Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Imperial City; Why They Hate Thee

I first fell in love with DC back in its slightly grimy 1980s. Even when the crack wars were raging and the rents were so low in Georgetown that you could have punk bars on main roads - I liked the city.

Like I did, it grew up and cleaned itself up over the last few decades. A little less radical, a lot less dangerous, but the cost of living burn rate is much higher.

In the last year or so, the screed against the DC establishment has been over the top in a few places causing a bit of eye-rolling by those who live in a commute distance, but the baseline critique is sound and growing. Reality on the ground backs it up.

I think some of my DC friends are a bit tired of my "Imperial City" warnings that I have been giving for years - well before the last election. They don't see the disconnect, as they live in the bubble. They don't see themselves as "The Other" because they are The Other surrounded by The Other.

Those in the Provinces look to DC and do not see "of the people, by the people, for the people" and for good reason.

Because no one really hears you until you are sick of telling them something, The Washington Examiner puts it out there again for folks in DC to ponder and sniff if they wish.

If you really want to understand why the rest of the country seems a bit insane, contemplate a bit if the problems isn't them, but you.
The two richest counties in America, and five of the seven richest, are in commuting distance of the U.S. Capitol. Big government is the cause.
Whereas Detroit once made cars, Hollywood makes movies, and New York finances the economy, Washington mostly makes government.

How does big government enrich D.C. and its denizens? What's the mechanism? There are a few ways.

Most straightforwardly but not most importantly, federal salaries are high and the benefits even higher. The average federal employee makes $84,153, about 50 percent more than the average private-sector worker. Sweet benefits such as health insurance for life make the gap even wider. Government unions argue that federal workers are underpaid. Their arguments are self-serving hogwash based on bad data and excluding benefits.
Home values have doubled since 2000 compared to a 35 percent increase in St. Louis and Milwaukee, to cite just two examples.

More federal spending means more wealth in the city that makes those decisions. More regulation also means more wealth there. A more complex tax code and higher tax rates means more and yet more.

The more businesses profit from federal contracts, bailouts, and regulatory arbitrage, the more swanky restaurants, opulent homes, and corporate headquarters Washington and its environs get.
I see no indications of the gap between the Imperial City and the Provinces changing anytime soon. As such, don't expect any coming together soon towards a trust in, and confidence with our government.

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