No, this is not one of those annoying articles about what a lazy computer-bound slug you are and how wonderful it would be for you to buy a hyper-expensive standing desk.

This is about the slew of articles recently waxing philosophical about the decline in Americans relocating. See here, here and here, for example.

As you’ll see if you bother to read those, there are all kinds of theories for this. (There’s lots of gnashing of teeth, too.) I’ve got plenty of theories of my own, but I won’t bore you with them. I will, however, bore you with a couple of stories.

Story #1:

I just finished reading Journal of a Trapper by Osborne Russell. It’s amazing to relive the days of the western territories (several times Russell refers to people traveling east “going back to the States”), when men went into the wilderness to earn their livings hunting, trapping and mining. Eventually they established forts, then towns, brought their families, and built shopping malls and TGI Fridays restaurants (this covers a lot of years, mind you), so that now they look just like the places back east.

To harken back to the trappers, homesteaders and Forty-Niners (not the football team) and bemoan that the current generation lacks interest in adventure because its members aren’t pulling up stakes is really just a non sequitur. Russell lived in the wild once he moved, battling hostile wildlife, humans, and environments alike – adventure indeed! A millennial moving from Pittsburgh to Boise today, though, will find that his immediate living arrangements really haven’t changed at all. But he can find modern adventure in and around either Pittsburgh or Boise. So why move?

Story #2:

My boyhood best friend Don Armata still lives in our hometown of Ironwood, Michigan. His parents and his son and extended family live right there too. Don’s been a loan officer at a local bank for many years, and he and his now-grown “boy” (who owns his own machine shop) also just bought out a local Dairy Queen together. I, meanwhile, went away to college and then worked for several different companies, moving a good ten times all around the eastern US while progressing nicely career-wise in the world of manufacturing. My wife and sons are my only nearby family, though.

Don’s happy and healthy, and so am I. We’ve both led pretty darned productive lives. I’ve gotten to see a lot more of our country than he has, but he’s gotten to see a lot more of his family than I have. So I really don’t see how more people being like Don versus like me means anything bad for the country.

Moral of the stories:

Some statistics just may not tell us much of anything.