A rising tide of government spending may be bad for the American economy, but it's great for the Washington area, writes David Boaz. Washington is wealthy and getting wealthier, despite the very slow recovery in most of the country. Seven of the ten richest counties in America, including the top three, are in the Washington area. That partly reflects the fact that federal employees make substantially more money than private-sector employees—more than double at last count. And it also reflects the boom in lobbying and contracting as government comes to claim and redistribute more of the wealth produced in all those other metropolitan areas.
Money spent in Washington, as with most national capitals, is taken from the people who produced it all over America. Washington produces little real value on its own. National defense and courts are essential to our freedom and prosperity, but that's a small part of what the federal government does these days. Most federal activity involves taking money from some people, giving it to others, and keeping a big chunk as a transaction fee, according to Boaz.