We've heard it again and again and again: D.C. is awash in riches as the rest of the country suffers, and it's because of the bloated federal government that's leeching off all the poor suckers outside the Beltway. Real Clear Politics is the latest to jump on the bandwagon, with a post earlier this week headlined, "When Will America Burst D.C.'s Bubble?"
"Eighteen Starbucks shops can be found in the three-mile walk from DuPont Circle to the U.S. Capitol," the post begins. "Not one of them had a line less than seven people deep on a recent Wednesday afternoon.
"Twenty-one construction sites filled with workers on girders and cranes towering over whole city blocks can be found on the same walk.
"Commerce bursts from every angle of this city: small businesses packed with shoppers, hair salons charging more than the monthly mortgage payment on my first house for a cut-and-blow-dry, and main as well as side streets clogged with traffic."
Where to begin? There are parts of downtown Manhattan where you can find 20 Starbucks in a single square mile. Surely, then, New York is a much worse leech than D.C.
How about construction? According to a recent Forbes survey, New York, Houston, and Dallas have the most construction starts of any cities in the country. Get those damn Texans off the federal teat!
And streets clogged with traffic? Surely, here D.C. can't be beat. Well according to the latest survey, we have been—by eight American cities. Los Angeles and Honolulu must really be sucking down those taxpayer dollars.
But no, the wealth and bustle and caffeination of other cities is due to their hard work and homegrown industry. In D.C., as we well know, no degree of prosperity could possibly be accomplished without a hand deep in the federal coffers. Industries like New York's finance and Houston's oil are clean as a whistle, while having the government in town is an eternal sin.
"It's only a matter of time," the author writes, "before the rest of America's complaints will burst Washington's bubble."
Keep on complaining! We'll see how it works out for you.
Update: The post's author, Salena Zito, gets in touch to clarify that by "bubble," she doesn't mean "economically unsustainable bubble," but rather "bubble that insulates people from reality." That's an unusual use of the "bursting bubble" metaphor—a phrase she invokes in both the headline and the body text—but I'll take her at her word. As for her apparent dig at D.C. in the line,"Washington's obsession is with social and cultural issues that drive bigger wedges between Us and Them," she explains, "it's because DC keeps on focusing on social issues, while outside DC the economy is flat, they want to hear about jobs." Thanks for following up, Salena.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery