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Posted by: thepinetree on 05/08/2023 12:22 PM Updated by: thepinetree on 05/08/2023 12:22 PM
Expires: 01/01/2028 12:00 AM

America’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Moment Has Already Arrived, New IRS Data Show ~ Jonathan Miltimor

Atlanta, GA...It’s not just high taxes that are driving people out of cities. There are other costs—moral, social, and cultural—associated with spurning property rights and celebrating looting. Last September, billionaire Ken Griffin announced he was pulling up stakes and moving Citadel—his gigantic hedge fund—from Chicago to Miami.  The Windy City was out of control, he told Bloomberg, something that dawned on him after a colleague made a coffee run and was robbed by a thief who put “a gun to his head.”

Image Credit: Kurt Christensen, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s no secret that Griffin’s exit is part of a much larger migration taking place across America.

Data show that several populous blue states—California, New York, and Illinois among them—have been losing population and companies for years. In 2021 Forbes wrote about “leftugees” fleeing blue states for red ones. A few years before that, a headline in The Hill touched on “the great exodus out of America's blue cities.”

New IRS data, however, show the speed with which blue states are losing taxpayers—and their adjusted gross income (AGI)—is increasing. A recent Wall Street Journal analysis found that more than 100,000 people left Illinois in 2021, taking with them some $11 billion in AGI, nearly double its 2019 total. For New York it was $24.5 billion, an increase of more than 150 percent from 2019. California, meanwhile, saw its AGI loss ($29 billion) more than triple since 2019.

That people are migrating from these states is important. But who is migrating is equally important, and the data paint a bleak picture for these states. Taxpayers giving up on the Prairie State and the Empire State made about $35,000 more per year than new arrivals. For Florida, the data are even more stark. The average income for a new arrival to the Sunshine State was roughly $150,000—more than double those leaving.

“In other words, the geese with the golden eggs are flying away,” writes economist Daniel Mitchell, referring to the IRS data.

Going Off the Rails

Needless to say, these data do not bode well for the future of these states. But not everyone is concerned.

The Atlantic accepts the reality that a major migration is underway, one that undercuts the conventional wisdom that “Democratic states are the future,” but rejects the idea that they are “dying.”

“New York City isn’t some dystopian wasteland where no one can see their future,” writes Jerusalem Demsas.

Demsas may be right, but it’s hard to deny there is a dystopian character to what we’re witnessing in many major US cities—including surging crime, failing schools, and social unrest.

Yet there are reasons to believe these problems are going to get worse, not better. Losing wealth-creators and affluent workers doesn’t just affect the economic landscape. It also affects the political landscape.

In a recent WSJ op-ed, Allysia Finley pointed out this primarily works to the political benefit of public sector unions and welfare activists.

“Cities are losing the voters who keep their leaders from going off the rails,” Finley writes, noting that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was defeated by mayor-elect Brandon Johnson, who ran to her left.

Johnson’s margin of victory was relatively thin, some 20,000 votes. That’s a fraction of the 175,000 people who left Cook County from 2020-2022, Finley points out, and it stands to reason that these are the very people the city needs to get back “on the rails.”

One can see the cyclical nature of this phenomenon. As cities and blue states become more confiscatory and hostile to property rights, they drive out wealthier people and wealth creators. And as prosperous people leave, the politics become more confiscatory and hostile to property rights. And the cycle continues.

‘I Don’t Put Companies in New York’

There’s something very Randian in this phenomenon. After all, the basic plot of Atlas Shrugged involves a small group of industrialists living in a dystopian future in which they struggle to keep their businesses afloat while fighting against an oppressive government and mooching politicians. Eventually they say to hell with it and walk away, taking with them their wealth, creativity, and innovations.

This is very similar to what we’re witnessing, except that we’re not talking about just a few rich industrialists like Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden (two of the heroes of Atlas Shrugged). It’s not just the Ken Griffins who are leaving, but hundreds of thousands of wealth creators who are voting with their feet, and opting for greener pastures of opportunity.

This is a more realistic version of Atlas Shrugged. The novel was in many ways an epic mystery, Agatha Christie meets Cecil B. DeMille. People are disappearing, and we don’t know why. As Taggart and Rearden struggle (and eventually form a love affair), we keep hearing about some mysterious figure: John Galt.

