Big Government

Why D.C. Is the Richest Region in the Country

All that marble in D.C. shouldn't make you feel patriotic.

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The Senate did something this past weekend it hasn't done in four years: passed a budget. The law requires the Senate to pass a budget, but Congress often ignores its own laws. For most of Barack Obama's presidency, a series of continuing resolutions kept the money—your money—flowing. Now the Senate wants to add a trillion dollars of new taxes, even more than President Obama seeks. Despite our growing debt, the Senate wants to fund things like the Senate barbershop, which loses a third of a million dollars every year.

It's like they live in a private bubble.

Politicians say, "I'm going to Washington to serve others." Maybe they mean to. But after most "serve," they never leave. When I visit Washington, I see politicians and bureaucrats serving themselves.

When the housing bubble burst, home prices dropped in most of America, but not in Washington. Our capital feeds off federal spending, and politicians won't allow that bubble to burst.

One result is that, today, for the first time, most of America's richest counties are in the Washington area. Of the richest 1 percent of counties in the U.S., 43 percent surround the nation's capital city.

Nick Sorrentino, creator of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org, notes that average total compensation for a federal employee is now about $120,000, and the gap between government pay and private pay has been growing.

It's not that Washingtonians are smarter or more productive than the rest of us. It's that as government grows, more money flows to lobbyists, trade groups and others who live close to those who pass out your money. Government is a parasite—but a parasite that helps its friends. The way people get rich in Washington is not by inventing things, but by being good at schmoozing and manipulating the bureaucrats who control your money.

Tourists visit Washington and admire the beautiful buildings. All that marble once made me feel patriotic, too, but now I get angry.

Unions claim workers are "under"-paid. But today's union headquarters resemble palaces. The biggest teachers union, the National Education Association, built a $100 million Washington headquarters that it calls "an environmental oasis." The AFL-CIO's beautiful lobby features a giant mosaic made of marble, glass and gold. When I tried to take pictures, so TV viewers could see the elegance, I was told to leave.

Government buildings are grand, too, even new ones like the Reagan office building. "It's very much like Versailles before the French Revolution," says historian John Steele Gordon. Washingtonians have become like the French nobility, who spent their lives in the palace at Versailles "and didn't know much about what went on outside that world."

"But the real royalty is not in Washington, D.C.," Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., tells me. "It's on Wall Street."

It's true that there's more wealth on Wall Street, but Gordon points out that there's a big difference between those fat cats and Washingtonians. "In the private sector, if you find a way to cut costs, you're a hero. If you find a way to cut costs in the (government) bureaucracy, you're a goat."

You're a "goat" because cutting waste hurts the lobbyists who feed off taxpayers. With trillions of dollars at stake, corporations and special interests would be crazy not to lobby. Lobbyists and taxpayer-funded special privilege won't go away unless big government does.

We could improve America's future just by recognizing what so-called "public choice" economists started to realize around the time of World War II: that government isn't just a "public servant." It's not a demon, either. But government and its employees are selfish, like anyone else. That explains most of their behavior better than occasional shifts to the political left or right.

We all tend to overspend and act lazy when we can get away with it. In the private sector, though, that eventually means that you get fired or realize you're depleting your bank account. In Washington, the Fed just prints more money.

As long as Washington spends other people's money, there will be little incentive for them to be prudent—or humble.

NEXT: State's Consider Private Coverage Funded by Medicaid Expansion

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    1. Brilliant. But still won’t convince those who don’t want to be convinced.

      1. “This just proves that ‘we’ need to ‘ask for that raise’ – as in ‘ask’ the ‘wealthy’ to pay their ‘fair share’ in taxes.” – prog-tard.

        1. my buddy’s step-aunt makes $60/hour on the computer. She has been out of a job for 9 months but last month her pay was $18423 just working on the computer for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more jump15.com

  1. “but by being good at schmoozing and manipulating the bureaucrats who control your money.”

    maybe I’ll just come back tomorrow.

  2. About 43 percent of “the 1 percent”?the top earners leftists say they hate?now live in 14 counties that surround the District of Columbia.

    Man. If progtards were in any way susceptible to facts that they don’t like, this would be a great point to bring up at my next cocktail party.

    1. They’ll just say those 43% work for evil ISPs and tech firms (never mind that tech forms in this area survive largely on government contracts).

      1. Nevermind that proglibs are the people most likely to own and use tech crap.

        1. ? Isn’t everyone pretty equally likely at this point?

