Merge signShould states merge to save money? Don't worry. My question is rhetorical and mostly completely nonsense, intended to salute an ingenious solution that Minnesota and Wisconsin have come up with in an effort to save money.

They've agreed to join forces and use their purchasing power to buy road salt and prison food. They're also considering sharing helicopters and patrol boats. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, both signed executive orders Tuesday, mandating that their administrations look for areas that the two states and collaborate in, in an effort to save money for each state.

Some ideas that have been floated about
including sharing call centers, collections operations and agricultural, fisher and nursery operations.

Whether it works or not, it seems like a much better idea than cutting school programs or releasing dangerous prisoners early to save money. But it does make one think: How much revenue would the nation save if some of the smaller states were consolidated by the bigger ones?

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale). He is so glad to live in a country where people--especially those living in small states--have a sense of humor.

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