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Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell
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Voting with Their Feet


The latest published data from the 2010 census show how people are moving from place to place within the United States. In general, people are voting with their feet against places where the liberal, welfare-state policies favored by the intelligentsia are most deeply entrenched.

When you break it down by race and ethnicity, it is all too painfully clear what is happening. Both whites and blacks are leaving California, the poster state for the liberal, welfare-state and nanny-state philosophy.

Whites are also fleeing the big northeastern liberal, welfare states like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as the same kinds of states in the midwest, such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.

Although California has long been a prime destination of Asian immigrants and the homes of their descendants, the 2010 census shows a striking increase in the Asian American population of Nevada, more so than any other state. Nevada is adjacent to California but has no income tax nor the hostile climate for business that California maintains.

The movement of the black population— especially educated young blacks— is the most striking of all.

In the past, the massive movements of millions of blacks out of the South in the early 20th century was one of the epic migrations of a people— comparable in size with the millions of the Irish who fled the famine in Ireland in the 1840s or the millions of Jews who fled persecution in Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In more recent decades, blacks have been moving back to the South, however. While the overall black population of the northeastern and midwestern states has not declined in the past ten years, except in Michigan and Illinois, the net increase of the black population nationwide has increasingly been in the South. About half of the national growth of the black population took place in the South in the 1970s, two-thirds in the 1990s and three-quarters in the past 10 years.

While the mass migrations of blacks out of the South in the early 20th century was to places where there were already established black communities, such as New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, much of the current movement of blacks is away from existing concentrations of black populations.

Blacks are moving to suburbs, and even to cities like Minneapolis.

Overall, the racial residential segregation patterns are declining in the great majority of the largest major metropolitan areas.

Among blacks who moved, the proportions who were in their prime — from 20 to 40 years of age— were greater than in the black population at large, and college degrees were more common among them than in the black population at large. In short, with blacks, as with other racial or ethnic groups, those with better prospects are leaving the states that are repelling their most productive citizens in general with liberal policies.

Detroit is perhaps the most striking example of a once thriving city ruined by years of liberal social policies. Before the ghetto riot of 1967, Detroit's black population had the highest rate of home-ownership of any black urban population in the country, and their unemployment rate was just 3.4 percent.

It was not despair that fueled the riot. It was the riot which marked the beginning of the decline of Detroit to its current state of despair. Detroit's population today is only half of what it once was, and its most productive people have been the ones who fled.

Treating businesses and affluent people as prey, rather than assets, often pays off politically in the short run— and elections are held in the short run. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable political strategy.

As whites were the first to start leaving Detroit, its then mayor Coleman Young saw this only as an exodus of people who were likely to vote against him, enhancing his re-election prospects.

But what was good for Mayor Young was disastrous for Detroit.

There is a lesson here somewhere, but it is very doubtful if either the intelligentsia or the politicians will learn it.

To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His Web site is



3 Comments | Post Comment
News Flash: 115,000 returned surveys out of 400,000 is a good rate of return. The results that Mr. North has worked so hard to cherry picked his data from is statistically quite valid.
Why does Mr. North believe that the US military is composed of such delicate flowers that they will be unable to handle a transition that other western militarys have had no significant problems implementing? Are Israeli, British, French, and Canadian troops made of tougher stuff than ours? The truth is the we have seen this sort of issue before. Demagogues like Mr. North in another era said that the sky would fall if you forced white troops to share living quarters and meals with black troops. Integration happened and the sky did not fall. WHEN the ban is ended - have no doubt, it will, sooner or later, be ended - our disciplined professional military will make the change without significant problems.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Mark
Fri Dec 3, 2010 6:55 PM
What is the moral of the story. That when you choose to represent our country there are ethics and standards desired by our fellow men and woman. To say that Col North is being to hard on those that have issues is not a correct or fair statement. He is stating that for Americans to keep there head above would require keeping it out of the gutter and there would be better and stronger unity and would result in a more victorious armed forces. In so many words it is hard to live up to standards at times but the final outcome proves who had the guts to do it for a better government. Someday it will be run by the Lord and he is not going to choose a bunch of pansies to be in his kingdom.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Reigne
Sun Dec 5, 2010 9:29 PM
25 years ago my sisters, 15 years older than me , moved to Central Oregon where the conservative population lived a fairly rural lifestyle in a small town. Californians started to move there and to other towns in Idaho, WA, and MT. People in all of those states had bumper stickers on their cars that said, "Don't Californicate Oregon" etc. My siblings said those Californians chose to come to a small rural ski community and once they arrive they want all the amenities, rules, regulations, laws of California. Everyone just wanted them to go back to California. But today, my two sisters are two of the most liberal advocates of that laid back way of life and thought process. The whole of Oregon has slid into the deep much and mire of "left-over hippieness". Change can happen to anyone in small incremental measures over a period of time. (brainwashing)
I live in Nevada now and see it moving over the mountain here ; like the Blob, sliding over the community smothering the Nevada brains with their California Liberal group think, robotic ways, a social plan; in a one size fits all for this state. So, these liberals are moving from states where the economy is bad, but what is not reported in this article is the invisible film of propaganda they are cloaked in and are bringing with them. Their communistic thoughts and ways are pervasive as they move to a community near you. Poor Reno, NV! Harry Reid is rubbing his hands together in greed with an evil and wicked smile while welcoming them into his fold. It will be difficult for this state to ever get back to its rugged individualist principles and roots on which this state was founded.
Comment: #3
Posted by: julie
Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:00 PM
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