A few days ago, United Van Lines published their 2021 “moving map” which is always fun to look at. Especially for those of us who love and seek more liberty. Or just like to compare States with each other.
BUT – the real fun (and challenge) is to figure out WHY.
First, let us look at the map. Here it is:
(Keep in mind, virtually all moves to/from Alaska and ALL moves to/from Hawaii are by air or water: United Van Lines doesn’t get a whole lot of that business.
So why do people move? Is it the weather? The economy? Taxes? Excessive (or increasing) government?
It is fascinating to compare this to the the Cato “Free States” map we commented on a few days ago (shown below again). How many of the “most free” States are these States with the highest inbound moves: Florida, Tennessee, and South Dakota in particular. And those States with the highest outbound moves, such as California, New York, and New Jersey.
Now, we would be wrong to assume that it is ONLY for political or tax reasons that people are migrating to some States and fleeing from others. Or even that they are fleeing! Doing that – especially for libertarians – has had its ups and downs over the years. And it certainly doesn’t explain Oregon.
I do not know for sure but it would seem that Oregon being one of the least free States (relatively, of course) and yet one of the highest for people moving into it invalidates this idea.
So, is it climate and weather? Is so-called manmade global warming encouraging people to move to cooler (even if not hipper) places? Is it the economy? Are people seeking jobs? If they are, we have to ask why even places like South Dakota seem to be so short of workers in business and even the public sector today. Is it better welfare benefits, then?
It is fun, but it really does NOT tell us that much about politics and its impact on where people live or are willing to live. Nor taxes, for that matter. Sure, we all know of other people who left some place because of taxes or laws – sometimes even for lack of laws. But that is anecdotal evidence and very difficult to really assess a common motive.
But whether it is fear, opportunity, or political comfort that people flee or seek, Americans move a lot. Seasonally or “permanently” we cross the land back and forth constantly.
But what this SHOULD remind us – is that Americans have almost always had the freedom to move someplace else. Transportation and moving around – temporarily or permanently – is a key, even critical liberty. And it is one that governments have constantly tried to abolish or at least regulate. From the British Proclamation Line of 1763 (colonists could not legally migrate to the west of that line along the Appalachian Mountains) to modern “vaccine-mandate” public transportation restrictions, government wants more and more control. And demands that you pay more to go someplace, even in accordance with their stupid regulations.
Which we are seeing right now, as fuel taxes and fuel prices rise to shocking levels. While the FedGov (and many State governments) limit exploration, drilling, production – yes, and transportation.
It is a vicious circle.