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The Greenback is a Redneck

June 15th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized

REDNECK14I’m gonna keep thrashing Forbes.com surveys until I get a cease and desist from their legal department.

A couple weeks ago I was angered by how they compiled their list of “Best Cities to Live In”. With their new study on Where America’s Money is Moving, though  I’m not mad at their methodology (although it is based on 2008 tax returns); I’m more annoyed at what it tells us about rich folk. The topline result: Collier County, Fla.–a stagnant puddle of money whose biggest town is Naples–had the largest bump in incoming rich folks. I’ll let the article take it from there:

In second place is Greene County, Ga., with a population of just 15,743 at the Census Bureau’s last estimate. The IRS data show that in 2008, 788 people moved to the county, about 75 miles east of Atlanta.

Rounding out the top five: Nassau County, Fla., near Jacksonville; Llano County, Texas, 70 miles northwest of Austin; and Walton County, Fla., 80 miles east of Pensacola

The dominance of the list by Florida and Texas–the former has eight of the top 20 counties, the latter four– makes sense to Robert Shrum, manager of state affairs at the Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C., since neither state has an income tax. “If you’re a high-income earner, then that, from a tax perspective, is going to be a driving decider if you’re going to move to one of those two states,” Shrum says.

Fine, I get the tax thing. You didn’t get rich by wanting to actually, you know, pay your share. But even within Florida and Texas, look at the places these people are going. Not Dallas or Miami, which are at least cities, nor the Keys, which at least lie alongside what Teddy Roosevelt called the “sapphire gulfs of ocean”. But rather they are moving to places like Nassau County, which is “near Jacksonville”, which is to say, it is near nothing at all. In Texas, it’s Llano County, which is 70 miles from Austin, which again means it’s probably great for clearing brush, but not much else.

It’s not that I don’t like rural areas–I’ve spent my time in Sheridan, Wyoming and Omak, Washington and found them pretty amazing places to live. But if the herd mentality of rich people is taking them away, in droves, from the cities, I think that’s strange. Cities need their tax dollars and their civic engagement. To draw a comic book analogy, what would have happened to Gotham if the Wayne family just took off looking for golf and tax breaks in freaking Walton County, Florida? Or from TV: we used to have the Beverly Hillbillies. Now it’s the reverse: the Cedar Cityslickers, a family who packs up the Hummer and moves from LA to Utah for a tax loophole.

So there you have it. DadWagon takes a break from bitching about how rich people ruin everything in New York in order to complain about how they are moving to the sticks. Rich people: you apparently will never appease us.


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