PJ Media

Now That We Have Air Conditioning, It's Time to Relocate the Capitol

From the August 10 edition of Jonah Goldberg’s The Goldberg File:

Washington, D.C., … we all know, is a pestilential swamp where the horseflies and water snakes have been replaced with congressmen and senators. And that’s not a fair trade, because horseflies and water snakes leave your wallet alone when they bite.

That’s where the Seat of Government (SOG — one of the few acronyms which makes sense as a stand-alone word) has long been located. There are lots of possible reasons why the SOG came to be in Washington, D.C., including the proximity to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. However, in recent heretofore secret discussions with Messrs Washington and Jefferson, I have discovered the real answer.

The SOG was put in Washington, D.C., to keep the federal government as small and non-intrusive as possible, and to have only those truly dedicated to public service spend time there, as it was a horrible personal sacrifice.

While a scientific genius in many respects, Mr. Jefferson simply did not anticipate that the evil of modern air conditioning would settle upon the Earth and proliferate like cockroaches. Back in the Pre-Air Conditioning (PAC) days, the SOG was a place to go only when absolutely necessary for only as long as absolutely necessary and otherwise to avoid as one might avoid parts of Haiti. The SOG remains eminently avoidable, but not sufficiently so — hence, the exponential proliferation of government.

There are few ways out of this dilemma, since the political will to make D.C. the totally unpleasant place it was PAC does not exist. Outlaw air conditioning? No way. Move the SOG elsewhere? No matter how currently undesirable a place might be found it would — with one possible exception — eventually change sites again. How about D.C. term limits? People have been kicking that notion around for a long time, but nothing has happened beyond some sore feet; people with terms (other than jail terms) will never want them limited.

Annexation of Haiti and moving the SOG there is the only viable answer.

It turns out that most ambulatory Haitians would jump for joy at the idea; Haiti would become, at least compared to what it now is, a paradise, and its GDP, GNP, and GWE (Gross Whatever Else) would expand like an oil spill or become engorged like the wealth of some former (and even current) politicians. Hunger would vanish (SOG restaurant scraps could feed the entire country), Haitians would no longer risk their lives in small bathtub like devices to come to the United States, and congressional fact-finding missions to beautiful tropical isles would cost far less. R & R excursions to experience Cuba’s pleasures would be far easier, and massive goodwill could be spread throughout the entire Caribbean. The Monroe Doctrine might even be resurrected.

This would not be quite as harsh an environment for our political class as some might imagine they deserve. My (then) wife and I spent a couple of weeks in Haiti back in 1977, and (I) enjoyed it. The people in Port-au-Prince seemed reasonably happy, content, and well-dressed, despite a State Department warning to avoid the place due to a severe drought. Lots of poor people managed to get water by breaking open water pipes (getting strange illnesses along with the water), but the people who owned cars were able to wash them daily.

Our political class would feel right at home. Some of the best fifteen-year-old rum in the world is created there; back in 1977, it cost $5.00 per fifth. From the ruins of the Citadel, a few miles up in the mountains near Cap Haitien, the voodoo drums (doubtless beating out messages concerning economic theory) could be heard in the distance. Baby Doc’s Tonton Macoute tended to be pleasant and helpful, at least to Embassy personnel with flat tires and to some unnamed tourists who happened to be guests of ranking embassy personnel.

Washington, D.C., is overcrowded, and removal of the SOG to Haiti would improve both places — a win-win situation. It’s the obvious next step toward restoration of a sane federal government and should be implemented immediately. When elected, that will be my top priority. Upon implementation, I shall promptly resign and, like Cincinnatus, return to the privations of private life.