      2. Defense contractors.

    2. I’d like to see some verification for this. It wouldn’t surprise me, since most of the wealthiest counties in the US have already been shown to be those around DC, but it doesn’t hurt to have a source.

      1. True. If I were planning on telling it somebody, confirmation would be good. It’d be a shame if you caught a nanny stater with their ears accidentally open and you turned out to be talking bullshit.

        1. My thoughts exactly.

        2. It’d be a shame if you caught a nanny stater with their ears accidentally open…

          Don’t worry, that’ll never happen.

          1. It happens. But they forget as soon as they rejoin the hive.

      2. I’d stick with

        most of the wealthiest counties in the US have already been shown to be those around DC

        Since many progs already know it, and none ever say otherwise, you can slip in an “As you know…” to highlight their denial of reality.

        1. Well…they …umm…deserve all that money…for making civilization possible! Yeah that’s why! – Prog-tard

          1. Ya, why do you want to take away money from our benevolent overlords? You must be racist and hate children.

      3. The wiki for it claims the data comes from the U.S. Census. The 2011 income data can be found there. Briefly messing around with their data tools seemed to confirm those claims.

  3. The government job I applied for? The base pay for that job, which requires no special technical (or any other measurable) skills, would be a $14k raise from my current salary. My current job requires some modicum of technical skill.

    1. Oh man, I remember the days when government jobs paid shit and compensated for that with benefits and not having to do any work. But now, the parasites have the pay too! Isn’t government wonderful? And people wonder what went wrong.

      1. “I remember the days when government jobs paid shit …”

        When I was 17, it was a very good year…

        1. +1 jar of Frank Sinatra spaghetti sauce

      2. But there is nothing to cut.

        1. Furlough the bastards I say! Furlough them so fucking hard that their children’s children’s children are born with gnashed teeth!

  4. “About 43 percent of “the 1 percent”?the top earners leftists say they hate?now live in 14 counties that surround the District of Columbia.”

    I’m going to need a cite for this one. Doesn’t pass the smell test.

    1. the 6/10 wealthiest counties are the D.C. burbs based on average income, so yes, it passes the smell test. The fact our central government plunders so much wealth and attracts that many parasites is what stinks.

      1. This is a very big country, and there are only a few million people in the DC area. The threshold to be in the top 1 percent is roughly $380,000. If you believe Stossel’s quote, something like a half of the households in the DC area are making $380,000 or more. It doesn’t pass the smell test.

        1. My county alone (one of the many counties surrounding D.C.) has over one million inhabitants, and I recall reading an article a couple of years ago that indicated that 25% of households in my county make over $500,000 a year. I am trying to locate the source currently. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this figure turned out to be true.

      1. I knew you’d drop subtlety eventually.

    2. No. You don’t like reality, so you reject it in favor of the canned Marxist narrative emanating from nearly all media outlets, government schools and government universities, and every posing degenerate you consider an artist or writer.

    3. 2011 US Census, income data – look it up.

  5. The way people get rich outside of Washington is not by inventing things either, generally. Congratulations on finding a vast store of wealth you are unwilling to defend by any means necessary (even if you do absurdly focus more on teachers’ unions than K Street). Sure you want to go down this road? If we start dissecting the means by which people accumulate large amounts of wealth, it may not look so pretty or libertarian, even once we leave the DC area. Prepared to advocate for some redistribution?

    1. If you oppose wealth redistribution then you support wealth redistribution because you can only end wealth redistribution by changing how wealth is redistributed!

      Circular logic is fun!

      1. Your guys’ raison d’etre is to maximize the freedom of people to accumulate wealth. Yet you get your panties in a twist about those fatcat overpaid school teachers. Those bejeweled and extravagantly appointed teachers with their yachts and mansions are just exploiting the environment for personal gain like any good capitalist.

        1. Every tried Raison D’?tre by DFH? It’s not really my bag of marbles, but it’s certainly more interesting and nuanced than your attempts to troll, and just as relevant.
          http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/64/1180

        2. That is quite the straw man. I like the overalls. Nice touch.

        3. Re: Tony,

          Your guys’ raison d’etre is to maximize the freedom of people to accumulate wealth.

          I don’t have a guy, so I can’t say what his raison d’etre may be.

          I can only speak for myself, and I say: My raison d’etre is to see my family grow and prosper. If what you’re refering to is a political goal, mine does not limit itself to financial freedom. I advocate for freedom, personal and economic.

          Yet you get your panties in a twist about those fatcat overpaid school teachers.

          That’s because they’re thieves.

