Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Choose your state

This article is interesting because it is unusual: Killington Residents Endorse Plan To Join New Hampshire. Killington is a ski town in Vermont (I went skiing there several times in college). The town is 25 miles from New Hampshire, and it wants to become a New Hampshire town because that will reduce its taxes significantly.

This brings up a question. What if we made the concept of statehood virtual for everyone? In the same way that you can now choose any long distance carrier or power company, what if you could choose your state arbitrarily? For example, I physically live in North Carolina. But what if I would rather be a citizen of the state of Florida because it has low income taxes? Or perhaps I want to be a citizen of the state of Hawaii because it has better health care laws. Whatever. Each person would choose their state to best fit their lifestyle.

This is not as unusual as it might sound. Corporations, for example, can do exactly this. Many corporations from around the country are incorporated in the state of Delaware because they like the laws in Delaware.

If corporations can do it, why not individuals?

It is very interesting to think about the ramifications of this simple change in thinking. If people could randomly choose to be a citizen of any state regardless of their physical location, it would have vast effects on everything from education to taxation to property ownership. It would change congress and the senate. It would, in theory, allow completely new virtual states to arise. And so on. It's funny how big an effect such an ephemeral and largely arbitrary concept like statehood can have.

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