's concept of itself and Americans' understanding of patriotism," I wrote last year in a review of a book about that long and storied history.

Secession means new borders, and borders represent the limits of authority for rival governments enforcing different laws. What's legal in terms of goods and services on one side of a line on the map may be illegal on the other. That's an opportunity for entrepreneurs who connect the frustrated customers on one side with suppliers across it. If California splits over its political differences with much of the rest of the country, it's almost certain to exaggerate the already existing legal conflicts with its neighbors.

It's impossible to document all of the smuggling potential in a jurisdiction that long ago traded a laid-back attitude for finger-wagging, but guns are an obvious entry on the list of goods restricted by law in California but desired by many residents. "Assault weapons"—basically, scary-looking semiautomatic rifles—are strictly regulated in the state. Only bureaucrat-approved handguns are available for legal sale. Magazines holding more than 10 rounds are banned. A California government unrestrained by the federal Second Amendment could be expected to take its restrictive urges even further.

Despite (or because of) the tight laws, demand for the firearms residents are still allowed to own has been rising. "Gun transactions have been growing in recent years, increasing 2.5 times between 2007 and 2013," California's Department of Justice reveals. "In 2016 more than 1 million guns are expected to be sold in California."

That's a lot of market waiting to be satisfied by creative operators in the import/export trade who nurse a healthy disrespect for border controls and prohibitive laws alike.

California is also a tad restrictive when it comes to what you put on your plate. Over a decade ago, food nannies pushed through a measure to ban the sale of foie gras in the state—apparently because it's mean to force-feed birds instead of letting them nibble of their own accord before chopping their heads off and searing, roasting, or broiling their delicious body parts. That law was set aside by a judge—a federal judge—last year. No doubt an independent California would reassert its right to tell people what they can and can't eat.

And the Californians who gleefully defied that ban when it was in force will likely go back to their scofflaw ways. That means plenty of demand to be satisfied by midnight delivery of forbidden delicacies.

Oddly enough, water might be a product with smuggling potential to markets in the California Republic. Yes, California has ocean views and a thriving agricultural industry. But it also has a deep thirst for the wet stuff largely satisfied by a priority claim on Colorado River water. Arizona has never been satisfied with the arrangement; Sen. John McCain called for renegotiating the deal in 2008 and Governor Moeur actually called out the National Guard in 1934 to challenge California diversion of river water.

An independent California might find that Arizona and other up-river states considered the Colorado River Compact to be null and void. Things might get a little parched on the other side of the new international line unless smugglers stepped in to meet demand. Yes, water is bulky and a few jugs in the trunk aren't going to do the job. But we're talking about smuggling to Californians—illicit dealers could probably peddle the stuff to them in dehydrated form.

That's not to say that Californians would have nothing to send back across the border. Voters just legalized marijuana for recreational sale and use in the state, while a similar measure just fell short across the border in Arizona. Californians would have an opportunity to smuggle good weed to the disappointed 48 percent of voters who favored legalization and can't get their supply on the medical market. Californians will have to compete for market share with dealers from Colorado and Nevada, though.

Despite much hand-wringing over access to birth control under President-Elect Trump, the incoming chief executive of the old United States actually wants to drop prescription requirements for oral contraceptives so that people can just buy the pills over the counter without asking permission. This should surprise exactly nobody given that the man has apparently lived his adult life in a way that would necessitate bulk purchases of birth control products. But Trump has made some militant noises about restricting access to abortion and appointing Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade.

Depending on how far future U.S. law deviates from the pro-choice culture of California, that potentially creates a market for morning-after pills and the like smuggled from the West Coast. Similar underground markets have already popped up in Latin America and even Texas.

And with the hostility toward privacy and encryption displayed by the old and new U.S. administrations alike, those Silicon Valley backers of California independence might well find a ready—if illicit–market across the new border for products designed to thwart surveillance. It would be the easiest sort of product to "smuggle" too, available through the click of a mouse and a disguised transfer of funds.

Just don't get caught.

"I think he's a terrible traitor," Trump has said of domestic surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden. "And you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong country, you know what we used to do to traitors, right?"

But California-based encryption smugglers would be well-advised to keep a close eye on their home-grown snoops—the Los Angeles Police Department, in particular, "Los Angeles and Southern California police…are expanding their use of surveillance technology such as intelligent video analytics, digital biometric identification and military-pedigree software for analyzing and predicting crime," the LA Weekly warned two years ago.

