The Urge to Merge




Just about everything is merging these days: Hospital A acquires Hospital B; one mega phone company gobbles up a smaller one; entire TV networks change owners overnight. And we’ve given up trying to remember the name of our bank because it changes so often. And who’d have thought the French and Germans would ever agree on a single currency? What would you think about a few states merging? I don’t mean Texas or California — they’re so big they’re scary enough already. But what about Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut? Why don’t the six of us get together and quit trying to go it alone in this competitive world? We’ve already got a name — everyone who doesn’t live here refers to us as New England anyway. As a matter of fact, they never could tell us apart in the first place, so why not make the name New England legitimate? Picture this. If we merged the six states, Vermont would finally be able to claim oceanfront property and have lobster on the menu legitimately. Rhode Island wouldn’t have to make excuses for being so small anymore. New Hampshire might be able to scrap its school funding tax dilemma. Folks in Connecticut could start advertising their mountain resorts, and Massachusetts — well, they’d just have to tolerate the rest of us moving in on their claim to Harvard, the Boston Pops and Plymouth Rock. Some things won’t be easy to share: Vermont’s Ben and Jerry’s for instance, or Maine’s L.L. Bean, but in the interest of cooperation, they’d probably come around. Before you shoot down my theory, think about it. There could be some advantages here. How does one governor sound? And how about one legislature, and just one statehouse to maintain? What would you think about one state police force? One welfare system? How about one highway and safety division, bringing one uniform seat belt law and one set of speed limits? While we’re at it, let’s take down all those state welcome signs at our various borders and erect just a few on our new state’s perimeter, saying “Welcome to New England” — period! One presidential primary doesn’t sound bad, either, does it? There’s no reason for these White House seekers to make extra trips here just to convince us how wonderful they are. Cancel the chartered planes and buses. One campaign ad on a single New England TV station would do the trick. Come and woo us as one big happy New England state. Sure, that Dixville Notch gang will probably still get up early and vote before the rest of us, but you can’t expect everything to change. I’m beginning to like this idea myself — one state license plate, one state flower, one state university system, one state motto ... Oh no! That state motto business just might turn out to be one great big deal-breaking fly in our New England merger ointment! I mean, really, do you honestly believe that Granite Staters would ever agree to trade in good old “Live Free or Die” for some warm and fuzzy six-state version? This merger idea just might be a tough, if not impossible, idea to pull off. Too bad. The name “State of New England” has a nice ring to it. NH Joann Snow Duncanson is a columnist for the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript and author of “Who Gets the Yellow Bananas?”
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