The 51st State, Western Maryland: How to succeed without seceding

Author: Barry Rascovar
Article Type:
Date Published: 09/22/2013

The mountain natives are restless in Maryland. They want to have it their way, though they represent just 10 percent of the state’s population. Here are a few things that annoy them: * A stream of tax increases (including one on rain!) from Annapolis. * State restrictions that devalue their land. * Tougher gun-control laws. *A bleeding-heart law that does away with the death penalty. * A state law legalizing gay marriages. * Political map-makers who deprive them of their conservative congressman. It’s enough to make you want to secede, which is the plan put forth by a Carroll County blogger, Scott Strzelczyk of New Windsor, for the five counties often lumped together as Western Maryland. The verb “to secede” is a curious term not to be confused with the similar-sounding verb “to succeed.” Indeed, were the five western counties to secede from Maryland, there would be no chance for that movement to succeed. It won’t happen Here’s why. * The 51st state: Western Maryland would be the third smallest by population (less than 660,000). Only Wyoming and Vermont would have fewer residents. * It would be a state divided between “haves” and “have nots.” Under-populated and impoverished Garrett and Allegany counties would be heavily outvoted by the far more crowded, well-off jurisdictions to the east. As the French say, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” * It would be one of the most homogeneous states, close to 90% white with few African Americans or Latinos. Nearly everyone would be Christian, too. * It would be filled with non-productive residents. Folks of retirement age and children 18 years or younger would constitute over 40% of the population. * Two wealthy counties – Carroll and Frederick – would be forced to support the other three jurisdictions that have high unemployment (Washington County’s jobless rate, for instance, stands at 8.4%). * The five counties would lose $622 million in direct Maryland school aid and a lot more Maryland aid earmarked for other social programs. Yet these jurisdictions only produce $326 million in income tax revenue.