Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Only if we can get the real BBC (not BBC America)!

Daniel on Crooked Timber has a wonderful idea:

The British American Project

I have a number of fantastic pieces of unsolicited advice for the Democrats, which I will no doubt be trotting out over the course of the week. Idea the first, however, is something that’s been on my mind for the last few years.

It’s time for the UK to face facts, agree that we have very little in common with Europe and a lot in common with the USA, and join the United States. Not only would this be good for Britain, the addition of 60 million voters, substantially all of whom are politically to the left of John Kerry, would presumably solve a few problems for you lot too.

Specifically, I would make the following proposals:

As a single entity, the United Kingdom is just far too big to be a single state. We are roughly twice the population of California; while I have no problem with giving us one big lump of 110 electoral votes, I understand that the more pedantic element among Constitutional scholars would probably have a cow. In any case, it seems inequitable that we should only have two senators. Therefore, I would suggest that we should join as the 51st, 52nd and 53rd states, these states to be provisionally entitled North England, South England (like the Dakotas or Carolinas) and Scotland.


I suspect that Northern Ireland is a little bit too small to be a viable state, but I don’t like the idea of adding it to either North England or Scotland. I therefore suggest that it be reunited with the Republic of Ireland, with the reunited entity becoming part of the Commonwealth of Massachussetts. I guesstimate that Mass. would need to be given roughly 8 more electoral votes because of this (note that a positive side-effect would be that Ireland would have to legalise abortion, as it would be transformed from one of the most socially conservative countries in Europe to part of one of the most liberal states of the USA).

Wales, obviously, would become an independent country but would adopt the dollar as our currency and leave the EU. With me as the first Governor of the Central Bank, I suspect that our first day’s order of business would be to lower the rate of tax to 4%, pass some fairly tough banking secrecy laws and sign a few advantageous tax treaties.

There would, obviously, be a few financial consequences. I’m afraid that we’d make the Social Security problem a bit worse, as we have a slightly older population and a lower birth rate. However, since our pension fund has always been pure pay-as-you-go, and we have no “lockbox” at all, we would massively increase the size of the “transition problem” and make it utterly impossible to privatise SS.

Furthermore, it would obviously be completely untenable to have free state-provided healthcare in only three States of the Union plus part of Massachussetts. We would have some transitional arrangements to stop health tourists from the other 50 States from taking too much short-term advantage, but in the long term it would obviously be the case that the National Health Service would either have to be dismantled, or something like it would need to be provided at a Federal level across the USA. Since the electoral arithmetic of our huge numbers of electoral votes would make it more or less mathematically impossible for anyone to be elected President who proposed to tamper with this genuine “third rail” issue of British politics, America would have socialised healthcare within a generation.

All in all, it’s a fantastic idea; gets us in the UK out of an increasingly onerous and antidemocratic burden of European legislation as well. All I lack is a catchy name for this idea, since my first choice has apparently already been taken.

I am 100% in favor of this, especially if it can be arranged before next March, so I can see the new Doctor Who series as soon as it starts running on the BBC and not have to wait for it to show up over here on whatever US channel eventually decides to buy the US broadcast rights.

There was a novel a number of years ago that posited this premise (I didn't read it, so I don't recall the exact context in which this was supposed to happen; I think it somehow involved the Cold War), but the title was, unfortunately, U.S.U.K. I hope that was not Daniel's first choice. If so, I'm glad it was already taken.

(Someone has pointed out that these new states would not necessarily get 110 electoral votes, as the size of the House of Representatives might not automatically increase; which is a topic for another day...)

Obviously he's joking, as there is no way this could ever happen. The Republicans would shit bricks to build a Hindu Temple before they would agree to this. Still, it's a fun idea if someone has time to write a new novel...

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