Virginia Postrel has been discussing how to reduce the ridiculous over-representation of farm states in the Senate. She wants to merge a few of them. Yeah, it’s unconstitutional to force them, but that doesn’t mean we can’t figure something out.
Since we’re all big-time free-market believers here in the blogosphere, the obvious way is to pay them. If Dakotans are like anyone else, they’d probably agree to merge for, say, $1000 each. That’s only about $1.5 billion. Even 10 times that is not unreasonable as government expenses go.
I’m not sure if that’s really workable, because the people making the decisions, elected politicians, have very different interests from the population they’re supposed to represent. Given the choice of losing their jobs or costing Dakotans $1000 each, I think they’d hit people in the wallet like they always do. (If the Dakotas have a strong ballot referendum system, it’s a whole different story.)
Of course, for our purposes, we don’t need to eliminate the states, just the Senators. Perhaps the new constitution of Dakota could specify two separate governmental regions, with separate governors, legislatures, court systems, budgets, and so on…except for the Senators.
Another choice might be to double the representation of all the non-farm states. Yeah, it effectively reduces the representation of the farm states, but so does adding another state, and that’s clearly allowed. Hmmm…maybe the solution is to split a lot of the high-density states into new states which can be admitted to the union as usual.