Ed Driscoll

When "Staggering" Is Actually Pretty Simple

A recent Detroit News article is titled, “Leaving Michigan Behind: Eight-year population exodus staggers state.” Hopefully no one is staggered by why such an exodus is occurring:

Michigan’s exodus is one of the state’s best known but least understood problems. Long ignored or downplayed, outmigration has been shrugged off partly because it was assumed that those who were leaving were unemployed blue-collar workers and retirees, groups that, in economic terms, don’t cripple the state with their departure.

But a Detroit News analysis of U.S. Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service data reveals that every day, Michigan gets less populated, less educated, and poorer because of outmigration.

The state’s net loss to outmigration — the number of people leaving the state minus those moving in from other states — has skyrocketed since 2001. Although the Census Bureau does not report totals moving in and out each year, Internal Revenue Service records show that the population decline is a result of two disturbing trends: The number of Michigan residents leaving the state rose 25 percent between 2001 and 2007, while the number of new residents moving in plummeted by nearly one-third.

Since 2001, migration has cost Michigan 465,000 people, the equivalent of the combined populations of Grand Rapids, Warren and Sterling Heights — the state’s second-, third- and fourth-largest cities.

The writer notes, “Population loss of that magnitude is so rare that its impact has never been studied.” But similar, if less potent trends of outward migration are also occurring in other blue states. On Monday, the Contra-Costa Times reported “California Department of Finance statistics, released in December, show that California recorded domestic outmigration of about 135,000 people. It was the fourth consecutive year that more Americans left the state than moved in.”

It isn’t hard to figure out the connection here; in January, Shannon Love, one of the econoblogging Chicago Boyz, wrote that California is following “the grim path of the Great Lakes states”:

Those states where once the industrial dynamo for the entire Earth, yet they destroyed that enormous economic dominance by political policies hostile to economic creativity. Likewise, California had a golden era as an economic and cultural dynamo. Well up until the late 1980s California was the place to go to make it big. People moved from other states to California. Now, internal migration has reversed. California looks less like a dreamland and more like basket case waiting to happen.

It seems that in post-New Deal America, economic and civil success sow their own seeds of destruction. When things are going good, socialist experimentation seems harmless. A booming economy can pay for increased government spending and an ever-increasing scope of government power. Eventually, however, socialism strangles the economic engine and destroys civil society.

I think Texas may be the next boom state and I hope we escape this trap. One would think that socialism would not gain a foothold in independent minded Texas, but California was once a land of rugged individualists too.

And similarly, New York’s governor got a sense of his state’s outward migration patterns when he took office last year:

Paterson cited a number of personal friends, all former New Yorkers, who have contacted him from out of state since his ascent to the governorship. “A friend from primary school, Randy San Antonio, told me he moved to Dallas 20 years ago,” Paterson began. “Another friend, Randy Watts, had moved to Reno. A friend from Syracuse, Marvin Lee Simons, said he’s working in Lower Manhattan. I said we should get together . . . and he said, ‘Well, I don’t live in New York. I live in western Pennsylvania.’ Jeff and Stacey Stackhouse wanted to start a business on Long Island. They moved two years ago–they’re trying to start their business in Charlotte, North Carolina. They couldn’t pay the taxes here.”

As Glenn Reynolds wrote in January, “It’s like the whole high-tax, high-regulation thing isn’t working for them.”

And naturally, when protests about those conditions arise from the right, the legacy media is the last to know–and the first to make fools of themselves on air with primitive double entendres, even as they grapple with their own “staggering” population exodus.

Related: Jennifer Rubin notes, Unfortunately, McCain was right”:

Obama may have run as a tax cutter, but you should brace yourself for some of the largest tax hikes in history. Unless of course Congress gets the idea it would be political suicide and looks to a combination of spending restraint, tax reform, and pro-growth policies.

Ed Morrissey channels the ghost of John Lennon to “Imagine” a more radical solution. It’s easy if you try