          Those bejeweled and extravagantly appointed teachers with their yachts and mansions are just exploiting the environment for personal gain like any good capitalist.

          If only were like that. But no, they exploit poor taxpayers to spew out undereducated children who can barely read a prescription, or a warrant for their arrest.

        4. I have no problem with the teachers themselves. Except when they do things like commit fraud by calling in sick so they can protest against being put in a slightly less privileged negotiating position.

        5. Your guys’ raison d’etre …

          I have guys? Who knew? I guess that’s how all those empties wound up in my trash.

        6. Those bejeweled and extravagantly appointed teachers with their yachts and mansions are just exploiting the environment for personal gain like any good capitalist.

          Funny that you only focus on public teachers. Wasteful government employees aren’t that hard to find:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Bell_scandal

    2. I was totally against it, until I found out my friend Tony made $5687 in one week on the internet. Now he can buy that Porsche http://netforbeginners.about.c…..tscams.htm

    3. This is a pretty weak troll, here.

      1. You mean like every single post the obvious sockpuppet makes? Don’t even respond, just ignore the thing.

        1. Epi, I know that you achieved a superhuman Zen attitude towards the sockpuppet and I am sure you will be received in whatever Heaven is waiting for you when you ascend, but some of us lesser mortals are still driven by the base instinct of wanting to kick the butt of the economics-ignorant motherfucker once in a while. So cut us some slack.

          1. I no longer believe Tony is a sock. There was a time I thought maybe.

            He comes back to dead threads many hours later and responds to posts. A sock wouldn’t do that IMHO. He’d go to an active post to make trouble.

            No, I think shithead is the real real. He truly believes the bullshit he posts, he actually IS that retarded.

            1. Plus he likes picking fights in the comments. Throw enough bait out there and SOMEONE will bite.

    4. Re: Tony,

      The way people get rich outside of Washington is not by inventing things either, generally.

      There’s an old Spanish saying that says “The Lion always believes everybody else is a lion.”

      Very likely, you do not understand the process by which people accumulate wealth in a market (i.e. through voluntary exchange). Thus your misconception about the process does provide validity to your argument.

      If we start dissecting the means by which people accumulate large amounts of wealth, it may not look so pretty or libertarian, even once we leave the DC area.

      Why do you assume libertarians do not want to dissect how people accumulate wealth? If people accumulate wealth through graft, thievery and fraud, then libertarians will be the first to point the finger of judgement on them.

      Prepared to advocate for some redistribution?

      What makes you think that the solution to corrupt behavior is redistribution?

      1. What makes you think that the solution to corrupt behavior is redistribution?

        Because making the feds give up their power is not in the list of options.

      2. you do not understand the process by which people accumulate wealth in a market (i.e. through voluntary exchange)

        There is an inverse relationship between one’s understanding of basic economics, and the likelihood of their being a progressive liberal.

      3. Why is it that we either have a free market or a state-skewed socialist hellscape, depending on the argument?

        If people accumulate wealth through graft, thievery and fraud, then libertarians will be the first to point the finger of judgement on them.

        But especially if they’re making $40,000 a year instead of $40 million.

        OM if you were capable of realizing that the bullshit freedom rhetoric you think constitutes a political philosophy is actually a neatly wrapped set of apologetics for the wealthy class, then you wouldn’t have that philosophy. The wealthy are by far the biggest parasites in this country, by far the biggest perpetrators of fraud and graft, yet libertarians are obsessed with the idea that a teacher or a poor person might be getting away with something. I mean, are you trying to pretend that this isn’t utterly obvious?

        1. The only place it’s obvious, shithead, is between your ears.

          No libertarian believes fraud is acceptable, EVER.

        2. Come on Tony. You can at least see why teachers are a special case, being employed by the government.

        3. You seriously don’t get it.

          In the private sector when someone makes $40 million from voluntary exchange, then that means $40 millions worth of goods and services were put into the economy. Everybody wins.
          Take Apple or Microsoft for example. Those companies have made tons of cash in exchange for products that have made us all richer.
          They are not rich at the expense of anyone else. They are rich as a reward for making everyone a little richer.

          When government taxes and spends, it simply destroys wealth. It takes from one and gives to another without anything being exchanged. Everyone is poorer as a result.

          Why is that so difficult to understand?

          1. No, no sarc. You are misinformed. The only way businesses can make money is by stealing it. There is only so much stuff so when the rich greedy bastards accumulate wealth, it MUST be at the expense of the downtrodden.

            herpity derpity doo

            1. Oh yeah. I forgot that there is a fixed amount of wealth, so anything accumulated by the rich must have been stolen from the poor. My mistake.

