Red state, blue state

James Freeman:

There’s been an entertaining media campaign to explain heavy migration from blue states to places like Texas and Florida in ways that do not highlight low taxes and competent governance. It sometimes seems as if the first rule of California flight club is: Do not talk about limited government. Now the New York Times offers what may be a fresh contribution to the genre with an essay by an opinion writer who has made his way to North Carolina. Can you guess why?

Before attempting to answer this challenging question, let’s consider his new home. North Carolina is not a red state but a swing state, and it enjoys a far more affordable and less intrusive government than the Empire State. CNBC’s Scott Cohn recently noted:

Powered by an economy that has hit its stride, and turbocharged by a long track record of innovation, North Carolina is America’s Top State for Business in 2022.

The Tar Heel State has always been a contender in CNBC’s annual competitiveness rankings… But 2022 is the first year it has been able to climb to the top.

What made the difference this year? For one thing, state leaders keep managing to put aside their very deep political divisions to boost business and the economy.

CNBC is not the only one impressed with the Tar Heel State. In April the American Legislative Exchange Council released its latest economic competitiveness ranking and noted:

North Carolina has now achieved its best ranking to date, landing at 2nd overall for economic outlook. Since the passage of historic tax reform in 2013 when the state ranked 22nd, North Carolina has continued to lower taxes and foster economic growth.

The Tax Foundation is perhaps not quite as bullish but still ranks North Carolina’s overall business tax climate 11th in the country, compared to New York’s dismal 49th-place finish. (Only the Garden State has a worse ranking, which may explain why many New Jersey taxpayers believe they were born to run.)

As for Times opinion contributor Frank Bruni, readers at first may wonder why he would ever leave the friendly confines of progressive Manhattan. The headline over the story about the place where he decided to live reads, “One of America’s Most Seductive States Is Also One of Its Scariest.”


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