Exit Stage Right

Exit Stage Right

I have been quiet lately due to a major move—my second in seven years. Relocating is a daunting task, one that seems to become more difficult later in life, if only due to inertia and the accumulation of “stuff.” Travails can sometimes be a “teaching moment,” and so it is here. My recent moves—from California to Texas, and now to Tennessee—illustrate one of the benefits of federalism. In the vernacular of noted economist Albert O. Hirschman, when it became clear that my political “voice” was irrelevant in the progressive enclaves of southern California and then Austin, I decided to exercise the prerogative of mobility inherent in our federal system: I voted with my feet and exited to more congenial environs.

Residents of high-tax, poorly governed, and liberal-dominated states, such as California, Illinois, and New York, increasingly relocate elsewhere, often to the Sunbelt. People do so for a variety of reasons. Approximately 40 million Americans move each year, a decision that used to be driven mainly by climate considerations, particularly involving residents of the Snow Belt—and especially retirees—seeking warmer weather. Today, more and more Americans of all ages migrate internally for economic reasons (lower taxes, a better job market, and cheaper housing). Some, like me, are political refugees—escaping partisan hegemony in their home state that runs contrary to their preferences. In all these respects, mobility enables Americans to improve their well-being by pursuing more attractive opportunities elsewhere in this magnificent, sprawling country.

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