O-o-o-o-o-klahoma, where the jobs come sweepin’ down the plain!
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.
The result is that corridor states took 11 of the top 15 spots in Chief Executive magazine’s 2012 review of best state business climates. California, New York, Illinois and Massachusetts were at the bottom.
The author explores the economic and sociological implications of this development, but one thing stuck in my mind. As Massachusetts, California, New York, Illinois, etc. are left behind—drifting away like an eskimo elder on an ice floe—maybe that, and only that, will shock the corrupt and sclerotic liberal political establishment to change. Nothing else has.
But the prospect of complete irrelevance—economic, because all the activity will be elsewhere; and political, because so will the population, hence electoral college votes—might be enough to shame our reprehensible leaders to behave more responsibly.
But what am I smokin’, and why so early in the day?
Still, nothing has made me feel more hopeful for the country in months.