Maybe they should base those encryption servers on another continent entirely.

Once borders start proliferating, though, why would it stop there? Is nearly solid-blue New England going to be content to remain in the United States once California's liberal-leaning congressional delegation and 55 electoral votes go bye-bye? That may well be the impetus to hold a new Hartford Convention and consider northeastern states' own exit from the union.

And, as Mel Gibson's character notes in Edge of Darkness, "everything is illegal in Massachusetts."

A Bay State finally freed to be itself will almost inevitably be a bonanza of opportunity for people willing to provide goods and services upon which local officials frown. OK, even more of a bonanza, given the existing black markets for cigarettes, guns, and other goods that make Massachusetts politicians sad.

Will Texas want to miss out on the secessionist fun? Sure, the state would be a political powerhouse in the absence of California, especially if New England follows. But if the country is coming apart already, an always independence-minded state might not want to be left to turn out the lights.

A Texas free to enforce its preferred restrictions against abortion without interruption by the federal courts is highly likely to fuel the market for morning-after pills.

And while the legislature has considered marijuana legalization, the law has yet to change. The Lone Star State remains a profitable target for pot entrepreneurs willing to shrug at local prohibitions.

And who knows where it goes from there? Reuters conducted a for-the-hell-of-it survey in 2014 and found that one in four Americans want their state to secede from the U.S.

Will #Calexit happen? Maybe. More likely it's just the latest political temper tantrum in a country grown so centralized that every election becomes a high-stakes contest between factions with incompatible preferences. Nobody feels like they can afford to lose—and half the country always does. So far, that's meant protests, lots of bad feeling, and empty threats to redraw the border.

But, however unlikely an actual break is, it's silly to call secession "un-American" in a country that was born by breaking away from Britain. It could happen again—and that means opportunity. Because there's nothing contrary to the national ethos in bypassing authorities to take goods across borders old and new—and making a few bucks in the process.

NEXT: Does Trump's Commitment to NATO Preclude Rethinking Relationships?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. If This Sound Good For You & Interested
      Watch Now….!!!Streaming Online HD Movie :
      ? ? ? http://bit.ly/2gkrFfx ? ? ?
      Happy & Enjoy to Watch For Free
      Or Visit first for check : https://www.facebook.com/movierolls/

  1. “don’t get caught”
    Well, based on the last campaign, you can get caught without consequences as long as you have bribed the right people. Everywhere smuggling is successful and profitable, it is due to corruption of border officials. (or in the case of humans and the US borders, the border officials top boss)
    I will support the secession of CA as long as we can deport all US illegals to there; a win-win if there ever was one.

    1. Everywhere smuggling is successful and profitable, it is due to corruption of border officials.

      If that’s true, then there are always corrupt border officials (which seems about right). There is no border anywhere where smuggling doesn’t happen.

    2. Plus think of all the jobs when Trump has to build an even longer wall.

  2. 2Chilly is the agorist we would all do well to emulate.

    1. Indeed. I miss seeing more of his writing. Nice to see someone who really gets it and is an entertaining and clever writer.

      1. Yep.

      2. Indeed. I miss seeing more of his writing. Nice to see someone who really gets it and is an entertaining and clever writer.

        Hey we still have Robby! eh??? ehhhhhh?????

  3. Never. Gonna. Happen.

    That would eliminate the possibility of a fedgov bailout for the state, wouldn’t it? If you want out of the house you have to get off of the teat.

    1. With a bit of lazy accounting tricks and credulous press, they can make themselves look a lot healthier than they are.
      Then they don’t need no stinkin’ federales.

      1. reality plays the long game, and always wins in the end. They could pretend for a while, then it’s the greek scenario minus the german bankers.

      2. And when they do secede, they can print their own money.

        Not that I think it’s actually going to happen.

    2. That’s a great point. With such a massive pension shortfall they should be careful what they wish for. If Uncle Sam figures out what the net take from Cali is going to be over the next 40 years, he might just want to kick her to the curb anyway.

      Before long they’ll be looking at doubling their tax take just to handle unfunded pension payouts, unless something changes.

