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If Hawaii, why not...?
March 18, 2008 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Why has the United States stopped where it has? Are there any plans for further enlargement?

I'm curious as to why the United states isn't looking to grow further as the EU is. Surely there'd be some Caribbean islands that would be keen on membership? And why not Canada/Mexico?

Is the issue that no-one wants to join, or that the US is happy as it is?
posted by greytape to Law & Government (52 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
51st State? (wiki)
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:37 AM on March 18, 2008


It isn't really 'joining' the United States. It would be 'being taking over by'.

The EU is a collection of countries. The US is a country, with territories it took over many years ago.

I'm not sure if you appreciate the differences, but another country would have to concede all rights to government and essentially be absorbed by the US. It's not the same as joining an Economic Union at all. Try reading about the EEC.
posted by Brockles at 7:40 AM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Technically there is nothing to stop the United States from "looking to grow further" - but there really isn't much of a groundswell of support within the United States to acquire new territory with the expectation that it would eventually become a state.

Puerto Rico periodically conducts votes to see if it should remain a U.S. Territory, become a State, or seek independence. I imagine Guam does the same.
posted by thomas144 at 7:42 AM on March 18, 2008


Membership in the EU is a bit different from membership in the U.S., as to become a member of the U.S. the island, or whatever, would have to give up more sovereignty than they would if they were to become a member of the EU.
posted by drezdn at 7:46 AM on March 18, 2008


what drezdn said. Brockles is sort of making up things up that presumably align with his negative opinion of the current US administration, but are not particularly true.
posted by mzurer at 7:53 AM on March 18, 2008


Brockles is sort of making up things up that presumably align with his negative opinion of the current US administration, but are not particularly true.

I don't see anything untrue in Brockles' comment.
posted by grouse at 8:02 AM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


drezdn is saying exactly what I said, though.

Perhaps you are getting uptight/defensive about the territories comment - I mean it in the same way as 'Hawaii and the US' = to 'UK and The Falkands' (or how The Bahamas used to be).

It wasn't particularly anti-US. They're just different in that one is a country, and the EU isn't.
posted by Brockles at 8:02 AM on March 18, 2008


The United States expanded into "unclaimed" territory until there was no where else left to claim. At that point it took control of areas where the claims were unclear, or not well founded. Most parts of the world today have people living in them with a legitimate claim to their own government, and in general the United States doesn't conquer territory with violence.

There are some areas of the world that voluntarily have/want to become part of the United States but that is a legislative process, and seperate from the expansionist methods of history.

See also: The British Empire, the rise and fall thereof.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:04 AM on March 18, 2008


We bought Alaska fair and square, but the story on Hawaii is not nearly so nice. Puerto Rico would be the most likely next state, but they are torn between independence, statehood or their present condition. If they voted for statehood I am sure they would be accepted with open arms. The West Coast of Canada is pretty cool. Maybe we should buy it from Canada and connect Alaska to the mainland, except that no one seems to want American dollars anymore, not even Canada.

As for acquiring territory, we appear to now have adopted a policy of alliances rather than acquisition. We prop up some despot in return for political favors.
posted by caddis at 8:10 AM on March 18, 2008


There are US military bases all over the world.
posted by chunking express at 8:26 AM on March 18, 2008


Direct colonialism is too expensive and not politically correct. It's more affordable to have unofficial satellite states such as Japan and Germany who are bound to us not by the threat of military action but through mutual economic interests. Also, the world has almost run out of wide open spaces and primitives to conquer, so that's another factor.

We practice soft colonialism in a way. Iraq is the most glaring example, but then so are the banana republics and brutal Latin American regimes we've propped up over the years.

In general we treat overt expansionism as bad, but covert empire building as good. We have about 1,000 or so military bases, staging areas, infrastructure, or what have you around the globe. As long as other countries play ball everything is cool, but when you have some smart ass like Saddam Hussein getting in the way of our economic expansion... well, you know the rest.

But yeah, you need to start by learning more about states, nation-states, sovereignty, and the like. Any introductory book on International Relations should help.
posted by wfrgms at 8:29 AM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Prior to the Civil War, pro-slave Southerners envisioned an empire stretching to Panama. Melville, In Moby Dick, casually refers to the day when Cuba would be annexed.
Our expansion also halted because chose a diplomatic solution to the dispute with Britain over the Oregon Territory.

