Productive citizens can’t seem to find a way to change the direction in which Washington politicians are taking us. The “47 percent who are dependent” crowd Mitt Romney spoke of prefer the country’s present course. These are the folks who sup regularly and without shame at the public trough and help elect the politicians who are causing the problems.
More responsible folks are being out-voted. What to do? Well, there is one decision each of us can make to change our personal financial future. We can move away, vote with our feet. I don’t mean moving to Costa Rica, though it is looking more attractive as the years go by. While it’s hard to hide from federal government atrocities against taxpayers, each of us is free to move to states or counties where fiscal responsibility and protecting taxpayers is taken seriously by local government.
Some states like Florida and Texas have responsible budget policies, while many do not. Some cities and counties have governments that live within their means and have little debt. Some, and my home county is one, have allowed runaway budgets, taxes and heavy debt. Palm Beach County, for example, doubled its budget in seven years. In a recent five-year period, the county increased its tax levies by an average 11.5 percent each year.
We will see increased population migration among states in the next decade. More than 12 million Americans will move from one county to another each year. So, let’s do an interesting thought experiment. Take your mind 10-15 years from now: Which U.S. states will be the best to live in, or move to, by then? Which states are on the taxpayer-friendly high road and which continue chugging toward bigger financial woes?
Now, your circumstances in life may affect your choice. If you’re low on money, if you want to feed from the entitlement wagon, if you want to live off other people’s money, you probably want to move to places like California, Illinois, New York and Michigan. If you want to be responsible for your own life, build self-esteem, pay reasonable taxes and have a better chance at a good job, you’d better choose someplace else.
But let’s say it’s 15 years from now – 2028 — and we’re looking back. We could see which states have prospered in spite of the left’s loony economic programs. In future years, some states will do well and others won’t. States that will attract population over the next 10-15 years will:
- have no income tax. Currently, there are nine of them;
- kick-start growth by limiting property tax increases and slashing state corporate taxes;
- bring public pension costs under control by moving from defined benefit to defined contribution retirement plans;
- raise the sales tax, which hits consumption and not wealth creation, if taxes have to go up;
- find ways to put a lid on violent crime;
- create an education system of decent quality.
Here in Florida, certain counties and cities have developed a reputation for building responsible and prudent governments. Among large counties, the name I hear most is Duval, home of Jacksonville. There are a number of smaller counties with good reputations, among them Escambia, Charlotte and Columbia.
But if history is any gauge, the county governments that will protect taxpayers the least in the next decade, because of their fondness for the costly entitlement programs of “progressive” politicians, will be the three urban counties on Florida’s southeast coast.
Wherever you are, it’s nearing decision time: move or stay?