Take Me Down to the Parasite City

The District is booming.

Have you seen the latest jobs report? Major buzzkill: creeping unemployment, anemic growth, and the recovery's totally stalled.

But not here: The District is booming! "Washington may have the healthiest economy of any major metropolitan area in the country," says New York Times D.C. bureau chief David Leonhardt in Sunday's Gray Lady. "You can actually see the prosperity"!

Yes we can! Construction cranes dominate the downtown skyline, and your average homeless guy can barely grab a stretch of sidewalk before yet another boutique store pops up to bounce his bedroll.

True, if you venture outside the Death Star's orbit to visit the colonies for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you'll see a lot of boarded-up storefronts. You might even feel a twinge of shame when Matt Drudge feeds you headlines like "D.C. Leads List of Most Shopaholic Cities in America."

Whatever: Guilt is for losers! The main lesson the rest of the country should take from the capital's prosperity is, per Leonhardt, that "education matters."

D.C.'s "high-skill" economy boasts more college degrees than any other major metropolitan area in America. "If you wanted to imagine what the economy might look like if the country were much better educated," Leonhardt writes, "you can look at Washington."

Hey, you people out there in flyover country: We're eating your lunch because we're "smarter" than you! Hit the books, rubes: We built this!

Even so, I found it a bit unsettling last fall to read that "Beltway Earnings Make U.S. Capital Richer Than Silicon Valley," as the Bloomberg News headline put it. After all, Silicon Valley "creates" wealth, while we—smart as we are—mostly shuffle it around.

Key factors identified in the Bloomberg report include massive defense contracts, "federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000," "the nation's greatest concentration of lawyers," and record-high lobbying expenditures. "Wall Street has moved to K Street," comments Barbara Lang, head of the DC Chamber of Commerce.

The District is "not exactly the nation's entrepreneurial capital," the Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein observes. "Other than goods and services sold to government, only 12 percent of the region's output is sold to people and businesses outside the region, a number that has fallen in recent years."

To be fair, Leonhardt acknowledges that some of the District's prosperity comes from leeching off "economic value created by someone else." But what Leonhardt concedes in one paragraph, he takes away in the next: One of the main reasons "Washington's good times are not all—or even mostly—about rent-seeking," he argues, is that D.C. gobbled up "more stimulus dollars per capita than any state." Come again?

D.C.'s boomtimes show that "a Keynesian response to an economic crisis really can make a difference," Leonhardt insists. Yes, and if everyone got more than their fair share of the fixed pie of federal boodle, then all the municipalities could be above average.

Leonhardt has a point about the economic value of education. But it's one thing to use brainpower to build new products. and another thing entirely when it's employed to redistribute wealth that other smart people have created. D.C.'s burgeoning Mensa Mecca is built on the latter impulse: Take me down to Parasite City, where the kids are smart and the girls are pretty.

Amtrak takes me home a couple of times a year along the Northeast Corridor, and I'm always puzzled by that big sign that shows up just outside New Jersey's capital: "Trenton Makes, the World Takes." Makes what, exactly?

But I'd support putting up a similar sign over the approach to Washington's Union Station: "The Country Makes, D.C. Takes." We could probably get stimulus dollars for that.

This column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner. 

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  • sarcasmic||

    Great. Now I've got G'n'R stuck in my head.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Would you rather have this (Crazy Train) in instead.

  • sarcasmic||

    No. But Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby to an interesting cover of Superfreak.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHPhZwZKvzk

  • Ice Nine||

    I love bluegrass covers but they have to be plausible (eg., Tim O'Brien). So, sure Rick and Bruce, play it with a mandolin and piano but, guys, without that funk beat Super Freak is simply not Super Freak.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I've often thought "Circles" by Soul Coughing could be done well as a bluegrass song. But you'd probably need a pedal steel.

  • Randian||

    Great. Now I've got G'n'R stuck in my head.

    I am a classic rock / 80s Rock enthusiast, and I think G'n'R suuucks.

  • sarcasmic||

    I spent too many years working in kitchens with classic rock / 80s rock blaring all day to enjoy the stuff anymore.

    Pretty much all I listen to for music these days is college radio, because there's a good chance I hear something I've never heard before. Or at least haven't heard ten thousand times.

  • Randian||

    I spent too many years working in kitchens with classic rock / 80s rock blaring all day to enjoy the stuff anymore.

    Fair enough. I think the overplaying of certain songs is what leads to bands that are awesome being undervalued.

