As of July, CBS News reports, Florida’s unemployment rate stood at 2.7% versus 3.5% nationwide. Most economists consider an unemployment rate of 5% or less to constitute “full employment”: People without jobs in such a scenario are either in the process of changing jobs, or just not looking for work.
The problem in Florida right now, after nearly a year-and-a-half of economic growth, isn’t unemployment. It’s unfilled job openings. Florida has 588,000 of those. Employers are begging someone, anyone, to please come collect a paycheck.
If you live in Florida, you don’t need the news to tell you that. You see the “help wanted” signs everywhere you go, advertising well above minimum wage … along with reduced hours due to staff shortages.
Governor Ron DeSantis’s response to those growing pains? He’s rounding up workers and sending them to Massachusetts at taxpayer expense.
“Yes,” DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske told Fox News on September 14, “Florida can confirm the two planes with illegal [sic] immigrants that arrived in Martha’s Vineyard today were part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal [sic] immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”
If that doesn’t make any sense to you, you’re looking at it from the wrong angle. DeSantis’s priority isn’t his state’s economy or its residents’ quality of life. It’s positioning himself to run for president in 2024 or 2028.
To assist himself in that positioning, he’s been tapping taxpayer money as, essentially, campaign contributions for some time now.
Last year, he blew millions sending Florida cops to Texas on a “border mission” to assist governor Greg Abbott in some immigration-based political clownery. Apparently they were fresh out of crime to fight in Florida after DeSantis rewarded his police union cronies by seizing power to stop local governments from reducing their law enforcement budgets.
This week’s Martha’s Vineyard stunt is just a carbon copy of Abbott’s “bus them to Chicago” nonsense. Like the police funding and “border mission” capers, it imposes additional costs on Floridians above and beyond the raw taxpayer dollar numbers.
Fewer immigrants in Florida means fewer job openings filled. It means shorter store hours. It means crops rotting in fields instead of getting picked. It means fewer houses and apartments getting built. It means fewer paychecks being spent in stores that CAN find workers.
Ron DeSantis is running for president at the expense of Florida’s voters and taxpayers. Maybe they should think about that before they give him another term as governor.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.