THE BLOG

Secession, From Crimea to Texas

03/26/2014 07:42 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2014

The sweet smell of secession is in the air from Crimea to... Texas! The thus far successful secession of Crimea from Ukraine has emboldened some Texans to revitalize their dreams of reestablishing The Republic of Texas. Now that the Russian champagne, or vodka, has fizzled away, perhaps the Ukrainian/Crimean experience ought to remind secessionist Texans of the difficulties which may lie ahead. For Crimea, now Russian, the approaching springtime may deliver more thorns than roses to these once jubilant Crimeans. Just look at a map.

Crimea is a peninsula connected to Ukraine not to Russia. In fact, Crimea is separated from Russia by the Black Sea to the south and the Sea Of Azov to the north. Everyone and everything coming from Russia proper into Crimea must cross that barrier. Simple enough for people and easily moved goods, but expensive and difficult for infrastructure. Right now, Crimea gets 90% of its water from Ukraine and 80% of its electricity. We have already seen how an interruption in those services can immediately produce serious inconvenience in Crimea. How will Russia deal with this? How long will it take and how much will it cost?

Now, imagine (hard as that may be to do) a successful secession by Texas. And by successful I mean a secession by Texas similar to that in Crimea, one not overturned by the forces of the United States. They leave -- we let them go.

First, what would Texas do for water and energy? So much bigger than Crimea and already suffering a multi-year drought, they are in a state of emergency when it comes to water. And the electricity picture is no brighter. Texas is actively working to solve these serious problems by the collaborating efforts of ERCOT (Energy Reliability Council Of Texas) and DOE (Dept. of Energy). Only by working with other western states and the federal government can these resources be guaranteed for future generations of Texans. You may seceed from the United States, but you can't secede from geography. They cannot do it alone. Of course, all collaborative efforts would come to screeching halt. The DOE does not work to fix energy needs in foreign countries.

Second, Texas would instantly lose all 15 of its military bases. No one would expect the United States to leave such facilities in the nation of Texas. While nobody keeps official records of such things, Fort Hood in Texas is generally considered to be the largest military facility in the world. The Killeen, Texas chamber of commerce proudly tells us that Fort Hood's economic impact on Texas is $25.3 billion per year. Then there's Randolph Air Force base. The San Antonio Development Foundation says that air base has an economic impact on Texas of $13.3 billion each year. Its gone and along with Randolph would go the huge facility at Lackland Air Force base. According to sanantonio.gov, this base has an economic impact in Texas of $27.7 billion. So, these three bases alone, not counting the remaining 12, would cost Texas $66.3 billion a year. Every penny of that would disappear from Texas before their new flag flies over whichever city becomes their "national" capitol.

As Americans, some Texans combine a distaste for the federal government, and those in charge of it, with a boastful pride in their own economic growth. What they always neglect to mention is the enormous contribution to the Texan economy from the federal government especially the Defense Department. According to a Bloomberg report authored by Robert Levinson in 2011, total defense spending in Texas amounted to a whopping $42.1 billion for the previous year. Put in perspective, New York got $13.6 billion; New Jersey $11.0 billion; Illinois $9.2 billion and Washington DC $8.4 billion. It takes those four to equal the military spending just in Texas. Should Texas vanish as a state, all that money would go elsewhere.

How might Texas' biggest corporations react to losing their US federal contracts, their US federal tax breaks and their ability to do business in what would become for them a foreign country -- The United States of America? For example, Halliburton's KBR subsidiary took in $39.5 billion for its efforts in the Iraq War. That money train won't stop in Texas for the next war. The Fortune 500 lists 52 Texas-based companies, at least 14 of them including #1 Exxon, in the energy business. Secession won't boost their revenues or lift their stock prices. And how will Texas-based Southwest Airlines continue to serve so many cities in the foreign nation of the United States? Why give a foreign airline all those routes and all those gates at our top airports?

More figures from the IRS and the federal US Government Transparency report show Texas is a big "taker" when it comes to federal funds and federal taxes paid. While Texas sent $219 billion to the federal government in income taxes, it received more than $277 billion in federal government spending. In fact, taxfoundation.org shows Texas gets 40% of its state spending budget from US federal government sources. Compare this heavy dependence on US federal funds with states like Massachusetts at 31.5%, New Jersey at 28.6%, Connecticut at 27.9% and even the much maligned District of Columbia, itself a federal protectorate, which only gets 38% of its spending from the federal government. The state of Texas has a pretty good deal.

What would be the fate of Texas' hospitals and doctors if they left the Union -- again? Staggering is the answer. Texas is on the receiving end of $15 billion a year in Medicaid funds and nearly $37 billion from Medicare. That's more than a billion dollars a week going from the federal healthcare budget into Texas. It all stops when they leave.

The energy, military and healthcare sectors are only the beginning. A Texas outside the United States would soon lose millions of "Americans" who didn't want to live in the nation of Texas. They would give new meaning to "voting with their feet." And the independent economy of Texas, minus US funding and millions of former citizens, would quickly devolve into third-world status.

The Ukraine may be sad even humiliated to have lost a piece of its territory to Russia, but in the end what remains of Ukraine will be stronger, and with European support, undoubtedly more prosperous. However, Texas without the United States would be a disaster -- for Texas.