    See: Led Zeppelin and "Stairway to Heaven" (one of their worst) or Queen and the wildly-overrated "Bohemian Rhapsody".

    All five popular songs by G'n'R have been on constant rotation on radio since I was born, and I think they suck.

  • BakedPenguin||

    They also stole the intro to Stairway from the band Spirit. Listen to Spirit's "Taurus".

  • sarcasmic||

    I bought Appetite on vinyl in high school.

  • sloopyinca||

    Bohemian Rhapsody overrated? I'd agree with overplayed, but overrated? Absolutely not.

  • Randian||

    Bohemian Rhapsody overrated? I'd agree with overplayed, but overrated? Absolutely not.

    A song does not get to be overplayed without being overrated.

  • sloopyinca||

    Bull fucking shit.

    I'd say Tom Sawyer is overplayed (because there is so much other great Rush out there), but I'd never say it's overrated.

    Hell, I'd say the same about Beethoven's 3rd if we're talking classical. Or the 1812 Overture.

  • Randian||

    *shrug*

    Most people think Bohemian Rhapsody is just you know, "awesome" because of Wayne's World and Mountain Dew commercials. So maybe not "overrated", but popular for all the wrong reasons, and definitely overplayed.

    I can reel off five songs that I think are technically better and more fun to listen to than BR.

  • sarcasmic||

    Most people think Bohemian Rhapsody is just you know, "awesome" because of Wayne's World and Mountain Dew commercials.

    Your age is showing. Some of us were listening to Queen before GnR was a band.

    I will say that there is much underrated music out there, like Zeppelin's Presence for example.

  • Randian||

    sarc, I would say that it is your age that is showing. BR gets the kind of airplay that it does because of pop culture references. It was a hit before 1992 but took off again after Wayne's World. That's just the facts, ma'am.

  • sarcasmic||

    Randian, it's a generational thing.

    If I were to argue that Aerosmith's Walk This Way wasn't popular until they teamed up with RunDMC I'd look foolish.

    Did that collaboration expose Aerosmith to a new generation? Yes.

    Was the song not popular until the new generation heard it? No. That's absurd.

  • wareagle||

    It was a hit before 1992 but took off again after Wayne's World.

    that just shows the myopia of cultural references. Queen had a slew of hits other than BR but today's program director is a combination of 1) too lazy to look through the band's albums and 2) too stuck on a few songs.

  • sloopyinca||

    So maybe not "overrated", but popular for all the wrong reasons, and definitely overplayed.

    OK, now we're on the same page.

  • kinnath||

    I can reel off five songs that I think are technically better and more fun to listen to than BR.

    Please do so

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Hell, I'd say the same about Beethoven's 3rd if we're talking classical. Or the 1812 Overture.

    Overplayed??

  • sloopyinca||

    Overplayed insomuch as they are used constantly in movies, played with great frequency on classical radio stations and used as background at way too many cocktail parties because they are recognizable.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Agreed. There is so much awesome music out there that could be used. Must be laziness on their part.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    The worst offender in the classical music over used in movies/tv category would be the "Ride of the Valkyries."

    And yes I know who else like Wagner.

  • Ice Nine||

    Beethoven as background music is an abomination unto man.

  • Rasilio||

    Yeah but you're not exactly gonna hear 2112 played on the radio in it's entirety

  • sloopyinca||

    By the way, this reminds me of when I was a kid and some DJ in Cincy, on WEBN (the Frog) or Q-102 if I recall correctly, barricaded himself in the studio and played Billy Squier's Everybody Wants You like 20-some times before they got in and removed him.

    That. Was. Awesome!!!

  • SugarFree||

    I was once told by a DJ that the overplaying--and subsequent popularity--of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "American Pie" was large due to the fact that they were long enough for overnight DJs working alone to go take a leisurely shit.

  • wareagle||

    same could be said for Stairway to Heaven and Freebird. Any time I hear those, the instant options are bathroom or someone's catching a buzz.

  • sarcasmic||

    Don't forget Hotel California.

    Or, better yet, forget it ever existed.

  • Anomalous||

    Howard Stern agrees with you.

  • BakedPenguin||

    "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "American Pie" ...were long enough for overnight DJs working alone to go take a leisurely shit.

    This is - no joke - one of the main reasons why a station in Cleveland started playing Rush's Working Man.

  • kinnath||

    Too Daze Gone

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...some DJ ...barricaded himself in the studio and played Billy Squier's Everybody Wants You like 20-some times before they got in and removed him.

