Tue November 13, 2012
What Would Happen If Kentucky Really Did Secede?
More than 12,000 people had by Tuesday afternoon "signed" the user-generated petition on the White House website asking for the federal government to grant Kentucky the right to secede from the Union. Many observers view the petition more as the manifestation of anger from some Americans over President Obama's re-election. But the petition does raise the question: If Kentucky could secede -- and it can't -- would leaving the Union make any sense? Dewey Clayton, a political science professor at the University of Louisville, agreed to address some questions about this sudden, informal Internet secession movement.
What benefits, if any, would Kentucky get from secession?
Kentucky, in my opinion, would gain little, if any, benefit from seceding from the Union. Kentucky receives a very substantial amount of federal aid from the U.S. government. We are a small state, and a poor state (in terms of revenue), and we benefit because of this. When Congress passed the federal income tax amendment (16th) which was subsequently ratified by the states, it allowed the federal government to redistribute income from wealthier states to poorer states. The federal governments assists us in public education (higher, secondary and elementary), it assists us in building our infrastructure, it subsidizes our agricultural industry, not to mention entitlement programs like Medicaid which is a joint federal-state program. Look at the role the federal government plays when natural disasters hit the state. FEMA came in when we had the flooding here a couple of years ago. The national guard has been called in times of disaster national law enforcement agencies plays a huge role in fighting crime, the growing of illegal crops, and illegal activity. In reality, we have a federal government in the sense that federalism means a coordination of programs at the national level down to the states and localities. There is a large amount of poverty in this state. The federal government provides a tremendous amount of aid to the poor in this state.
So an independent Kentucky is not sustainable?
An independent Kentucky is not sustainable. Furthermore, if this were to happen, many intelligent and productive citizens would leave which would further erode what economic base we have. I would say that California is probably the only state that could feasibly become an independent state. It has a Gross Domestic Product that is higher than most nations around the world. Texas, may also qualify, but I am not as certain.
Why do you think these petitions are popping up?
Some Kentuckians are upset over the election. We have a presidential election every four years and the elections represent the will of the people. This is how a democracy is supposed to work. Sadly, some people in this country are not willing to accept an African American president. Some of these people have been fed the stale bread of hatred.