A small, conservative rural county in the topmost part of California has voted to secede and become its own state. In the ultimate irony, part of their justification is to petition the federal government for funds.
September 5, 2013


There seems to be a growing movement for small rural counties dominated by extreme conservatives to decide it's a good idea to secede from whatever state they might be in. Recently a Colorado county voted for secession, and yesterday a small county near the California-Oregon border also voted to petition the state to secede.

Their reasons ranged from issues over water rights to the coho salmon recovery to anger over California legislators' recent move with regard to transgender bathrooms. One resident claimed that immigration reform was just something they could not abide, but a look at the photo of the town meeting begs the question of whether there's even the slightest possibility of even one brown person gracing their county. This also made me scratch my head a bit:

"We realize it is not a resolution; it is not an ordinance," Liz Bowen said. "We do appreciate the county board of supervisors knowing that our economy is really poor here. We're having a terrible time for a lot of reasons, and the biggest reason is over regulating."

"Statehood is the only way things will truly change," said Mark Baird, president of Scott Valley Protect Our Water. "It's going to be hard, but we have to try to do this." He added that there is a need for a local government that understands Siskiyou County issues.

After the vote, Baird spoke briefly on funding the possible infant state. He pointed out there would be a lull in finances after the initial transition but said a petition to congress for a loan might provide bridge funding. "I could live with potholes if I was free," Baird said.

Ah, I see. Secede from California, form your own state and head off to Uncle Sam to suckle at the teat of prosperity? Because small government?

Of course, secession would mean this small, sparsely populated area with its trees and mountains wouldn't have the benefit of Cal Fire's services. Cal Fire was among several groups of firefighters who managed to contain this fire before it raged out of control.

Siskiyou County receives more than they toss into the state's coffers, as David Atkins wrote over on Digby's blog:

This is an empty threat, of course. There is approximately zero chance that the California legislature would grant secession to a Republican county that doesn't like being part of an overwhelming liberal state majority, and doesn't want to do a small part to pay the state back for protecting its residents from forest fires.

It's not as if Siskiyou County would be able to survive better as an independent state. Like most Republican counties in California, Siskiyou gets more money from Sacramento than it pays in.

So I guess they think it's a better bet to head off to Washington DC to replace that Sacramento flow?

I don't mean to belittle the real issues they have up there. The economy is bad, it's a rural county, and water rights are an issue that's not going away anytime soon. But secession isn't the answer here. Every argument for secession somehow suggested they'd be better off "free", while also acknowledging the need for government in some form to step into the gaps they would face without state services.

It would have been far more honest of them to simply admit that government actually can work for the good of all people, even if it means belonging to a larger collective.

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