Tuesday, December 12

The Wealth And Power Of Washington D.c. And How To Defuse It

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Two recently published news articles seemed unrelated but with a little imagination, you could see were tightly compatible. The first article appeared on the Mainstreet website and it categorized the ten richest and the ten poorest counties in the United States. The ten poorest counties, as measured by household income, were located no where close to our nation’s capital. Four counties from South Dakota, three counties from Mississippi, one from Colorado, one from Kentucky and one from Louisiana rounded out the ten poorest counties in the country. As you can see, far, far away from the nation’s capital.

In contrast to the ten poorest counties, seven of the ten wealthiest counties were almost all within a stone’s throw of Washington D.C. These seven included three in Virginia (Loudoun – #1, Fairfax  – #2, and Arlington – #5) and four in Maryland (Howard – #3, Montgomery – #6, Calvert – #9, and Charles – #10). Only three of the top ten were not in the greater D.C. metro area (two were in northern New Jersey and one was on Long Island). The one county that bordered Washington that was not on the list was Prince George’s county in Maryland but if you do a little research you find that Prince George’s county is in the top 2% of all U.S. counties from an income level and is the wealthiest county in the country with an African American majority of citizens. Thus, Prince George’s is certainly not a slouch when it comes to wealth.

If you look at these seven top counties on a map and include along with them Prince George’s county, you will find that they all virtually surround our nation’s capital. If you equate  money with power, you can then easily conclude that we have allowed a lot of power and national wealth to become tightly focused around the Federal government and the head of that government, Washington, D.C.

You would expect any nation’s capital to be relatively affluent and well off, no disagreement there. But consider just how powerful our nation’s capital area has become:

– The nation’s financial capital, New York City, did not make the top ten.
Consider how many bankers, financial analysts, and Wall street types make their living and home in New York City and the surrounding suburbs and they do not have a presence on the top ten list.

– The nation’s hot bed of innovation and technology wealth, Silicon Valley, did not have a presence on the top ten list.

– The nation’s media capital and largest metro area, Los Angeles, did not have a presence on the top ten list.

– The nation’s fast rising major southern cities, such as Houston and Dallas, did not have a presence on the top ten list.

By looking at what areas are not on the list, and the wealth we usually associate with those missing areas, you get a better feeling of just how much wealth and power has migrated to Washington D.C. Frightening. Government should be in the business of serving the entire country, not enriching itself and its employees in the process. If government was smaller and less taxing, some of the Washington D.C. metro wealth would find its way back to the South Dakota, Mississippi, and all of the other counties in the country who could really use it.

How should we go about defusing the power and wealth transfer that obviously migrated from the countryside to the D.C. Beltway?

– Step 1 – reduce the budget of the Federal government 10% a year for five years by doing a ground up review of all government functions, downsizing or eliminating the ones that serve no useful purpose.

– Step 2 – allow only individual citizens to contribute to election campaigns.

– Step 3 – do not allow election campaign contributions to cross Congressional district or state lines, e.g. a citizen in Kansas could not contribute to a political campaign in New Jersey.

– Step 4 – stop gerrymandering Congressional districts that almost always ensure that the incumbent will be re-elected.

– Step 5 – institute term limits for political offices.

These are necessary and critical steps to restoring the freedom that we have lost as Americans.

But there is another necessary step, which brings us to the second news article. This was a New York Times piece that appeared in the December 20, 2010 edition of the St. Petersburg Times. The article reviewed an effort that is underway to implement a Constitutional amendment that would allow state governments to overturn Federal mandates and laws. This “Repeal Amendment” would allow any act of Congress to go unheeded if  the legislatures in two thirds of the states voted to overturn the act.

This would certainly put in another check and balance feature in the Constitution. If would help mitigate the flow of power and wealth to the political class in Washington by repelling funding mandates and impositions on state rights and personal freedoms that continually come out of Washington. As an example, if states felt that the imposition of huge additional fees from Obama Care were not the right solution, they could override the legislation with two thirds majority. Similarly, if a state’s citizens felt that the Federal mandate to require everyone to purchase health insurance was an affront to freedom, state citizens would have another way to voice their disapproval and get action.

According to the article, twelve state legislatures have already shown an interest in such an amendment. Some incoming Congressional members have also voiced support and the movement’s leaders have a website up and running. According to a spokesperson for the organization running the website, “What we’re trying to do is to draw a line in the sand saying that the Federal government has gone too far.”

Sounds like a good and reasonable plan. The Constitution allows citizens to make amendments possible through a defined Constitutional process and the two thirds majority required to over turn an act of Congress ensures that there is widespread support for such action that is not purely politically driven.

Most importantly, it helps defuse the power and wealth that has migrated to a very small handful of people in Washington that has proven over the decades that they have accomplished nothing of any consequence as it relates to the major issues of our times while wasting trillions of dollars in the process. Any measure that can keep government under control and accountable to the will of the people that pay for it is a good thing. Maybe by implementing this repeal amendment and other necessary steps, the richest counties in this country might some day be the ones the work the hardest and not the ones that govern the lousiest.
 

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