Dividing Up California

I just saw a news article about a Silicon Valley venture capitalist named Tim Draper who has been trying to get enough signatures to put a proposal on the state ballot to split the state of California into 6 separate smaller states. Although he did not get enough signatures for the November 2015 ballot, apparently, there have been over 800,000 signatures collected for the November 2016 ballot. The following table shows the six states (along with selected counties) defined from the south to the north along with their estimated population taken from a USA Today article.

Southern California (includes San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside) 10,784,000
West California (includes Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara) 11,505,000
Central California (includes Fresno, Madera, San Joaquin) 4,197,000
Silicon Valley (includes San Francisco, Santa Clara, Monterey) 6,787,000
North California (includes Napa, Sacramento, Sonoma, Sierra) 3,811,000
Jefferson (includes Butte, Humboldt, Shasta, Trinity) 947,000


One argument being put forward is that because the state is so large, both in terms of land and population, that individuals would be better served by smaller states which would better represent the local population rather than being dominated by the coastal city populations around the Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego areas. I suppose that makes some sense as the people in these large densely populated areas would have greatly different needs from their state government from the needs of the sparsely populated northern part of the state or even the eastern more mountainous parts of the state.

While some people might appreciate having smaller government entities with more elected officials that are more directly responsible to the voters, the breakup would also lead to high costs overall as many efforts would have to be duplicated for each of the new states rather than consolidated within the single current state.

I could also imagine that such a change would affect the way presidential races occurred in the future as it would no longer make sense to focus on California as a single large state with about 55 electoral votes compared to Texas’ 38 or Florida and New York’s 29 each. Even within the state legislature, the dynamics of voting would change as the larger metropolis area would not have to compete for the passage of bills with the less populated portions of the state. Each state would be able to draft its own constitution as well as its own laws.

I suppose from one point of view, splitting California into separate smaller states is no more shocking than if the New England states had originally been a single state and then were split into individual states later. Wait a second, that is not as crazy as it sounds. Maine was originally carved out of Massachusetts, West Virginia was cut from Virginia as was Kentucky, and Vermont was created from land disputed between New York and New Hampshire. Furthermore, in recent years there has been talk about splitting New York into a northern and southern state, splitting Florida in to two pieces (maybe Miami should be the separate piece), dividing Maryland, Arizona and Texas.

Current polls indicate that the majority of Californians are against the breakup of their state, but the margin isn’t huge. With two years to go before the ballot is put before the people, there is plenty of time for the pro-breakup promoters to strengthen their arguments and gather converts.

On the bright side, there may even be more programming jobs as all of those applications with a fixed list of 50 states in a dropdown list need to be modified to account for the new states and their individual new state income taxes. It might also be a good time to invest in a flag company because there will be lots of new flags to buy if we have to increase the number of stars.

C’ya next time. .



By sharepointmike Posted in Opinion

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