Posts tagged ‘Opinion Journal’

Uhaul Indicator of California Health

In today's Opinion Journal, the WSJ editorializes against the proposal to even further raise marginal income tax rates in California, to the highest in the country save in New York City.  The Journal argues that this is chasing productive, high income people out of California:

latest Census Bureau data indicate that, in 2005, 239,416 more
native-born Americans left the state than moved in. California is also
on pace to lose domestic population (not counting immigrants) this
year. The outmigration is such that the cost to rent a U-Haul trailer
to move from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho, is $2,090--or some eight
times more than the cost of moving in the opposite direction.

I had seen this Uhaul metric before.  The logic is that Uhaul has to keep its fleet of trucks and trailers balanced.  If everyone is going one way with them, say from California to Utah, then they are going to end up with an enormous yard full of vehicles in Utah unless they 1)  pay to backhaul the trucks to CA empty, which is really expensive, or 2) increase the price of the route to Utah and decrease the price of the route back until they are in balance or until the price of the preferred direction covers the backhaul costs.

I had never tried this myself.  I always wondered if the examples people use in articles like this are hand-selected or representative.  So I tried, at random, LA to Salt Lake City  (I have Utah on the brain, I guess, because we are going skiing up there next week, woohoo!)  and chose a date far enough in the future I didn't run into any random demand peaks.  A one-way 26-foot truck rental from LA to SLC on May 15 was quoted at $1888.  The same truck from SLC to LA was quoted at $299!  Try it yourself.

Frequent readers of my blog know I am a big supporter of open immigration, but it cannot be a good thing to send a quarter of a million of your best educated and most productive people out every year and backfill them with lower-skilled, under-educated immigrants.