    Some DJ for Orlando's WDIZ, protesting a format change, barricaded himself and played Free For All by Ted Nugent over and over.

  • Gray Ghost||

    The album version of Life's Been Good.

    Most of the Allman Brother's oeurve.

    Stranglehold

    Jack and Diane just seems like it goes on forever...

  • ||

    Seriously, Bohemian Rhapsody and Chris DeBerg. And The Scorpions. Ugh.

    While they hogged the airwaves Minutemen and Husker Du were doing their thing.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Maybe this will get them out.

    Slayer "Raining Blood"

    Genuine article.

  • sarcasmic||

    thanks

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    "If you wanted to imagine what the economy might look like if the country were much better educated," Leonhardt writes, "you can look at Washington."

    "federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000," "the nation's greatest concentration of lawyers,"

    No thanks, I will stay where people actually produce things of value.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    These are the same people who think you can take a fast food worker and double their income by giving them a college diploma.

  • ||

    Someone (primarily Leonhardt) needs to take a course on cause and effect. It's a dead horse, but how many times does it need to be repeated that correlation does not equal causation!!!

    Journalists are the fucking worst at this, but they didn't choose journalism as a profession because of their ability to think critically and understand logical relationships.

    The worst thing is when you try to explain these concepts to most persons of this ilk, all you get is that wide-eyed stare of incomprehension.

    Another dead horse: education does not equal intelligence which does not equal understanding. (Here's a clue: understanding is what is important)

  • ||

    And why does the button still not work? After over a week of this, you'd think someone could have fixed it.

  • ||

    * preview button... damn squirrels.

  • Robert||

    Then why did they choose journalism as a profession?

  • ||

    There are myriad reasons one chooses or ends up in ones profession. I couldn't begin to delineate each of them. Which is why I chose to state my biased over-generalization the way I did.

  • Generic Stranger||

    The ones I worked with either liked to write or wanted something that would make them somewhat employable without having to take any STEM subjects.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Or both.

  • Pro Libertate||

    More fucking lawyers is the last thing this country needs.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    More fucking lawyers is the last thing this country needs.

    This too.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It all goes together. More law, more lawyers, less of everything else.

  • Alex the wolf||

    Its all the same thing. Lawyers need laws that contradict each other so that there are more lawsuits

  • Citizen Nothing||

    My eldest is taking his first law school exam today.
    But I agree.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's a scary place to be right now, with graduates having a seriously hard time finding work.

    I've issued some fairly strong threats to my kids against going to law school. Probably one will defy my will and go, anyway.

  • SugarFree||

    Probably one will defy my will and go, anyway.

    Never give a child an avenue of rebellion. If you don't want them to be lawyers, nag them everyday that they have to be lawyers.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm more subtle than "IT SHALL NOT BE DONE", but I'm doomed, most likely. The best disincentive they have is that I work longish hours. Not that bad to me, but it seems like hell to them.

  • SugarFree||

    Chalk up everything bad that happens to them on you being a lawyer.

    "Can I have ice cream?" No, because I'm a lawyer.

    "Can I have a car?" No, because I'm a lawyer.

    "Why did Spot die?" Because I'm and lawyer and you use up all the hot water in the morning.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I am the law.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    So if we fight you, you will win? I've heard that has been a constant past result.

  • Anomalous||

    Is TMZ on?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    one will defy my will

    Then you've failed in your life's greatest work.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I've got three more, if that happens. The one in college is majoring in mechanical engineering for the time being and shows no interest in law.

  • Brett L||

    Well, at least that one won't have to live at home at age 30.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I'd be worried, except he got a free ride. So he's only got three years of his youth to lose.

  • ||

    My 7 year-old daughter is slowly improving. She went from wanting to be a part-time cashier at Wal-Mart to wanting to be a janitor to an archeologist to a teacher in a span of 18 months.

    I'm working on her.

  • Joe R.||

    I'm a chemical engineer working in the petroleum industry, yet some people think I'm joking when I say law school would be a pay cut--if I could even find a job at all.

  • Randian||

    His first exam is in the middle of summer?

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    His first exam is in the middle of summer?

    Some people take classes year round. It allows you to finish school quicker.

  • Randian||

    I know, but usually you don't start law school in the middle of summer.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    I know, but usually you don't start law school in the middle of summer.

