In an ideal situation, through the combined processes of immigration, innovation, and productivity, each of the 50 state’s economies grow, and the various types of taxes collected from residents, tourists, businesses, and organizations are used to fund infrastructure projects, educational initiatives, and the overall health and well-being of the community.
Over the last four years, however, the likelihood of this ideal scenario, seems further from reality in many states. It’s not just the devastating economic effects of COVID-19 on the respective economies of each state but there are larger forces at play.
I’m sure it was not planned as such, but the governors and legislators of many Republican dominated states (e.g., Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas. etc.), bolstered by Trumpism, and narrow interpretations of personal freedom, have opposed COVID-19 lockdowns, mask mandates, mandatory vaccinations, and encouraged political gerrymandering favoring Republican districts, and soon restrictions on a woman’s right to have an abortion like what has most recently happened in Texas.
In the long run this political battle is bound to backfire.
These Red states are making it increasingly inhospitable to liberals and progressives who live there, and for people and corporations who are considering opening a business or sustaining one in that state. It’s also giving pause to some out of state tourists to reconsider their plans to visit.
Sure liberals and progressives will always live in college towns located in these states, or cities that have longstanding arts and music scenes like Austin or Nashville, but they are frequently reminded that they are surrounded by hostile forces.
Although some corporations in Red states, because of COVID-19 have made the transition to remote work, and those workers who are not happy with the state’s mandates have high tailed it out of there, those at the top will probably have to stay. But we are now seeing large high tech corporations considering moving out of Republican dominated states.
If the Republican Governors and state legislatures continue to have their way only people who can’t afford to leave will remain. This population is largely older, unskilled, poor and the unemployed. A large number in the high tech sector that leads the way in economic growth and prosperity will leave or never come.
But look at the bright side. In another decade or so, the property values of residential and commercial real estate in those Republican dominated states will be comparatively low, and the unemployment rates should be high. This means that those states might be conducive for low wage low skill manufacturing entities (if they have not completely moved off shore) to briefly relocate there (like they did in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia two decades ago) to take advantage of the economic climate.
Republicans might temporarily feel smug about winning the battle, but in the end not the war.
Photographer: Ed Schipul
Title: Texas State Capital Building