Eventually we of course learn that Galt is a disgruntled visionary and entrepreneur, and he’s inviting the best and brightest in society to join him in abandoning the looters and leaving them to their own fate. He explains why in a long speech near the end of the novel, which touches on Rand’s philosophy of voluntaryism, individualism, and capitalism.

“All the men who have vanished, the men you hated, yet dreaded to lose, it is I who have taken them away from you. Do not attempt to find us. We do not choose to be found. Do not cry that it is our duty to serve you. We do not recognize such duty. Do not cry that you need us. We do not consider need a claim. Do not cry that you own us. You don't. Do not beg us to return. We are on strike, we, the men of the mind. We are on strike against self-immolation.”

It’s good story-telling, but it’s not exactly believable. What we’re witnessing, however, is: a mass movement of people who are tired of having the fruits of their labor seized to fund increasingly dysfunctional government systems.

We often forget that entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of an economy. Societies without it wither away. And many of these states and cities have become hostile to entrepreneurship and wealth creation.

“I don’t put companies here in New York anymore…or California,” Shark Tank entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary recently told CNN. “Those states are uninvestable. The policy here is insane. The taxes are too high.”

As Griffin’s exit from Chicago shows, it’s not just high taxes that are driving people out of cities.

There are other costs—moral, social, and cultural—when you create communities that spurn property rights and celebrate looting.

IRS data only tell us so much. If you want to better understand those costs, pick up Atlas Shrugged.
Jon Miltimore
Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of (Follow him on Substack.)

His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune.

Bylines: Newsweek, The Washington Times,, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

Comments - Make a comment
The comments are owned by the poster. We are not responsible for its content. We value free speech but remember this is a public forum and we hope that people would use common sense and decency. If you see an offensive comment please email us at
No Subject
Posted on: 2023-05-08 12:27:29   By: Anonymous
If those who produce just get tired of producing we are toast.

[Reply ]

    Posted on: 2023-05-08 12:54:42   By: Anonymous
    So Florida's the place to take your big business huh?

    Friendly environment and all.... right!

    Tell that to Disney.

    Tell that to half the population, women, who can't access health care or make decisions about their own bodies.

    [Reply ]

      Posted on: 2023-05-08 16:40:56   By: Anonymous
      OMG 😂 poor Disney😂😂. Got news for ya snowflakes Florida’s governor isn’t the reason why Disney is experiencing financial downturn. Focusing on pronouns and lying about what new laws really mean (don’t say gay) and a bunch a bad business decisions based off of woke culture is.

      It’s ok though,all y’all can cry in your Bud Light together.

      [Reply ]

        Posted on: 2023-05-08 22:01:00   By: Anonymous
        Who gives a *bleep*tt about BudLight?

        [Reply ]

        Posted on: 2023-05-09 08:31:37   By: Anonymous
        If a law forbids teaching about homosexuality, how is that not “don’t say gay?”

        [Reply ]

No Subject
Posted on: 2023-05-09 08:10:25   By: Anonymous
Underlying all is the fact that the distribution of wealthy hugely unequal in this country, thanks to the first Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. This has been happening for some time, making the truly wealthy wealthier and the middle class poorer. Many who consider themselves middle class could not survive for three months without income so a false concept to consider oneself so.

[Reply ]

No Subject
Posted on: 2023-05-09 08:15:55   By: Anonymous
Everything hedge fund folks do - along with the GOP congress - is about protecting the wealth of the rich. If they hold the budget hostage like Cruz did in 2006, it is you and I who will be losing our savings and benefits not them. For the GOP, it is about power and not doing what is best for Americans.

[Reply ]

    Posted on: 2023-05-09 08:36:35   By: Anonymous

    [Reply ]

    Posted on: 2023-05-09 10:11:48   By: Anonymous
    GOP Congress? You make it sound like it's only GOP members are making money. How about the ex house leader Pelosi and her insider trading husband making million$.

    Boy are you so blind to the facts and reality. Which is basically all democrats. For example, the border is safe, experimental mRNA vaccine will prevent Covid, Hunter Biden is innocent, Biden didn't take money from the Chinese, Swalwell didn't have a Chinese spy mistress, climate change is an existential threat, too much CO2 is bad and 50 trillion$ will fix it. The list goes on. All fuking lies and people like you believe this sh!t and continue to vote to ruin our country.

    [Reply ]

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