Understanding the Blue State Diaspora
Matthew Yglesias has a piece at Vox today about The biggest thing that blue states are screwing up:
Robert Gebelhoff and David Leonhardt have a fascinating piece in the Upshot about what they call the growing Blue State Diaspora — the large net flow of Americans out of blue states and into red ones. The two key facts are that between 2000 and 2012, the blue-born population living in red states grew over 20 percent to 11.5 million while the red-born population living in blue states shrank to 7.3 million from 8.4 million.
Gebelhoff and Leonhardt mostly go on to discuss the implications of these flows for partisan politics, but I think what’s most important is the causes. Liberals, in particular, might want to do some reflecting about the fact that Americans are voting with their feet against blue states.
So, what significant factors are behind this diaspora? More from the link:
Conservatives, of course, tend to think they know the answer — Americans are fleeing the high taxes and malgovernment of blue America. The city of Detroit often comes up in this context, and it is certainly true that malgovernment (among other things) has made that city and several others into an increasingly undesirable place to live.
On the other hand, if Detroit were the typical blue American city then houses in the Mission and Park Slope would be cheaper than houses in the suburbs of Atlanta and Dallas. The truth is that while there are pockets of economic pain all around the country, in general Blue America seems like a pretty nice place where wages, incomes, health outcomes, and education levels are generally higher.
So why does everyone leave? Well precisely because houses in Blue America generally aren’t cheap like Detroit. They’re more often expensive like San Francisco. As Dylan Matthews wrote last week, coastal states are generally more expensive.
This doesn’t bode well for those who get defensive when Republicans talk about Liberal elitism. The claim appears to have some merit.
Missoula is a microcosm of this trend within Montana. Most of my friends from the college days had to move away because they couldn’t afford to stay here.
And then there’s the attempt to subsidize affordable housing. Sometimes those attempts are less than successful, like the Burns Street Commons, a project Missoula had to further subsidize with loan forgiveness back in 2012:
A proposal to forgive a city loan to the Burns Street Commons, an affordable housing complex, has not been fully vetted in the public eye and has the potential to give other similar projects a black eye, according to some other supporters of affordable housing.
The North Missoula Community Development Corp. built the Burns Street Commons – 17 units, community space and a grocery store – but the project is struggling with $1.14 million of debt.
To help, the city of Missoula earlier loaned the development corporation $400,000, and on Monday the Missoula City Council will consider forgiving $243,000 of that amount.
Councilman Bob Jaffe, who is recommending the loan forgiveness, said the homes never got enough public support in the first place. So the proposal only brings the subsidy to “within the normal range.”
And according to one resident and supporter of the land trust model, partial loan forgiveness is the best option for affordable home ownership for generations to come. Gabriel Furshong, a resident board member of the North Missoula Community Development Corp., said the benefit of keeping the land permanently in trust has been lost in the conversation.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I think of affordable housing, I think of trying to help the poorest in our community find housing that doesn’t exceed 30% of their income. But for the Burns Street Commons, affordable housing is a condo for $150,000 dollars.
I agree with Yglesias, housing is the biggest thing blue states (and blue cities) are screwing up. If liberals want to actually help the demographics they pander to and take for granted, they might want to reflect on this failure.