The Freedom To Walk Away Holds Politicians Accountable
Moving to a new home is an all-American activity. Roughly one out of nine people do it every year. Many stay within the same state, but we’ll be among the nearly 5 million Americans who move across state lines to establish a new home.
Some of our friends have been puzzled by the move. One noted that we managed to pick the only place that has a higher tax burden than our current home state of New Jersey. That’s true, of course, but there are offsetting benefits in terms of career, entertainment, and lifestyle opportunities. It may not be for everyone, but for us right now New York is the greatest city in the world.
Others have wondered how we will be able to tolerate the nanny-state approach of Mayor de Blasio. I’m sure we’ll find many regulations silly and annoying, but I also know that politicians aren’t nearly as important as they think they are. Despite de Blasio’s effort to protect the taxi industry by blocking Uber and Lyft, we’ll be able to use those essential ride-sharing services. The culture leads and politicians lag behind.
This move has given me the opportunity to remind my politically obsessed friends that governing is not the responsibility of government alone. Instead, every organization and relationship has a role to play in making society work. New York is a great city because of all the dynamic relationships between individual residents, small businesses, large companies, tourists, social and charitable groups, entertainers, artists, churches, synagogues, and countless other associations. The mayor and city council have a role to play, but it’s not the lead role.
We are moving to the city knowing full well that our right to vote will not have any real impact on taxes, regulations or other government policies.
But we also know that we possess a more powerful tool to hold the city government accountable. It’s the power to walk away. It works because cities and towns are in a constant competition for residents, employers and jobs.
We are moving to New York because we believe the lifestyle mix of housing, activities, taxes, and services is appealing. That mix has been created by all of the individuals, organizations, and relationships that currently govern New York City.
If for any reason that mix changes and we no longer see value in staying, we’ll leave. We’re not obligated to stay and seek reform through the political process. We don’t have to ask permission or give any explanation for our decision. We can just move to another place whenever we want.
For us and 35 million other Americans on the move this year, our decision is a personal choice. But, collectively, our power to act as consumers highlights the reality that governing is not the responsibility of government alone. We’re thankful for all who have made New York a great city and look forward to being a part of it.