Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is John Galt Fleeing High Tax Chicago?

I heard the voice of Dagny Taggart on WGN Radio this afternoon.

For the benefit of the literary unwashed, she was the heroine of Ayn Rand's epic tale of libertarian revolt, Atlas Shrugged, wherein the productive people of the world go on strike in response to a government which destroys all productive incentive through taxation and regulation.

The voice I heard was that of a Chicago woman who called in to Gary Meier's radio show. She was in her 40s, at the height of her productive powers and had made definitive plans to move away from Chicago this coming December. She said they were moving to Dallas, Texas because the cost of living was lower, the weather was better and there was no state income tax.

I had been wondering if significant numbers of people were voting with their feet to flee Chicago's culture of high taxation. To my knowledge, no statistics on something this esoteric exist. It is not after all, the kind of story one would expect to find featured in the Chicago newspapers with their built-in incentive toward provincial civic boosterism.

But I have a feeling that there is more of this kind of flight going on than one might suspect.

We have known since a 1994 study by Donald Huddle at Rice University that there is a significant outmigration of native born American citizens, both white and black, from states that have large concentrations of illegal alien settlement. With "sanctuary city" Chicago as the 5th largest destination for illegal alien settlement, some of that has to be going on.

We have seen a major outflux of small businesses from high-tax, high regulation California to relatively low tax, low regulation Colorado and Nevada. But how many businesses have fled high-tax Chicago?

At any rate this caller to Gary Meier had developed a conscious, systematic plan to relocate her family to Dallas, by choice -- not simply due to some occupational imperative. She had set a definitive deadline of December 1st.

As I sit before the keyboard, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and wool sweater on this cold, grey, overcast, Chicago June 30th and contemplate Governor Quinn's machinations to increase the Illinois income tax and wonder if my car will be ticketed at the cash gobbling Chicago parking meter out front and contemplate the latest Cubs' June swoon, I can't say I don't envy that modern day Dagny Taggart radio caller.

One of the happiest summer trips of my life was to visit an old girlfriend in the hill country of Texas near Kerrville on the Guadalupe river.

She had flaming green eyes and the waterfall-studded river was sapphire blue.

The Texas Lampoon? Hmmmm!! Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

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Comments invited, however anonymous commentors had better deal directly with the issues raised and avoid ad hominem drivel. As for Teachers' Union seminar writers -- forget about it.