Young workers, the lifeblood of any economy, are set to flee New York in droves.
A new Marist College poll shows that 36% of New Yorkers under the age of 30 are planning to leave New York within the next five years – and more than a quarter of all adults are planning to bolt the Empire State.
The New York City suburbs, with their high property values and taxes, are leading the exodus, the poll found.
Of those preparing to leave, 62% cite economic reasons like cost of living, taxes – and a lack of jobs.
This should surprise no one. People work to provide for themselves and otherwise pursue happiness. When fiscal policies and regulation create an environment hostile to that objective, people are going to leave. That is, if they are allowed.
The ability to vote with your feet is an essential check on state and local government. But it requires maintaining a clearly defined federalism, with strict division of powers between each level of government. New Yorkers have somewhere to flee to, because the jurisdictions of state and local government are inherently limited. It should be obvious, but the point is often lost in our national policy debates.
Before Obamacare, Massachusetts had Romneycare. Minnesota has a number of state-run healthcare programs. Several states in the union have dabbled in various socialist ventures. Yet the national outcry against such policies, seen most prominently in the Tea Party, is a relatively recent development. Why? Because nationalizing such policies removes exodus as a viable protest of last resort, raising the stakes of debate and backing dissenters into a corner. You can move from Minnesota to Texas with relative ease. Relocating to another country is much more difficult.
That’s a large part of the reason our political discourse is so polarized, because we’ve adopted a one-size-fits-all approach to public policy whereby minorities are railroaded by the national majority. Instead, we ought to return to the libertarian live-and-let-live approach which the Founders enabled through clearly divided power. Doing so will require bold statesmen in state and local government, willing to reject funds from on high when strings are attached.
There is no better guarantor of liberty than divided power. A national government which dictates the policies of each state cannot be held in check. States free to compete for the best and brightest, even if run by dyed-in-the-wool leftists, will eventually be forced to reverse course by the inevitable consequences of their horrible policies. To get business and young workers back, they will have to lower taxes, reduce regulation, and compete to become the freest and thus most attractive state in the union.