I’ve taken an executive decision. For the time being I’m going to stick with the 59 countries that have become independent from the UK. There’s a whole heap more that have become independent from Spain, Portugal, Russia, France and others. But I don’t want this series to bog me down forever, and 59 might just take me near enough to that.
The USA was the first of the former British Empire colonies to leave, in 1783.
In the year 2000, one GBP was worth roughly 1.5 USD. So that means that at the date of independence the per capita GDP of the USA was 1110/2465 = 45% that of the UK.
What a piss-poor country the USA was.
To put in into context, let’s look at today’s GDP. The UK’s GDP per capita in 2013 was in the region of $42,423 (using the most generous measure). In today’s terms, the USA would be around $17,708. They’d be rather poorer than Trinidad and Tobago.
But the GDP per capita of the USA in 2013 was $52,392. If you’ll excuse the shorthand (conflating $ from the years 2000 and 2013 for both the UK and USA), then the GDP of the UK has increased from $2,465 to $42,423 over the last 230 years, or an increase of 17.2 times. Hardly seems worth all the effort, eh! And the USA increased from $1,110 to $53,392, a 48.1-fold increase.
So what use has independence been in pure economic terms to the USA? Economic growth has happened at a rate roughly three times as rapid as for the UK such that if the UK wanted to become a state of the USA today it would be the second-poorest state, just ahead of Mississippi.
Unionists will say, yeah, sure, but look at all the resources the USA has got. They’ll want to have a look at the academic evidence that indicates that countries blessed with plentiful natural resources tend to end up economically cursed.
Because what really matters is the ability to control your own destiny. The power to shape society so that the direction you collectively take sits comfortably with the people of the country. Setting taxes that distribute from rich to poor, not the other way round as Labour and Conservative alike are either busily planning or actively doing.
Independence? I’m sure the USA would be better off without!
Finally, I’ve scoured the internet and have yet to find any movement wishing to repatriate the USA as part of the UK (although there are UK journalists mooting the UK becoming the 51st state).