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Author Topic: Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?  (Read 8743 times)

Solitar

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Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« on: August 30, 2002, 03:32:36 pm »

I'd hope this thread discusses most or all the various criteria and the weights used for them.

That said,
I'd like more explanation of the weight to the federal dependence and why that is so important. The following amounts to an emphasis on secession from the feds more than addressing local and state concerns. I've found that the number of state and local employees is a lot bigger voter block when dealing with issues such as schools and local governments.
Quote
Viability has to do with the ability of the state to survive and prosper under autonomy or independence, should it eventually be achieved.  My dissertation research has shown that autonomist movements are much stronger when the region in question pays more to the central government in taxes than it receives in expenditures.  When it receives more in expenditures, autonomist movements are weak.  Given the strength and robustness of this finding, I think federal dependence is a very important variable.  I have thus weighted it “7.”  The other variable having to do with viability is geography.  Opinions differ on how important this is: some saying that coastline (and to a lesser extent, foreign border) is essential, others saying that coastline is good but not essential.  I would tend to agree with the latter, but I would stress that coastline or border has many advantages relating to the prospective economic benefits from free-market policies.  These benefits are all greater the more trade-oriented we are, and trade orientation requires coastline.  In addition, if worst comes to worst, coastline and border both allow for easier surreptitious escape from the country.  I have given geography a “3” weighting.
Jason,
Do you have a breakdown of each class of gov't employees: local, state, and federal? If so, or if we can get that for each state, then each should be weighted differently - depending on what "activism" we are stressing and when during the process.

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JasonPSorens

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2002, 04:12:56 pm »

I'll get back to you on breaking things down by level of gov't.  I think there may be a division between state and local on the one hand and federal on the other.  I need to go back and find the raw data.

Federal dependence is important not for secessionist tendencies, but for the desire for fiscal autonomy, which is a major part of our future program.  After all, we'll want pretty much everything except maybe defense & the appeals court system decentralized to our state eventually.

Check out my essay on one of the reasons why fiscal autonomy is important:
http://www.freestateproject.org/fspforeign.htm
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di540

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2002, 08:56:36 pm »

Quote
My dissertation research has shown that autonomist movements are much stronger when the region in question pays more to the central government in taxes than it receives in expenditures. Given the strength and robustness of this finding, I think federal dependence is a very important variable.  I have thus weighted it 7.

I'll let you be the judge of the relative weight. I'd only question that federal dollars are the best way to measure this, since those dollars can only buy votes one person at a time, and will run into a marginal utility of zero.
Thus, I see the % of federal employees as a better indicator of federal dependence.  I'm not sure what do to with recipients of social security & earned income credits & FUTA: but for every one who'd be against the FSP, there's probably one recipient who'd be for. Many people who receive FUTA might be in seasonal industries that were sabotaged by federal interference, and they might resent having to be on FUTA.
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amyday

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2002, 09:41:12 pm »


Do you have a breakdown of each class of gov't employees: local, state, and federal?


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/freestateproject/files/stateGSPemployed.xls

Here is an excel spread sheet with the info.
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debra

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2002, 08:10:09 am »


After going through several pages of Yahoo signup BS to download the spreadsheet, my old Excel can't read it. And no, it is not specific to Macs, just older versions of MS Office when trying to read new versions' stuff. The best format to enable older versions to read files is to save as older file formats or something simple like CSV. Whenever I send stuff elsewhere, I'll do it in new and old and basic versions to make sure the reader can load it.


I've created it in CSV and will email it to you.  FYI, for anyone else who doesn't have MS Office (or has an older version), let me know and I'll create a document in CSV.

Also, if you download Star Office www.staroffice.com (it's free!), it can read any MS Office file.
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craft_6

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2002, 03:05:17 pm »

I can understand that autonomy movements are stronger in regions that lose out financially to the central government, but it would seem that the central government would be more willing to actually grant autonomy to regions that cost the central government more than they bring in.

To me, the most important factors by far are the number of voters 5-20 years from now, and the level of support for liberty among the existing population, since the FSP will accomplish little without significant backing from the state's current residents.  If a state is 60% committed Democrat/socialist, no amount of enthusiasm by FSP members will turn the tide.  States with native populations that favor liberty will much more readily abandon the Republican Party for the real thing, especially if it looks viable.

A good job market, nice weather, and proximity to friends and relatives in the rest of the country would be nice, but the odds for success should come first in weighting the criteria.  

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exitus

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2003, 04:50:22 pm »

. . .
With regard to the state choice issue, I recall a distinction was once made between unchanging and changeable factors, which I think is a very useful one.  . . ..
How true!

Here are some of the threads where this difference between changeable and unchangeable factors has been discussed:

State criteria unchangeable by FSP activists

Re-Examination of the Spreadsheet

Some selection criteria are fixable

Instead of ranking states, let's rank variables!

