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2008-02-12

Americans agree with me on where to move

SEATTLE, Washington - When I compiled my livability index of all 50 states, I automatically excluded the 41 states that had a state income tax. Turns out many other Americans have the same philosophy - an editorial in today's WSJ looks at the relationship between state income taxes and domestic migration. Their comments are based on this year's United Van Lines migration study, which has allegedly been fairly representative of overall migration patterns for decades.

The WSJ notes that the 7 of the 8 states without an income tax (in the contiguous 48) are ranked in the top 12 as far as inbound vs. outbound migrants. In case you were simplistically thinking/hoping that people are moving strictly to get to better weather, note that Florida was the one no-income-tax state not in the top 12, and that bad-weather states like Wyoming and New Hampshire are getting a significant influx.

North Dakota, with an income tax, is a big outflux state, while South Dakota, right next door and without an income tax, is a big influx state. I doubt that the weather explains that one.

I've been saying for a while now, your best chance of getting the government you want is not to vote for it, but to move to it. And, as the WSJ notes, the people most likely to move are the ones you probably would most like to keep around:


Our friends on the left say Americans are willing to pay more taxes to get better government services, but their migration patterns reveal the opposite. Governors would be wise to heed these interstate migration trends as they try to cope with what may be one of the worst years in recent memory for state finances. The people who tend to be the most mobile in American society are the educated and motivated -- in other words, the taxpaying class. Tax them too much, and you'll soon find they aren't there to tax at all.

2 comments:

Christine said...

Your point about moving to a better government is very valid! I do wonder if I lived in a different place with a larger pool of people I had more in common with, or could at least openly speak my mind with, if I would be happier. I am probably coming at this issue from a slightly different angle than you, more from a sociological perspective rather than one of taxes and finances, but I am obviously talking about moving to the same kind of people and government. And I love that United Van Lines map!

Love Sheep said...

Vermont gets a special mention in the WSJ article as "a high-tax state with a big net influx last year." As a former resident of the Green Mountain state, I will speculate that most of these immigrants are leftwing nutjobs drawn like moths to the socialist flame. They seek to build a liberal utopia by electing people like Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders, and in doing so they've driven out most of the business innovation that would actually lead to economic growth and prosperity.