Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What does the census tell us?

Besides the political changes that avid followers of politics are salivating over, we can learn something else from the Census results announced yesterday. People are voting with their feet and they're voting for low-tax states. As Michael Barone summarizes,
[G]rowth tends to be stronger where taxes are lower. Seven of the nine states that do not levy an income tax grew faster than the national average. The other two, South Dakota and New Hampshire, had the fastest growth in their regions, the Midwest and New England.

Altogether, 35 percent of the nation's total population growth occurred in these nine non-taxing states, which accounted for just 19 percent of total population at the beginning of the decade.
There still are some advantages to having a federal system wherein the states can experiment with different policies and the rest of the population can figure out which policies worked. The fact that California did not get a new seat this time tells us something about how other people regard the desirability of moving to a state headed for the shoals.

Personally, I'm glad that these results came out just ahead of the unit in my Government and Politics class in which we study Congress and talk about reapportionment and redistricting. In fact, my students should be playing the Redistricting Game over the winter break so they'll be right up-to-date on the political impact of these latest results. If you have some free time, you can head on over to the game and see how well you do on gerrymandering a seat for your chosen party.