Narrowing It Down

Obviously, we are powerless to do much to change the climate,  or the geography.  Population is also something over which we won't have much influence, not much anyways.

Perhaps it is time to re-emphasize those factors over which we will have the least control, and the most control and help put them into perspective. . .  

Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
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Zxcv

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2003, 06:55:29 pm »

I was looking for more information on the dependence variable, and came across this interesting article:
http://www.taxpayfedil.org/fedspend.htm

One point he made is that some states have higher per capita incomes than others. Those with higher incomes are naturally going to look less dependent, because the federal income tax is "progressive". They will get dinged more. Conversely, states with lower per-capita incomes will look more dependent because their people will get dinged less.
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2003, 07:18:59 pm »

Well, it's not just that low-income states "look" more dependent; they are more dependent. ;)  Low-income states have less incentive to favor rollback or devolution of federal programs because they benefit more from them.  In fact, my dissertation research actually uses relative income rather than actual dependence, because the latter figures tend to be controversial and nitpicked by all sides.  Low-income regions avoid secessionism & radical autonomism; high-income regions are more open to these movements.
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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2003, 08:25:59 pm »

All right, then. They are more dependent.  :-*

However, it is not necessarily through any defect in their character, but because of an accident in the way the taxes were structured. Connecticut is the least-dependent state in the country, but I'll bet if you polled the people in CT if they liked a flat tax (which would certainly help CT get a better deal), they would be less likely to say so than people in WY would. So they deserve to be screwed.  ;D

Our two least dependent states are NH and DE. Perhaps NH would go for more radical autonomy, but I just can't see DE going for that. So maybe the effect you found, while significant in a large sample, is not quite so strong in individual cases. There are more than one reason to want to cut the ties with the feds...

Other factors here are the form of the dependence, and of the autonomy sought. If we want to eliminate federal speed limits or seatbelt laws, it's not likely the Socialist Security recipients would get too excited about that, because the feds probably won't be threatening to cut those benefits if we do so!
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2003, 08:33:43 pm »

Agreed, there are many factors involved, and dependence is just one of them.  In fact, dependence doesn't track income all *that* well in the U.S., compared to other countries, b/c of the interference of factors such as land area & Indian reservations.  And income may not track potential autonomist quite as closely as in other countries b/c of other intervening factors not in other countries, such as differential rates of federal land ownership.
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Robert H.

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2003, 01:52:30 am »

We might also want to look at potential autonomy as opposed to current autonomy, factoring in the degree to which various federal controls and mandates prevent states from developing their natural resources.

The western states have tremendous autonomy potential in terms of their natual resources: coal, gas, minerals, timber, etc...  Some of this they currently have access to and some of it they do not.  

Think of Alaska here.  This is a state with enormous oil and gas reserves, among other resources, but most of it is controlled by some sort of federal provision that makes it off limits to development (or further development).  I posted some letters to the editor from the Anchorage Daily News over on the "Alaska - Nothing Comes Close" thread in regard to just such an issue.  These are letters in which some Alaskans wrote in to express their frustration about the drilling ban in the ANWR and how it could potentially affect Alaska's economy.

Thus some of these states that show higher degrees of dependency may have attributes that could make up for it in the long run if they could get out from under various encumbering federal intrusions.  Some of them also need to be more frugal with their resource development.  Wyoming has set a good example here through its mineral fund, which has been in operation in 1974 and has now grown to $1.8 billion.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2003, 01:56:50 am by RobertH »
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Robert H.

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2003, 10:21:23 am »

I view the importance of the various criteria that we're looking for in terms of how they relate to the creation of a free state (since that is the ultimate goal), and not with regard to the FSP's success itself.

For that reason, this is how I currently rank various criteria I see as being most important to the successful creation of a free state:

1. Voting-age population: how many will share the political process with us for good or ill?

2. Total population: Total current population minus current voting-age population gives you part of your future voting-age population.  Think of it in these terms: those children 10 years old and older in a state's population will be eligible to vote in eight years or less.  This is one example of an instance where a state's growth rate should be taken into consideration (especially given the fact that we have a 10 year time frame for this project).

3.  Native sentiment: how do the residents of a given state vote on average?  This gives us an idea of whether we would receive a favorable reception among those who would be sharing the political process with us, and will correspond, to at least some degree, to how far our agenda will go and how quickly.

4.  % Native population: will we be seen as meddling outsiders who are intent on "invading" the residents of a state who see themselves as one big happy family and might isolate us for being "from away"?

