OPINION | DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Road more traveled starts with influx of Arkansans

Dear Mahatma: A whole bunch of people are moving here from California. Did you know that? They sell their houses for a lot of money there, and buy in Arkansas for a lot less. Ask anyone in real estate. -- Anecdotal Evidence

Dear Anecdotal: Way back when, in a previous century, this newspaper would use cost of living data to persuade journalists to leave their squalid coastal cities and come to beautiful Arkansas. The data was compelling to many. Not to mention all the trees, mountains, lakes, streams and other wonders we have in the Natural State.

It's tough to go back to Philadelphia after a visit to the Buffalo River or Petit Jean State Park.

What does this have to do with traffic, or driving, or highway construction?

Ha! We asked the Department Finance and Administration, of which the Office of Driver Services handles driver's license transfers, for data from 2022. We learned that a total of 53,519 people transferred their licenses from other states to Arkansas.

A breakdown of the top 10 transfers turned out this way:

1. Texas: 9,441.

2. California: 5,234.

3. Oklahoma: 3,305.

4. Florida: 2,840.

5. Tennessee: 2,427.

6. Louisiana: 2,265.

7. Colorado: 1,953.

8. Arizona: 1,773.

9. Illinois: 1,698.

10. Mississippi: 1,446.

Way lower on the list was Rhode Island, with 39 transfers, a mere 25 from the District of Columbia, 210 from Alaska and 144 from Hawaii.

Please allow us to analyze (that is, speculate wildly and without corroborating information) these numbers.

We deduce that of course our neighboring states of Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Louisiana would account for many transfers.

So many from Texas -- we reckon there are an equal or much greater number of Arkansans moving to Texas. This trend has persisted since the early 19th century, when Arkansans and people from other states would carve into their doors and fences the letters GTT -- Gone to Texas.

But California? Not exactly a neighboring state. Light is shed by data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, which tells us that Arkansas is the 11th-cheapest state in which to live, with a composite score of 90.6, 100 being average. Mississippi, the cheapest, is at 85.0.

California checks in at 49th, at 137.6.

What goes around comes around. The Dust Bowl and Great Depression saw a wave of migration from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and other states to California. These poor folks, no matter from which state, were generally known as Okies and Arkies.

Have the prodigals returned?

Dear Mahatma: For your expired hall of fame license plates. Seen at Walmart on Arkansas 10. -- Robert

Dear Robert: Thanks for sending the photo of a Honda with a temporary plate dated June 23, 2021, about 10 dog years ago.

Continued use of this plate suggests the driver hasn't paid his 6.5% state sales tax on the vehicle. Although the vast, vast majority of others have.