        4. Re: Tony,

          Why is it that we either have a free market or a state-skewed socialist hellscape, depending on the argument?

          Who told you the argument is that we have a free market? Just point the person out and I promise you I will admonish and castigate the miserable being.

          OM if you were capable of realizing that the bullshit freedom rhetoric you think constitutes a political philosophy is actually a neatly wrapped set of apologetics for the wealthy class, then you wouldn’t have that philosophy.

          Tony, If you were capable of realizing that the bullshit rhetoric you think constitutes political philosophy is actually a neatly-wrapped set of apologetics for the sheep fuckers, then you wouldn’t have that philosophy.

          See? I can also come up with Circumstantial Ad Hominems!

          The wealthy are by far the biggest parasites in this country, by far the biggest perpetrators of fraud and graft,

          And you say this because… why?

          […] yet libertarians are obsessed with the idea that a teacher or a poor person might be getting away with something.

          And this despite the fact that the article above and the discussion derived from it have centered around the lavish lifestyle of the political class in D.C. Suddenly, we hate the poor – Tony dixit.

  6. “Government buildings are grand, too, even new ones like the Reagan office building. “It’s very much like Versailles before the French Revolution,” says historian John Steele Gordon. Washingtonians have become like the French nobility, who spent their lives in the palace at Versailles “and didn’t know much about what went on outside that world.””

    Has this dude ever actually been in a Government office building? All the workers are crammed in tiny cubicles. Hardly French nobility.

    1. Yeah, it’s a wonder you can even walk in that place with that maze of cubicles!

      http://www.itcdc.com/About-Us/Our-Building.aspx

      1. Yep, a utilitarian hellscape if I ever saw one.

        1. To be fair, a lot of the buildings are cramped cubicle farms when you get far enough into them. That’s for the rank-and-file, though, not the lords.

          1. Braziiiiiiillllll

            1. And that’s different from the private sector how…

              Just my experience, but seen it at a more than one prior job – my boss’s boss, with approx 60 people and multiple managers (5) below them worked in a cubicle until almost 2 years into this glamorous leadership position due to space constraints.

              First line bosses (in one company in particular), some with as many as 30 direct employees, do not even rate being on the waiting list for new offices.

              And whether you work for my prior employers or the government the answer is still the same:

              Don’t like the conditions – search elsewhere 🙂

              1. Meant to reply to Adam below… sorry

      2. Yeah, you found an office building that is mostly occupied by private organizations.
        http://www.itcdc.com/About-Us/Our-Tenants.aspx
        The fact is that most government workers work in cubicles.

    2. Even at Versailles the servants’ quarters were small. Doesn’t negate the overall point.

    3. Pfffftttt….

      The Army TRADOC band has some nice new digs at Ft Eustis. Natural stone floors and wall tiles included. The military is perfectly capable of blowing some serious dough.

    4. Even the Ancien Regime needed its share of stableboys, shit-shovelers and cooks to support its lavish and insulated lifestyle.

  7. My Taekwon-do instructor often times complains about his son-in-law. Ex-Navy guy, on full pension and disability from the Navy and works for the Interior Department makeing ~$80,000 a year. I guess he was staying with him for a while while his daughter was stationed in Pensacola, FL (also Navy). The guy would work from home. My instructor’s semi-retired and would come home ~3 in the afternoon and his son-in-law’s still in his PJs. “Aren’t you supposed to be at work?” “I am working.” *shakes head, walks away muttering*

    As Ron White might say, “I told you that story to tell you this story”. His son-in-law is always talking a big game about how he was a former boxer in the Navy. So one day my TKD instructor tells him “Put on some gloves and we’ll spar a bit. I won’t even use my kicks, hands only.” “…OK” Five seconds later government parasite son in law has blood streaming from his nose. “Did I hit you a little too hard with my lead jab?” Ahh, sweet, sweet schadenfreude.

    1. Boxer, as in stevedore, as in one who stuffs boxes.

    2. What kind of disabled are you if you can land an $80,000 job?

      1. Mentally, obviously.

        Agoraphobia is no laughing matter, friend.

  8. The British were nice enough to burn DC to the ground. It would be a terrible shame if it were to happen again.

    1. If everything inside the beltway leveled and all life within snuffed out, would the balance of the country be better or worse off ten years hence?

