Which state would make the worst independent country?

Inspired by this comment by silenus in GQ. If California were an independent country it would have the worlds 12th largest economy.

But which state would be worst off out of the 50 without the rest of the Union - and why? Would any end up as a third world hellhole?

Probably Montana, North Dakota, or Arkansas. The former two because they currently would be in danger of falling to the “resource curse” due to an overreliance on fossil fuel exports, the latter because it neither has craploads of food to sell like the more central Midwest, nor a huge economy like California, nor such a vital link that the rest of the US would have to come to terms with it like Louisiana, nor on the contrary so isolated that the US would be less likely to want to mess with it like Alaska or Hawaii.

The New England states would in theory mostly make pretty bad independent states due to their smallness, but I’d like to think that New Englanders are practical-minded enough that they could work problems out amongst themselves.

Speaking of having to work practical things out between them, Texas would be fairly well poised due to their independent power grid.

Dunno what constitutes craploads of food in your view. With Arkansas producing about 50% of all rice grown in the United States, we’re not likely to starve soon. Add to that millions of acres of soybeans, wheat, and cotton, I’m pretty sure we could come up with enough trade partners to be comfortable.

While CA might be the 12th largest economy, it’s also over 600 billion dollars in debt and looking desperately for relief. Add to that the ongoing water problems they’re having. I’ll take Arkansas, thanks.

My best guess would be one of the New England states for the previously mentioned size problem. All the current businesses that would have to operate under international trade law rather than interstate and federal law would be a heavy burden.


CA does have a lock on most of the western seaboard so the could pick up some coin on trade there.

California might well fare better as an independent nation than as a state, because a nation has its own currency, doesn’t have to balance its budget every year, etc. These things are serious advantages.

I’d say Mississippi and West Virginia would be the two biggest basket cases as independent nations. While WV has coal and tourism, the two are not just in tension with one another, but in almost direct opposition. And even just as a state, it’s already long since fallen victim to the ‘resource curse.’

Mississippi already trails the other 49 states in almost every metric of well-being. 'Nuff said.

Texas would kill off too large a percentage of its own citizens, or maybe go to war with Mexico.

Well, there’s another thread… who wins?

Everyone else?

I would have to vote for Rhode Island. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rhode Island and live 15 minutes from the border but it has all kinds of problems even being a state. It is the smallest one for starters, smaller than many other state’s counties. It also has the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the U.S. behind Michigan plus it is hopelessly corrupt and still has a large degree of Mafia control. Driving across the Massachusetts border into Woonsocket, RI on back roads lets you know very quickly you just passed from a reasonably wealthy area into a place with serious problems even if you don’t notice the sign. It is like the U.S./Mexico border in parts. I know the whole state isn’t like that. Newport and its small region are very wealthy but that is just ripe for a hostile takeover if it became an independent country. Rhode Island has open ocean access so that is a plus but they have problems today that their neighbors do not due to systemic government issues so I have low faith in their ability to run it as a nation.

Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont could easily exist as independent countries. They all have direct access to Canada and the latter two are among the best run states in the country already with low corruption rates, a relatively educated and wealthy population and a low population density.

Any state without a coastline is screwed. Maybe, if you border Canada you can survive. But having to ship all your exports through the US would quickly prove rather costly. Ditto having to import all your energy requirements. Then you have to deal with all the problems of being a taker state rather than a giver state. Any yellow state is doomed.

Now if you allow certain groups of states to form a country, it’s a whole new ballgame. California, Oregon and Washington could survive quite handily. Add Nevada to the mix just for giggles (and Vegas) and we have a going concern.

Nevada and Utah are interesting cases: you have the “Fort Sumter” problem. Large chunks of those states are Federal property. Poor Nevada looks like a little tattered rag, all full of holes. Also…water rights?

You would have to start with any state that is land locked. There is a reason why the major population states have access to the oceans. States like Tennessee, Iowa and Missouri get saved by the Mississippi River. The states on the Great Lakes all have access to the oceans. Land locked countries like Laos, Ethiopia and Kosovo automatically find themselves at a huge economic disadvantage and it shows.

Most of the Northeastern states have ports. California would have little problem surviving as a country. Finance is a factor in existing as an entity in today’s world. Therefore you have to look at states like Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, South Dakota, Oklahoma, West Virginia and New Mexico as to having the biggest challenge to self sufficiency.

Even if the locks are abandoned on the KMNC, Oklahoma & Arkansas have always had good connections to the Gulf.

Arkansas River & the White River, have been navigated commercially since the early 1800’s.

Delaware would have a problem. One of their main resources is being the PO Box for the HQ of a lot of US companies due to friendly corporation laws.

If it became independent, those companies would “move” their HQs to other states or deal with hassles of being a foreign business mainly operating in the US. OTOH, it is near the top of states with a bad ratio of federal taxation vs spending. So it would come out ahead if it didn’t have the drain of money going to Washington.

The state with the best ratio, over 4 to 1, is Florida. Retired folk, military bases, NASA, etc. It Florida was independent, it would have a serious problem on its hands paying for all the old people.

President for life Bebee! :dubious:

Alaska would be an independent country for about a week. I assume Russia would take it over, if they didn’t, someone else would, maybe Canada.

I’d have to say Mississippi. They take more money from the federal govt than any other state and they are among the very poorest (if not the poorest).

I work in downtown Woonsocket. I wouldn’t call Blackstone, MA reasonably wealthy, Certainly not along Main Street, where the old Blackstone Manufacturing and Waterford mill villages make it essentially north Woonsocket.

Otherwise, I would count on Rhode Island’s innate corruption and Mafia ties to turn it into an on-shore version of Grand Cayman, money laundered while you wait.

It would be interesting to see what state/countries become net importers or exporters of college students. Massachusetts has a huge number of colleges and universities of all types and a lot of people go there from out of state. NJ is the opposite. We export a lot of our students because we’re remarkably short on more selective and/or private colleges and universities relative to our population. We’re also short on small liberal-arts schools. Don’t get me wrong-we have a lot of great schools, but if you’re looking for a school with a selectivity level between, say, Drew and Princeton, you’re out of luck. So if you’re looking at schools like Amherst or Carnegie Mellon or Williams or Wesleyan, you’re looking out of state. It’s no big deal to go to school in Pennsylvania or DC or Massachusetts, but if they were different countries, it wouldn’t be as easy. I expect a lot of students would still go to schools in other state/countries, but a greater percentage of students would probably opt to stay in their own country. NJ would end up having to build more colleges and universities and Massachusetts would end up with unused capacity.

I can imagine the New England states forming an association much like the European Union. It would make sense economically, and since New Englanders have a strong regional identity in addition to their state identity, I expect they would be amenable to that sort of arrangement (the Rhode Island issue notwithstanding).

I think New Jersey would be just fine. We’re on the coast and in close proximity to NY and Philadelphia and we have one of the wealthiest and best-educated populations. Perhaps more importantly, there are a huge number of businesses headquartered here, especially pharmaceutical and related consumer products firms such as Johnson and Johnson. We’d probably end up as the pharmaceutical capital of the world.

Although individually the northeastern states would be weak, if you allowed New England to form it’s own country it would be in a pretty decent position to survive independently.

I don’t see why, unless the U.S. decided to impose punitive tariffs on the newly independent state - and I don’t see that that’s an implicit assumption of the OP.

Absent that, the costs of importing energy, exporting goods, etc. wouldn’t change much. Being landlocked would be a nuisance (especially if the names of some of the new nation’s residents were inadvertently on the TSA’s terrorist watch list) but it shouldn’t be a crippling issue.