So we could have been bigger, just in the end there was not the appetite to drive any more geographical expansion.
posted by MasonDixon at 8:36 AM on March 18, 2008


One could argue that welfare and entitlement structures already in place in the US make annexing populated territory economically undesirable. Historically, the U.S. has been averse to taking on territory with any sizable populations of people of European descent. The U.S. had actually conquered as far South as Mexico city in that war, but chose to return everything south of the Rio Grande. Furthermore, when the U.S. acquired the Philippines from Spain, there was legal, ethical, and moral confusion in the American government and among the public about how to view Filipinos. Do they inherit constitutional freedoms? Are they automatically citizens? Do they become a state? Etc. These questions were all resolved in favor of giving the Philippines independence as soon as possible.

Finally, I disagree with everyone that the next state will be Puerto Rico. If anything, it will be Washington D.C.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:41 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Note: Japan and Germany are not exactly "unofficial satellite states" anymore, but yeah otherwise what wfrgms and others are saying is basically correct. If the US actually were to include Iraq as a state, then the Iraqis among other things would all be voting in US elections, and no-one in America's really interested in that. Taking over other countries and just owning them as territory without giving them suffrage is not exactly fashionable nowadays, would hurt America's relations with everyone else in the world even more than the current war has, and generally is an idea that no-one is interested in. America might in the future continue to go to war for "freedom", i.e. access to resources, but besides "free trade" there would be no advantage for America in actually expanding their legal borders. As to why American expanded beyond its original thirteen colonies in the past: I'd imagine it was more advantageous back then because the rest of today's America was sparsely populated relative to the resources gained, in some cases lots of Americans had already migrated out there prior to the expansion, and there wasn't the same stable network of international relations we have today with actual pseudo-moral repercussions
posted by creasy boy at 8:53 AM on March 18, 2008


The United States has already made inroads toward more borders with its neighboring states in the form of NAFTA, a free-trade agreement which would act as a precursor to something like the EU. Due to its relative lack of popularity domestically, NAFTA is unlikely to expand beyond its current form.
posted by meowzilla at 9:00 AM on March 18, 2008


[please stick to answering the question, the question is not "do you hate the US" where a good answer is answering in the affirmative]
posted by jessamyn at 9:11 AM on March 18, 2008


Taking over other countries and just owning them as territory without giving them suffrage is not exactly fashionable nowadays

Indeed. The only reason we have such a close relationship with Puerto Rico is because we wanted to draft their citizens into WWI. The island has a lot more autonomy today, but that could change as there is a unification movement (counter balanced by independents) within the populace there. Many of the questions involved in bringing a 51st state into the union are not an issue for the island. Puerto Ricans already vote and almost (but not quite) have representation in Congress. They are statutory US citizens, etc.
posted by wfrgms at 9:12 AM on March 18, 2008


I disagree with everyone that the next state will be Puerto Rico. If anything, it will be Washington D.C.

You bring up an interesting point there. One of the main reasons Washington, D.C. is not a state is that Republicans oppose the extra political influence this would give this small, Democratic-leaning territory. Similar considerations might come into play when considering other potential states.
posted by grouse at 9:14 AM on March 18, 2008


The question has roots in a lot of American history. The theory of manifest destiny that many American politicians have adhered to over the last ~160 years has been used as a rationale (or excuse, depending on your perspective) for national expansion. The Trans-Canada Railway was built partly in response to American expansionism in the late 19th century. Acts such at that suggest that not everyone wants to be an American :)
posted by lowlife at 9:16 AM on March 18, 2008


One of the main reasons Washington, D.C. is not a state is that Republicans oppose the extra political influence this would give this small, Democratic-leaning territory.

This has nothing to do with statehood - it has to do with congressional politics. The question surrounding DC has always been about whether its population deserves representation in Congress... not whether it should be a state or not.

