June 09, 2016
you’re an economic and/or tax refugee who’s fled New Jersey, Illinois, or
Connecticut, here’s some advice.
of new research and data confirms that deep-blue states haven’t changed their
ways. Unionized government employees still run public policy. The cost of
everything from energy to groceries to housing remains steep. Regulatory ratcheting,
nannyism and social engineering haven’t ebbed. As a result, the economies and
populations of moonbat-infested states are stagnant, or shrinking. And in all
likelihood, harsher times lie ahead.
Budgetary horror is a good place to start. The Mercatus
Center, a free-market think tank housed at George Mason
University, has issued the second edition of “Ranking the States by Fiscal
Condition.” The analysis explores the extent to which the laboratories of
democracy are “accountable and responsible stewards of public dollars.” Authors
Eileen Norcross and Olivia Gonzalez applied “14 basic financial metrics” from
“five dimensions of solvency,” including cash on hand, long-term liabilities,
and trust-fund health.
state with the worst finances? Connecticut. New Jersey’s close by, at 48th,
followed by Illinois, at 47th. In the Land of Lincoln, the
unfunded-pension liability alone is
equal to 49 percent “of total state personal income.” The Nutmeg State fares
better on the metric, at 36 percent, but throwing in bonded debt and the burden
of other post-employment benefits (OPEB) -- basically, healthcare benefits for
government retirees -- “brings the total to 53 percent of state personal
the red zone, and the balance sheets improve, often significantly. Idaho, Utah,
Tennessee, and the Dakotas rank in the top 15. Oil-rich Alaska grabbed the top
spot, but Nebraska, with paltry petroleum production, landed at #2. It enjoys
“very low levels of debt” and zero
health and economic vibrancy feed off each other. Keep government in its proper
place, and an economy booms. Healthy businesses and a growing workforce bring
in the revenue to keep states in the black. When the Bureau of Labor Statistics
looked at job-creation in the 51 “large metropolitan areas” during the last
quarter-century, no-income-tax, right-to-work Texas dominated, with Austin #1
(144 percent), San Antonio #8 (83 percent), Dallas #9 (73 percent), and Houston
#12 (66 percent). Other star performers included Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix,
and Nashville. The three locales with the lousiest employment expansion:
Buffalo (4.3 percent), Cleveland (3.5 percent), and Hartford (1.1 percent).
In May, the U.S.
Census Bureau’s tabulation of urban growth between 2014 and 2015 found that
“Georgetown, Texas, saw its population rise 7.8 percent … making it the
nation’s fastest-growing city with a population of 50,000 or more … .
Georgetown is part of the Austin-Round Rock metro area, which crossed the 2
million population threshold in 2015 for the first time … . This metro area is
also home to Pflugerville, the nation’s 11th fastest-growing large city. Austin
itself added more people over the period (19,000) than all but seven other U.S.
cities. Texas was home to five of the 11 fastest-growing cities (New Braunfels,
Frisco and Pearland were the others), and five of the eight that added the most
people (Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Dallas were the others).”
on the bureau’s data to The Wall Street
Journal, demographer William Frey noted the all-but unprecedented
phenomenon that suburbs in Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Rochester, Buffalo,
and Hartford are losing residents.
exceptions -- Massachusetts
is doing fairly well -- Blue America’s present is unrelentingly bleak. But
its future looks downright chilling. The Pew Charitable Trusts, crunching data
from the Demographics Research Group of the University of Virginia’s Weldon
Cooper Center for Public Service, found
that the working-age population in many cobalt communes is set to shrink.
By 2040, the cohort of 25-to-54-year-olds in Connecticut will decline by 9.3
percent. In Illinois, the drop is projected to be 9.4 percent. With fewer
workers, who’ll be around to pay all those pension and OPEB bills? (Bailouts
from D.C. are highly unlikely.)
contrast, the working-age population of Texas will rise by 51 percent. Utah’s
set to grow by 42 percent; Nevada, 40 percent. Florida may be purple, politically, but like the Silver and Lone Star States, it doesn’t tax incomes, and doesn’t compel the payment of
tribute to union bosses. Its 25-to-54-year-old community will swell by 41
states that embraced unlimited government decades ago have seen the success
that flows from following the opposite approach. Stuck on stupid, they won’t
change their ways -- and won’t be successful in luring back the people and
businesses they’ve lost.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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