    Just out of curiosity, do most law schools offer summer classes? I assumed they did, like business schools (who according to some are not college), but I honestly do not know.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Can't speak for most, but I think they usually do. By third year, only someone just hell-bent on early graduation would be attending summer, as that's usually the time for the plum summer job.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Early admissions program for entering law students.

  • Ted S.||

    I misread it and thought the brat was taking the bar exam, which I believe is administered around this time of year.

  • Robert||

    When they fuck, do they breed more of the same?

  • R C Dean||

    Once again, somebody gets the causation arrow pointing the wrong way.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's quite amazing, isn't it? It's like celebrating a bunch of vultures gathered around an elephant carcass.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Pro Libertate,

    It's like celebrating a bunch of vultures gathered around an elephant carcass.


    And calling it "Economic Stimulus."

  • The Hammer||

    Top. Vultures.

  • The Hammer||

    Top. Vultures.

  • ||

    One phrase entered my mind while reading this: "No shit, Sherlock".

    You have to be one chronically obtuse motherfucker to think that all our fancy book learnin' is what made DC "prosperous".

  • John||

    No. You just have to have lied to yourself for so long, you no longer even know what the truth was.

  • JW||

    , "federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000,"

    What pisses me off is that my salary, while good, is still below this and in the private sector, I don't get the fancy benies that they do as well, along with the ironclad employment. Oh, and I get to pay the higher cost of living as a result, too.

    Fuck these parasites.

  • Anomalous||

    Fuck 'em with a rusty chainsaw.

    It used to be that federal employees got paid less than their private sector counterparts, with the tradeoff being better job security and benefits. Now they get higher salaries, plus the security and benefits. And most of them are dedicated to making our lives worse.

  • Adam330||

    The 126k figure includes benefits and employer paid taxes- it's not just salary.

  • ||

    I own a business and pay myself nowhere near $126 000. Sure, been open only 18 months but gosh, I don't think people in general (let alone parasites) have a clue what it takes to get into a position to earn a high salary.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Reminds me of a passage from Krugabe's fave book:

    According to the original Foundation Trilogy (1951), Asimov states (by way of the Encyclopedia Galactica), "... the impossibility of proper administration... under the uninspired leadership of the later Emperors was a considerable factor in the Fall." To support the needs and whims of the population, food from twenty agricultural worlds brought by ships in the tens of thousands, fleets greater than any navy ever constructed by the Empire. "Its dependence upon the outer worlds for food and, indeed, for all necessities of life, made Trantor increasingly vulnerable to conquest by siege. In the last millennium of the Empire, the monotonously numerous revolts made Emperor after Emperor conscious of this, and Imperial policy became little more than the protection of Trantor's delicate jugular vein..." (Encyclopedia Galactica)
  • Pro Libertate||

    Of course, Asimov wasn't talking about us. That's basically Gibbon tossed into the future. Not to suggest Foundation isn't great on its own merits, but Asimov was open about the source for the declining galactic empire.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Yes, but Gibbon is boring and stuff.

    Unless you're talking about time travel experiments with lesser apes, in which case THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It bugs me that Krugman likes Asimov. While Asimov wasn't a libertarian, he also wasn't the state-fellator that Krugman is.

  • Brett L||

    Mmm. The whole Foundation series is predicated on Top. Men. I found I was much less excited about it a few years ago than as a pre-teen.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I often hear some negatives about Asimov based on the politics implied in his writings. I don't think Foundation was anything more or less than him playing with two big ideas--first, a story about people enduring the fall of a great empire like Rome in the far future, and second, what would happen if mass human behavior could be accurately predicted?

    Beyond that, I don't think he was advocating a society like any of those in the book (or later books). Even the Foundation was pretty authoritarian by our standards.

  • Zeb||

    With most science fiction, I think that it is a mistake to assume that the author thinks that the things he writes about are they way things should be.

    It's been a long time since I read the Foundation books, but doesn't it turn out that Top Men are bound to fail eventually?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Pretty much. Asimov liked to play with ideas. Like the Three Laws. I don't know that he was advocating anything specifically like that, but defining those laws and showing how they'd fail (or produce interesting results) in different situations was something he clearly enjoyed doing.

  • Brett L||

    Oh, sorry, I wasn't conflating the author and the book. I merely meant to say that I understand why people like Krugman love the Foundation series.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yeah, no surprise there. He must love the idea of being able to subtly manipulate the masses that way.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    The manipulation was done using persuasion, not coercion. One may debate the morality of such manipulation but it's not like statism.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Debatable. The Foundationers (at least the Terminus branch) don't rely on coercion much to accomplish their goals. They're the underdogs in most of the original trilogy.

