Last week, I visited South Florida for four days, and what a shock: Everything was open. The beaches, the hotels, the restaurants (with some sensible safety and social distancing restrictions). The classrooms are full.
The other strange thing about being in Florida was that people were happy. They were playing tennis and golf. They were going to work and getting on with their lives. Florida is a Republican, can-do kind of place.
Then, there is New York. Manhattan is a morose and deserted place to be. It's as if it's boarded up. People are living their lives afraid. They are depressed, which makes the whole place depressing. In Southern California, I experienced the same dreariness. And it wasn't the weather, which was warm and sunny. Restaurants were closed or highly restricted. Stores were sparsely populated, and people were generally grimacing and standoffish. They yelp in horror if you take off your mask, even for a moment.
Yet through it all, there is almost no evidence that lockdowns, business closures, stay-at-home orders, and other strategies have reduced the infection rates or death rates from the virus. To take just one prominent example, open Florida has had a lower death rate (adjusted for the age distribution of the population) than closed-down California and New York. Even President Joe Biden's crackerjack health officials can't explain that one.
Fifty states experimented with responses to the virus, and the verdict is in: The big blue states got crushed. The highest unemployment states are Hawaii, Nevada, California, Colorado, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. On average, the blue states have 2 percentage points higher unemployment, which means millions of more jobless citizens. Their revenues have collapsed with businesses closed down.
Why New Yorkers put up with walking disasters such as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, or why Californians tolerate Gov. Gavin Newsom, is their own business.
The "progressives" in these states voted for higher taxes, more regulations, high energy prices, and economic lockdowns. That's democracy in action. Now the latest census data and U-Haul trailer rental data confirm that productive people are "voting with their feet" and accelerating their race to get out of town. The New York Post reports about 1,000 Northeasterners every day are relocating to Florida, Texas, and Tennessee. The biggest population losers last year were deep-blue New York, Illinois, and California.
Now, Biden wants to give some $400 billion to the failed blue states, mainly from the prospering red states, the ones that wisely didn't shut down their economies or schools. The blue states get a bigger slice of the pie, which is Robin Hood in reverse because blue states generally have a higher per capita income than red states.
The supposedly high-brow, highly educated, culturally refined elites in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Long Island, New York — the very same "progressives" who have generally thumbed their nose at the working class "deplorables" in Middle America — have fallen so far that they now have to beg people in West Virginia, Arkansas, and Mississippi for money.
You'd think liberals would be ashamed, but spending other people's money is what they do best.
Every liberal Democrat in Congress, from Sen. Elizabeth Warren to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, will vote for the blue-state bailout. Do they understand that in doing so, they are verifying the collapse of the very blue-state liberal model they want to impose on all of America?
Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy."