Policy: Budgets & Deficits

The golden age in the imperial city: How big government makes the Beltway area rich

By |
Beltway Confidential,DC,Virginia,Timothy P. Carney,Big Government,Budgets and Deficits,Government Contractors

As a quick way to demonstrate the jaw-dropping growth of the federal government, conservatives and libertarians like me often point to the growing wealth in the D.C. area. Like a vortex, the federal government sucks in wealth from the rest of the country.

When liberal bloggers like Paul Krugman want to push back on this line of argument, they point out that the federal workforce is actually falling.

But that's a pretty facile and misleading way of arguing against an explosion of government. Because big government doesn't just create government employees, it also creates government dependents — including lobbyists and businesses getting rich off of big government.

The Washington Post has a good feature story on Washington's boom industry in taxpayer-made millionaires:

The share of money the government spent on weapons and other hardware shrank as service contracts nearly tripled in value. At the peak in 2010, companies based in Rep. James P. Moran’s congressional district in Northern Virginia reaped $43 billion in federal contracts — roughly as much as the state of Texas.

At the same time, big companies realized that a few million spent shaping legislation could produce windfall profits. They nearly doubled the cash they poured into the capital. ...

Venture capital is already flowing in, and the thriving local economy continues to draw the nation’s best-trained workers. Essentially, Washington has been the beneficiary of a ­decade-long, taxpayer-funded stimulus package.

I recommend reading the piece — and starting a government-contracting business.

View article comments Leave a comment