    The backdrop, of course, is the notion that psychohistorians can predict and shape the future with a high degree of accuracy, and I guess that's kind of anti-individualist, but the methods of the Foundationers aren't particularly bad.

  • mr simple||

    The king’s cheese is half wasted in parings;
    but no matter, ’tis made of the people’s milk.

  • ||

    The ugliness of the people in that picture is incalculable. Politics really is Hollywood for uggos.

  • sloopyinca||

    It reminded me of a great scene out of The Hudsucker Proxy, as I imagine it would look if recreated by vampires.

  • sticks||

    'you know, for kids.'

  • Drake||

    That ugliness isn't just the skin deep kind.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Seriously, though, what the hell is that thing on the right? Which district sent Gollum to Congress?

  • Randian||

    I will have you know that Earth values its relationship with its oldest ally, Vulcan, and that is why we chose to have one in our legislative chamber.

  • Randian||

  • T||

    Filtered for 'Tasteless', which is pretty damn funny.

  • JW||

    "Hey Moe!"

  • sloopyinca||

    Is that like the Iranian Parliament reserving a seat for the Jews?

  • sloopyinca||

    I didn't even think Ron Wood was an American citizen!

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Wait a minute, haven't we already seen this article on Reason? with a video

  • John||

    D.C.'s "high-skill" economy boasts more college degrees than any other major metropolitan area in America. "If you wanted to imagine what the economy might look like if the country were much better educated," Leonhardt writes, "you can look at Washington."

    Because every economy can steal three trillion dollars a year from the rest of the country. And what they don't steal borrow or print in someone else's name. That is the most offensively stupid thing I have read in a long time. Pardon me I need to go throw up now.

  • Pro Libertate||

    When I was in college, I did some sort of research in my second statistics class that involved looking at census data. At that time, the most educated city in the U.S. per capita was, by quite a margin, Huntsville, Alabama.

  • John||

    It still is. Of course that is due to the Redstone Arsenal being there and the place being a small town literally full of rocket scientists. Huntsville is actually a very nice place.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's an interesting place, full of rocket scientists and military people, but it's also become a fairly significant town for business start-ups and has a quite cosmopolitan feel compared to other cities in the state. I've always liked it.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Give credit to people who use differential equations on a daily basis. I didn't find Calculus I especially hard, but on some days it was like a brain teaser. Now, I just can't imagine taking three more semesters to finish an engineering degree.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Stop it. You're going to make Nancy Pelosi very unhappy when she realizes people are more educated and wealthy in podunk North Alabama.

    Sweet goodness, she's 72 years old. SHE'S WASTED HER LIFE!

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's not too late for her to go to the Moon. In fact, I think we could arrange for her to be the first permanent colonist there.

  • sloopyinca||

    It's like The Capitol in Panem, but without the Hunger Games thrown in...until they reinstate the draft, that is.

  • John||

    Honestly, I think guys like this have no idea how economies actually work. Remember, these people think we are not spending enough. They honestly think you can have an economy full of GS 15 diversity specialists.

  • sarcasmic||

    GS 15 diversity specialists spend their earnings, don't they?
    And that keeps money moving around the economy, doesn't it?

    Nevermind that the money backing the GS 15's paycheck was taxed, borrowed or simply printed into existence, which has a negative effect on the economy. That's unseen. We only care about the seen.

    Now if you'll excuse me I have some windows to break.

  • Doctor Whom||

    As soon as the GS 15's get the money, the multiplier effect kicks in.

  • Robert||

    Isn't the implication that they can steal so much because they are smart and/or knowledgeable?

  • Old Mexican||

    Gene Healy on Why Washington, D.C. Is So Wealthy


    Because hers is a million bucks cackle!

    I mean... Laugh! Yes, laugh!

  • Brett L||

    I'm assuming that this argument applies to the medieval Vatican, too, right? Right? Oh, what, they can just steal our treasure via threat? I guess that makes sense, too.

  • John||

    It also applies to the Golden Hoard. Per capita the Golden Hoard had it all over medieval Russia. So I guess the key to economic success is the ability to extract huge protection payments from your neighbors.

  • Randian||

    -___-

    Horde, John. Golden Horde.