5.  How accessible is the state political system, and what tools are available for accessing it?  This would include such things as:

  •  expense of elections (what does it cost to buy air time, radio time, flyers, compete effectively with the established machine?)
  •  term limits (for giving a greater variety of candidates a greater chance to succeed, and for preventing the formation of political dynasties that are detrimental to liberty)
  •  initiative and referendum (for working around stubborn legislatures with an active minority)
  •  district size (how many seats open per how many people voting?)
  •  size of MSA's (may indicate to what degree the opposition is intrenched, backed by big business, backed by dependent constituencies, and what media presence we'll have to deal with)
  •  to what degree is state funding tied to politically hot topics? (such as property taxation going to fund education as with Vermont's Act 60 - this may tell us how successful we'll be in implenting reforms based on what state money is currently supporting in the way of statist infrastructure and how sensitive those issues are)


6.  Natural predators.  Who will declare it open season on liberty activists?

  •  union numbers, political alliances, and union-friendly laws
  •  what special interest group presence is there?


7.  Degree of government dependency and government employees.  What candy are we taking off the shelf and who loses their job for not having any to hand out?

8.  Issues that tend to foster the growth of government and may make it difficult to seek alternative solutions or down-size state infrastructure:

  •  budget deficits
  •  rapid population increase and congestion
  •  potential terror and Patriot Act related aspects (infrastructure, landmarks, and transportation hubs that would likely be targeted by terrorists or else provide them access or cover, increasing government scrutinty of the population and the "fear factor" of its citizenry - this is where borders and ports could be considered)


9.  Friendly neighboring states that will not oppose or isolate us, but could actually make common cause with us.

To my way of thinking, based in good part on the above criteria, the best state for liberty will be the state that:

  •  maximizes our size and strength and the degree to which we can work within the state political infrastructure
  •  minimizes the size and strength of potential opposition and the degree to which they can impede us
  •  minimizes the potential risks that we face from within our own ranks ("will they move?" "will they really be activists?" "how many do we need?" - this is closely related to the first element but is a separate concern)
« Last Edit: April 02, 2003, 10:46:36 am by RobertH »
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exitus

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2003, 05:04:25 pm »

Agreed, there are many factors involved, and dependence is just one of them.  In fact, dependence doesn't track income all *that* well in the U.S., compared to other countries, b/c of the interference of factors such as land area & Indian reservations.  And income may not track potential autonomist quite as closely as in other countries b/c of other intervening factors not in other countries, such as differential rates of federal land ownership.

In regard to all of these dependence comparisons, sometimes I wonder about Alaska.  In some areas, Alaska ranks #1 in the nation, in others Alaska ranks worst.  For example, Alaska is running a huge deficit of close to a billion dollars, more per capita than even California's budget, and Alaska has high property taxes in some areas and has a sales tax that is substantial and has increased all sorts of other taxes, including liquor taxes by 300% and then there are other factors like highest spending per student in public schools, large federal-sponsored health insurance programs and highway federal dollars and so on. . . yet Alaska continues to be #1 in the nation in total tax burden as % of state income!

Many research reports from think-tanks like the Cato Institute have declined to even include Alaska in various comparisons as its tax sitution "is problematic".

But if the single greatest factor in all of Alaska's tax situation is  from the Permanent Fund, I hold Alaska suspect in being truly tax-resistant.  In fact, even that whole issue of getting a check from the state for every man, woman and child smacks of dependence welfare like no other to me, no matter if it is just a royalty scheme.  Truly, Permanent Fund disbursements should not be counted as a debit from taxation in Alaska and the PF should be ignored, if not counted as a negative factor.

One way I am suspicious of the situation in Alaska is how it is far- and-above New Hampshire in tax burden based on income and yet ranks equivalent to Vermont in spending per GSP!

As to an autonomy movement in Alaska, clearly Alaska is in a good position to take the road towards autonomy in many regards, if the people there wanted to, but what would result in the autonomous state of Alaska seems to be more like what the growing Green Party there would have it than anything libertarian because there seems to be a lot of dependency there despite the PF-inflated numbers.

Where am I wrong in this thinking, any Alaska defenders?
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Robert H.

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Re:Weights of various criteria - why not higher or lower?
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2003, 10:00:05 am »

Truly, Permanent Fund disbursements should not be counted as a debit from taxation in Alaska and the PF should be ignored, if not counted as a negative factor.

Here's another thought on the Permanent Fund:

You could consider it a dependency distribution, but it could also be viewed as each resident's share of a commonly owned resource, and thus a bolster to the idea that a state's people truly own their land and resources.

Then again, that idea is countered by the sheer size and number of federal parks in Alaska, something that I'd really like to see a state stand up and say "NO!" over - just once.  Utah had a perfect opportunity to do so in 1996 when Clinton turned over a million acres of state land into a national park by fiat; almost as though he was a king apportioning sections of his fiefdom.

If I could have switched places with anyone at that time, it would have been Utah's governor.  "Uh, Mr. President, ever heard the term 'nullification' before?  No?  Try looking it up after you review your Article Two powers and the 10th amendment."
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