More Americans are choosing freedom by voting with their feet

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 by

( About a thousand Americans per day vote with their feet, leaving heavily taxed, overly regulated blue states for more liberty-minded environments in red states, according to The Daily Signal, which cited a recent Heritage Foundation study [Full disclosure: The Daily Signal was founded by the Heritage Foundation].

As noted by economist and Heritage senior fellow Stephen Moore, while progressives on the Left often talk admirably about how their policies will lead to a worker’s utopia, the fact is that, day in and day out, month after month and year after year, Americans are leaving blue “utopias” for conservative red states, where taxes, regulatory policies and overall “nanny statism” is much less.

And in the long run, this trend may have significant ramifications on presidential elections, boosting electoral votes in red states where there currently are fewer.

“The new Census data on where we live and where we moved to in 2014 shows that the top seven states with the biggest percentage increase in in-migration from other states are in order: North Dakota, Nevada, South Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, and Texas. All of these states are red, except Colorado, which is purple,” Moore writes.

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“Meanwhile, the leading exodus states of the continental states in percentage terms were Alaska, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Kansas. All of these states are blue, except Alaska and Kansas,” he said.

Moreover, he says, in the latest “Rich States, Poor States” document he co-authored, and which was published by the American Legislative Exchange Counsel, notes that about 1,000 people per day, on sum, leave blue states for red ones.

“This migration is changing the economic center of gravity in America—moving it relentlessly to the South and West,” Moore said.

Author of the book, “How Money Walks,” Travis Brown, demonstrates that the two leading factors driving the movement of human capital in America are: 1) whether a state has passed a right to work law (half of them have; one failed narrowly in Missouri this past legislative year); and 2) how high top income tax rates are. Nine states currently have no income tax and Brown says they are creating jobs at twice the rate than states with high income taxes.

Moore further notes:

Data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) show a similar trend. Each year the IRS issues a migration data report that examines how many tax filers (and dependents) in the year changed their residency and how much income was transported from one state to another. The numbers for the most recent year (tax filing year 2013) are gigantic and put the lie to the claim that interstate migration is too small to matter in terms of the wealth and economic opportunity in one state versus another.

“I’ve never met a Democrat who could come up with even a semi-plausible explanation for why families and businesses are hightailing it out of blue states,” Moore continued. “They are leaving states with high minimum wages, pro-union work rules, high taxes on the rich, generous welfare benefits, expansive regulations to “help” workers, green energy policies, etc. People are voting with their feet against these liberal policies.”

In a debate with liberal economist and New York Times columnist Dr. Paul Krugman over the summer, Moore said his debate opponent blamed the migration from liberal north to the conservative south on the fact that today there is more air conditioning once you get past the Mason-Dixon line.

Sure – except for California and North Dakota, the latter of which is anything but a warm destination.

As Moore noted, the trend has been underway for some time. In July 2014, Forbes reported the same thing, noting that Texas was fast becoming the big winner. Contributor Chuck DeVore notes that despite the growth of federal power, states still have much leeway when it comes to the implementation of tax and regulatory policies, thereby giving some states leverage over others – hence the migration.

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