  • $park¥||

    Golden Horde with a golden hoard?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    I've heard the Horde rode an entire herd to extract their hoard.

  • Drake||

    Those were amateur operations. The Vatican needed actual gold. The Mongols had to take risks and live hard.

    In DC, they have convinced the wealthiest nation on Earth to continuously send them vast sums of wealth voluntarily. And when they run through all of it, they just print more, while scolding the rest of us for not paying "our fair share" to them.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    they have convinced the wealthiest nation on Earth to continuously send them vast sums of wealth voluntarily.

    I do not think people send it in voluntarily, at least most people, but rather they send it in because they do not want to go to jail or be shot.

  • Drake||

    If they hated it so much, they wouldn't re-elect these people.

  • Sudden||

    I actually did some calculations yesterday and figured out that even if you were to tax every dollar of income (regardless of dividend, capital gain, or earned) above $250k at a rate of 90%, you would still only get $1.045 trillion dollars. That's not even enough to close the current deficit, let alone the coming future deficits once the boomers retire. And that doesn't even factor in the enormous cost to productive enterprise that would follow in the years to come.

  • Drake||

    Bill Whittle beat you to it by a year and a half.

    http://billwhittle.net/?p=562

  • Sudden||

    Whittle's analysis fit what he was doing there (trying to add up to the current federal budget), but when analyzing it vs. current tax policy to find what you will gain on top of current law, you have to subtract the current tax rate from the proposed tax rate. So that total income above $250k (my analysis had it at 1.9 trillion) has to be multiplied at the prospective rate - the current rate (90% prospective - 35% current) = 65%. 65% of 1.9 is 1.045.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    If we tax it at 135%, then it makes up the deficit perfectly.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Maybe he meant Golden Whored?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    It's probably true that education matters. It's probably more true that being able to extract money at the point of a gun matters more.

  • Sudden||

    Education only matters insofar as it adds value. The sad reality is that some people just aren't academic types and won't absorb the value adding skills that an education can provide. Just giving everyone a bachelor's degree in liberal arts doesn't guarantee that they'll have gained sufficient value-adding skills from that education. That would make education in such a case not just a-productive,but counterproductive as it would consume significant costs in time and money without adding a benefit that would be enough to counteract the negative costs.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    All education isn't accessed by academic types and degrees aren't the only kind of education.

  • CE||

    Theft pays. Especially when the mark doesn't realize he's been robbed.

  • $park¥||

    Especially when the mark doesn't realize he's been can't prevent being robbed.

    There ya go.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Especially when the mark doesn't realize he's been can't prevent being robbed.

    This.

    I know full well I'm being robbed. But there ain't shit I can do about it.

  • Loki||

    "Washington D.C. We make money the old fashioned way: we steal it."

  • Adam330||

    Haven't I read tons of articles on this site telling us how government spending can't create jobs or stimulate economic activity? I think you need to get your stories straight.

  • Sudden||

    When you're stealing from 350 million people, but divvying up most of the booty among a few million, you actually can benefit those few million quite substantially. What you can't do is steal from 350 million to benefit 350 million.

  • Adam330||

    Well the Government borrowed all of the money for the stimulus (and 40 cents on the dollar for all other spending), so it's not coming from that 350M. Only a small slice of federal tax money actually gets spent in the DC area anyway- most goes back out via medicare, ss, grants to states, defense contracts, etc.

  • Sudden||

    It is true that most is not spent in the district, but it is equally true that much of the money spent outside the district creates opportunities within the district where it concerns rent-seeking, lobbying, and sundry other undesirable behaviors.

  • R C Dean||

    Well the Government borrowed all of the money for the stimulus (and 40 cents on the dollar for all other spending), so it's not coming from that 350M.

    Sure it is. In due time. You do understand that debts have to be repaid, yes?

    And that all debts are paid one way or the other, by someone or other, yes?

  • Adam330||

    What's your point? The 350M aren't paying for it now or at any other time in the foreseeable future.

  • Alex the wolf||

    ¨Well the Government borrowed all of the money for the stimulus (and 40 cents on the dollar for all other spending), so it's not coming from that 350M¨

    All the money spent is paid by the taxpayers. Every year taxpayers pay for the interests of past year debts. This year the tax bill includes the interests of that debt. In the end, the taxpayer has to pay for everything.
    Taxpayer gives, government takes, the NYT justifies.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    What you can't do is steal from 350 175 million to benefit 350 the other 175 million.

