Immigrant inanities

Jeff Jacoby finds increasing solitude:

For the second year in a row, the Census Bureau reports, the population of Massachusetts has shrunk. During the 12 months ending July 1, 2005, the Bay State experienced a net loss of more than 8,600 residents, or 0.1 percent of its population. It was one of only three states to end the year with fewer people than it had at the start — New York and Rhode Island were the others — and the only one to do so for the second year running.

A statistical blip this isn’t. Not counting foreign immigrants, Massachusetts has been losing more people than it attracts every year since 1990, according to MassINC, a Boston-based research institute. The net outflow during the 12 years from 1990 to 2002 — the excess of people leaving Massachusetts over those entering — was 213,000, and the hemorrhaging has only gotten worse since then. MassINC reported in 2003 that one-fourth of Bay State residents would leave if they had the opportunity to do so. Among those who have lived in Massachusetts for less than 10 years, the proportion is even higher.

While this sort of news always puts me in a good mood – proving that not all Americans are complete serfs yet – further reflection isn’t quite so positive. The problem is that people are, by and large, both stupid and short-sighted. Those ex-Massachusettsians are going elsewhere, where a surprisingly large percentage of them will immediately begin complaining that the school levies aren’t high enough, the zoning laws aren’t strict enough… like a dog returning to its vomit, they will begin calling for the building blocks of the very sort of oppressive government they previously tried to escape.

Perhaps states like New Hampshire need to set up a sort of protectorate where former residents of Massachusetts and other like-minded states can be gradually detoxed and slowly introduced to the concept of small-government freedom. Or perhaps they should do it like I understand some of the smaller European countries do, granting residence but no citizenship, thus preventing newcomers from ruining that for which they came.