Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Americans flee industrial wasteland, seek shelter in taxless Texas

Posted in Economy, poverty, Texas, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 16, 2010

Here is an interesting interactive map that shows the more than 10 million relocations made by Americans from one county to another during 2008. I took a few screen shots to highlight some interesting trends.

Sully focuses on the migration to Texas, which he calls the “Blue flight to a red state.”

I really doubt the people fleeing from New York and California are mostly diehard Libertarians, who don’t want their tax dollars going to The Man. More than likely, they’re looking for jobs, and hey, if they can save money by not being taxed by the state, what poor person is going to turn that down?

I’m not condoning that logic. After all, citizens fleeing to Texas is a race to the bottom. If all states suddenly adopted Texas’s bare bone approach, citizens would lose all kinds of services, namely because no one would be paying to preserve public services. What I’m saying is it’s understandable that poor, desperate people would see moving to taxless Texas as a perk.

Longterm, however, it makes much more sense to — ya’ know — raise the minimum wage and provide comprehensive healthcare reform so people aren’t going bankrupt after getting their appendixes removed, and then they don’t have to move thousands of miles to protect their meager incomes.

Now, check out Detroit:

Wow, that’s ugly. A while ago, I wrote about this mass exodus from what used to be America’s industrial heart.

The city is experiencing a mass exodus. The auto industry is extinct, and around two million people have fled the city. Unemployment is around 30 percent (nearly three times the national average,) and 55 percent of the children in Detroit live in poverty. The former industrial interior (what Time calls “the remains of Detroit“) – and the fields of abandoned homes — look like corpses in a war zone.

If anyone thinks this problem isn’t going to spread, they’re sadly mistaken. These abandoned cities pepper the United States, and the epidemic of poverty is growing. Somewhere along the way, unemployment figures that would have horrified the nation a decade ago seem normal now — even acceptable (unemployment “edged down to 9.7 percent.”)

A lot of things that would have passed as spooky Orwellian fiction are now accepted as inevitable events. The state now has the right to exercise enormous power over citizens – to eavesdrop on them, hold them indefinitely without trial, taser, bully, and intimidate them into suppression even if they are exercising their First Amendment rights. The unemployed have their lifelines of state support dangled in front of their faces by an uncaring, elite ruling class, who occasionally taunts them by yanking away the carrot.

Citizens are born into indebted families, and quickly acquire their own monetary shackles — if they’re lucky, in college — but they’re more likely to acquire credit card debt, or debt from medical expenses. Some who fought, scrimped, and saved enough to buy a house were swindled out of it by the pirates on Wall Street. Again, that too is normal. The world’s economic system demands winners and losers, except most of us lose, and the winners get to keep most of the wealth because they’re better at shamelessly lying and stealing.

Finally, when the burden of debt is too much to bear, residents run down hill to seek shelter – to protect their last few assets in any way possible. This is not cause to celebrate taxless Texas, but rather a striking example of why there needs to be major policy reform in this country. People are desperate. We’ve known that for a long time, but here it is in helpful map form.

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