In other words, DC could become a state and gain representation or the constitution could be amended in a way that would grant DC representation without the additional need to re-classify what is essentially a large town into a tiny state. The later is the more likely of the two to happen, though both are unlikely unless the Democrats gain a decisive majority in Congress and the largely poor blacks living in DC somehow figure out a way to form an effective lobby but with no money...
posted by wfrgms at 9:27 AM on March 18, 2008


Puerto Ricans already vote

Vote in US elections, or Puerto Rican elections? Because Puerto Ricans who live on the island are not allowed to vote in US elections, except for presidential primaries. We cannot vote in the general presidential election. Residents of DC seem to me to be closer to having the full rights of a US citizen than Puerto Ricans do, but someone who is more familiar with the situation in DC may correct me on that.

Given that some people in DC and in Puerto Rico have expressed an interest in becoming a state, continued US expansion is indeed possible. However, the ways in which the US has acquired land or territories in the past are either no longer feasible (like buying large chunks of land), or politically incorrect (colonialism, or obtaining territories after defeating an opponent in war). So now in order for the US to grow, not only do the residents of an area have to join it willingly and give up any claims to sovereignty, but the US has to now decide whether it's in their best interest to incorporate these areas.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:31 AM on March 18, 2008


A more relevant question that could be why NAFTA hasn't expanded as the EU has. And the answer to that is: it is expanding.

Knowing that the EU is a grouping of countries and the the US is one country would seem to be a pretty basic piece of foundational knowledge to have. I'm a bit shocked by the question, actually.
posted by Kololo at 9:43 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wasn't there a Canadian in this thread saying their compatriots would not like being annexed, and might even leave? I don't think that actually amounts to saying they 'hate the US', but even if it did, it's surely a direct answer to 'And why not Canada/Mexico? Is the issue that no-one wants to join,Why not Canada'?

Not sure I could attribute the same relevance to the obnoxious characterisations of Japan and Germany which I still see up there.
posted by Phanx at 9:46 AM on March 18, 2008


[please, metadiscussion needs to go to metatalk and needs to not go here. thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:07 AM on March 18, 2008


To follow up on what grouse said most of the territories that are even remotely likely candidates for statehood have fairly small populations. I think that creates a political concern so far as representation is concerned. Adding some state with a small population automatically gives them 2 senators regardless of the population. There's already some resentment over states like Wyoming having the same power in the Senate as say, California. Even disregarding party leanings, I don't think most states want to give up any more power to anyone else.
posted by ericales at 10:11 AM on March 18, 2008


Just to respond to a few of the comments upthread: I am well aware of the differences between the EU and the US. Obviously one is a unified nation state and the other a grouping of nation states. However, with pooled sovereignty in the EU, and the federal structure of the US, I think the two are more similar than a lot of the comments so far have suggested.
My question is why the EU seeks to absorb poorer countries on its periphery and the US does not. What would the US gain from making, say, Cuba a state, and what would it have to lose? For those who say that countries don't want to be taken over by the US, why not? Wouldn't it dramatically raise standards of living?
posted by greytape at 10:15 AM on March 18, 2008


I think the US just did what the EU did a lot earlier - we "EU"d in the 1860's but europe waited until now (europian countries are closer to the size of US states & altogether they are bigger than the US but not by that much). It was a natural union because we were a loose union that became a tighter one. But there aren't other states we're a loose union with now (except perhaps puerto rico, or maybe some of the other territories... is there a movement for guam? but canada & mexico have their own thing going)

And colonizing isn't fashionable anymore, as eddie izzard has said... though I'm sadly unable to find the clip. Maybe it's in here somewhere...

re: DC - take a look at a map. DC is very very small. Making it a state would be kind of weird.
posted by mdn at 10:22 AM on March 18, 2008


What would the US gain by absorbing poorer countries? We don't need the land, and we sure as heck don't need any more poor people. We've already tried free trade with our neighbors, (NAFTA) and that hasn't exactly been a stellar success.

The EU has allowed smaller countries to pool their economic power together to create a larger, more competitive whole - I don't think the same issue applies to the US.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:23 AM on March 18, 2008


For those who say that countries don't want to be taken over by the US, why not? Wouldn't it dramatically raise standards of living?

