Free Markets, Free People

Voters flee to states with less government intrusion

Daniel Mitchell provides a bit of ground truth that we’ve recently seen demonstrated via the census numbers:

The world is a laboratory and different nations are public policy experiments. Not surprisingly, the evidence from these experiments is that nations with more freedom tend to grow faster and enjoy more prosperity. Nations with big governments, by contrast, are more likely to suffer from stagnation. The same thing happens inside the United States. The 50 states are experiments, and they generate considerable data showing that small government states enjoy better economic performance. But because migration between states is so easy (whereas migration between nations is more complicated), we also get very good evidence based on people “voting with their feet.” Taxation and jobs are two big factors that drive this process.

Seats were gained by two types of states – those with "right to work" laws and states without income tax. The states with relatively low income taxes also gained.

Says Michael Barone:

…growth tends to be stronger where taxes are lower. Seven of the nine states that do not levy an income tax grew faster than the national average. The other two, South Dakota and New Hampshire, had the fastest growth in their regions, the Midwest and New England. Altogether, 35 percent of the nation’s total population growth occurred in these nine non-taxing states, which accounted for just 19 percent of total population at the beginning of the decade.

For the “we have the lowest taxes in the world” bunch that continue to claim our taxes should be even higher, these numbers should drive the point home.  Americans are indeed voting with their feet and they’re fleeing to states that encourage vs. discourage businesses (and thus the creation of jobs) and states which don’t tax the income of job holders.  Unsurprisingly those states are mostly found in the South where free markets and free people are concepts that aren’t esoteric thought exercises, but something which those that live there both desire and demand.

Certainly that doesn’t mean the South is perfect by any means.  It’s just much better than the rest of the country when it comes to those two things that people hold to be important – enough so that they’re moving there in record numbers to take advantage of the business climate.  Texas, for instance, picked up 4 House seats.  Florida 2.  The rest of the South, except Louisiana (the Katrina effect), picked up one each.

This is another indicator of why I see Democrats and their agenda having problems in 2012.  That message hasn’t yet sunk in.  Whether it will or not, remains to be seen.  But to this point, they’re still a “big government” party.  Republicans seem, at least on the surface, to understand what the voters said the last election.  Spine, however, is an ever fleeting commodity in Washington, and if they – as they usually do – buy into this “need” for “bipartisanship”, then they’re fools and they’ll fail.  Bipartisanship is vastly oversold.  If ever the GOP played hardball, now is the time.

Of course, the other side of that is if the GOP succeeds in some small way and convince President Obama to sign those victories into law, Obama will obviously try to claim he’s the reason it became a law.  A little reflective glory.  Spin cycles will be on overdrive and the GOP must be as transparent as possible during this next Congressional period so any such occurrence will reflect favorably on them and not the President.

Let’s be upfront here – we need Obama playing golf permanently in 2013.

Anyway, the demographics of the new census and the why and wherefores of the population shift were just too interesting to pass off.  Daniel Mitchell then asks the most salient of questions in conclusion:

This leaves us with one perplexing question. If we know that pro-market policies work for states, why does the crowd in Washington push for more statism?

The one word we all know and loath, of course – power.



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18 Responses to Voters flee to states with less government intrusion

  • Republicans seem, at least on the surface, to understand what the voters said the last election.  Spine, however, is an ever fleeting commodity in Washington, and if they – as they usually do – buy into this “need” for “bipartisanship”, then they’re fools and they’ll fail.

    Unfortunately, if I were a betting man, that’s the way I would bet.

    The Beltway crowd has counted for their whole careers on a short attention span for moderate voters. Sure, they get cranked up and do a 1994 or 2010 limited government thing every once in a while, but just lull them to sleep and you’re good for another decade or two of DC business-as-usual.

    They might be wrong this time. There is a large group of voters who had pretty much checked out of the process from frustration and having no one to vote for, and lots of those have checked back in. I hope they will stay. If that group is large enough, it will result in a permanent change in the dynamics.

