Voting With Your Feet

On June 2, William McGurn wrote an excellent article for the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Best Poverty Cure:  Escape from Baltimore.”

The common sense of his article is that for those trapped in poverty the best option is to find another city “to call home.”

The same point can be made for anyone looking for opportunity.  Don’t waste your time thinking and hoping events will change for the better.

Take Oklahoma as an example. In the 2000 census, Oklahoma lost a congressional seat because the state had not gained in population.  In the 2010 census, Oklahoma kept its five seats, but at one time the number was nine congressional districts.

In 1950, no Texas bank was larger than the First National Bank of Tulsa, which had made the first-ever drilling rig loan.  Tulsa was considered the “Oil Capitol of the World.”

What happened to change the momentum?  What caused business and political leaders to rest on their oars?

There are many reasons to explain the loss of momentum.  Perhaps the main reason is lack of diversification and reliance on oil and gas and agriculture to maintain the economy.

Today, with a failing public school system, a personal income tax and practically no ongoing economic development effort, the state is predictably muddling along.

Oklahoma will have political and business representation at the coming Paris Air Show, but no concrete defined set of goals.  At least none that was made public.  What are we there for?  What business do we hope to attract and bring to the state?  Why do others get better results?

When the Department of Commerce and Tourism is run by a political operative and not an industry professional the likelihood of a positive outcome is limited.

Back to the Baltimore article.  In a Harvard University study, “The equality of opportunity project” found that a poor child whose family leaves a bad neighborhood for a good one will have a better long-term economic prospect.

A companion piece by Joel Kotlin’s Center for Opportunity Urbanism finds that of the top 15 cities for African Americans, “13 are in the former confederacy.”

Mr. Kotlin says “his study underscores the relative worthless ness of good intentions.”

Good intentions do not provide jobs and housing which are the primary reasons people move to Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Charlotte and Miami.  Here they can build better lives for themselves and their families.  There are thousands of Oklahomans living in Texas because that’s where the jobs are.

Mr. McGurn also writes, “These findings also suggest that Republicans should welcome a debate over economic growth.  Too often growth is treated as a matter of numbers.  What a terrible way to talk about a communities’ lifeblood, which provides ordinary families with better paychecks, puts decent housing and schools within their reach, offers the opportunity to rise in society.”

Baltimore lost more than a third of its population since 1960, which at its peak was 940,000.  What’s left is a political machine made stronger by the economic failure that drove “out any source of sensible opposition.”

The answer has always been economic opportunity and not political ghettos that perpetrate the poor conditions of America’s inner cities. The only way Democrat big city politicians can survive is by keeping the status quo.