Lots of Americans want to get the hell out of wherever they are—half of Illinois residents wish they lived elsewhere, and almost as many Connecticut and Maryland residents share similar sentiments. I've been to those places and, frankly, who can blame them?
But as unerring as my judgment is on such matters, there are more concrete reasons to put distance between yourself and the White Sox or Martin O'Malley's haunts in Annapolis. Checking the list of states where people don't want to be against similar lists of states that suck on freedom and taxes finds some interesting correlations.
According to Gallup, an average of 33 percent of any state's residents want to move across the state line. But roughly half of Illinois and Connecticut residents, and nearly as many (47 percent) of Maryland residents want to hit the road.
As it turns out, residents in all three states appear toward the top of an earlier Gallup poll of those who think their state taxes are too damned high. With average state tax disgruntlement standing at 50 percent across the union, 76 percent of Connecticut residents say they're overtaxed, as do 71 percent of Illinois residents and 67 percent of Maryland residents.
And, in fact, a WalletHub ranking of states by the degree to which they tax their residents finds a remarkable degree of correlation between the two. Illinois comes in at 47 on the list (the higher the number, the worse the gouging)—38 when you adjust for cost of living. Connecticut ranks at 48 (49 adjusted), and Maryland ranks at 41 (44 adjusted).
But that doesn't mean it's all about the money. There's also an interesting correlation between states people want to see in the rearview mirror, and states poorly ranked for personal and economic freedom by the Mercatus Center. Mercatus scores each state on over 200 issues including tax burden, property rights, marijuana laws, gun restrictions, government spending, occupational licensing, marriage freedom, and many more concerns.
Obviously, the final results of such rankings depend to some extent on how you weight each type of freedom, and there's a lot of subjectivity inherent in such comparisons. But using Mercatus's default score, Illinois ranks at 45 out of the 50 states in terms of freedom, Connecticut comes in at 40, and Maryland takes its place at 44.
Gee. Places that boss you around and charge heavily for the privilege tend to send people drifting toward the exit? Who would have guessed?
Correlation across the lists is not exact. Some states rank poorly on both personal freedom and taxes, and yet hold the affection of their residents. For example, only 23 percent of Hawaiians want to leave the state behind even though it's at 47 on the freedom index and 48 on the tax list, once adjusted for cost of living. Perhaps awesome surfing and a gorgeous climate can offset a host of other annoyances.
If that's the trick, that's going to be a tough model for Illinois to emulate.