The blue state vs. red state war is getting ugly.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom — who wants to run for president and apparently thinks he doesn’t have enough problems in his own crime-ridden hobo-infested state —has been taking out ads in Texas newspapers attacking Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for his generally unremarkable positions on abortion and gun control. Abbott has about the same views as any other Republican governor, but Newsom clearly feels threatened by Texas, which has been eating California’s lunch, which is no doubt vegan and gluten-free. While Texas has its problems (its violent-crime rate is almost identical to California’s), its low-cost/low-hassle business environment is a standing rebuke to California’s model of high-cost henpecking.
New York’s Texas is Florida, and Governor Kathy Hochul has declared that Republicans in her state should “just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong. OK? Get out of town. Because you don’t represent our values.” In this as in much else, she echoes her cretinous predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, who infamously said that those who support the Second Amendment or oppose the elective surgical dismemberment of unborn children “have no place in the state of New York.”
New Yorkers — especially the ones with money and options — seem to agree: Some 1.4 million New Yorkers left the state from 2010 to 2019, and another 126,000 left just between July 2020 and July 2021. In fact, 7.5% of Florida’s population was born in New York — a figure far higher than for any other state save Florida itself. That’s not an accident — that’s an indictment.
There’s another way to measure the exodus: The market for U-Haul trucks.
If you want to rent a 20-foot U-Haul for a one-way move from Austin to San Francisco at the end of September, you can have one for the very reasonable rate of $1,735. If you want to rent the same truck for the same dates but going the other way — from San Francisco to Austin — then you are looking at more than six grand, more than three-and-a-half times as much. Want to rent a U-Haul from Jacksonville, Fla., to New York City? About 500 bucks. The other way? Seven times as much.
That isn’t supply, my coastal friends — that is demand.
When Rick Scott was governor of Florida, he spent a lot of time in other states, meeting with business leaders and working to persuade them that they’d be better off in his state or at least expanding their businesses there. (That’s why you can now get a hoagie from Wawa, southeastern Pennsylvania’s iconic convenience store, in Orlando and Tampa.) Other Republican governors have done the same thing. As a result, Hewlett-Packard, once the anchor of Silicon Valley, has found a new life in Houston. Tesla is now a Texas company. So is Oracle. The only surprise that came with Chevron’s announcement that it is moving from California to Texas is that it hadn’t moved 20 years ago.
Run down Ron DeSantis or Greg Abbott’s right-wing politics all you like — people are voting with their feet, and they are taking their capital with them.
Here’s a novel theory: Normal adults may be pro-choice or anti-gun, but nobody organizes their lives around that unless they are monomaniacs. Well-adjusted and mature people care about having better jobs, better homes, a higher standard of living, and — dare we hope? — fewer used heroin needles underfoot or even a few less half-naked lunatics clubbing them over the head with rocks on the Q train.
Maybe New York expats will be bored down in Sugar Land, Texas. But they’ll be bored in a 3,000-square-foot house with a pool for less than the price of a 900-square-foot condo in Bay Ridge. And with no state income tax to pay, they’ll think about Greg Abbott less than you might expect. They may even come to like him.
Kevin D. Williamson is the author of “Big White Ghetto: Dead Broke, Stone-Cold Stupid, and High on Rage in the Dank Woolly Wilds of the ‘Real America.’”