Atlas Shrugged and Florida’s middle class

They said they were leaving and sure enough they did. All the window shades were up. I could see into my neighbor’s house. The rooms were bare. The kids toys were gone from the back yard, no car, no van, the white picket fence gate was ajar. Smokey the dog was nowhere to be seen nor heard.

My mind flashed to Ayn Rand’s classic 1950’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. The books plot line includes the world’s brightest minds, industrialists, scientists, entrepreneurs, philosophers, disappearing, simply vanishing as government imposed more taxes, more curbs on creativity and the ability of expand economically. The elite went away and the country went into economic doldrums.

In the case of my neighbors it is the disappearance of middle class professionals. It is something we are seeing more and more in South Florida. Ayn Rand, the sometimes described elitist, probably would have never written a novel about the middle class “worker bees” disappearing. Never the less it is a pretty good story.

These folks are medical professionals. They held good jobs at high profile South Florida facilities. Active in their community they have three kids in elementary schools.

They had to get out.

Taxes, insurance, mortgage, unhappy with the local schools, gas and food prices soaring the list of issues plaguing this otherwise happy family of five.

I was a bit taken back when they told us they had found new jobs, bought a new home, and had checked out several school options and were moving as soon as possible. The biggest shocker: their home sold in 22 days, a huge bit of luck in this slow real estate environment.

They are, I guess, getting settled out west, a state a good distance away from South Florida.

Moving companies claim that they are hauling more people out of Florida than they are bringing in. I remember well during a Florida Keys hurricane evacuation talking to a guy who had a U-Haul trailer hitched to his pick up. “Hell, I am not evacuating, I am leaving town for good,” he told me. “Can’t find a house, don’t make enough money, car insurance is killing me.” That was three years ago, not much has changed. People are still leaving, not only to the Carolinas, Georgia, but now Tennessee, and Texas.

Eventually in Atlas Shrugged the nation’s greatest minds emerge from their self imposed exile as the government oppression collapsed from lack of economic and political leadership. The question is will my neighbors ever return? Will the thousands of other Floridians who have fled the Sunshine State return? I doubt it. Again they are not the economic elite but they are the professional middle class that makes the economic engine move. And who will replace them?

Our neighbors were in the medical field. Check the classifieds and see how many medical sector jobs are available. Hospitals and clinics are begging for help.

Atlas Shrugged and they are leaving town.

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