      They might have been the golden child for over 30 years, but there’s a really good chance that they’ll be the next rust belt the way they are going. Except instead of corporate union pension problems, it will be public employee’s unions, which is much more intractable and pervasive.

    3. California is a net taxpayer, people.

  4. “Some residents in California say they want the state to secede over the election of Donald Trump. ”

    Just when you thought Trump’s win couldn’t get any better.

  5. 46% of California’s land is owned by the federal government.

    http://time.com/4167983/federa…..nd-oregon/

    If California leaves, what happens to all that land?

    1. It stays where it is until the next earthquake.

    2. Maybe they could make money by charging the US federal government property taxes.

    3. US govt should exchange non-military assets in Cali for Chinese debt holdings to cover Cali’s share of national debt.

      US debt reduced and gets rid of Cali, China receives value for dubious debt securities, Cali gets commie administration at last. It’s win/win/win.

    4. It becomes state land. And then is converted to a state ‘refuge’ where you, the unwashed masses, are not allowed to go or build upon lest ye despoil this pristine nature.

      Or cut a large enough check to the right campaign fund from your development corporation.

    5. Maybe the feds could offer to sell it to them for a “fair price”.

  6. I, for one, wholly support California seceding. Those arrogant, self-righteous asshats don’t even realize they are the laughing stock of the rest of the country (fiscally at least). And they think their brand of politics and economics are superior to the rest of the country. Please let them go. I want to see them go bankrupt so fast, Greece even laughs at them. In all seriousness, if Cali did secede and fail, which they invariably will, the rest of the country may wake up to Democratic economic fallacies. Wish thinking I know, but it is the season for wishes to come true.

    Side note: I would have given Texas at least a 50% chance of survival. Cali, maybe 5%.

    1. California would have the world’s sixth largest economy. The taxes would be steep no doubt, but maybe bearable if they didn’t build up too big of an army and navy.

      1. Without water from the Colorado River, I’m guessing that economy would get a bit smaller.

  7. Secession means new borders, and borders represent the limits of authority for rival governments enforcing different laws.

    “We’ll build a ‘uuuge wall!”

    1. We have one – the Sierra Nevadas. We just need to push the border to the ridge line and guard the passes.

  8. Smugglers rust the burly ferric pillars of dictatorship lurching decisively against the organic annals of evolution.

  9. “Secession is a deeply un-American principle. It is a principle that posed the greatest existential threat to the United States of America and was vanquished by our greatest president.”

    That’s odd. I thought secession in the face of oppression was the bedrock notion upon which this nation was built. But what do I know?

    1. This nation we’re in now (or it’s government structure) was built after the Civil War.

      Though there is nothing to stop them starting an armed rebellion, like the original states.

    2. It is why kids are coerced to pledge indivisibility to their flag.

      However, secession is what 1776 was all about: “it is the right of the people to alter or abolish”
      government they find unworthy.

    3. Clearly the country was built on the oppression part, not the opposition part. Other founding principles include the burning of civilian cities which defy you and nuking them if necessary.

      I rather doubt there would be the political will today to do what it takes to stop a state that was really determined to leave. However there wouldn’t be much will on the state’s part to upset the apple cart either probably.

  10. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

    Seriously though, I think this would be great. Let the progs have whatever government they want, and the bill for it too.

  11. If California leaves, can we have proper paints and solvents in our big-box home improvement stores again? And treated lumber that doesn’t dissolve after 5 year of ground contact?

    1. And toilets that actually flush

      1. And light bulbs that actually light.

  12. Adios Amigos. Frankly I’m sick of California, the complete and utter disregard of the constitution in that cesspool of progressivism is disgusting. I would celebrate being rid of LA, San Fran and the rest of those abhorrent cities on the coast.
    I would feel bad for the rural counties in Cali who despise the state government, that would suck to live under a new unbridled and unhinged socialist government that an independent California assuredly would become.

    1. If California secedes, how would they stop the rural counties from seceding from Californistan?

      1. They would of course, like all totalitarian regimes, enact a brutal crackdown on all “enemies of the state”

        1. Depending on how the secession was carried out, residents of Cali might be allowed to choose whether to have Cali or US citizenship. In that case, I would expect that red residents to prefer to remain American. Widespread abuse of US citizens by Cali would be all the excuse the US needed to invade and conquer the state and annihilate its leftist leadership.

