You’re losing your economic freedom at every turn.
Over the last five years, you’ve become less free because you live in America. Last year, the U.S. declined for the fifth straight year, according to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom. But the U.S. is not alone. Prolific government spending and higher inflation hurt the score of the freest of them all, Hong Kong, and the overall score for most of the top 10 was lower than it was last year.
On his Friday radio show, conservative talker and Fox News host Sean Hannity warned, “The states are now fighting and battling against their own federal government. Same thing with individuals. If you live in a state like New York, New Jersey, California [or] one of these high-tax states [where] 60-plus cents of every dollar goes to taxes, you’ll say, ‘What the hell am I doing this for?’”
Freedom isn’t cheap. It’s expensive to leave the U.S., starting with a one-way first-class ticket from Boston to Hong Kong, which costs around $6,500 per person. Leaving is not the most practical move for most of us. But Americans are mobile when it comes to interstate travel. You can vote with your feet against the prolific spending of your nanny state or town.
That’s what 11.8 million people have said, according to the census in 2011. California was the biggest loser, shedding 104,093 residents. But that doesn’t tell the real story—population flow as a percentage of population does.
The biggest loser turns out to be Rhode Island, which lost 1.3% of its population, followed by Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. All five of the biggest loser states lost at least 1% of their population.
It’s no wonder people are leaving these states when you look at their effective tax rates. Rhode Island is at 10.85%, Illinois 10.20%, New Jersey 12.42%, New York 12.77%, and Connecticut 12.27%, according to the Tax Foundation. Remember, that’s on top of their federal tax burdens. Where is everyone going?
The top gainers were energy-rich North Dakota, which added 2.5% of its population, followed by Washington, D.C. (+2.3%), where big government is getting fatter; Colorado (+1.2%) because it’s a cool place to live that’s not named California; then Florida (+1.1%) and Texas (1.1%), which have no income taxes.
When times are tough, Americans go where there’s work or where they can keep what they make or already made—they’re not going to North Dakota for the weather. Treating money right is a formula that will increase America’s freedom, your state’s freedom, and your family’s freedom without having to uproot it. If your freedom isn’t going to be treated well, then why wouldn’t there be another revolution?
“There is a tipping point in all of these debates,” Hannity said. “Now, politically speaking, that means people are going to be thrown out of office, I hope. But if not, there are going to be people in more conservative states that have had enough. I can see a state like Utah saying, ‘Enough is enough,’ [and] a state like Texas saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ I absolutely can.”