Florida’s Economic ‘Ponzi Scheme’

In the 1880s, we convinced the ailing and infirm that Florida was good for their health, despite the mosquitoes and the suffocating heat. In the 1920s, we sold swampland to Yankees, promising that with just a little draining and a little fill dirt, it could be paradise. We call ourselves the “Sunshine State,” never mind that it rains an awful lot. The rest of America sold corn, cotton, iron or coal. Florida sold itself. When you retired you were going to where there was no snow to shovel, where you could pick oranges off trees growing in your backyard, and flowers bloomed in winter. Taxes were low; living was high. Florida was Eden on the cheap. It was bound to catch up with us. Gary Mormino, a distinguished historian of Florida, says our whole economy is more or less a big Ponzi scheme. The state funds its roads and schools by bringing in new investors — that is, new residents — to pay sales taxes and property taxes. When nobody can afford a condo in Boca, when tourists stop coming even for a week at Disney World, the Ponzi scheme collapses.

via NPR