I'm going to make the assumption that you are talking about, say, the territories, and not larger, more established countries.

As a Puerto Rican, I can give you the perspective of some of us there. Not all, because there is a sizeable number of people who do want statehood. But some of the issues are psychological. Giving up all autonomy that you have left is difficult. Just submitting to a larger power and letting go of any autonomies you may have had is nto going to be easy for anyone.

Some see it as surrender. And some simply don't want to be part of the US, they want PR to be independent, or to maintain the current situation whcih gives us some federal aid, and yet allows us to run our own government (to a certain degree).

I don't meant this to become a derail into the PR situation, since it's not what the OP was about, but I am mentioning it to answer the second question the OP asked. There are lots of reasons as to why a perceived financial gain is not enough to convince a people to so drastically change their future, and their "national" identity.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:24 AM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


greytape: If you're asking about raising the standard of living, than maybe don't include canada in the possible countries to be joined with the US. Canada has one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Can't say much about other countries, such as Cuba/Puerto Rico/etc because I don't live there, but I suppose they MIGHT have an improved standard of living....
posted by Planet F at 10:25 AM on March 18, 2008


In addition to Puerto Rico, there has been occasional discussion of converting the Pacific islands (Samoa, Guam, and a handful of others) into a state, and also of making the US Virgin Islands a state.

It probably won't happen unless they all get made states at the same time.
posted by Class Goat at 10:41 AM on March 18, 2008


For those who say that countries don't want to be taken over by the US, why not? Wouldn't it dramatically raise standards of living?

Well, a new state would have to adhere to current US labor, wage, safety, environmental, etc. laws. It could well be that statehood would engender an exodus of factory work from the new state by corporations wanting to avoid such laws (which is probably why they moved the factories there in the first place)
It could well be that statehood would cause a decline in the standard of living, if jobs leave the country.
I'm a born pessimist, of course.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:47 AM on March 18, 2008


We bought Alaska fair and square...

We bought Alaska fair and square from whom? The Russians who "claimed" it as part of their own manifest destiny? Or from the people who lived there for centuries. I don't mean to start a flame war here. I just want to point out the fuzzy concept of ownership.

Here's the problem: as new lands were "discovered" by the Europeans, they claimed them as their own. We did the same as we moved west. Many American Indian Reservations are technically sovereign countries according to treaties with the US government (didn't one just recently reassert their independence?), but we consider the land part of the US.

An interesting example is Antarctica. Lots of countries claim a wedge as their own. But, and I could be mistaken, while the US signed the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, looking at a political map, it doesn't appear they claim any land per se.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:47 AM on March 18, 2008


There has been some concern in the US about the possibility of a North American Union. It doesn't sound like it's happening. People I've heard talking about this in the US are of the opinion that there's some secret arrangement that will result in a new currency, etc. and are very against this concept.

It's actually just gotten tougher to go between Mexico and the US, with more documents needed now.
posted by yohko at 10:54 AM on March 18, 2008


greytape: My question is why the EU seeks to absorb poorer countries on its periphery and the US does not.

The basic divide in international relations is between countries that are happy with the way things are (called status quo powers) and countries that are seeking to expand their power (called revisionist, expansionist, or imperialist powers). In the past, the United States was an expansionist power; now it's a status quo power (at least as far as its own territory is concerned).

For a detailed discussion of US expansionism, see the Wikipedia article on Manifest Destiny. Here's an animated map showing the contiguous US states (Ed Stephan). A longer animated map (Peter Mays).

Why did US expansionist sentiment weaken? In the north, the War of 1812 failed to annex Canada. In the south, the United States annexed Texas and more sparsely populated territories from Mexico (Alta California, Nuevo Mexico), but not the rest of Mexico. From the Wikipedia article on Manifest Destiny:
With American successes on the battlefield, by the summer of 1847 there were calls for the annexation of "All Mexico," particularly among Eastern Democrats, who argued that bringing Mexico into the Union was the best way to ensure future peace in the region. ...