          1. Awesome! Washington can have adventuresome nation building without ever leaving N America.

            1. American can go to war with someone they can locate on a map. Mostly.

        2. I don’t doubt that they would try, but I’m not sure they would like how it turns out. LA might find itself a little less livable without food and water.

      2. Something about “wreckers and kulaks.” You’re not a real Communist dictatorship until your first purge.

    2. that would suck to live under a new unbridled and unhinged socialist government that an independent California assuredly would become.

      Only for a time. Without the rest of the country subsidizing them they’d be forced by reality to adopt market reforms. It’s why smaller states tend to be more amenable to trade liberalization, they have very few other choices.

  13. I can’t see California seceding, simply because that would take a large bloc of Democratic voters out of U.S. politics. Would a Democrat ever win the White House again with all those electoral votes pulled from the tally?

    Besides, these smug self-righteous twits couldn’t bear the thought of all the rest of us being free from their bullshit.

  14. If California left the union, it would be a satellite state of China in less than a decade. Hong Kong would have more independence than California. Think about it. They would have no military or any political will to create one. They would immediately go into massive debt that would mostly be owned by China. Chinese autocrats would happily pay off every important political and social figure in the state and they of course would happily accept payment.

    Within a few short years, there would be Chinese navel basis in LA and San Francisco and after that large Chinese army encampments. Once that happened, the state would do whatever its Chinese masters told it to do.

    1. +1 Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong

    2. Good point John, I thought of this scenario as well. Californias massive debt would be an impediment to their liberty.

      1. Don’t you know both the Chinese and Russia would drool on themselves over the thought of a satellite state on the North American continent and one as rich in resources as California.

        1. CA is not particularly rich in any resource except sunshine, hot air, and smug.

          Its major industry outside the cities (and not counting government) is agriculture – and its not got a water surplus. Its also a net importer of energy.

          And there’s the fact that the Chinese have shown no capability for maintaining a standing force of any size half a world away.

    3. Wait, not the Japanese? Oh, right – those were the yellow peril in the *80’s*.

      1. + 1 Man in the High Castle

    4. To be fair, the sovereign state of California would have the second most guns per capita in the world (just behind the US).

      They wouldn’t be invaded. They would be protected by those they’ve been attempting to crush for decades. It would be quite the show, actually.

      1. I think most legit Cali gun owners would flee to the rest of the US before it secedes.

    5. The secondhand smoke from the Chinese would surely kill off all the proggies pretty quickly. California as a Colony of China might not be so bad.

  15. Proponents of California’s secession just demonstrate their complete ignorance of the world by voicing such an idea.
    California has a horrible deficit of water and a complete inability to invest in the infrastructure necessary to be self-sufficient. The farming economy is wholly dependent on water and without such, Cali has serious economic troubles.
    California is highly energy dependent, because they refuse to utilize the resources they have. Would Cali drill offshore after a secession? Doubt the greens would ever allow that.
    The bulk of Cali’s landmass is populated by conservatives. California is only blue due to the urban centers. Highly doubtful the bulk of Cali would go along with a secession…we’d see an immediate fracture of the ex-state.

    It’s a joke and just shows how utterly ignorant the progs in that state are.

    1. Proponents of California’s secession just demonstrate their complete ignorance of the world by voicing such an idea.

      In the sense that they do not forsee the shitshow of their policies once they no longer have the rest of the country to lean on yes. In the sense that independence would force them to reform for lack of alternatives, they’d be better off.

      California has a horrible deficit of water and a complete inability to invest in the infrastructure necessary to be self-sufficient.

      Which they would be forced to reform in order to not die. Death is pretty good motivator.

      California is highly energy dependent, because they refuse to utilize the resources they have. Would Cali drill offshore after a secession? Doubt the greens would ever allow that.

      Let their quality of life slide downwards for a few years and the proggy fundamentalists would lose their hold on policy making pretty fast.

      The bulk of Cali’s landmass is populated by conservatives. California is only blue due to the urban centers. Highly doubtful the bulk of Cali would go along with a secession…we’d see an immediate fracture of the ex-state.

      The bulk of California’s population is in those urban centers and they are not predominantly conservatives. They will outvote the conservatives. The difference being that they can’t outvote conservatives across the US, they’d be limited to their new national boundaries.

