The United States is experiencing the worst economic times since the Great Depression, but there is one region of the country that has been enjoying boom times all its own.
It used to seem shocking that five of the ten richest counties in the United States were part of the DC Metropolitan Statistical Area, but the 2011 American Community Survey numbers released yesterday show that the DC suburbs now account for seven of the ten richest counties in America.
Loudon, Fairfax, and Arlington in Virginia lead the way followed by Hunterdon County, NJ then Howard County in Maryland; Somerset, NJ; Prince William and Fauquier in Virginia; Douglas, CO; and Montgomery County, MD.
Ross Douthat, sounding unusually conservative, noted yesterday that the comparative advantage in affluence of America’s capital these days seemed to resemble that of the capital of a particular dystopian fantasy novel recently made into a successful film, and remarked that, if relations between the provinces and the capital have not yet completely reached the point depicted in The Hunger Games, their differences in prosperity have exactly the same moral basis.
If you donâ€™t mind congested roads and insanely competitive child rearing, all this growth is good news for those of us inside the Beltway bubble. But is it good for America? After all, like the ruthless Capital in â€œThe Hunger Games,â€ the wealth of Washington is ultimately extracted from taxpayers more than it is earned. And over the last five years especially, D.C.â€™s gains have coincided with the countryâ€™s losses.
There arenâ€™t tributes from Michigan and New Mexico fighting to the death in Dupont Circle just yet. But it doesnâ€™t seem like a sign of national health that Americaâ€™s political capital is suddenly richer than our capitals of manufacturing and technology and finance, or that our leaders are more insulated than ever from the trends buffeting the people theyâ€™re supposed to serve. …
In reality, our government isnâ€™t running trillion-dollar deficits because weâ€™re letting the working class get away with not paying its fair share. Weâ€™re running those deficits because too many powerful interest groups have a stake in making sure the party doesnâ€™t stop.
When you look around the richest precincts of todayâ€™s Washington, you donâ€™t see a city running on paternalism or dependency. You see a city running on exploitation.
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