    But my intuition is that establishment Republicans will have to have that staying power proven to them. They’ll try the old GOP shuffle, saying limited government generalities on the campaign trail while operating as Democrat Lite back in DC. They’ll put more credence in what Washington Post opinion writers think than what voters back home think (the rubes!). They’ll cherry pick any opinions that downplay the severe and increasing economic risk of the debt bomb. In fact, for pretty much all Democrats and perhaps half of Republicans, I think they’re emotionally incapable of believing that economic meltdown can really happen.

    At least one more round of defeat for establishment GOP types will be needed before the message is really received. Maybe more than one. Some of them (Snowe?) will look at Murkowski and decide to “bravely” continue to be bipartisan, i.e. semi-socialist instead of full-bore socialist.

    (And to the voters of Alaska – what the he!! were you thinking?!? I know those Boston voters are so indoctrinated that they’ll choose a Barney Frank over someone rational, but I thought you guys had more capacity for long term thinking than to put someone back in just because she is the queen of pork.)

    • But there is something new moving across the land, I truly believe, in the TEA Party movement.  I don’t get that the passion is subsiding…and DC has certainly not shown they get it and are willing to curb their ways.
      More and more, the pols are going to get that doing what works is a survival skill they CAN afford.

  • People are following the sun. (thank you air conditioning)
    People are fleeing the legacy costs of maintaining infrastructure and institutions that were at their zenith in the 1940s.
    People are moving to places where the cost of living is lower.
    People are following jobs.
    I don’t think most people are making a conscious decision to move to states with more freedom. Instead the process is more like: Lower cost, more jobs, nicer weather v. where I grew up and where grandma lives.
    Grandma can take a plane to visit us!

    • As a state which has been recipient of the people following all these wonderful things, I hope that the people moving in will appreciate what they find HERE, as opposed to bringing what they fled along with them.
      Unfortunately as a long since transplanted (Damn) Yankee  in my opinion ‘we’ haven’t improved a lot of things.  I continually see shades of behaviors, attitudes, and nanny-ism that I was happy to escape.  I expect the latest batch of ‘Yankees’ (that is, anyone living north of the Red River) will show up, settle in, and proceed to give us a dose of life imported from the states they fled.
      Please folks, Don’t Mess with Texas.

      • Agreed. One Austin is enough!

      • When I lived in Dallas, there was a great bumper sticker:  We don’t care how you used to do it up North.

        • You are right to worry. Nevada got turned inside out by the California liberals moving in to avoid high taxes.

          • As they did to Colorado and Arizona.
            In Colorado in the 80’s, there was a bumper sticker that read, “DON’T CALIFORNICATE COLORADO”.
            The hippies and statists from CA, NY and Mass. would move in “…because the economy sucked and taxes were so high…”, then a few months later would pronounce that, “…back in X, we had all these goodies…”.

          • Vermont – another example.
            So green, so pretty, so easily conquered by outsiders.

  • Just a word of caution, at least 2 of those 4 house seats that Texas picked up is because of immigration from Mexico.

    And that does not make Texas more libertarian or conservative.  Hispanics vote two to one for Democrats.

    • I haven’t been convinced that the sunbelt buildup is more due to moving voters than immigrants.

      • Did California gain seats? Because we sure do gain immigrants, and not just those from Mexico.

        • According to Barone, for the first time since admission to the Union, Kulhifornia did not GAIN a seat.

        • you gained immigrants, but lost other people because of the bad economy.

          • Immigrants don’t get to vote…yet.

          • Immigrants get to vote, but the state doesn’t gain anymore electoral college seats or congressmen.
            So illegal immigrant votes effect get somewhat muted.  That’s why Democrats are desperate to eliminate the electoral college.  For all intent and purposes chances are those states are going to vote Democrat anyway.  But if the President is by popular vote, those states with shady voting practices can extend their impact.