  16. Ah, it’ll be good. I can trade pot smuggled in from CA for transfats and old Maxims to be smuggled into CA.

  17. Meh. I’ll say the same thing I said in 2012 and 2008.

    Yes, there should be a way for the state to secede from the union. It should be a drawn-out process that reduces the liklihood that the state is secedding because of one bad election (for example “we don’t like Trump/Obama”), but due to long-standing grievances that cannot be addressed via traditional means. Something like “two consecutive votes to secede in presidential election years” or something. And let’s throw in “super majority” (probably defined as 66% or 70% or something) must vote “aye”.

    Further, before the state can commit, it should be required to have an agreement with the Fed regarding the disposition of property, debt, and so-on between the two. Seeing as such an agreement would no doubt be contentious, the process should provide a painful “default disposition” if the parties cannot negotiate a secession-specific disposition.

    And this goes for whether it’s California, Alaska or Texas. If a state really wants to leave the union, it shouldn’t be compelled to stay against it’s will.

  18. Why in the heck would anyone want to make this more difficult than it needs to be? They don’t want to stay and most others want them to leave. Let them go! Everyone would be happy, in the short term anyhow.

    People are stupid…

    1. Same reason Physician-Assissted Suicide laws have limits on who can take advantage of the law and defines hoops you have to jump through. The cost of someone doing it without fully considering it, and getting a second opinion, is too high to let people do it on a whim.

      1. So, Abusus non tollit usum is dead? If someone could possibly do it in error, that means that all rights are under the heel of the government? That’s just poor logic.

        Secondly, it’s not akin to physician-assisted suicide, it would be more akin to just suicide. It’s done by the “self” (individual state).

        Let them leave. Why would you fight them?

        1. It’s more akin to leaving your spouse. It shouldn’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible either.

          1. Why shouldn’t contract dissolution be “easy”? Why should it require anything more than a simple vote?

            If democratic governments make any sense at all (I am not implying they do), then a simple vote should be all it takes. In fact, governments do much worse things with a much smaller reason (say, violate literally anyone’s rights).

        2. “That’s just poor logic.”
          Only if you can’t tell the difference between “slow down” and “stop”.

  19. I just hope that if they secede, they rename themselves as the New California Republic.

    1. PDRC: People’s Democratic Republic of California.

      I figure you’ve got to have People’s in there because communist shitholes are always crowing about how they’re a “People’s Republic” or some such horseshit, and Democratic and Republic because God forbid they be honest about what they really. Kind of like how the “glorious Democractic People’s Republic of Korea” is “none of those things.”

    2. Patrolling the Mojave almost makes you wish for a nuclear winter…

  20. At U.S. News & World Report, Managing Editor for Opinion, Robert Schlesinger, fulminated, “Secession is a deeply un-American principle.

    So un-American it’s how America was founded.

  21. I never knew the Ds were such racists. Everybody knows secession is only ever used as a dog whistle.

    I did like the chick I saw in a video, who had a big sign advocating for “succession”. She was looking forward to Chelsea’s inevitable run, no doubt.

    1. “She was looking forward to Chelsea’s inevitable run, no doubt.”

      I don’t think we are going to see another Clinton running for anything, thank God.

  22. the Christian Science Monitor’s Washington Editor, Peter Grier, objected, “[F]or all practical purposes the Civil War did settle this question.”

    And if California seceded, President Trump would no doubt send the US Navy to blockade Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego harbors? Really? Do these people think it’s still the 19th century?

  23. I am shocked, shocked to see smuggling being advocated here.

  24. #Calexit? Great Idea! Secession Means More Smuggling Opportunities

    “You hear less sniffy chiding now that the state considering withdrawing from the union is California (and Oregon, sort-of, though that state’s separatists quickly dropped their effort). Some Silicon Valley heavy-hitters including venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar and tech startup guy Marc Hemeon have pledged funding and support for the California independence movement?the latest movement that is since California, like Texas, split in the past from Mexico and Spain.

    Be careful what you ask for Mr. Pisevar and Mr. Hemeon. The secessionists here are no friends to capitalist. More likely than not, they will confiscate your property, your bank account and your ideas for “the good of the collective,” and if you two believe me, then your both going to be in for one big fucking surprise.

  25. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    >>>>>>>>>http://www.centerpay70.com

  26. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    >>>>>>>>>http://www.centerpay70.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.