Saturday, May 26

The Quad: Why Calexit probably will – and should – remain a pipe dream


On March 7, Los Angeles turned out in dismal numbers, approximately 11.45 percent of registered voters, to vote in the local election. While the mayoral race and measures like S and H didn’t quite interest many Bruins enough to vote, the 2018 ballot is poised to be much more exciting.

In 2018, California will elect a new governor, possibly a new senator (Sen. Dianne Feinstein will be 85) and might have the opportunity to make the biggest political decision of our lifetimes: Calexit.

Yes California, the organization behind the Calexit movement, has been hard at work since the election of President Trump. Given that President Trump lost California to Hillary Clinton by more than 4 million votes, his election provided Yes California with the perfect opportunity to kick-start their political movement.

On Jan. 26, Yes California received approval from the California Secretary of State to start collecting signatures to put a citizens’ initiative on the 2018 ballot. If Yes California can garner 585,407 signatures by this July, Californians will vote to effectively begin the transition to leave the United States.

The 2018 initiative aims to remove clauses from the California Constitution that say California is “an inseparable part of the United States” and that the U.S. Constitution is the “supreme law of the land.”

According to the California Attorney General, if the initiative passes, Californians will 1) be governed by the California Constitution and 2) vote to officially leave the United States in a 2019 special election.

A California secession seems unlikely: We’ve tried and failed before. Nevertheless, we are currently in uncharted political waters and with the rise of President Trump, many Californians are more eager than ever to distance themselves from the Trump administration.

But, over everything else, Californians must ask themselves if this is even possible. To be blunt, the answer is no. Here’s why:

It’s all about the money

California boasts the strongest economy of any state in the Union and is the sixth largest economy in the world.

However, that does not mean California can support all the costs of a full-fledged nation. According to Jim Newton, a professor of public policy and communication studies at UCLA, we would have to invest more money into defense, border patrol, environmental protection and many other national functions.

Also, California doesn’t print its own money or have its own post office, meaning we would have to create new departments to oversee many basic functions we take for granted, which would be an additional drain on our state revenue.

Fewer taxes doesn’t mean less taxes

If California breaks from the Union, Californians won’t have to pay federal and state taxes. California on average loses $16 billion a year subsidizing other states.

While it is true that Californians will no longer pay federal taxes, our state taxes will increase to pay for the new departments we’ll need to create.

Newton said that California does not pay for its own defense or border patrol, which are big expenses. Also, Californians will have to start paying a tax on imported American goods.

Also, Newton said we will need a “complete overhaul of the tax system” to find funds for all our programs.

And when it comes to the UC system, we do not have the funds to completely pay for the UC. In the 2016-2017 academic year, the UC received $29 billion from the state and $9 billion from the federal government. And forget about funds from FAFSA or Pell Grants, because those are all federal programs.

Social programs are screwed

The other $7 billion can’t cover all our state programs. On average, we receive $368 billion from the federal government for our state programs.

California, which is home to about one out of eight Americans, spends around $200 billion dollars from federal funds on social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid every year. If California leaves the Union, there is no precedent to determine what will happen to the millions that Californians have paid into Social Security and to those who rely on federal aid.

Also, five million Californians rely on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for their health insurance. Though passing “Californiacare” won’t be a problem, our current healthcare system, Covered California, does not have the infrastructure or funds to support the millions of Californians reliant on the ACA.

Natural resources are everywhere

California is home to a slew of national parks and monuments that bring in $1.6 billion annually.

But technically, national parks and monuments are property of the federal government, meaning California would have to give up the land, revenue and industry jobs. But is California even California without the Golden Gate Bridge or Yosemite?

Also, water has been a big problem in California for the last few years. Though the drought has gotten better, Southern California is still very reliant on the Colorado River, which we will may lose if we leave the United States. Of course we can negotiate, but I doubt the United States and the Trump administration will be open to giving up their resources without a fight.

History does not bode well for California

If the Civil War is any indication, this does not end well for California. Especially with a president as trigger-happy as Donald Trump.

And finally: It is irresponsible for California to leave

Yes California argues that California’s electoral votes haven’t affected the outcome of an election since 1876, so California’s secession will not affect the balance of power.

This claim might be the most outrageous of them all. Yes, California’s voice in presidential elections is muted due to the electoral college, but that does not mean California cannot affect change in other ways.

California was one of the leading states during the fight for same-sex marriage and continues to boast an atmosphere of acceptance towards people of all genders, races, creeds and sexual orientations.

California also has some of the strictest gun control legislation and some of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country.

California has been pushing for progressive policies like immigration reform, gun control and environmental regulations, and it would be selfish of us to abandon progressives across the country during this particularly volatile time.

Not only is Calexit not tenable, it is not the way to ensure that we can all share in a progressive future. If Californians are truly dedicated to justice and equality, we will stay in the United States to combat the forces that are working against these progressive ideals.

And that starts today. If the voter turnout in last Tuesday’s election is any indication of progressive resistance during the Trump era, we are in for a long four, and possibly eight, years. While California might be dismissed as a liberal echo chamber, there’s nothing wrong with agreeing with the principles that move our country forward and fighting for what you believe in.

You can post on social media or protest all you want. But all that means nothing if you don’t take your protest to the polls. And trust me, Bruins, two minutes of your time at the polls is worth it if we can change the course of our nation.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.

  • Brian

    This whole notion is amazingly naïve … Your article is wrong on numerous figures regarding the University of California and other issues as well as ignoring the fact that California would have to take at least $2 or 3 trillion in national debt … Our fair share. That, plus our own unfunded liabilities of over $1,000,000,000,000.00. All that ‘trivia’ aside the United States would never let California or any other state leave the Union. Thus, the Cal-Exit crowd will have to fight a war to leave … A war we would lose sorely. I am a native California, a graduate of the University of California and I have seen these pathetic movements come and go every decade or so … It is a pipe dream and a silly one at that. It would also be a betrayal of our own state’s history … California became a state because California needed the U.S. Army and Navy for defense.

  • AmAir

    California is not the only state that pays more in taxes than it receives in services from the federal government. There are 9 other states that have greater inflow / outflow disparities with NJ and NY at the front of the line. At the same time, California expects non-California businesses to pay a large slice of the total revenue it receives. Through its franchise tax, California imposes billions of dollars in income taxes on businesses that do not even reside in the state. Imagine that! – getting non-residents to foot the bill for your roads, schools and public employee salaries. That sounds like a genius plan but it’s become so controversial that Japan and the UK are seeking to introduce retaliatory measures against California corporations.

  • marcus evans

    We put more into the Federal system than we get out.
    CA would gain about $32-50 B (Billion) in savings the moment it leaves – yes the Fed gov puts money into CA – money that came from CA. How did UCLA not get out economics work? CA puts more into the system than it gets – so it loses Federal money, but that money came from CA, and we stop subsidizing other states.

    Yes CA would have to create some new programs to become a state. Are you saying the Federal government operates efficiently – it does a good job with the Border? With its finances? With endless Wars? Really. Californians have higher faith in their own government than the Fed government according to recent public opinion polls – how did UCLA not know that?