One of my most widely read – but also most depressing – articles was from about two years ago and it exposed the fact that Washington, DC, is now the nation’s richest region.
I explained that Washington is rich because of unearned wealth. Almost all of the loot that winds up in the pockets of highly paid lobbyists, contractors, bureaucrats, politicians, cronyists, and other insiders ultimately comes from taxpayers in the rest of the country.
That’s why we should be angry that a majority of the nation’s richest counties surrounded DC. A region that produces almost nothing manages to live fat and happy because of the coercive power of government.
That’s the kind of income inequality that should be eliminated, and I do my best to fan the flames of resentment in this interview about fat-cat contractors getting big bucks from taxpayers.
All these well-paid contractors are – for all intents and purposes – members of the government workforce. Sort of a shadow bureaucracy that is several times larger than the official count. They get paid by our tax dollars and their jobs exist because of government.
This doesn’t mean all those jobs should be abolished. But, like their official bureaucrat cousins, many contractors are engaged in wasteful and superfluous activities, and almost all of them are paid too much.
By the way, I disagree with Ms. Brian when she claimed in the interview that you don’t find bureaucrats living in “McMansions.” As my Cato colleague Chris Edwards has documented, federal workers get about twice the level of compensation as people working in the economy’s productive sector.
Heck, even the Washington Post has published stories about bureaucrats living in“a leafy section of Fairfax County where houses sell in the $700,000 range.”
Let’s close today’s post with some good news. According to the most recent Census Bureau data, Washington is now home to “only” 8 of the nation’s 15-richest counties.
That’s a small step in the right direction and it almost surely happened because government spending has been restrained for the past two fiscal years. And when government doesn’t grow, that means less loot for those that have learned to milk the system.
P.S. This interview was filmed right before Christmas, so I engaged in some sartorial excess. If you like the red jacket, other attempts to be on the cutting edge of fashion can be seen here and here.