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Can We Bribe the Voters of Eastern Oregon to Secede?

I’m no Felicity Huffman, but I’m pretty sure bribery doesn’t mean paying people to do something they were already planning to do.

While we’re solving homelessness by paying Portlanders to leave, can we also bribe the voters in Eastern Oregon, who’d rather secede to the “greener pastures” of Idaho than work to change state policies? —M.A.V.

For those who may have missed it in all the off-year special election excitement (those education service district races can be real nail-biters), voters in Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur and Sherman counties recently approved plans to look into redrawing Oregon’s borders such that those counties would become part of something called Greater Idaho.

That said, M., I’m not sure what you’re proposing. Do you want to bribe these counties to secede? I’m no Felicity Huffman, but I’m pretty sure bribery doesn’t mean paying people to do something they were already planning to do. If anything, they should offer us a bribe to agree to their plan.

And in fact they have! Sort of. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that none of the seven wannabe Crimeas (Union and Jefferson counties had already approved similar plans) are tax-revenue powerhouses, with an average income per capita that would rank 31st out of 36 if they were a single county. The Citizens for Greater Idaho Facebook group claims taxpayers in northwest Oregon subsidize the rest of the state to the tune of $547 per year.

It’s rare to see rural folks so plainly acknowledge the fact that in terms of taxes paid versus services rendered, red America is dead weight. (I took a few screenshots in case they change their mind.) But in this case, the numbers bolster their argument: “Let us leave, and you’ll never have to pick up our slack again!”

You might wonder how Idaho feels about having the equivalent of Oregon’s unemployed nephew crashing on their couch for the next 100 years or so. But as it happens, Idaho is already kind of a trailer park: That aggregate county that ranks 31st in Oregon? It’d be in the top third among Idaho counties. The more the merrier?

Of course, there are a bunch of reasons why this will never happen, most notably the fact that it would require action from Congress. And in any case, the movement might not be quite the groundswell it first appears: Yes, it’s seven counties—but their combined population is less than 44,000. That’s about four-fifths the size of Tigard. So, you know, let’s not get carried away.

Questions? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com.