Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Are we living in the Hunger Games?

Via Hype And Fail 

D.C. has power and wealth while the rest of the country suffers. It's not a question of who the odds favor.

 You know the story: While the provinces starve, the Capital City lives it up, its wheeler-dealer bigshots growing fat on the tribute extracted from the rest of the country.

We don't live in The Hunger Games yet, but I'm not the first to notice that Washington, D.C., is doing a lot better than the rest of the country. Even in upscale parts of L.A. or New York, you see boarded up storefronts and other signs that the economy isn't what it used to be. But not so much in the Washington area, where housing prices are going up, fancy restaurants advertise $92 Wagyu steaks, and the Tyson's Corner mall outshines -- as I can attest from firsthand experience -- even Beverly Hills' famed Rodeo Drive.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, the contrast is even starker. As Adam Davidson recently wrote in The New York Times, riding the Amtrak between New York and D.C. exposes stark contrasts between the "haves" of the capital and the have-nots outside the Beltway. And he correctly assigns this to the importance of power. 

Washington is rich not because it makes valuable things, but because it is powerful. With virtually everything subject to regulation, it pays to spend money influencing the regulators. As P.J. O'Rourke famously observed: "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators." But it's not just bags-of-cash style corruption. Most of the D.C. boom is from lobbyists and PR people, and others who are retained to influence what the government does. It's a cold calculation: You're likely to get a much better return from an investment of $1 million on lobbying than on a similar investment in, say, a new factory or better worker training.


  1. When I saw the Hunger Games movie and read the book, I knew it was more than just another teen thriller/survival story. It is the latest warning of where we are headed, a modern "Atlas Shrugs. Interesting that it was filmed in an abandoned blue-collar factory town in North Carolina. Wonder if that was another of its hidden messages?

  2. Interesting that it was filmed in an abandoned blue-collar factory town in North Carolina. Wonder if that was another of its hidden messages?

    Good point. Dixie read the books first and of course, thought they were better than this first movie, but enjoyed it nevertheless.

  3. Washington DC is now the nation's wealthiest city and Seven of the nation’s 10 most affluent counties are in Washington region.
    It is time to cut the fat. I say lets get a Texas chainsaw.

  4. The ruling class are gonna take care of the ruling class, and throw the enough tidbits out to the urban areas to keep the serfs alive and convinced they are living large. Guess I am gonna have to watch that movie.