    FIFY

  • wareagle||

    Paul remains ever-enthusiastic about a system that gives to him by taking from Peter. At some point, Peter will figure out he's a schmuck, sell, and move to the Caribbean.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Where he will have to give up every right of being an American citizen (what we have left anyways), else the FedGov will still demand their tribute payment.

  • Randian||

    Haven't I read tons of articles on this site telling us how government spending can't create jobs or stimulate economic activity?

    No. What you have read is that government spending cannot create jobs or stimulate economic activity better than NOT engaging in government spending and/or stimulus.

    Blame your vaunted Publk Skool Teacherz for your failure to be able to engage in basic reading comprehension.

  • Old Mexican||

    "Washington may have the healthiest economy of any major metropolitan area in the country," says New York Times D.C. bureau chief David Leonhardt in Sunday's Gray Lady. "You can actually see the prosperity"


    Just like in Samarkand at one time. And Port Royal.

  • Randian||

    Gosh, Rome is wealthy. What a fucking newsflash.

  • Pro Libertate||

    At least the Romans stole money from the people they conquered rather than their citizens. Suppose that's next for us.

  • Randian||

    The tax rates were pretty astronomical during the Roman decline and the First Sack.

  • John||

    That is after they ran out of other people's money.

  • Randian||

    Alaric was bought off the first time with pepper and purple-dyed furs. If only it were that easy.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's very late in the game--before that, taxes weren't a big issue for Romans (many didn't pay taxes at all, thanks to all the booty). The proper analogy for us, I think, is the middle Republic. Followed by civil unrest, authoritarianism, then empire. Or not.

  • John||

    They get desperate enough, you bet they will. Up next, invade and liberate countries and then tax them for our efforts. How dare these free loaders enjoy freedom at our expense.

  • tarran||

    At least the Romans stole money from the people they conquered rather than their citizens. Suppose that's next for us.

    Two words:

    Tax Farming.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I think the worst abuses with that were in the provinces. Along with most of the other worst abuses.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "If you wanted to imagine what the economy might look like if the country were much better educated," Leonhardt writes, "you can look at Washington."

    If knowing how to play Three Card Monte counts as "being educated" it all makes perfect sense.

  • Brett L||

    Education would make the rest of our nation a wretched hive of scum and villainy? I'm agin it!

  • Old Mexican||

    To be fair, Leonhardt acknowledges that some of the District's prosperity comes from leeching off "economic value created by someone else."


    The Tonys of the world would retort with "social contract," "paying for civilization" and other red herrings. So it amazes me that the guiy would show such candor about institutionalized theft.

  • sarcasmic||

    Remember that "we are government".

    Therefore it's not stealing. How can you steal from yourself? You can't.

    So since "we are government" and "government is us", it's not really stealing since we're doing it to ourselves.

    See?

    Once you obfuscate the distinction between government and society, you can justify most any act of evil.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    It could just be me, but it feels to me as if the denizens of the political class (and their obsequious genuflecting toadies in the press) have been getting more brazen about their authoritarian attitudes lately. They just don't seem to feel the need to cover up what they're doing anymore.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Is that Bill Wyman in drag?

  • John||

    Back right? No that is Perry Ferrell.

  • Spoonman.||

    I thought it was that snide Romulan lady who put weapons on one of Bajor's moons.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    That's not Perry Ferrell that's Ron Wood. Why are the Stones in drag?

  • Randian||

    We already established upthread that it's Leonard Nimoy.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Leonard Nimoy would never wear such gauche earrings. Even as a joke.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's totally Ron Wood, anyway.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I'd like to challenge Mr. Leonhardt to a little wager. Let's compare the economic status of D.C. natives (born, raised, and resident) to the rest of the country. That would have the advantage of, at least partially, filtering out the political class and rent seekers. If his thesis about D.C.'s superiority still holds, he wins the wager. If not, I win. The winner gets to kick the loser in the testicles.

  • Randian||

    Subject #1: Dan Snyder.

    Point, Bill Dalasio!

  • sarcasmic||

    Subject #2: Dee Snyder.

    I Wanna Rock

  • ||

    DC:USA::USA:World

  • Randian||

    Not even close.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Jesus saves, Washington D.C. withdraws.

  • sarcasmic||

    Crime pays.

