It is true that Texas is highly integrated with the United States. However, these political and economic ties are not so tight or intricately interwoven that it would be impossible to untangle them. In many instances, it would not be necessary to untangle them at all. There is no part of the relationship between Texas and the rest of the United States that could not be accomplished by utilizing existing State-level institutions and agencies, executing bilateral agreements between Texas and the United States, or by Texas signing onto multilateral international agreements that are already in place.
Is the issue trade? Countries, including the United States, trade with one another every hour of every day and have done so for all of recorded human history. The free trade agreements that the United States already has in place for 20 other countries around the world treat trade with them as though they were one of the States of the Union. Yet no one would argue that any of those countries are inseparable members of the federal Union. Texas could execute a free trade agreement with the United States and adopt the United States tariff schedule with the World Trade Organization for external trade, and no one would even notice the difference.
Is the issue currency? If Texas needed or wanted to, it could adopt the U.S. dollar as its official currency in an informal currency union like many other countries have done. We don’t need permission to do it. However, if Texas were so inclined and the United States were amenable, we could enter into an official currency union with the United States. Scotland proposed a similar move for itself and the United Kingdom ahead of its independence vote. This would be similar to the formal currency union that exists throughout the European Union.
Is the issue banking? Foreign banks are allowed to operate in the United States at this very moment with no trouble. That includes large retail banks like Compass and HSBC. In fact, more banks in Texas are State-chartered and State-regulated than those who are federally chartered and regulated.
Is the issue federal pension benefits? People live outside of the United States and collect their federal pensions, including Social Security, every month. The Social Security Administration has an entire section on its website and publishes numerous informational documents on this subject. Through totalization agreements with other countries, U.S. citizens work outside the United States and continue to pay into the United States Social Security system and vice versa.
Is the issue travel? Cars, planes, trucks, and trains move between the United States and other countries every day. Over 1 million people per day legally cross the border between the United States and Mexico for work or travel using only a “Border Crossing Card.” No passport needed. This is essentially no different than traveling between Texas and Oklahoma, Louisiana, or New Mexico.
Perhaps the concerns are more about having the money to continue certain functions of government. Not a problem. Simple arithmetic proves the ability of an independent Texas to fund a government at the same level that Texans are currently accustomed to if that’s what Texans want.
Texans currently pay, in all, federal and state taxes of $336 billion per year. This represents the total amount of revenue readily available to an independent Texas without increasing the financial burden on Texans one single cent. From that amount, subtract the amount spent by both the federal government and state government in Texas. $228 billion is the total amount of expenditures required to maintain every program, every job (both civilian and military), every department, every facility (including military bases) and fulfill every function (including current federal contract spending to Texas companies) provided by the federal and state governments. This level of government revenue would rank Texas 12th in the world for government revenue collected.
Somehow, since 1945, 140 new, formerly dependent countries have been able to “make it” as independent, self-governing nation-states. The unspoken assertion is that, to be able to do anything that Texas would have to do as an independent nation, it must be a part of the United States. The implication is that Texas, and Texans, aren’t as good, as smart, or as capable as other nations.
This requires them to ignore the truth about how Texas stacks up against other self-governing countries in the world. In every category in which nation-states are traditionally compared, Texas overperforms.
- Texas has the 10th largest economy in the world.
- Texas ranks 40th in the world in size.
- Texas ranks 47th in the world in population.
- Texas ranks 40th in the world in the size of its labor force.
- Texas is a net global exporter ranking 22nd in the world and leading all other States in the United States.
- 93 percent of Texas exports are manufactured exports.
- Texas is the 12th largest technology exporter in the world.
- Texas ranks 19th in the world in the size of its active farms and ranches.
- Texas is the largest energy producer in the United States, accounting for more than half of the entire United States energy production and one-quarter of the refining capacity with over 26 petroleum refineries.
- Texas has the 7th largest coal reserves.
- Texas is the 6th largest producer of wind energy in the world.
- Texas has its own power grid.
These statistics, while impressive, don’t tell the whole story. Texas not only does well in spite of the federal government, Texas is already structurally capable of doing everything that is traditionally done by a national government. In Texas, you will also find a state-level analog for every single cabinet-level federal department.
Texas even has its own military. The Texas Military Department is composed of the three branches of the military in the State of Texas. These branches are the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, and the Texas State Guard. All three branches are administered by the state adjutant general, an appointee of the governor of Texas, and fall under the command of the Texas governor. The State Guard, which is exclusively under the command of the governor, is divided into six army regiments, two air wings, three maritime regiments, and three medical battalions. The Texas Army National Guard consists of the 36th Infantry Division, 71st Troop Command, and the 176th Engineering Brigade. The Texas Air National Guard consists of the 149th Fighter Wing, 147th Attack Wing, and the 136th Airlift Wing.
Contrary to the opinion of some, Texas’ attachment to the federal system is not a special case. There was no union in recent history with more power aggregated into a central government than the Soviet Union. Within an even tighter integration and under extreme economic stress, its constituent republics were able to extract themselves and become fully functioning nation-states. If the United States has truly become more centrally controlled than the Soviet Union, then it is no longer the United States. It has become the United State and no longer represents the vision of its founders.
If those who believe that separation is too difficult are to be believed, and today it is too complicated, tomorrow it will be more so and the day after harder still. If this argument is true, then Texas is destined to fall ever deeper into the depths of the federal system until Texas is only a distant memory that exists in a history book.
It is a false argument and one that strikes counter to everything Texans have historically believed about themselves. It runs contrary to the reputation gained by Texans around the world. It is the same argument made by “helicopter parents” for why their children should still live at home well into their thirties. And it’s the excuse used by socially stunted adults, well into their thirties, as to why they still live with mommy and daddy.
Ultimately, Texans bristle at the suggestion that we simply aren’t good enough to govern ourselves. We reject the idea that independence can’t be done as we remember the old adage that, “If you want something done, tell a Texan that it can’t be done.”
The real question is this: Given all our natural advantages, if Texas can’t make it as an independent nation, then who can?