Wealth & Secession

How can one talk about the economics of small independent countries? How can one discuss a problem that is a non-problem? There is no such thing as the viability of states or of nations, there is only a problem of viability of people: people, actual persons like you and me, are viable when they can stand on their own feet and earn their keep. You do not make non-viable people viable by putting large numbers of them into one huge community, and you do not make viable people non-viable by splitting a large community into a number of smaller, more intimate, more coherent and more manageable groups. All this is perfectly obvious and there is absolutely nothing to argue about. Some people ask: “What happens when a country, composed of one rich province and several poor ones, falls apart because the rich province secedes?" Most probably the answer is: “Nothing very much happens.” The rich will continue to be rich and the poor will continue to be poor. “But if, before secession, the rich province had subsidised the poor, what happens then?” Well, then, of course, the subsidy might stop. But the rich rarely subsidise the poor; more often they exploit them. They may not do so directiy so much as through the terms of trade. They may obscure the situation a little by a certain redistribution of tax revenue or small-scale charity but the last thing they want to do is secede from the poor.

small-is-beautifulp. 53–4

The city needs its hinterlands. Do the hinterlands need the city?


small-is-beautiful Schumacher, Ernst Friedrich. 2001. Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as If People Mattered. Random House. ↩︎ 1