Timesman to Tar Heel – WSJ

There was a fun media campaign to explain the heavy migration from blue states to places like Texas and Florida in a way that doesn’t emphasize low taxes and competent governance. It sometimes seems like the California Air Club’s first rule is: Don’t talk about limited government. Now the New York Times offers what may be a fresh take on the genre, with an essay by an opinion writer who made his way to North Carolina. can you guess why

Before we attempt to answer this challenging question, let’s consider his new home. Not a red state, North Carolina is a swing state and enjoys a far more affordable and less intrusive government than the Empire State. CNBC’s Scott Cohn recently remarked:

Fueled by an economy that is on the rise and charged with a long track record of innovation, North Carolina is America’s top state for business in 2022.

The Tar Heel state has always been a contender for CNBC’s annual competitiveness rankings… But 2022 marks the first year it’s climbed to the top.

What made the difference this year? For one, the heads of state consistently manage to put aside their very deep political divisions in order to boost the economy and economy.

CNBC isn’t the only one impressed by the Tar Heel State. In April, the American Legislative Exchange Council released its latest Economic Competitiveness Ranking and found:

North Carolina has now achieved its best ranking ever, coming in 2nd overall on the economic outlook. Since passing historic tax reform in 2013, when the state ranked 22nd, North Carolina has continued to cut taxes and foster economic growth.

The Tax Foundation may not be quite as optimistic, but it still ranks North Carolina’s overall corporate tax climate 11th in the country, compared to New York’s dismal 49th. (Only the Garden State has a lower ranking, which might explain why many New Jersey taxpayers think they were born to run.)

As for Times Opinion Writer Frank Bruni, readers may initially wonder why he would ever leave the friendly confines of progressive Manhattan. The headline above the story about the place he chose to live reads, “One of America’s most alluring states is also one of its scariest.”

Why would anyone willingly move to what they consider to be one of the spookiest places in the country?

Of course, many readers will also wonder what could be so scary about North Carolina. Mr. Bruni appears to fear primarily the state’s Republicans, though they must fight for votes against a dynamic Democratic party that currently holds the governorship and other key state offices.

Describing his reporting visit to the state’s 13th congressional district, Mr. Bruni then adds:

But I also toured the District as part of my acclimatization to North Carolina, to further test my belief that this state—my new home—is as accurate, insightful, and alarming a political reflection of the country as any. A year after moving here from the People’s Republic of the Upper West Side, I’m realizing that I haven’t left New York City so much as set my sights on a broader, more truthful portrait of America.

So there was nothing in particular that drew him away from New York and he moved to one of the “scariest” states in America just to see more of the country? Finally, in sections 23 and 24, the reader is given additional clues as to why Mr. Bruni managed to overcome his fear of Republicans enough to live among them:

In a chilling article in The Atlantic this month, James Piltch called the combination of partisan judicial elections and practiced gerrymandering in the state a “democratic doom loop” that may foster a degree of Republican dominance that is separate from, and not opposed to, the will of the state’s people is accountable. The headline of the article: “North Carolina is a warning.”

That hasn’t stopped an influx of newcomers, many of whom, like me, lured with smoother beats, more space, and a lower cost of living than many areas in the Northeast or West Coast. It is a beautiful state framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a highly developed state with nationally renowned universities and fast growing cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh and Durham. It is a changing state, with new engineering jobs replacing old manufacturing jobs.

Does it ever occur to Mr. Bruni that conservatives championing limited government in a competitive political arena might have something to do with North Carolina’s low costs and vibrant economy?

While Mr. Bruni was moving to a state with many Conservatives, he chose an area where they are particularly rare. Located near his new employer, Duke University, the location may have reminded him of the strain that progressive governance can place on the daily routines of life:

I landed in a deep blue patch, 20 minutes from Duke, on the border between Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Front yards near me have Black Lives Matter and We Believe signs. Several neighbors had initial conversations with me about how to properly follow the county’s recycling rules.

Let’s hope more New Yorkers, and even ex-New Yorkers, will appreciate – and even admit – that progressive one-party rule hasn’t made for a smooth and affordable life.


James Freeman is co-author of The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.


Keep following James Freeman Twitter.

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(Teresa Vozzo helps put together Best of the Web.)

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/timesman-to-tar-heel-11658435948 Timesman to Tar Heel – WSJ

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