Thursday, November 8, 2012

Take-Away Review: American Nations

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard

I finished it. And it was a pretty good book, for me, since I finished it faster than I finish most books.

Colin Woodard definitely showed some of his prejudices - or at least his political slant, which is decidedly statist for most of the last quarter of the book. He criticized the "Dixie" block of nations for being against social welfare programs, environmental regulation, etc.

But Woodard did surprise at the end with a possible conclusion that I had considered for the future of our country. Our state might return to a loose federation or confederacy like it was under the Articles of Confederation of 1781. The central government would be limited to foreign policy, national defense, and negotiate interstate treaties. I don't know if that level of power would be low enough to satisfy me, or the component "nations" of a "reconstituted" state. But somethings gotta give.

The U.S. has a giant, bloated bureaucracy, giant, bloated redistribution and protectionist programs, a giant military that is deployed throughout the world, and no one wants or should pay for that unnecessary mess. I don't know if a revitalized regionalism expressed through resurgent "nations" would help fix the problem, because that might just transfer power from the federal government to the state governments. Also, the concept does not address personal freedom. But I do have a feeling that a weakened central government would do wonders for business, regional cooperation, and sovereign individualism.

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