I’m not sure if we ought to be proud or not. Florida is now only behind California and Texas in size. We supposedly passed New York last week.
There are a lot of problems that go along with being so big. We already know that from being number four for so long. We’re beginning to look and act a lot like the Left Coast. With our wacky residents and crazy local and state politicians, which author Carl Hiaason can describe so succinctly in his zany novels, we keep the rest of the country in stitches.
We haven’t conducted an error-free election since 2000. Of course, that’s because we’re under a microscope during election time. But that’s another consequence for being such a large and “important” state.
Big populations mean big problems. Public safety, infrastructure, employment all become larger challenges with more people. More development of homes, businesses, and the health care industry become a necessity. Urban sprawl, eclectic residents, higher crime rates are all results.
We now have nearly 20 million people and growing daily! In 1970 Florida had 6.85 million residents. That’s phenomenal growth over the past 40 years. Of course, Gadsden County hasn’t capitalized much if any on that growth, which to some is good news but to others means we’re not making much progress and probably getting left behind. The population here has remained fairly constant since 1970, right around 46,000.
What’s ironic about our state overtaking New York is that ex-New Yorkers are the biggest source of new Floridians, according to one Fox News report. And, of course, they are older residents, which plays into Florida’s stereotypical image of being the Geriatric State. But that’s alright. Retirees have plenty of money and need lots of services.
Except for the hot summers, particularly in the humid Big Bend part of the state, Florida is a nice place to live. Everyone’s within easy driving distance of a beach or large city, the weather is mostly mild and there’s no personal income tax. The state still also has many rural, wooded and agricultural areas plus numerous rivers, lakes and springs. It’s an outdoor paradise except for the mosquitoes, snakes, red bugs and sometimes pollution.
And speaking of critters, not only are people making their homes here but so are invasive animals and reptiles like the python, lion fish and iguana. And vegetation such as the Melaleuca tree, water hyacinth and hydrilla. And those don’t include our old mainstays in the plant and animal categories that we’ve grown so accustomed to, kudzu and love bugs.
Everything thrives in the state of Florida from humans right on down the food chain. And that’s partly because of our varied climate, almost tropical in the south to moderate in the north.
No wonder everybody, and their pets, are moving to the Sunshine State.