Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Years ago, when I decided to move to Washington, my father, a child of The Depression who fretted about my employment prospects, offered this practical reason for endorsing the decision. "Washington is recession proof," he told me, because the government would be there, and still be growing, even when the rest of the economy was tanking -- even if the rest of the nation lay in ruins. Dad was right about this, too, as today's Washington Post explains.

Washington is riding out the recession in relative style, even if sky-high home prices have come down to Earth a bit, according to a Brookings Institution report. "In line with other studies, Brookings reports that the Washington area's economy has been shielded from the full brunt of the recession because of the dominance of the federal government and contractors, which has kept employment stable," according to The Post.

Government is the biggest single "industry" in America today. And that industry is booming with Barack Obama at the helm, as work formerly contracted out to the private sector is brought "in-house" as part of Obama's "in-sourcing" initiative; as agencies grow in size and power; as an explosion in government spending, borrowing and money-printing takes place; as the nationalization of productive sector industries moves ahead, with nary a peep of protest from the world's most famous capitalists. Lobbyists haven't gone away: on the contrary, they're enjoying a field day, as they do whenever more power and money is concentrated in the capital city.

Even if tax revenues plunge, due to a down economy, the "government bubble" never really bursts -- especially when economic downturn, in the inverted logic of the moment, becomes a justification for growing government, and spending more, rather than tightening the government's belt and siphoning less from the productive sectors of the economy.

Washingtonians may claim to feel the country's pain, but they truly live and operate in a world apart, in which the normal rules of economics, like the normal rules of everything, don't really apply.

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