Equitable Division of Assets

The most difficult problem facing the two new nations will be the division of assets. Those assets that are in fixed locations will have to go to the nation with jurisdiction over it. For example, Yosemite National Park must go to the nation that California joins — there’s no way around that. The same thing applies to military bases. 

But what about assets that straddle state borders? Who owns Hoover Dam? In some cases, such as Hoover Dam, we must maintain the asset as a unit but put it under the control of a board composed of equal numbers of members from each of the two bordering states.

Some assets are inequitably divided between two states. For example, Yellowstone National Park is primarily inside Wyoming, but parts of it extend into Montana. In this case, we can always simply slice the park up. But there might be more difficult cases, such as those in which the asset is unevenly located between two states, yet is only valuable if it remains entirely intact. 

Such cases could be resolved by negotations that create an independent entity that manages the asset, with agreed-upon rights assigned to each of the two countries. Or they could be resolved by assigning the asset to the original Federal government.

This brings me to the role to be played by the old Federal government. It must be retained in order to manage some assets that cannot be divided. For example, we cannot cut the Declaration of Independence in half. Therefore, we must retain the original Federal government as the guardian of the nation’s historical treasures. The Federal government would have jurisdiction over the District of Columbia and any other assets assigned to it by the two new nations. 

The Federal government’s budget would be provided by the two new nations in equal portions. Each year, it specifies the amount of money that it needs for the coming year; each of the two nations pays half of that amount. Should one country pay only a portion of the fee, then the other nation is obliged to pay only the amount of money paid by the first nation. This could still lead to a confrontation should one nation refuse to pay anything, bringing the Federal government crashing down. Perhaps this can be dealt with by a rule specifying that, should one nation pay less than half of what it is obliged to pay, then its citizens are all ejected from the District of Columbia and may not re-enter until the debt is paid.

The Federal government will undergo huge changes, brought about by extensive amendments to its Constitution. Its role will be limited to two functions: administration of assets that cannot be divided between the two new nations, and management of research programs.

Research programs are usually scattered around the country. For example, the National Institute of Health has labs scattered all over the country; breaking that system apart would destroy the viability of the NIH. It would be best to place the NIH under the jurisdiction of the Federal government.

Here’s another snag: what about research programs that enjoy different levels of support? For example, research into climate change and alternative energy sources would be favored by Blue, and opposed by Red. How to resolve the difference? I don’t think that we can rely on the Federal government to resolve disputes like this; we’ll simply have to permit one nation to take over such a program in its entirety. 

Another problem arises when a crucial asset is located in an inequitable manner. For example, most of our land-based nuclear missiles are located in the central USA, and would likely end up inside Red. This would deprive Blue of any such missiles, which are a critical part of the nuclear deterrent. This particular problem could be resolved by transferring half of the nuclear missiles to a designated location inside Blue territory, where it builds its own silos. 

Other assets work