February 27 2013
Red State Boom: What Does It Mean?
It’s been said that the states are laboratories for experimentation with policies.
President Obama’s policies are being tried on a national level, while free-market policies built on initiative and liberty are being tried in the red states.
How is that working out?
As City Journal Contributing Editor Joel Kotkin wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal, the red states are in the midst of an economic boom:
These trends point to a U.S. economic future dominated by four growth corridors that are generally less dense, more affordable, and markedly more conservative and pro-business: the Great Plains, the Intermountain West, the Third Coast (spanning the Gulf states from Texas to Florida), and the Southeastern industrial belt.
Overall, these corridors account for 45% of the nation's land mass and 30% of its population. Between 2001 and 2011, job growth in the Great Plains, the Intermountain West and the Third Coast was between 7% and 8%—nearly 10 times the job growth rate for the rest of the country. Only the Southeastern industrial belt tracked close to the national average.
Historically, these regions were little more than resource colonies or low-wage labor sites for richer, more technically advanced areas. By promoting policies that encourage enterprise and spark economic growth, they're catching up.
Such policies have been pursued not only by Republicans but also by Democrats who don't share their national party's notion that business should serve as a cash cow to fund ever more expensive social-welfare, cultural or environmental programs. While California, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts and Minnesota have either enacted or pursued higher income taxes, many corridor states have no income taxes or are planning, like Kansas and Louisiana, to lower or even eliminate them.
This news has an upside and downside: free-market, liberty-oriented policies do work; the country rejected these prosperity-producing principles last November by re-electing President Obama.
But cheer up:
In the wake of the 2012 presidential election, some political commentators have written political obituaries of the "red" or conservative-leaning states, envisioning a brave new world dominated by fashionably blue bastions in the Northeast or California. But political fortunes are notoriously fickle, while economic trends tend to be more enduring.
I’ve been heartened lately that the GOP appears to be inclined to tough it out and let the relatively mild cuts of the sequester take effect day after tomorrow.
The sequester is certainly not the best way to trim government spending, but, given the that the president’s main goal in life is to raise taxes, it may be the only way in the immediate future.
But the GOP still has two days in which to disappoint me.
The Kotkin article has been much-quoted, but I didn’t get around to reading it until I saw it posted on Instapundit.