Professor Glenn Reynolds likens Washington, D.C ., to the iconic Panem, capital city of “The Hunger Games“.
As the nation’s wealth becomes concentrated along the Potomac, it becomes easier to make the analogy:
America’s capital seems bubble-wrapped in its own vibrant economic boom, while great chunks of the nation struggle with uncertainty about how to keep the engine going.
In fact, six of the 10 wealthiest American counties are Washington suburbs.
Washington once was the manifest of power. Now you can add “center of wealth” to its portfolio, crystallizing the elite institutional disconnect between it and the rest of the country.
This set-up is duplicated in my home state of California, in which the bluest of the blue areas is getting greener — and not in the eco-friendly sense of the word, either:
Richer counties like Santa Clara, Marin, and San Mateo in the more affluent San Francisco Bay Area saw a decline in unemployment, to levels at or significantly below the national 7.7 percent rate, while Central Valley counties of Fresno, Tulare and others actually saw marked increases in their jobless numbers in November.
Unemployment in Stockton, currently in the midst of a municipal bankruptcy, stood at 17.1 percent last month.
California now has among the highest levels of inequality in the United States, with a GINI coefficient of 0.471 as of 2010. This puts inequality in the state on par with countries such the Dominican Republic, Gambia, and the Republic of the Congo.
Comparing California to the Congo is a true insult…..to the Congo. But, I digress.
Some of the savviest American governors are taking advantage of the situation, poaching businesses that are unhappy with the level of tribute required by Golden State politicos to maintain their swank Bay Area lifestyles:
As Gov. Jerry Brown recently traveled to China to promote trade and search for Chinese investment for the state’s controversial high-speed rail project, two other state governors, Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Gary Herbert of Utah, made a joint trip to California to meet with businesses to promote the economic climates of their respective states. When I met with the two gentlemen, they told me their goal, like the governors of so many other states, was to point out the favorability of their states’ business taxes and regulatory approaches.
….Expeditions to poach business from California are en vogue. In 2012, Arizona officials flew some 100 California CEOs into Phoenix for stays and tours of the metropolitan area. Gov. Rick Perry upped the ante when he visited California earlier this year to lure companies to expand in Texas; he even put out a radio ad to promote the trip. Shortly after Perry’s jaunt, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad declared California a “happy hunting ground” and said he, too, would be visiting the Golden State to recruit businesses.
So, if you are ever in California for business: Welcome, and happy Hunger Games.DONATE
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