Inside The Dumb Plan To Split California Into Three States

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It was recently announced that Californians will soon be voting on an initiative -- known as "Cal 3" -- to split their beloved state into three smaller, bite-sized states: California, Northern California, and Southern California. And while it's fun to imagine how Fox News would describe this new liberal hellscape triumvirate (Sodom, Gomorrah, and, uh, Admah? Zeboim?), Cal 3 is promising to be the dumbest border screw-up we've ever seen.

Which takes some beating, we assure you.

Cal 3 is the brainchild of Tim Draper, a venture capitalist and billionaire who, like most billionaires, spends his days unnecessarily getting in other people's business. In 2013, he spent $5.2 million on "Cal 6," an initiative to split California into six states, which failed after it turned out that over a quarter of the 1.1 million signatures that he'd gathered in support of it were "invalid." There were no such issues this time, however, unless you count the fact that he reportedly paid canvassers $3 for every signature they gathered.

So what's behind his fascination with tearing up the Golden State? Well, Draper believes that the current state government is too big, and that several smaller state governments could serve the people better than one looming colossus. This isn't the worst idea, but if the devil is in the details, Cal 3 is God's own paradise. Who takes political office on opening day? How would funding and debt be divided up? What about people who work/study across the proposed state borders? We could wind up with a situation in which Southern California loses its access to water, and where do you even begin when solving a problem like that?

This might be stuff that they'll reveal if the initiative succeeds, but their entire campaign is rooted in Cal 3 being better than the current model ... and there's no model for Cal 3. There's a map, sure, which'll be useful when they need to avoid the inevitable water riots, but no argument about why it wouldn't just be better to fix the current government using the billions of taxpayer dollars that'd be spent implementing Cal 3.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA Sacramonto Stockton Oakand San Francisco Freront San ose Fresno. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CALIFORNIA Bakersfield Palmdale Santa Clerita
California Legislative Analyst’s Office

This might all be moot, however. In a recent survey, only 17 percent of voters said that they support Cal 3, while 72 percent want it to take a long walk off the Santa Monica Pier. Besides, Cal 3 is only one entry in a long, long list of attempts at breaking up California. And if the initiative does pass, it then has to pass through Congress, where it's about as likely to succeed as, well, any bill these days.

But who knows? We're in the midst of a populist revolution where everything goes and anything could happen. Disney could wind up with their own state. It's not like they don't already have one!

Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook! He also has a newsletter about depressing history, but that's only for the coolest kids.

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