All Star Panelist Roger Simon Talks Blue State to Red State Migration and No State Income Tax


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist and The Epoch Times Senior Editor-At-Large Roger Simon in-studio to discuss the migration of blue state citizens to red states and the consequences of a no income state tax.

Leahy: We are joined in studio by our very good friend, my former boss and all-star panelist, Roger Simon. He was was one of the early California refugees to arrive in Tennessee. You’ve been here what, two or three or so? How long?

Simon: Three and a half years.

Leahy: Three and a half years! And so, Roger, you are in demand. You started writing as a senior editor-at-large for The Epoch Times. Your role, I guess, has expanded. Tell us a little bit about that.

Simon: It’s just not me. The Epoch Times is sort of expanding by leaps and bounds. Like in October. Comm Score came out with the measurement of all the conservative websites in the world, and it came in two.

Leahy: Wow! What was number one?

Simon: Fox, you’ll be shocked to hear. (Leahy chuckles) Anyway, but it’s growing very fast. So they’ve asked me to write more columns, which is sort of dizzying.

Leahy: Is that a good thing or a bad thing for you Roger?

Simon: Well I get a little bit more money. (Leahy chuckles) Bad thing. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. If people have a suggestion for a column, tell me. I also have signed up to write a book at the same time apropos of everything. I think I’m calling it The Southbound Train from that lyric in the Wagon Wheel song. It’s going to be a book about the migration to the red states from the blue states.

Leahy: That’s a great book. And you are well suited to write it since you were an early traveler on that train.

Simon: Yes. Someone told me the earliest traveler on the train is Arthur Loeffler. Loeffler came here 10 years ago because he did the math as only he could and determined it would be smart for him economically to live in Nashville.

Leahy: With no state income tax.

Simon: Now, the thing about writing a book about this subject is that there’s a lot of conflict about what’s motivating the movement. Whether it’s ideology, getting sick of living in LA or New York as I was. Money, as in no tax, or who knows? And there’s a lot of fear, of course, by GOP people here in places like Tennessee that the people coming in are going to bring…

Leahy: Their California values. Their blue-state values.

Simon: Yeah, but it’s my observation. I could be wrong. When I write the book, I hopefully will do a little research that it’s not true mostly. Now, everybody’s coming, different people are coming. But for the most part, they are people who are fed up with the blue state politics.

Leahy: Anecdotally, in terms of my personal observation. I would agree with that. However, having said that the people that would come and find The Tennessee Star Report or find me are people that are naturally going to be conservative.

Simon: Yeah, ditto for me from a different angle. But really, it’s the same for me because I’ll go to certain groups and all the rest of the thing and then I’ll see those same people. So I have to make myself look at the other because it’s not a good book then. But Florida, they have done an interesting statistic has occurred that in Florida, for the first time, has more people registered Republican.

Leahy: The battleground state of Florida may be turning red.

Simon: Yes.

Leahy: And I think there’s a reason for that. What are your thoughts as to why that’s happening?

Simon: I think the governor of that state is a rather amazing guy named Ron DeSantis, as we know. And he has created a situation of openness there that brought people with those kinds of values to the state.

Leahy: Yeah, exactly.

Simon: I think that’s what did it. If we had a little more of a DeSantis-type government here, we might get more of them here.

Leahy: Now, I’m not going to go and try to promote more people to come here. The reason is the concern about which values are they bringing. That’s point number one. Although, as it turns out, the state government here seems to be dangling a lot of money in front of companies based in blue states. I don’t like that trend.

Simon: Yeah, well, it’s happening. I mean, we’re seeing it with Ford coming to the Memphis area, Oracle. Oracle is an interesting company because it’s run by a semi-conservative.

Leahy: Larry Ellison. He’s not your typical Silicon Valley billionaire.

Simon: No, he’s no Zuckerberg. He’s a great promoter of tennis. However, it’s an interesting problem because if you look at a place like Memphis, Memphis is not as great a place to live in Nashville right now. It’s a town in trouble. You go there and there is a lot of violence. They can use jobs. Ford helps them in certain ways. But Ford, as a company, is dangerously woke.

Leahy: Roger, is there any Fortune 500 company in America today that is not dangerously woke?

Simon: No. Although I will add an asterisk to that.

Leahy: I can’t wait to hear the asterisk.

Simon: The asterisk is they are all lying. They don’t really believe that stuff. They just think it’s good for their business at the moment. They’re worse than woke in a certain way because they’re not really woke. They’re just pretending to be woke because it’s good for business. I mean, that’s awful.

Leahy: I hope that’s the case!

Simon: It doesn’t really matter too much because the results are finally the same.

Leahy: Now, the other interesting thing about this, you’re talking about why people leave blue
states to come to red states, particularly. And, of course, the leading ones are Texas, Florida, Tennessee. There was a survey released the other day about Uhaul and where people are moving to and where they’re moving from. Where they’re moving from. Number one, California. Where they’re moving to Texas, Florida, and Tennessee. Those are the top three. And the reason why Tennessee is number three is that we’re smaller than Texas and Florida.

Simon: Yeah, by a lot, I think.

Leahy: By a lot. But there’s a funny little angle on that story about the California Uhaul thing, they said, well, not as many people are leaving California and, UHauls, in 2021, but not as many people left in 2021 in 2022 because they had a supply chain problem. They didn’t have enough Uhaul trucks. (Chuckles)

Simon: There’s that. Plus, there was another interesting statistic I read. I don’t have the exact numbers, but to rent a Uhaul in LA cost five times as much as it cost to rent the Uhaul in Texas because the demand is so great in California for Uhaul is not really that good.

Leahy: Supply and demand. Now, here’s another little interesting thing that is very kind of Tennessee-centric in this regard. Now, you remember that here in Tennessee, back in around 1999 we had a RHINO Governor Don Sundquist, who campaigned for reelection to a four-year term and said, I will not establish a state income tax. And immediately after his election, he announced he was for a state income tax.

Simon: You mean politicians do that?

Leahy: I know. They lied. He lied. And so the Killer Bees, state Senator May Beavers, now former Congressman Diane Black and now Senator Marsha Blackburn and a talk radio host and regular average everyday Tennesseeans and had what they called the horn honking protests. They would go down to the Tennessee General Assembly, drive around the General Assembly, honk their horns so that the General Assembly would not pass a state income tax.
Ultimately, they succeeded. Not only was that legislation defeated but a couple of years ago, we had a constitutional amendment in the state that prohibited forever a state income tax. Now, what’s interesting about this, Roger is the copycat syndrome. Turns out a lot of states now are proposing the elimination of state income tax. Mississippi, Wisconsin, et cetera. Your thoughts on that?

Simon: Well, I’m surprised about Wisconsin.

Leahy: Well, it’s not the governor. It’s the leaders of the Republican Party.

Simon: I can see it going through in Mississippi pretty easily. The whole story of the Killer Bees is legendary here. And I had heard it many times because of friends of Senator Blackburn and so forth. It’s a great moment in the history of this state.

Leahy: I think, and I think in the history of the country.

Simon: I agree.

Leahy: Because a lot of people that came down here were from Connecticut, where they passed the state income tax and it destroyed the state. We’ll come back with more. I got a question for you about what’s going on in Australia. Oh, boy, are they going crazy down there.
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.





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