In and around Washington D.C., the business is growing government. And business is good.
As you send thousands of dollars off to the tax man today, you can take solace in knowing that your hard-earned dollars are going to pay for a mid-level manager’s $200K salary, or gleaming new office towers – or million-dollar single-family homes on tiny lots in cozy Arlington neighborhoods.
There’s money to be made in Washington, and you can see it everywhere.
Five of the seven richest counties in America are within driving distance of Washington D.C., and it’s all fueled by you. By your tax dollars.
As The Washington Examiner points out, Washington has its own industry. “Whereas Detroit once made cars, Hollywood makes movies, and New York finances the economy, Washington mostly makes government.”
How? Massive salaries, to start. The average federal employee makes more than $84,000 per year – 50 percent more than the average private-sector worker. Fantastic health insurance and pensions are just frosting on the cake. Yet government unions insist that federal workers are actually underpaid. Nonsense.
But the real money comes when those bureaucrats cash out of government and pass through the revolving door into the private sector as consultants or lobbyists (though often still drawing a federal pension), monetizing their public-sector experience to help clients win subsidies and game regulations.
Lobbying the federal government is a $3 billion-a-year business if you only count money reported on federal lobbying disclosure forms. The real tab is much higher and includes legions of consultants and quasi-lobbyists.
But it’s also regulation that makes people rich. Every new rule and regulation creates a need for more compliance officers, lawyers, and lobbyists. They need offices, buildings, an army of employees, and expense accounts.
This is all a loss for the rest of the country, but a boon to Washington D.C. Home values have more than doubled in the last 20 years.
More federal spending means more wealth in the city that makes those decisions. More regulation also means more wealth there. A more complex tax code and higher tax rates means more and yet more.
The more businesses profit from federal contracts, bailouts, and regulatory arbitrage, the more swanky restaurants, opulent homes, and corporate headquarters Washington and its environs get.
If you file your federal taxes today, whether your payment goes to Cincinnati, San Francisco, or Charlotte, keep in mind that the money all ends up in Washington.
On behalf of a grateful metropolitan area, thank you.