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Coasean Fortune Cookie of the ... Letter from Birmingham Jail...

Radley Balko writes,


After the 2000 Census, the richest county in America was Douglas County, Colorado. By 2007, Douglas County had fallen to sixth. The new top three are now Loudon County, Virginia; Fairfax County, Virginia; and Howard County, Maryland. All three are suburbs or exurbs of Washington, D.C. In 2000, 14 of the 100 richest counties were in the Washington, D.C., area. In 2007, it was nine of the richest 20.

My guess is that there is a pretty strong relationship between the share of government spending in GDP and the share of incomes in the DC area. Since the former is going to rise dramatically in the coming years, the latter will, too.

If you thought it was unproductive for the best and brightest to go to Wall Street to become investment bankers to decide to use other people's money, watch what happens when the best and brightest come to Washington to decide how to use other people's money.


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COMMENTS (11 to date)
Barkley Rosser writes:

Of course a lot of those higher income folks in those counties are not government employees per se, but employed by private consulting or other firms that work for the government, many of them the beneficiaries of "private outsourcing" by the government to make it more market based, whoop de doo. And at least the share of the federal government spending in GDP has not risen all that much, although it has gone up some during the Bush presidency.

Matthew C. writes:

Shameful and a very bad indicator for the future of the US. . .

Patrick writes:

Ugh. Makes me ill.

frankcross writes:

This doesn't make much sense if you are talking about the best and the brightest, as opposed to the above average. Median incomes need not correlate to the highest incomes that the very best and the brightest would seek. Save for a few lobbyists, the highest incomes will still be in private industry.

Nathan Smith writes:

You're getting pretty good at this new brand of libertarian populism. The $116 million Obama inaugural bash, with all its celebrities, at a time when so much of the country is struggling, should help this message reverberate.

Keep it up!

RJ writes:

[Comment removed pending confirmation of email address. Email the webmaster@econlib.org to request restoring this comment. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

fundamentalist writes:

We're becoming like a third world country in which the highest paying jobs are in government. As a result, few people aspire to work in the private sector.

MrDan242 writes:

@ fundamentalist

Private sector still pays far better at the top end, but for benefits and job security the government has no equal.

Russell writes:

Do the "best and brightest" really earn the most money?

I am an unapologetic free marketer (with a couple of idiosyncratic socialist leanings) and am certain the "best and brightest" do not always (usually, even) make it to the top, especially in what is now a corporatist America.

That's just the halo effect/attribution bias rearing its ugly head.

Gary Rogers writes:

Add to this the fact that the number of new IPO's introduced into our economy has dropped to almost zero and no new centers of free enterprise, like Detroit once was and Silicon Valley was in the 90's, are being formed. The new administration talks about thousands of new "green" jobs from government investment, but enterprise does not work that way. Have we killed the goose that lays the golden eggs?

AlanW writes:

I think the larger point is probably fair, but as a former resident of Douglas County, I'd like to point out that it's an exurban community of McMansions, tract homes and 10-acre ranchettes. It was bound to take a beating in a housing downturn. It probably won't be in the top 20 next year.

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