Bloomberg News this week uncorked its long-anticipated article about Ken Griffin's arrival as "instantly Florida's richest person after moving his family and financial empire to Miami from Chicago."
The line in Amanda L. Gordon's dispatch that really caught my attention was the shade cast by Alberto Ibarguen, president and CEO of the Knight Foundation. Gordon quotes Ibarguen as saying, "This is really an inorganic infusion of upper-middle-class and rich individuals that are suddenly coming in and widening the wealth gap even more."
"Inorganic"? Ibarguen makes Griffin sound like some kind of chemically fertilized supermarket tomato. Or a cheap pair of polyester pants. Or the vinyl upholstery on the subcompact rental car tourists pick up in the Alamo lot at MIA. What could Ibarguen possibly have been thinking?
Far-sighted civic leaders in places like Silicon Valley, Boston, and Manhattan are ruing the exodus of job creators and philanthropists to lower tax, lower-regulation, lower-cost jurisdictions such as Texas, Florida, and New Hampshire. A foundation executive with sense would be celebrating Griffin's arrival, not complaining about its consequences.
It's an ironic objection. Ibarguen, born in Puerto Rico, reportedly grew up in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania and in South Orange, N.J. His grandmother had "moved her four sons to Philadelphia from Cuba," drawn in part "by the good reputation" of Philadelphia's Catholic schools. What makes Griffin's move to Florida any less organic than Ibarguen's own move to Florida, or than Ibarguen's grandmother's move to Philadelphia?
The America dream and the American story has always involved moving to new places for freedom and opportunity. The most dynamic and successful cities have been the ones that welcomed newcomers with open arms rather than denouncing them as "inorganic." The easiest way to eliminate a "wealth gap" would be to have no wealth—no star athletes or musicians or fashion designers, no successful entrepreneurs innovating with new products. Or, a wealth gap might be eliminated by having a government that systematically confiscates the earnings from such creative excellence through taxation. The misery generated by that approach is demonstrated by the fact that no one is climbing onto a raft to get to Communist Cuba from Miami. Rather, the voluntary traffic flows in the opposite direction.
If Ibarguen really wants to narrow the "wealth gap," he could do it tomorrow by sunsetting the Knight Foundation, whose assets were most recently reported at more than $2 billion. Or the Knight Foundation could do its part to narrow the wealth gap in Miami by picking up and moving to a high tax, high-crime, high-regulation jurisdiction like Chicago. But if Knight wants to stay put, it might want to consider updating its outlook to get in tune with the dynamism and welcoming of immigrants—from all backgrounds—that have made the South Florida city and America overall, in the long view, such beacons of liberty.