Every now and then, I feel a twinge of remorse for my nigh-relentless Massachusetts bashing. After all, I have some friends who live there, and the state has given us some pretty good things, too. And every now and then I am reminded of just why I feel the need to shout as loudly as I can (thanks for the world-wide megaphone, Kevin) about just how wrong-headed the politicians in Massachusetts can be, to give an abject lesson to the rest of us of what not to do.
That happened again yesterday, when reports came out that Massachusetts was hemorrhaging people at an alarming rate — about 42,000 a year since 2000, or approximately 6.6 people per thousand. New York was the only one to fare worse, with 9.6 people per thousand deciding to make like a tree and get out.
Massachusetts officials are understandably worried. Not only could this cost them clout in Washington the next time Congressional seats are reapportioned (they lost one seat in 2000), but the folks fleeing are mostly the ones who pay (and pay and pay) the taxes that keep the Bay State creaking along. About the only sector of population in Massachusetts showing any real growth is among the illegal alien community — and they tend to consume more in services than they pay for in taxes.
Naturally, everyone is looking for reasons why this is happening. One theory (bolstered by the refusal of some Katrina refugees to go to Massachusetts) is the climate. New England has cold, bitter winters (this last one being a bit of an aberration). Why not go where it’s warmer?
That theory lasted about as long as it took to look at the numbers from Vermont, Maine, and my own beloved Cow Hampshire. We’re all growing just fine and dandy, and if anything we have worse weather.
Another reason cited is the loss of a lot of high-tech jobs in the Bay State. They don’t want to look too closely at this one, though, because that would force them to ask just why so many companies are choosing to relocate. They usually do that for greener economic pastures — a less burdensome tax structure, a more business-friendly government, and the like. On those counts, Massachusetts is sorely lacking.
Yet another reason being tossed around is the high cost of housing in Massachusetts. But a lot of factors in housing costs are influenced by general political factors — taxes on property owners, tight housing regulations, rigid zoning laws and the like. Here in Cow Hampshire, our property tax rates are pretty high — in some places, we’re creeping up to $30.00 per $1,000 of assessed value annually, while Raymond sticks out like a sore thumb at $34.66/thousand — but again, we’re GAINING. In fact, we came in 6th in per-capita growth.
People tend to get the kind of government they deserve. And when folks realize that the government they have isn’t doing what they need to do, they either change it, live with it, or get the hell out. The politicians in Massachusetts have made it incredibly hard to do the first (they’ve figured out how to ignore voter referendums, for example — they either just don’t vote to fund and enforce them, or just pretend they never happened), and it’s getting tougher and tougher to do the second. That just leaves the third choice — and that’s the one more and more folks are taking.
Will the last sane person to leave Massachusetts please turn out
Ted Kennedy’s bright red nose the light?