More than a thousand people move to Florida each year. Most of them are old bones fleeing from the winters in the frigid, snowy north – but there could be plenty of younger folks coming as construction workers to build housing for the retirees. Apparently not enough are coming, however, because Florida has a serious housing shortage. The developers are interested in up-end housing, not affordable housing. And it’s hard to tell if there are enough of the high-end wealthy to fill the fancy residential communities going up everywhere.
A thousand citizens a day moving into Florida seems like a lot when Florida complains of constantly being in need of workers. There are not enough laborers even to pick the fruit, partly because of America’s ineffective, confusing, politically polarizing immigration laws and partly because, according to the World Health Organization, Florida, like the rest of the world, contains an aging population.
Interestingly, a direct opposite migration to the many newcomers moving in is occurring simultaneously; this is the phenomenon of some people fleeing the Sunshine State because of Florida politics.
The “getting out of Dodge”1 movement is not anywhere near a thousand a day, but it is newsworthy when those who flee make it known why – fleeing Floriduh, as the state has been called, because of what some consider the racist, bigoted, prejudiced, self-serving Governor Ron DeSantis.
The governor is known worldwide as the man who sought a one-off with the Mouse himself, Mickey, who lives in Disney World near Orlando. It has turned into a debacle complicated by tit-for-tat behavior on both sides. The State of Florida is politically right-wing because of the overwhelming number of Republicans in the legislature led by the far-right Republican DeSantis vs. the very rich, very powerful, very loved, and heavily lawyered-up Disney corporation who listens to its employees, the majority inclined toward liberalism.
There are 20 new Governor’s bills passed by the legislature this year that are driving a few – both politically left-leaning and moderately right-leaning – out of Florida. Below are some bills that have been mentioned by people seeking other climes and other governors.
- HB (House Bill) 543 allows concealed weapons carrying without a permit or proof of training, and 18-year-olds are allowed to purchase rifles and shotguns.
- HB 7 disallows abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
- HB 999 eliminates programs of diversity, equity, inclusion, and certain history (African slave history in America).
- HB 1223 prohibits discussing in K through 12 classrooms the topics of gender identity and sexual orientation. And State schools are getting newly appointed boards of directors to get rid of what the governor calls the “woke” members of higher education.
- SB 450 broadens the death penalty, permitting juries to sentence someone to death without a unanimous verdict.
- SB (Senate Bill) 170 and SB 540 will inhibit local governments from trying to manage noise pollution, single-use plastics, predatory landlord practices, sustainable growth, and stringent environmental protections in their communities.
- SB 1438 is in opposition to new utility station development. Wherever the utility wants to put it is disallowed. This is called a “utility-driven” bill.
Statistics state that 650 Floridians die a day, so the big one thousand number moving in is tempered somewhat. Newcomers take a while to figure out the politics of a new area they’ve moved into, and there is the time between now and the next election, 2024, for newbies to figure out what kind of leaders they want for their new state.
Many once-voters in America are so disgusted by the politics of the country they have left Dodge metaphorically, deciding not to read the news, vote or worry about things they think they have no control over any longer.
Many still voters believe every vote counts, and if you want to maintain a democracy, you better vote. They will stay to get out the vote.
America is a divided country, as it has always been. People from every country in the world have been coming here for some 400 years with every kind of custom, food, religion and behavior. Every other neighbor is an alien to them. Hundreds of generations of family in one place, as is not uncommon in Europe, will take a long time to happen in the States. The U.S. has been divisive from the get-go. Even the 13 original colonies in the New World had advocated for 13 new countries. Kind of like Italy in the Middle Ages, with a kingdom on every hill. It did not turn out that way in 1776 America, but who knows? Maybe it will have the chance to happen now.
1 This cliché originated in a radio show of the 1950s that segued into a 1960s TV show, “Gunsmoke”: The original phrase referred to trigger-finger gunmen being run out of town – Dodge City, Kansas, a rough town in the late 1800s on the American frontier whose fictional sheriff was the decider. The idiom ‘get out of Dodge’ now refers to leaving a place quickly to avoid trouble – like heading out the back door of a too-loud party as the cops are coming in the front door to break it up. Or leaving a job that is no longer fun or even congenial. Often, it just means exiting in a hurry.