This was a controversial proposition for two reasons. First, idealistic advocates of Manifest Destiny like John L. O'Sullivan had always maintained that the laws of the United States should not be imposed on people against their will. The annexation of "All Mexico" would be a violation of this principle. And secondly, the annexation of Mexico was controversial because it would mean extending U.S. citizenship to millions of Mexicans. Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, who had approved of the annexation of Texas, was opposed to the annexation of Mexico, as well as the "mission" aspect of Manifest Destiny, for racial reasons. He made these views clear in a speech to Congress on 4 January 1848....
Overseas, the United States annexed the Philippines after the Spanish-American war, but treated it as a colony rather than a candidate for statehood; again for racial reasons, there was resistance to making Filipinos citizens. The Philippines became independent in 1946.

Regarding expansion of the EU, this has more to do with political stability than a desire on the part of the EU countries for greater power. William Pfaff, writing in 2005:
Expansion of the EU to the former Warsaw Pact nations was undertaken for moral as well as political reasons that, once the cold war ended, were all but impossible to ignore. ...

Forceful arguments were made for admitting all these countries. A "new Yalta" agreement that would cut Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and Georgia out of "Europe" seems scarcely thinkable. The exclusion of these countries—their abandonment and consequent isolation from the European mainstream—could have desperate, even disastrous, consequences for them. The elaborate, sophisticated, and well-financed mechanism by which EU candidate members have until now been impelled to reform their political institutions, standards of justice, and protection of human rights, and develop their economies, has proven a marvelous force for stabilizing and modernizing societies with turbulent histories such as Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Greece.
Pfaff's article discusses some of the problems associated with EU expansion.
posted by russilwvong at 11:55 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


For those who say that countries don't want to be taken over by the US, why not?

Aside from the obvious ones (self-determination, preservation of culture, etc.), many people in the world are opposed to US policy (especially foreign policy, drug/crime policy, education and health care, environmental policy, land use planning, and agricultural policy) and/or dislike US culture (especially the influence of Christianity, consumerism, racism). Unless the US planned to take over another country by force, they would need widespread support for any annexation, which would be hard to come by.
posted by ssg at 12:00 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


As a sidenote, you might be interested in Gore Vidal's book Empire. It's set in about 1900, and part of the plot is the discussion of whether the USA should becom an imperial power, expanding int the Far East, China and Russia.
posted by WPW at 1:48 PM on March 18, 2008


Thanks for that Pfaff link russilwvong, can't wait to read it.

Upthread someone said that the US, basically did in the 19th Century what the EU is doing in today as far as consolidating different nations into a single cohesive entity. I think this is about right. The states did and still do have quite a bit of legislative power, they have their own constitutions, their own symbols (flags and hymns and such), their own way of doing things (the primary and caucus season has taught us that much). Therefore a new state would not have to surrender itself "entirely" to doing thing the US way, although obviously it would have to make significant adjustments. This is similar to the EU, and anyone who thinks that EU will never be as cohesive an entity as the US is simply mistaken. Barring some kind of international disaster in the realm of all out nuclear war or an asteroid hitting the Earth, in 50-100 years the EU will be a massive and complex single state. Just like the US.
posted by sic at 2:41 PM on March 18, 2008


ps) I have read Burr, Lincoln and 1876 - and I have Empire in the queue; I may have to move it up a few novels and read it next!
posted by sic at 2:42 PM on March 18, 2008


in general the United States doesn't conquer territory with violence

Most of the United States was conquered from Native Americans. Except for the entire Southwest, which we got by starting the Mexican-American War under dubious terms. (The US claimed the Rio Grande as the border under treaties that were never ratified by the Mexican government.) Ulysses S. Grant said it was:
one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.
We have about 1,000 or so military bases, staging areas, infrastructure, or what have you around the globe.

37 U.S. Military Bases = Global Empire, plus some undocumented ones. "Interestingly enough, the thirty-eight large and medium-sized American facilities spread around the globe in 2005 -- mostly air and naval bases for our bombers and fleets -- almost exactly equals Britain's thirty-six naval bases and army garrisons at its imperial zenith in 1898."
posted by kirkaracha at 4:16 PM on March 18, 2008


And, hasn't anyone else pointed out that the EU is a very different beast from the United States of America in terms of political structure? The EU is basically a business/trade alliance under which member countries still retain considerable sovereignty and member states must ratify how much control they are willing to give up in the name of free trade. After the American Civil War, it's been pretty much established that states have a very limited set of rights under the federal system.

