January 17, 2013
writers, and pundits of the limited-government
persuasion have few professional pleasures. But blue states’ policy
failures provide a delicious perk.
strategy is spectacularly destructive. When government-employee unions, Nanny
Statists, and mouthpieces for “public investments” are in charge, jobs vanish,
residents flee, and debt accumulates to unsustainable levels.
Every rule has
In Massachusetts, moonbats infest
all levels of government, yet the quality of life is impressive and economic
conditions are shockingly strong.
The GOP holds
just 33 of 200 seats in the Massachusetts
General Court. Every member of the Bay State’s
D.C. delegation is a Democrat. Voters haven’t embraced a Republican
presidential candidate since Ronald
Reagan’s blowout reelection. Massachusetts
was the first state to issue “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples. Its gun-control
laws are among the most restrictive in the nation. “Smart growth”
is popular, and there’s zero public pressure to withdraw from the Regional
Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
questions the state’s liberal bona fides.
Yet on many metrics, The Realm of the Kennedys achieves considerable results. U.S. median household
income (MHI) -- half earn more, half earn less -- increased by a feeble 3.2
percent, adjusted for inflation, between 1991 and 2011. Three of the five states
that border Massachusetts (Rhode
Island, Connecticut, and New York) saw MHI drop during the period. Low-tax New Hampshire, another
neighbor, experienced 13.5 percent growth. The tiny community of aging-hippie
households in next-door Vermont
got 10.5 percent richer. (Evidently, organic farming is mighty lucrative.) But
at 10.1 percent, Massachusetts
delivered a solid performance.
Unemployment rates tell a similar story. In
the area, New Hampshire and Vermont are stars, at 5.6 percent and 5.2
percent, respectively. Joblessness in stuck-on-stupid Connecticut
and Rhode Island
is above the national figure of 7.8 percent. In Massachusetts, unemployment is a below-average
6.6 percent. The state has nearly clawed its way back to the number of jobs it
had in 2008 -- a claim that not many in the Northeast can make. (Don’t even ask
For 2012, United
Van Lines assigned Massachusetts to the
“balanced” category for relocations within America. (Connecticut,
New York, New Jersey,
suffer from “high-outbound migration.”) In the last 50 years, the Bay State’s citizenry has
increased by 27.2 percent. Not subpar, after accounting for high population
density. Unlike many cities in the region -- Rochester,
New Haven, Hartford,
-- Boston is
neither stagnant nor dying. Its population has grown for four straight
There are two
plausible explanations for why the blue-state blues don’t afflict Massachusetts. First, higher
education and healthcare play inordinate roles in its economy. The college
bubble has yet to burst, and until it does, parents from around the nation
will continue ship their teenagers off to Boston
for degrees that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Most
postsecondary institutions in the city, it’s worth noting, are private.) World-renowned
medical facilities are another substantial source of wealth- and job-creation.
politically and socially, it can’t lean more to the left, “Taxachusetts” isn’t
what it used to be. In 1980, voters approved Proposition 2½. In
the words of a Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
study, the ballot measure “places a cap on the effective property tax rate at
2.5 percent and limits nominal annual growth in property tax revenues to 2.5
percent, unless residents pass a referendum … allowing a greater increase.” In
addition, the Bay
personal-income tax is 5.25 percent -- skimpy, when compared to the regional
the Tax Foundation, New Hampshire has the Northeast’s lowest state-local
tax burden. Of all income earned by its residents, 8.1 percent is filched
and municipal governments. Massachusetts can’t
surpass the state that John
Fund dubbed “the Orange
County of the East Coast.”
But its tax take of 10.4 percent beats Rhode Island
(10.9 percent), Connecticut (12.3 percent), and
New York (12.8
The Tax Foundation’s
ranking of the
lightness of levies imposed on businesses is another positive indicator.
Once again, New Hampshire
excels at #7. New York (#50), Vermont (#47), Rhode Island
(#46), and Connecticut
(#40) are predictably hideous. Massachusetts
lands at a tolerable #22.
Many of us
would be horrified to live in Deval Patrick’s cobalt commonwealth.
Fans of SUVs, property rights, the Second Amendment, and reality-based environmentalism are happy to avoid
the home of Michael Dukakis and John Kerry. But give moonbats credit. They’ve
built a “progressive” paradise -- and for now at least, are making the People’s
Republic of Massachusetts
a unique success.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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