Reposted from the MANHATTAN CONTRARIAN
Of all the states, the one most comparable to New York by demographics is Florida. These two states are close not only in overall population, but also in relative numbers of immigrants and of minority groups. As to population, as recently as 2013, New York had slightly more population than Florida (both around 19.6 million), but since then Florida has been growing rapidly, while New York has been shrinking slowly. Pending release of final 2020 Census numbers, estimates put Florida’s current population at about 21.8 million, and New York’s at about 19.4 million.
Despite being, at least for now, relatively close in population and other demographics, New York and Florida could not be more different in their approaches to public policy. In Florida, Republicans have controlled the legislature (both houses) since 1997, and the governorship since 1999. Florida exemplifies the low tax, low spend, low regulation approach to state government. New York is firmly in control of the progressive left, and exemplifies high taxes, high spending, and high regulation.
Different policies lead to different results. For today I’ll focus mainly on the policy response to the Covid-19 virus. On this subject, the differences in policy mostly concern regulation, rather than taxing and spending.
Yesterday, I had a roundup of the current onerous regulatory response to the virus in New York. By contrast, Florida, led by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, has been very much at the opposite end of the regulatory response spectrum. As to results, here’s the bottom line: As one would expect, the economic decline caused by intentional government suppression of the economy has been much, much less severe in Florida than New York; but just as important, Florida has also experienced, and continues to experience, superior health results to New York. In other words, Florida stands as a clear demonstration that all of New York’s behavioral mandates (e.g., masks) and intentional destruction of small business have had no measurable effect whatsoever in decreasing spread of the virus or in improving health results.
As per my review yesterday, in New York City, restaurant dining has been severely restricted for months under fluctuating directives, and as of last week, by order of the Governor, all indoor restaurant dining has been shut down entirely, with no indication of when it may re-open. Theaters, concerts and performance venues are all shuttered, and it appears they will remain so at least until the Spring. Although not mentioned in yesterday’s post, since April 17 we have had a state-wide mandate for mask-wearing covering “anyone over the age of 2” when “in a public place.”
Florida at first imposed some substantial restrictions on restaurants and other indoor businesses, but began loosening them in early June, when, for example, bars and movie theaters were allowed to reopen. On September 28 Governor DeSantis issued an executive order rescinding almost all of the remaining restrictions. At a news briefing that day, DeSantis was quoted as saying “Every business has the right to operate,” and “We’re not closing anything going forward.” WebMD summarized Florida’s provisions going forward from that time:
Businesses that have used remote work protocols can return to unrestricted staffing at their offices. Employees can resume non-essential travel. Theme parks can return to normal operations, and gyms can operate at full capacity. Bars and clubs can operate at full capacity but with “limited social distancing protocols.”
In Florida today, theaters are open, concerts are happening, and the iconic theme parks are accepting visitors (if on a somewhat restricted basis).
As to masks, Florida never imposed a state-wide mandate, but instead left it up to each county to make its own decision. Twenty-two counties imposed mask mandates for at least some period of time, but 45 never did. Townhall on December 21 has a long piece (mostly based on a paywalled study of the data at Rational Ground) giving the results. Those results are totally devastating to any claim of effectiveness of mask mandates. From Town Hall (with internal quote from Rational Ground):
If masks did even close to as advertised, one would expect to see the counties that went maskless to be absolute dumpster fires next to the counties that implemented mandates, right? At the very least, the numbers should favor the masked areas by more than a percentage point or two. So, how did it go? Yep, it was the Mask Cult’s worse nightmare: “When counties DID have a mandate in effect, there were 667,239 cases over 3,137 days with an average of 23 cases per 100,000 per day. When counties DID NOT have a countywide order, there were 438,687 cases over 12,139 days with an average of 22 cases per 100,000 per day.”
In short, the mask-free counties actually had better health results than the counties with mask mandates.
As part of his September 28 directives, Governor DeSantis announced that he would not enforce any fines or penalties for failure to wear masks.
So let’s compare health and economic results as between Florida and New York. First, health:
- Florida. Deaths per million population, pandemic inception to date (figures from Worldometers.info as of December 22): 966. Deaths within last 10 days, most recent first, from Dec 21 back to Dec 12: 106, 86, 69, 108, 102, 112, 89, 137, 81, 71 — total of 961 over that 10 day period.
- New York. Deaths per million population, pandemic inception to date: 1,886 (almost double Florida’s rate — and Florida has far more elderly people). Deaths within last 10 days, most recent first from Dec 21 to Dec 12: 179, 95, 85, 121, 156, 112, 126, 120, 87, 79 — total of 1160 over the ten days, or more than 20% more than Florida, even though Florida has more than 10% more population.
If New York’s elected leaders have anything to show for turning this city into a ghost town, you sure can’t find it in those statistics.
Now, as to economic statistics:
- Florida. Unemployment rate for November (most recent available): 6.4% (versus national rate of 6.7%)
- New York. Unemployment rate for New York State for November: 8.4%; for New York City, 12.1%. Clearly, New York City is bearing the brunt of the forced closures of the restaurant and entertainment industries.
For New York City, that extra almost 6% people unemployed by forced government action, as compared to Florida, represents about 200,000 people, most of them from the lower end of the income distribution. I suppose you could kind of, sort of justify intentionally putting all those people out of work if you could show some kind of health benefit from the decrees. But there is no health benefit to be shown. New York’s health results are demonstrably worse than those of Florida. The virus does its own thing, despite our dictators’ desperate need to show that they are “doing something,” however meaningless the “something” may be.
In other comparisons of public policy metrics between the two states, Florida’s annual state government budget is about $92 billion, while New York’s is $177 billion. How could that possibly be, when Florida has 10% more people? New York City spends almost $29,000 per student on K-12 education, while Florida spends less than $10,000 — and Florida gets somewhat better results on the NAEP national tests. And of course, New York has some of the highest income tax rates in the country, and yet has a legislature desperate to raise more revenue by hiking rates even higher; while Florida has no income tax at all and yet seems to have sufficient money to go around.
Florida shows us all what basic competent state government looks like. The extreme lack of competence in New York is simply shocking.