The closest analogy to the EU would be NAFTA which lowered almost all trade restrictions between the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico. However, there are a variety of obvious political reasons why NAFTA has not been expanded in scope in the same way as the EU.

Upthread someone said that the US, basically did in the 19th Century what the EU is doing in today as far as consolidating different nations into a single cohesive entity.

Um, what?

A large chunk of the 19th century expansion of the United States involved territorial grants from European powers. For Napoleon, selling a large chunk of territory to the United States was cheaper than loosing a war in North America. Likewise, the treaties in which Great Britain settled the Northwest Boundaries were probably driven by the choice to give up expensive and militarily indefensible claims.

Most of the rest of the United States was annexed by force, including the isolation and relocation of existing sovereign groups.

And since the Northwest Ordinance, Congress has had a huge role in deciding how that property was partitioned into states.

But one answer to the question is that, with world shipping and the industrial revolution, grabbing a whole bunch of land just didn't make the same kind of business sense that it did in the 19th century. Why conqueor when you can just snap up the mineral rights for cheap? Why deal with tough, independent homesteaders when you could buy 100-mile plantations? Why make people a part of your democracy when you could buy theirs, lock, stock and barrel? And if the locals started mumbling about their 40 acres and a mule, there is always a Pinochet or a Somoza to sing the glories of modernization, while murdering the would-be reformers.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:12 PM on March 18, 2008


If the US actually were to include Iraq as a state, then the Iraqis among other things would all be voting in US elections, and no-one in America's really interested in that.

Not only that, but they could sign up for food stamps.

Keeping the U.S. constitution in mind, any new state would get two senators. That's a bit of a disincentive from admitting in any micro-territories like the Virgin Islands as states on their own. Any prospective state would probably need to have at least half a million people, roughly the population of Wyoming, currently the least populous state. (Puerto Rico = roughly 4 million)

I don't have a cite, but I remember hearing about a survey done in Manitoba in the early 1960s that said that a significant proportion those asked said that they expected to be part of the U.S. by year [x]. Never came to pass, of course.

More recently, any time I've read someone speculating that parts of Canada could become part of the U.S., it's been associated with the idea of Quebec leaving Canada and the rest of the country becoming split. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick becoming states after being split off from Ontario. Another thing that, so far, hasn't happened.
posted by gimonca at 6:27 PM on March 18, 2008


And, hasn't anyone else pointed out that the EU is a very different beast from the United States of America in terms of political structure?

In the second reply, I believe.
posted by Brockles at 6:43 PM on March 18, 2008


To answer the other question of why don't Mexico and Canada want to be more closely associated with the U.S. I think that there is some legitimate concern that in a North American EU-like treaty agreement, that the U.S. would attempt to bully Canada and Mexico into some unwelcome compromises of domestic and foreign policy. One example is the issue of Cuba. A second big issue is cross-border environmental concerns and natural resources.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:53 PM on March 18, 2008


This was a great question greytape. It is a nonstandard use of AskMe (the typical Q having a best answer which is purely factual, how boring, yet still useful). This is one of the best uses - interesting subject, intelligent discussion, personal viewpoints; this is truly the best of AskMe and MeFi. Congrats. I love it when a post opens the mind.
posted by caddis at 7:06 PM on March 18, 2008


Um, what?

Well, it's a bit hyperbolic, perhaps, but it just seems people forget that the states were much more self-ruling and the federal gov't much more limited pre-civil war. In Reconstruction & afterward, the US really became united as one country - and a much larger country than any european nation, it's worth keeping in mind. No other country has "states" - they have counties or provinces or what-have-you, but a state usually determines a self-governing entity. We were a federated batch of states on the other side of the globe. And the largest nation, population-wise, in europe is probably only about twice the size of california. And some of their smaller nations are even smaller than our most sparse - luxemborg is like half a million, but there are some even littler ones...