  • ||

    "If you wanted to imagine what the economy might look like if the country were much better educated," Leonhardt writes, "you can look at Washington.""

    as WFB said... better to be ruled by people chosen at random from the boston phone book, than the faculty at harvard.

    why?

    primarily because the former RECOGNIZE their limitations and wouldn't try to micromanage every aspect of life and pass draconian statist law out of certainty that they know what is better for us, then the individual does.

    the more i look at the political class in DC, the more sense WFB's comment makes.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    For fun (god i'm bored) I did a job search on USAJOBS.gov - the recruiting site for the feds. Filtered for IRS and DC area.

    The IRS recruiting boilerplate is painful on so many levels:

    At the IRS, you will use your skills in accounting, business, finance, law enforcement, information technology, advocacy and more to help make America stronger. The IRS is one of the largest Financial institutions in the world and the work we do helps fund America. We are counting on bright, talented and dedicated individuals like you to achieve our goals. You will be both challenged and supported so whether you are just starting out or looking for new opportunities, consider the IRS and start making a difference today.

    The U.S. Department of the Treasury has a distinguished history dating back to the founding of our nation. As the steward of U.S. economic and financial systems, Treasury is a major and influential leader in today's global economy. We have over 100,000 employees across the country and around the world. Come Join the Department of the Treasury and Invest in Tomorrow.

    Note, this is for a secretarial job with top pay of $73k a year.
    http://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/...../323288000

  • Sudden||

    I had been looking for a company change recently. One day, after six months of looking through private sector ads, curiosity got the better of me and I checked out usajobs. Holy fuck, most of the positions of comparable skill level paid nearly double the private sector equivalent.

  • ||

    reason has written some good articles on this

    the old CW was that govt/federal job involved a tradeoff. less pay than the private sector, but better job security, and good benefits and especially retirement

    however, the current trend, according to reason (and i think they are largely correct) is BETTER pay AND better perqs and benefits

    granted, if you are looking at jobs IN the DC area, you need to account for the fact that it may have a higher cost of living than where you are making the public sector equivalent.

    but still, i think your point is spot on

    speaking of well paid public sector jobs, usually when i checked nassau county PD was the highest paid PD in the nation. haven't checked their recent rates, but i am sure it's impressive (granted living in nassau county may not be cheap)

  • Adam330||

    If it's in the DC area, you have to account for the fact that housing costs double what it does in the rest of the country.

    I nearly doubled my compensation when I left government for the private sector. From the stats I've seen, that's true for any high skill person in the government (lawyer, doctor, engineer, scientist, etc.). It's the low skill feds that are overpaid relative to the private sector.

  • wareagle||

    the work we do helps fund America.

    someone there actually believes that.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    The IRS is one of the largest Financial institutions in the world

    WTF, did the definition of 'financial institution" radically change while I was sleeping? This is like saying the mob is one of the largest providers of protection services in the world.

  • ||

    A secretarial job?

    Well fuck me sideways.

  • Robert||

    Where's barfman when you need him?

  • ||

    nassau PD salaries...

    http://longisland.newsday.com/.....B/?pid=173

    just googled it.

  • Christina||

    You have to remember that in the Federal government the people who actually do the work are the federal consultants who are paid in the high five-figure to six-figure range. Many of those are former military/bureaucrats who are double (and even triple)-dipping. So that pushes the median salary up quite a bit too.

  • Robert||

    So why don't we all go into the business(es) Wash. D.C. specializes in, and all get rich?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    There is only so much room for thieves.

    You know the saying: Don't Steal. The government hates competition.

  • Robert||

    Doesn't thievery provide opp'ties for even more thieving?

  • Mike M.||

    If only everyone in America was brilliant enough to go to Harvard and Yale and rise to the top of the ruling class. Then we could all spend the rest of our lives shaking each other down!

  • RickC||

    In a very real sense and sometimes even against our own wills, we are already shaking each other down. That's the system. Nothing short of a kind of Bastiatian(?) moral awakening will end this mess . . .so nothing except total collapse. Too many folks too invested in the current system.

  • Robert||

    Thing is, does Wash. actually need tht level of educ'n for those jobs? Couldn't it just be that the hi pay of the jobs has in effect bid up the applicant qualif'ns?

  • Suellington||

    Speaking of music, what the hell is Ronnie Woods doing in that photo with Pelosi? And what the hell is so damn funny?

  • Ardelle||

    True, if you venture outside the Death Star's orbit to visit the colonies for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you'll see a lot of boarded-up storefronts. You might even feel a twinge of shame when Matt Drudge feeds you headlines like "D.C. Leads List of Most Shopaholic Cities in America."

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