Small governments for the U.S.

Until the 1850s China had the largest economy in the world. Afterwards it began to fall behind even certain individual Western countries. In 1000 A.D., China was the world’s technological mecca. Gunpowder, paper and even the printing press–which allows mass production of books–all originated in China.How was it that much smaller nations in the far west eventually began to dominate China militarily, economically and even technologically? For much of history China’s population alone was greater than all of Europe combined. Other factors present in historical China would seemingly indicate it would dominate the world, such as having the world’s largest economy, its land size and its past advanced technology.
An exemplary set of policies that lead to China’s fall from grace can be seen in the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty in 1368 A.D. In an act of benevolence towards peasants he set the land tax at a low 10%. This eventually starved the government to where canals and roads were not maintained. Despite a growing population and capacity for trade within China, the fundamentals of transportation were ignored. Infrastructure was left to self-management by nearby communities. These policies, viewing finance as inherently bad were maintained by his successors for the next 276 years. Echoes of this self-management policy, perhaps inspired by tradition, can be seen in the Qing dynasty which lasted until 1912.
There are certain similarities between historical China and the modern U.S. Although not as ancient the U.S. is currently the world’s largest economy. Also, the size of China and the US are almost equivalent. For their day, both countries are unusually large geographicaly, and both have a larger population than any European country. The most striking similarity between ancient China and the United States is how the U.S. has inefficient policies, and for cultural reasons there isn’t really a chance of change.
Take our train system for example. Despite the fact the United States is the world’s largest economy by GDP, our railways are completely outdated. The European Union, a conglomeration of independent nations, created the trans-European Transport Networks in the 1990s. Amongst admirable improvements to road ways and communications systems is the Trans-European Rail network, which has grown to become one of the most precise and speedy rail systems the world over. In the United States, Amtrak continues to provide abysmal service, with late trains and breakdowns the norm. Amtrak is publicly funded but privately owned and operated for profit. Additions and improvements to the rail system, like the interstate highways, requires public action by individual states.
There are some benefits to enormity and greatness for a country. One consideration is military strength. In the case of nuclear weapons a small country can duke it out with a large neighbor, in conventional warfare between technologically matched nations, whichever side fields a larger military is likely to be the victor. Perhaps if divided into seperate nations, the strength of the entire United States could still be pooled together in the form of a military alliance. Most of government would be handled independently by nation-states but the military would still be combined. Member nation states could vote for a military leader by an electoral college. A trade alliance would also be beneficial tothe overall economy. The United States was initially conceived as a collection of 13 independent nations who joined militarily to defeat the British Empire. America’s then futuristic, democratic form of government was developed among these separate nations of the past.
How the U.S could effectively be divided remains uncertain. Division along current state borders is not necessarily the best way. An independent, land-locked South Dakota might not be very economically effective.Perhaps there should be six major divisions, one correlating to the north-west–Cascadia, one to the south-central–Greater Texas, and so on. These are all just conjectures from a moment’s imagination.