Alexander Hamilton, the man on the ten dollar bill, shut down the arguments against unification 229 years ago. While these statements apply on the large scale (a federal government and its state governments) the truths underpinning each statement apply just as much to the smaller relationships between county governments and the municipalities within them.
1. People have always fought over borders even if change is in their best interest. Look at the bigger picture. The largest tensions in St. Louis arise from territorial disputes.
“Territorial disputes have at all times been found one of the most fertile sources of hostility among nations. Perhaps the greatest proportion of wars that have desolated the earth have sprung from this origin.” ~ Alexander Hamilton – Federalist Paper No. 7
2. It’s unrealistic to say division and fragmentation create harmony and collaboration—they create competition, resentment, and corruption. That’s just human nature. Check out the web of lawyers in St. Louis.
“A man must be far gone in Utopian speculations who can seriously doubt that, if these States should either be wholly disunited, or only united in partial confederacies, the subdivisions into which they might be thrown would have frequent and violent contests with each other. To presume a want of motives for such contests as an argument against their existence, would be to forget that men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent, unconnected sovereignties in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages.” ~ Alexander Hamilton – Federalist Paper No. 6
3. If governing bodies do not work together, then they’ll certainly aim to put their own self-interest above others—even if a common policy would prove more beneficial. See Chesterfield aiming to shape the sales tax to its benefit.
“The competitions of commerce would be another fruitful source of contention. The States less favorably circumstanced would be desirous of escaping from the disadvantages of local situation, and of sharing in the advantages of their more fortunate neighbors. Each State, or separate confederacy, would pursue a system of commercial policy peculiar to itself. This would occasion distinctions, preferences, and exclusions, which would beget discontent.” ~ Alexander Hamilton – Federalist Paper No. 7
4. Different political subdivisions will tax and tariff goods from their neighbor to gain advantage for themselves. We already see municipalities doing this with Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) and sales tax fights.
“The opportunities which some States would have of rendering others tributary to them by commercial regulations would be impatiently submitted to by the tributary States.” ~ Alexander Hamilton – Federalist Paper No. 7
5. “I’m not paying for their debt!” No one wants to pay for the costs of others even if doing so would lift all boats and be good in the long-run. Fighting over debt is as old as the U.S. **The County and Other Municipalities would not be held liable for the debt of St. Louis City under simple re-entry**
“The public debt of the Union would be a further cause of collision between the separate States or confederacies. The apportionment, in the first instance, and the progressive extinguishment afterward, would be alike productive of ill-humor and animosity. How would it be possible to agree upon a rule of apportionment satisfactory to all? There is scarcely any that can be proposed which is entirely free from real objections. These, as usual, would be exaggerated by the adverse interest of the parties. There are even dissimilar views among the States as to the general principle of discharging the public debt. Some of them, either less impressed with the importance of national credit, or because their citizens have little, if any, immediate interest in the question, feel an indifference, if not a repugnance, to the payment of the domestic debt at any rate. These would be inclined to magnify the difficulties of a distribution. Others of them, a numerous body of whose citizens are creditors to the public beyond proportion of the State in the total amount of the national debt, would be strenuous for some equitable and effective provision. The procrastinations of the former would excite the resentments of the latter. The settlement of a rule would, in the meantime, be postponed by real differences of opinion and affected delays. The citizens of the States interested would clamour; foreign powers would urge for the satisfaction of their just demands, and the peace of the States would be hazarded to the double contingency of external invasion and internal contention.” ~ Alexander Hamilton – Federalist Paper No. 7
Bonus: Listen, nobody likes taxes and who really wants other people telling them what to do? Unfortunately, we’re imperfect so we have government to check our demons, protect universal rights, and provide basic services.
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” ~ James Madison – Federalist Paper No. 51
If Hamilton and Madison had twitter they might have tweeted out their case. #UniteWeStand #DividedWeFall #JoinOrDie.