When I was a teenager living in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., Arlington, Falls Church, and Fairfax were still sleepy small Southern towns. The red-brick houses were tidy middle-class dwellings. Many of the dads worked in the District, as we called it, but came home in the evenings to be with their families to attend high-school ball games, not talk politics. The cost of living wasn’t particularly high, and the cares of the nation seemed very far away, even though they were right across the Potomac.
The five richest counties in the United States when measured by median household income are all still suburbs of Washington, D.C., according to American Community Survey data released today by the Census Bureau. In fact, ten of the top twenty richest counties in the country are suburbs of Washington, D.C., according to this new data.
The same five suburban Washington, D.C., counties that were the richest in the country according to estimates that the Census Bureau released last year are also the five richest this year. However, their rankings have changed slightly in the new data release: Fairfax County, Va., and Howard County, Md., moved ahead of Falls Church City, Va.
According the American Community Survey’s new five-year estimates (2013-2017), the five richest counties in the United States when measured by median household income are: Loudoun County ($129,588), Fairfax County, Va. ($117,515), Howard County, Md. ($115,576), Falls Church City, Va. ($114,795), and Arlington County, Va. ($112,138).
The other five D.C.-area counties that ranked among the nation’s twenty wealthiest counties in the Census Bureau’s new data release were: Fairfax City, Va., which ranked No. 10 ($106,870); Montgomery County, Md., which ranked No. 17 ($103,178); Stafford County, Va., which ranked No. 18 ($103,105); Prince William County,Va., which ranked No. 19 ($101,059); and Calvert County, Md., which ranked No. 20 ($100,350).
Now, where do you suppose all that money comes from? There’s no industry to speak of in the D.C. area; even more than Los Angeles, it’s a one-industry town and in this case that industry is government, which (unlike Hollywood) creates not one cent of wealth but sure knows how to spend other people’s money. Accordingly, housing prices have soared, transforming places like Falls Church, Va., and Silver Spring, Md., into fancy bedroom communities.
Something else has happened as well: the influx of government workers, whose “compensation” is directly tied to their employer’s ability to milk the public as far away as Seattle and San Diego, is naturally voting its pocketbook by supporting the party of Big Government. There’s hardly a hint of the Old South around the Beltway today, except that, then as now, the residents vote for Democrats. Virginia’s brief Republican interregnum looks all but banished for good, as the briefly red state first went purple and next election will be solidly blue.
Because the Democrats have become the party of the rich, they’ve gradually put upward pressure on government salaries, which now exceed those in the private sector. After all, they and their legions of “public service” employees are doing the Lord’s work, so why shouldn’t they be well-remunerated? To be sure, the GOP has done little or nothing to stop the inexorable rise of federal expenditures, in part because it’s all one big happy racket, with the rest of us as the marks and suckers. The names on the ballots may change, but that giant sucking sound — of your money flowing into the federal coffers — remains the same… and only grows louder.