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June 27, 2016

After Britain, Could Texas Secede Next?

Why Texit and Brexit have plenty in common

Texas will not be voting to leave the U.S., as Great Britain voted to leave the European Union—although there was a failed effort to have a “Texit” vote at the state’s Republican convention. America’s founders did not create an exit provision like the EU’s Article 50, and anyway that question was settled 150 years ago.

The EU has provided benefits. Countries that were often at war have been at peace for decades, and democracy and trade have flourished. But the policies and sentiments that moved Great Britain to vote for independence sound familiar to a lot of Texans chafing under Washington’s policies.

Both are large economies. Great Britain has the second-largest economy in the EU; Texas has the second-largest economy in the US.

The EU is heavily dependent on British transfer payments, and Texas has been responsible for most U.S. job growthfor years.

Thus, both Great Britain and Texas could survive economically as independent entities. Indeed, both used to be independent nations: Britain for centuries; Texas for 10 years.

Both have been fiscally restrained. England has a history of financial prudence and stability. Older movies often parodied British bankers as tight-fisted and straight-laced (think of Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins). Not so for France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and especially Greece. They are constantly spending and promising more benefits than they can afford.

Similarly, Texans have become outraged at Washington’s financial recklessness. And the state’s low-tax, light-touch regulation approach is the exact opposite of Washington’s, especially under President Obama.

Both are very traditional. Brits are a traditional people and very seldom lead the world by promoting progressive ideas and notions. Ditto Texas. From abortion to guns to bathrooms, most Texans don’t like Washington imposing its progressive values on the state.

Great Britain kept one foot outside the EU. And Texas has always been uneasy about having both feet inside the U.S.

Great Britain never adopted the Euro, opting to retain its own respected currency, which will make leaving easier.

And while Texas is part of the U.S. monetary system, many Texans have criticized U.S. monetary policy, especially the Federal Reserve Bank’s cheap money efforts. Heck, Texas has even created its own gold and silver depository—just to be safe.

Immigration policy is a driving factor. EU immigration policies may have pushed many British voters over the edge. While news reports have focused on the recent influx of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria and other areas, immigration has been a sore spot in Great Britain for years.

When I was in Wales at the behest of the BBC, several lower-paying factories were hiring Polish immigrants who were thrilled to get the jobs. That angered some of the locals who claimed the Poles were stealing British jobs. However, most of the Brits I interviewed didn’t want the lower-paying wages, choosing welfare benefits instead.

Texans are also struggling with immigration. State officials have been begging Washington to address illegal immigration for years, to no avail. But instead of working for a comprehensive, bipartisan solution, Obama’s policies and executive orders only exacerbated the problems, to the point that the Border Patrol’s union supports Donald Trump’s candidacy.

And so is welfare policy. Under the EU people can cross borders and tap into a more generous member country’s welfare system.

According to the London Telegraph (2014): “Welfare spending in Britain has increased faster than almost any other country in Europe since 2000, new figures show. The cost of unemployment benefits, housing support and pensions as share of the economy has increased by more than a quarter over the past thirteen years—growing at a faster rate than in most of the developed world.”

Similarly, Obama has singlehandedly tried to give millions of illegal immigrants legal status and access to social programs—an effort that, led by Texas, just hit a Supreme Court roadblock.

The problem is a generous safety net with fluid borders can be a magnet for the least productive seeking to take advantage of the welfare system rather than the opportunity to work. You can have one or the other, but having both can create problems.

Independence and self-determination. Finally, a majority of Brits were tired of bureaucrats in other places telling them what to do and how to live their lives. The same can be said for a majority of Texans.

So even though Texas won’t be voting for independence, many Texans can empathize with Brits who went to the polls and said we want our freedom back.


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