2010 U.S. census are out. And once again, a familiar pattern asserts itself, just as it has for the last 20-30 years.
Since 2000, we've had the lowest birth rate since the Great Depression. Most of our population growth, which in the last decade saw an increase of 9.7%, comes from immigration and longer life expectancy. But a trend that progressives had hoped for — an increasing trust in government and a commitment to fund it — does not appear to be in the offing.
Despite what we were told about disgust with the policies of George W. Bush in 2006 (when the Democrats retook control of Congress) and the renewed sense of faith in government to solve our problems in the wake of the financial meltdown (with the election of Barack Obama), Americans continue to flee high-tax states for lower tax-states. And presumably because of the relative availability of jobs, new immigrants tend to settle in those states as well.
New York and Ohio will both lose two seats in the House of Representatives, while Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania will all lose one (Connecticut will hold steady at five seats; we already lost one in 2000). Texas will pick up an astounding four, while Florida will add two and Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, Nevada and Utah each get an additional seat.
Although some progressives are trying to be optimistic about this, it's hard to see how this is good news for Democrats — especially since Republican-controlled state legislatures are empowered to draw the new district boundaries in six of the eight states that will add seats in 2012. Most of the states that lost population (and representation in Washington) have high rates of taxation, high unemployment and, in the case of New York, New Jersey and Illinois, have appalling government debt levels.
So what is the typical cry we hear from those who want to find new sources of revenue? "Raise taxes on the rich!" But if the wealthy flee, as they did in Oregon when that state enacted a special tax on the top 2%, revenues actually decline. The same thing happened in Maryland in 2008, when the legislature enacted a special millionaires' tax. Well, duh!
So the lesson is that any state (Connecticut included) should think carefully before enacting special taxes on the wealthy. You might kill the goose that lays the gilded egg. Where do you think all those millionaires in Oregon and Maryland went? Try Texas.