By A. Hadenius
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15 The second dimension has to do with the distribution of seats in elections to the upper chamber. In this area, the United States and Australia take the most confederalist position. In both countries the subunits (called states also in Australia) are given equal representation, in spite of considerable discrepancies in population size. The same formula once applied in Switzerland, too. As in the United States, all of the subunits (or cantons) were given two representatives each. But eventually a few cantons split into “half-cantons,” which were given one representative each.
The United States of 1781 had a highly confederative structure and at the same time was highly decentralized, since almost all public activities—apart from the waging of war against the British—were carried out at state level or below (indeed, they were performed first and foremost by local governments). By contrast, the structure of government established by the Constitution of 1789 was more federalist in character. Yet that institutional transformation, as we have seen, brought about no major changes in the division of labor within the public sector.
The most heavily indebted countries, such as Japan or Greece, had substantially higher levels. The main problem was the accelerating growth of the debt—a 32 American Exceptionalism Revisited worrying prospect for coming years (Chantrill 2014). At the same time, as we will see in the next chapter, the mounting debt would pose an increasing problem for the decision-makers in Washington—generating an unwieldy political stalemate and a nation on the brink of economic default. * * * The members of the antifederalist camp, who had opposed federal expansion when the United States came into being, could for a long time sleep soundly in their graves.