D. Dowd Muska

 

This Week's Column

   

 

Obstacles in the Path to a Moonbat Nation

April 10, 2014

America’s “progressives” are convinced that the future belongs to them.

The left’s propagandists do make a strong case that the U.S. is getting bluer. Barack Obama was elected and reelected. Healthcare is rapidly advancing toward nationalization. There’s lots of whining about “income inequality.” Welfare rolls are bulging, bigtime. The Nanny State is taking ground, micromanaging everything from genetically modified food to “historic” properties to automobiles. Early polls have Hillary Clinton significantly ahead of the GOP field.

Liberal triumphalism is not baseless. But it is premature.

Population is the best place to start. There are exceptions, but in general, the redder a state is, the more it grows. Strong economies have Texas, North Dakota, Georgia, Utah, the Carolinas, and Arizona clobbering ex-dynamos such as California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. According to researcher Wendell Cox, between 2010 and 2013, “51 percent of the population increase in the 52 major metropolitan areas (over 1 million population) was in the South. The West accounted for 30 percent of the increase.”

Data on youth suggest that the trend will continue. The metro regions of Boston, San Francisco, Rochester, and Pittsburgh have subpar 14-and-under populations. In contrast, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Charlotte, and San Antonio are lousy with kids. That’s not surprising, given fertility rates. Utah, of course, leads the way, with Idaho, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, and Texas clustering near the top. Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are abandoning the baby-making business.

Analyst Joshua Wright found that energy and manufacturing drive boomtowns like Midland (Texas), Odessa (Texas), Bismarck (North Dakota), and Pascagoula (Mississippi). Fracking terrifies Eco-Loon America, but it’s embraced by the states that recognize the technique’s value. The 21st century’s hydrocarbon renaissance generates extraction, engineering, and geology careers, as well as ample opportunities in factories that need affordable natural gas and electricity. Fracking has played a major role in creating 626,000 manufacturing jobs in the last four years. (Pat Buchanan, call your office.) The industry’s lobbying association puts its annual average compensation at an impressive $77,505 -- far greater than average earnings for all types of full-time work.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal last year, scholar Joel Kotkin noted: “Raleigh, Austin, Denver and Salt Lake City have all become high-tech hubs. Charlotte is now the country’s second-largest financial center. Houston … boasts the world’s largest medical center and, along with Dallas, has become a major corporate and global transportation hub.”

Boosted economic power enhances political power. Red states’ wealth means additional contributions to conservative and libertarian think tanks, activist organizations, and office-seeking candidates. At the presidential level, population shifts alter the only metric that matters. After the 2010 census, 10 states surrendered a total of 12 Electoral College votes. (New York and Ohio each lost two.) Eight states divvied up the votes. (Florida grabbed two, Texas four.) Obama claimed victory in every shrinker but Missouri and Katrina-ravaged Louisiana. Mitt Romney -- yes, Mitt Romney -- won five of the gainers. (Florida and Nevada, two of the three vote-adding states the GOPer lost, are “purple” and likely to remain true tossups.)

The blue-state model is prized by unionized government employees, welfare dependents, and trust-fund beneficiaries. But it’s a raw deal for workin’ folks looking to settle down someplace where the cost of living is reasonable. Housing, transportation, utilities, insurance, groceries, and taxes can be jaw-droppingly cheaper in Jerkwater, U.S.A. Elites in the Northeast and along the Pacific coast scoff at the lower wages beyond their borders, but if expenses are dramatically lower, doesn’t that more than compensate?

Another perk for many red staters is the avoidance of killer costs for government employees’ retirements. Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland have some of the worst unfunded liabilities. Nebraska, Utah, South Dakota, and Tennessee are among the best-positioned to weather big pension and healthcare bills. As stuck-on-profligacy states hike their already-high taxes to cover bureaucrats’ golden years, more residents will flee, and fewer businesses will set up shop. Decline will accelerate.

An unstoppable wave of limited-government sentiment will not sweep America in another week or month or election cycle. Liberals comprise less than a quarter of the citizenry, but their control of the media, entertainment, academia, and “public” sector enables their cohort to punch well above its weight.

However, the clouds aren’t all dark for the cause of liberty. Broad, deep, and possibly irreversible economic and demographic developments are at work. While the process is slow, it might shock and disappoint the moonbats who never saw it coming.

D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska. He lives in Broad Brook, Connecticut.

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