Worst in the Nation

Rather amusingly, Steven Greenhut, a California-based fiscal policy expert, and E.J. McMahon, a New York-based fiscal policy expert, are duking it out over which state has the worst economic environment in the nation. Greenhut insists that the Golden State deserves last place while McMahon maintains that for all California’s many woes, New York still comes out ahead when it comes to profound dysfunction. Can’t we all just get along? I should note that though California and New York are burdened by all kinds of policy failures, they’re both extremely amenity-rich and, for novelty-seekers at least, very pleasant places to live. This is not a coincidence, as it takes more for a costly and inefficient public sector to drive productive people out of California and New York than it would take to drive them out of regions that don’t benefit from entrenched economic agglomerations (like the nation’s first and second largest metropolitan areas) or near-flawless Mediterranean climates. 

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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