The Plan Is Working

In yesterday’s column in the Wall Street Journal James Freeman archly observes that the first rule of “Flight Club” is not to talk about “Flight Club”. “Flight Club” is how he characterizes the movement of Americans from (largely) Blue States to (largely) Red States:

There’s a new effort by people on the political left to explain why people keep fleeing jurisdictions dominated by the political left. An amusing series of recent media reports acknowledges that residents are leaving blue states in search of affordability, opportunity and safety. But it’s impolite in progressive media circles to acknowledge the damage wrought by heavy taxes, regulation, dysfunction and anti-police radicalism. So readers of such reports are often left to wonder why the grass is so much greener outside of places like California.

Now along comes a piece entitled, “Everyone’s Moving to Texas. Here’s Why.” To his credit, author Farhad Manjoo accurately describes himself as “a lefty New York Times columnist.” Readers will decide whether this disclosure gives him license to suggest repeatedly that a big part of the appeal of Texas is that it allegedly has lower climate risks than California.

Yeah, I read Mr. Manjoo’s NYT column. It holds water well enough for explaining why people are leaving Illinois, to take my favorite bad example, for Florida. It’s not quite as good for explaining why they’re moving from Illinois to Indiana or from California to Texas. I’ve been to both California and Texas. Although I’m open to the possibility I’m very skeptical that Californians are moving to Texas for the weather.

This is sad but IMO this quote from the NYT piece pretty much says it all:

Texas, now, feels a bit like California did when I first moved here in the late 1980s — a thriving, dynamic place where it doesn’t take a lot to establish a good life. For many people, that’s more than enough.

I know quite a few native Californians, i.e. people whose families have been in California since the turn of the 20th century or earlier who can’t wait to leave California because today’s California is so unlike the California they grew up in. Without immigration California’s population would have crashed a decade ago.

In a similar vein Joel Kotkin writes in UnHerd:

Clobbered from all sides by the pandemic, climate change and disruptions in virtually every industry by the rise of artificial intelligence, the capitalist dream is dying — and a new, mutant form of socialism is growing in its place. In the US, perhaps it’s no surprise that most Democrats have a better opinion of socialism than capitalism. Far more startling is the fact that they are not alone: the Republican party and the corporate establishment, which once paid lip service to competitive capitalism, are both starting to embrace the importance of massive deficit spending and state support.

But unlike the social democracy movements that followed World War Two, the New Socialism focusses not on material aspirations but on climate change, gender, and race. While the old socialism sought to represent the ordinary labourer, many on the Left today seem to have little more than contempt for old working-class base and its often less than genteel views on issues such as Critical Race Theory.

Yet perhaps the most critical difference between traditional socialism and its new form relates to growth. The New Socialism’s emphasis on climate change necessarily removes economic growth as a priority. Quite the opposite, in fact: the Green agenda looks instead towards a shrinking economy and lowered living standards, seeking to elevate favoured groups within a stagnant economy rather than generating opportunities for the general population.

As a result, this new variant of socialism seems more feudal than Marxist. As Edwin Aponte, editor of the socialist blog The Bellows, has observed, Marx opposed utopian socialists, with their dreams of a return to the cohesive social order of feudal times — instead, he favoured using technology and economic growth to lift them up.

returning to a favorite trope of Mr. Kotkin’s (he’s written a book about it). I think that gets to the heart of the matter. These “New Socialists” are less Marxists than are like Neo-feudal Romantics. The policies they espouse have flopped everywhere they’ve been tried. Drawing analogies between, say, the Scandinavian countries and the United States ignores how homogeneous not to mention Lutheran or at least post-Lutheran the former are.

I wonder if Mssrs. Freeman and Kotkin have considered that what we’ve been seeing in cities from San Francisco to Chicago to Waukesha are key signs that the plan is working? That, at least, was my interpretation of the actions taken during Rahm Emanuel’s mayorship of Chicago: producing amenities to attract the “Creative Class” while letting the neighborhoods on the South Side go to ruin looked to me like an effort at making the city more attractive to the top 10% of income earners while making life intolerable for lower income groups.

3 comments… add one
  • Andy Link

    For Texas vs California I think a major factor is cost of living. California is becoming a state where you have to be in the top quintile of income to be middle class.

  • Drew Link

    An awful lot of well to do people moving from the Upper MW, the NE and even CA to SC and FL. Can’t imagine the same isn’t true in NC, GA and TN.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    Texas is so large and geographically diverse it’s difficult to speak of what it’s like without specifying location.
    People I know who have left Nebraska have gone to Tn. and Alabama, to the big cities, we make up for population losses by being a dump for immigrants .
    Lowest unemployment rate in the nation in recorded history at 1.2%.
    Here on the ground though, business is begging for workers, actually hard to find one without a help wanted sign.
    It’s a mystery.

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