      I’d miss the National Archives but I’d get over it, other than that, I think we’d be better off… probably much better off and the next bunch of corruptocrats might remember the lesson.

      1. I’d even sacrifice my own memorial for this to happen

        1. Hate to tell you, TJ, but most people don’t even know you have a memorial, or exactly where it’s located.

          They’ve got you tucked away in some weird little corner between some k-rails, and a lot of trees.

      2. Is that even a question? It would be a miraculous boon.

  9. This is one more reason we need to eliminate lobbyists, PACs and all other forms of corrupt coercion of government. I will never vote republican or democrat again until this happens.

    1. Not much for Free Speech, are you?

    2. Eliminating lobbyists wouldn’t solve anything anyway it would just push their schemings into the shadows. To affect any change Congress must be stripped of it’s power to dole out favors. No subsidies, period. No tax breaks. All contracts must be blind bid and meet a strict set of requirements to be the winning bid (with penalties if not completed on time or over budget). Cut the head from the snake.

  10. all other forms of corrupt coercion of government

    The root of the problem lies in the centralized power of Washington DC over our lives, not in the petitioners who seek to bend that power to their needs/wants.

    The money is chasing the power in DC. Get rid of the power and it resolves itself.

  11. “You’re a “goat” because cutting waste hurts the lobbyists who feed off taxpayers”

    Many lobbyists are busy advocating for the government to keep their hands off the corporation they work for. Many are not seeking a payout, but seeking to have their industry deregulated and untouched by an activist government. The statement is, of course, true as to many lobbyists. But it would be good to keep in mind that not all lobbyists seek handouts, but rather the be left alone.

  12. There’s definitely a huge wealth disparity between the DC area and other places that’s kind of surprising. Northern Virginia seems to be all new development, while not far away you have places like Baltimore and Philadelphia where there are large swaths of decaying inner city. Housing prices are dramatically different. It’s a completely different atmosphere. There’s no discernable reason for that except the money coming from DC. You can drive around America and in some places there will be these bright shiny spots of prosperity, but they often seem to be just islands in a sea of economic decline.

    Also, the cost of living is very high. I can only infer that it has something to do with the proportion of the population that is not engaged in any genuinely productive labor. It’s the dark underbelly of Keynesianism. Yes, the unemployment rate is low, the economy seems to be booming, but everyone is spending a lot more money on housing and food. All these people employed in make-work jobs just drive up prices for the percentage of the population that is engaged in actually building houses and producing food. You think that this extra aggregate demand increases production, but it really just drives up prices.

  13. Does anyone other than me hear Stossel’s voice when reading this? Its just weird, but in a nice way.

  14. Gosh, that North Korean missile strike on DC is starting to really grow on me. I wonder why that is? 🙂

  15. Where did you get that data from? I would love to see a map displaying concentration of the top 1% or of wealth in general!

    1. I’m sure I don’t know how, but I assume the data is available and wolframalpha or google apps (world) would likely do the work for you, assuming the data necessary is added correctly.

      It’s a good idea – wish I had time to do it 🙂

    2. 2011 Census, income data.

  16. If you think Raymond`s story is impossible…, three weeks-ago my auntie’s boy friend got a cheque for $8253 just sitting there 40 hours a month in their apartment and the’re roomate’s mom`s neighbour did this for 9-months and got a cheque for more than $8253 in there spare time from a pc. applie the steps available on this page,
    http://JUMP30.COM

  17. up to I looked at the draft that said $9303, I didn’t believe that my sister really bringing in money part-time from there new laptop.. there neighbour has been doing this 4 only 16 months and just now paid for the depts on there place and bought a brand new Mitsubishi Evo. I went here, http://www.fly38.com

  18. If you think Ronald`s story is incredible,, four weeks ago my friend’s cousin basically also recieved a check for $6271 working twelve hour’s a week from home and they’re friend’s mom`s neighbour did this for 9-months and actually earnt over $6271 in there spare time from their computer. use the guidelines available on this page…
    http://jump30.com

  19. This cake I am eating is rich. My 19-year-old son who just rowed in the men’s final in TN has a rich life. And at one time, I was monetarily rich, but thanks to the CA tax board and the IRS and the Fed, I am no longer…nor do I add to the richness of other’s lives by investing, donating, helping, or employing. So “rich” is maybe not the best word choice.

    That said, as soon as you all stop paying them…they will go away. Or, keep paying them and expect more of the same. Thankfully, I’ve raised children who thrive outside of the system. I can only hope the same for your children because leaving them this debacle would be tragic.

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