By Allen Hemphill
Before the computer age, I thought that modern transportation was man’s greatest invention. Before modern transportation, most people lived, worked and died within a few miles of their home.
With the evolution of efficient transportation, people were free to work anywhere in, first the state, then the nation, and quickly — the world. The world we now live in is a world where people can go where they wish, and more importantly, they can go where they are wanted.
Recently, the news has featured the socialist president of France proposing a marginal tax rate of 75 percent on those who earn $1.4 million or more a year. The reaction of many wealthy French residents is to move their residence to Belgium, Britain, and even — if you can believe it — Russia. (Russia now has a flat tax.)
This is not just an international matter. The State of New York has been bleeding millionaires to other states for years. The flight of millionaires is not unknown in California. Allow me to give you a local example.
I have a “digital friend” — someone whom I have never met, but with whom I have exchanged hundreds of emails because we post on the same blog and have the same philosophy.
Last year, this friend quietly mentioned on the blog that California was getting too business unfriendly for him to continue. Of course the liberals blew him off as just a talker. Privately, he texted me about a few towns in other states, and slowly he told me about his decision.
He owned a high-tech machine shop here in North County, employing about 25 highly trained people, subcontracting to Raytheon and other companies, making parts for high-performance jets and space vehicles.
Recently he sent me photos of huge flatbed trucks holding modern machinery. His company was on the move to a city in Utah. Last week he texted that his new location was leveling the machinery.
Not only did he take his company (and his substantial taxes) to Utah, he took more than two dozen well-paying jobs. In fact, he took more than half his employees and their salaries with him. He paid for their relocation.
With the dearth of available jobs, it is highly likely that not only did the owner take all the economic benefit to the local economy, and the state, he also left a vacant industrial space and at least a few people on unemployment. (He offered everyone relocation expenses, but about half declined.)
While computers have moved into the first position as the greatest invention, modern transportation is still a close second. It permits people to leave places where they are not wanted and relocate to places where they are more comfortable. The competition between states and nations is healthy in that it maintains balance.
Choice is good.
Reach Hemphill at email@example.com.