D.C. Will Never Be Cool

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I happened to be in NYC on Tuesday.

Just a little after 4:00, I was near the East River. And then it started.

A string of helicopters headed toward Wall Street. It was quite a sight to see. Some were small, others looked very well outfitted. Some were probably rented, but some were, for sure, owned by the Wall Street players that they were about to pick up. In all there were maybe only a dozen, but where else do you see in a 15-minute period a dozen helicopters picking up execs after a day of work?

Wall Street is much more than the headline-making operators that play footsie with D.C. There are many very smart people that make money in all kinds of ways that have nothing to do with corrupt dealings with government. I know. I have met many. In fact, such individuals are spread throughout NYC. High-energy people, who through skill and perseverance have something special going for themselves in the Big Apple.

But the helicopters, for some reason drove that point home to me.

In D.C., the helicopters you see are the President’s helicopter and the decoys that fly alongside him. The only other helicopter is some kind of observation/spy helicopter that appears in the air whenever the President is moving on the ground.

That’s really the difference between D.C. and NYC. In D.C. it’s about the one man in power and the others serving that power. Those serving will often deny reality to serve that power. It corrupts many in the bureaucracy, and across the spectrum, even some of those in universities. An economist in D.C, for example, may serve power by justifying an outrageous government scheme that will benefit only the political elite. He knows a policy may be absurd, but that’s how you climb the D.C. ladder.

In NYC, the story is different. The helicopters are there to pick up men who through will and intelligence have succeeded to the point where they can own their own helicopters. They won’t be voted out of office, and though some may fail down the road, most will continue with their success.

Further, in NYC you don’t achieve success by sucking up to power and putting your brain into denial of reality. You succeed by recognizing the reality in front of you and finding a way to do something better so that more money flows your way. Economists in NYC, for example, do not succeed by sucking up to the power elite. They succeed by being better forecasters. Peter Schiff is successful because of his ability to understand reality and help others protect their wealth because of his knowledge.

Nouriel Roubini, also in NYC, while not as skilled a theorist and forecaster as Schiff, still does a decent job and is well compensated for it.

If Schiff and Roubini, as NYC economists, started spouting the nonsense on economics that comes out from White House economists, they would be out of clients in no time.

None of the energy and skill that is NYC will ever be transferred to D.C.

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©2010 Economic Policy Journal

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