17 July 2003


Weird that I picked this up at Crooked Timber instead of Virulent Memes, but that's the way the blogosphere works.

Via Virulent Memes, I see that an American-Australian academic is recommending Australia merge with the U.S. This kind of suggestion comes up a lot, though for some reason the suggestion always seems to be that Australia would become the 51st state. Wouldn�t it be better if the six Australian states stayed as separate states? Not sure.

The article doesn�t mention the obvious reason this merger won�t happen any time soon. Australians aren�t about to give up universal public health insurance, and Americans aren�t about to vote to bring that in. More generally, once they hear anything about it Australians aren�t going to voluntarily become part of the American health care system. (Would anyone?) Maybe there is some way Medicare could be converted to a state-based system and keep working, but I suspect this would be an insurmountable problem in the medium term.

What�s more interesting to think about is what the consequences would be politically if Australia joined America. I�ve always thought that Australians would vote overwhelmingly Democratic. The point isn�t that Australians are particularly left-wing, it�s just that (urban) Australian conservatives seem more like right-wing Democrats than like Republicans. (By �conservatives� here I mean people who vote Liberal, not the self-labelled conservatives one sees on the op-ed pages. Some of them would be Republicans.) They believe in balanced budgets, don�t care for religious arguments in politics, have at least some sympathy for libertarian values, are pragmatists about gun control, are usually pro-choice, and so on. In other words, practically everything the DLC believes in. These people aren�t going to vote for Dennis Kucinich, or perhaps even Dick Gephardt (b/c of the union connections) but they would I think vote for Clinton, and probably Gore, much more than Bush. Obviously this is analysis is so simplistic to barely count as half-baked (maybe quarter-thawed?), but if it�s right maybe there are partisan reasons to push for a merger!

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