Washington, D.C., is booming. And that’s a problem.
America is still sick. Its economy, and indeed that of the world, struggle on in a sorry state of disrepair. The much-awaited recovery is finally here, and it’s nothing to get excited about. Frustrated millennials have even taken to cracking jokes about how easy it was for their parents’ generation to secure a stable financial future. The whole country is still feeling the pain.
Except for Washington. For the District of Columbia, things are going just fine.
Stroll the streets of the nation’s capital city and you will be greeted by the busy clamor of construction. Visit its bars and restaurants and you will find them packed and thriving. Wherever you go, you will be hit by an undeniable reality: things are going great there. Make no mistake: in the midst of a miserable economy Washington, D.C., is a boom town. And there’s something deeply wrong with that.
Washington isn’t a large city. Even the greater D.C. metro area is only the seventh-largest in the country, hardly making it the national commercial epicenter. The title it can claim, however, is that of the seat of national government. And that’s the source of its growth. As the government expands and employs more people, so do services and businesses that directly feed off a ballooning public sector. That can be anything from housing, restaurants, and other services that cater to employees residing in the D.C. area, to more-sinister elements, such as lobbying and consulting.
The problem with Washington, D.C.’s boom is this: all its success comes at the expense of the rest of the country. Every dollar the government spends comes out of the pocket of some private citizen or business. D.C.’s growing while the rest of the country stagnates isn’t a coincidence. The two trends are correlated. The economy languishes because of the increasing burden of the unproductive sector, i.e., the government. We will never have the recovery we long for as long as this direction continues.
When the cancer grows, the host must weaken. As America continues to suffer under the crushing weight of a perpetually ailing economy, Washington, its parasitic overlord, only becomes stronger. It’s time to cut out the cancer.