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Clarence F. “Rick” Olson, Fargo, Published February 16 2013

Letter: Wing nuts consider secession

Ever since President Barack Obama won re-election, there are people across the country joining the wing-nut category (if they weren’t there already), including a few folks in North Dakota.

One of the wing-nuttiest ideas is talk about states seceding or separating from the United States. In fact, there have been a number of petitions started on the official White House website.

A tad drastic?

The opening words to the Declaration of Independence appear to be the impetus of these petitions: “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Isn’t that a rather drastic move? Just because an individual or a group of individuals can’t agree with the president or his administration’s policies, that’s no reason for a state to leave the union.

Seriously, however, just what would happen if North Dakota were to secede from the U.S.? Here is some of the stuff we would get if we were to join Canada:

Socialized medicine

Canada operates a health care system in which every Canadian is guaranteed coverage. However, it isn’t without its pitfalls. There are waiting lists for Canadians to receive certain medical services and surgical procedures. There is some rationing of health care.

Canadians, as I understand it, do pay for their health care. Every Canadian who earns a paycheck has a portion of their salaries withheld as a health care premium. Canada has been working toward privatizing the health care system for some time, with mixed results.

Finances, elected representation

The average Canadian is taxed at approximately 50 percent of income. This is the combination of federal, provincial and local income tax withholdings, the national health care premium, as well as for social insurance withholding (Canada’s version of Social Security). Accordingly, a job that pays $8 an hour in Fargo would most likely pay $16 an hour in Winnipeg. We think we got it bad here in the United States as far as taxes go? Try Canada.

Would North Dakota be self-sufficient financially? Remember, North Dakota would no longer be getting any federal appropriations from Congress.

North Dakota’s two U.S. senators, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican John Hoeven, would be out of jobs. As would Republican Kevin Cramer, the state’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In becoming a province of Canada, North Dakota would have to take on the form of government that each Canadian province currently employs. Some distinctions include:

Religious, social issues

Same-sex marriage is legal throughout Canada. I understand that a marriage officiant, including a pastor, priest, rabbi or minister, can be prosecuted for refusing to perform a same-sex marriage in Canada. How’s that for a kick in the pants? Where’s the freedom of religion in that equation?

With absolutely no offense to our friends and neighbors in Canada, here is my conclusion on this secession talk: Fargo, Manitoba? It just doesn’t sound right. These secession dreamers can dream on.

Olson is a regular contributor to The Forum’s commentary and opinion pages. Email rickolson@cableone.net.