And as others have noted, the EU has certainly got tighter since it was first drawn up, and it's only been a decade or so. Since they began with language barriers, that's a bigger hurdle, but I would not be surprised if the EU basically became one large nation over time. In a lot of ways it already has - if you have citizenship in any one nation, you have basic citizenship rights in all of them, etc. They check passports by "EU" not by individual nations... The currency is shared. There are still local differences across america.
posted by mdn at 8:13 PM on March 18, 2008


gimonca: More recently, any time I've read someone speculating that parts of Canada could become part of the U.S., it's been associated with the idea of Quebec leaving Canada and the rest of the country becoming split. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick becoming states after being split off from Ontario. Another thing that, so far, hasn't happened.

Honestly, I grew up in the Maritime provinces (which also includes PEI and NL, not just NS and NB) and haven't heard anyone even joke about that idea since I was a kid. Anyone speculating about that recently is a little behind the times and sorta wasting their time since it would never happen that way. The cultural differences are too hilariously vast. The survival of the region depends on provisions written into confederation.

I sense a bit of "Why would anyone not want to be be American?"-ness in this question... which is in a way adorably naive. But the answer is a whole different thread and not one for this forum.
posted by loiseau at 9:14 PM on March 18, 2008


I don't see how language has been such a big barrier in the EU. 1) Needing lots of translators creates good jobs. 2) Having to work through a variety of languages brings cultural issues to the fore, where they should be, and makes for a more progressive and understanding populace. In the states people assume all regions will be pretty similar because of a common language, but that doesn't really turn out to be true. I'm really tired of this "if no common language, then no unity" lark. It's sickening, and just plain not true, as the Europeans have shown us. People who think Spanish should be outlawed here are invariably insecure about their own inability to learn languages. It's not that hard. All you have to do is not be repulsed by brown people, which, as is evident by other posts, has been a major issue. (I'm a white kid from Minnesota, in case you're wondering.)

Europeans have found plenty of common ground, in spite of their so called language barrier. Liberal Ideology, Art & Architecture, reliance on tourism, etc. We're not going to be the next Europe, but we do have common ground with the rest of the American nations: fervent Christianity, independent spirit, emphasis on work-ethic, the philosophy of self-determination, etc. With a few notable exceptions, we tend to be a little more on the conservative side. The point is there's common ground.

If we really want to compete with China for scarce resources, we should strive toward uniting the continent, all the way down to Tierra del Fuego. The US doesn't have to give entitlements to people from other countries with the EU model, and huge trade benefits are being passed up in favor of protecting ignorent US citizens who, incredibly, don't want to be pushed up into positions requiring a skill-set in higher demand than the one they currently rely on. What alarmists don't seem to understand is that if an immigrants will do a job for less, then we need to educate the people who are currently doing that job to be their supervisers, or else help them move up and into a different type of job altogether. If we're to really see what capitalism is capable of, we need everybody to buy into creative destruction concept and acknowledge that you can never stop educating yourself. Creative destruction is that necessary evil that wipes out inefficiency, and hence, certain jobs, and the only way to cope is to be dedicated to continuing eduction. (How's the type-writer repair business treating you nowadays?)

Please read Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science: Charles Wheelan and learn about the huge benefits and relatively benign drawbacks of making the whole economic pie bigger by tearing down barriers to free trade and migration.
posted by tosteka at 9:57 PM on March 18, 2008


The United States spend a signigicant portion of their GDP on the military. There is zero chance that Canada would be willing to sacrifice its social programs (which it would have to do) to fund a similar investment in its military. That's one reason why we wouldn't want to join the United States.

I suppose it would technically be treason as well, since the Queen is the Head of State, and we'd have to replace her.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:25 AM on March 19, 2008


MetaTalk.
posted by russilwvong at 10:10 AM on March 19, 2008


Anyone speculating about that recently is a little behind the times and sorta wasting their time since it would never happen that way.

Yeah, I agree, that's what I was sort of broadly hinting at.
posted by gimonca at 3:34 PM on March 19, 2008


I'm glad NAFTA was mentioned (briefly), but I can't believe we got this far without mentioning it's young hip brother: the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) )Canada's site) which is being met with opposition, despite the fact that, as is evident here, most people have never heard of it.
posted by The Wig at 8:10 PM on March 20, 2008


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