10 Random Things That You Should Know About D.C.
You can read just about every policy and economics article in the past decade and still not get the complete picture of D.C. Some experiences can only be appreciated from the ground level by living in the metropolitan area itself. The point of this list is not to hit you with a bunch of statistics but just to give some day-to-day observations lending a closer look at our nation's capital.
10. If scraping ice off your windshield in the morning takes 15 minutes, you'll be late for work in D.C. The delay of scraping, the slow traffic, and the accidents will make your commute complete torture. However, should the ice scraping take 20 minutes, you'll be in the office early — that is if you're privately employed. No government employee with countless days off will scrape ice for twenty minutes and commute in that weather. Today, they're all staying inside. Your drive will resemble a Saturday morning.
9. Speaking of traffic, D.C. is commonly listed in the top 10 worst cities for traffic. Though government bureaucrats can plan our cities and communities, they obviously fail on their own infrastructure design. Also, it doesn't help that D.C. drivers are some of the meanest and most cutthroat motorists on American roads. But, that's what you expected from selfless caring public servants, right?
8. Taking a leisurely stroll through downtown D.C., you won't find the most impressive buildings donning the names of gargantuan corporations. Instead, you'll likely see labor unions flaunting their excess cash. Big Labor is one of the biggest lobbyists in town. Labor unions are serving American workers — one posh K Street building at a time.
7. Conservatives and libertarians have long criticized government by saying, “If government can solve poverty, start with D.C. and then try the rest of the country.” This saying is unfair. It's far too ambitious. Government should first solve poverty in the two-block area around the White House. Then, maybe we'll see about the rest of D.C. Yes, that's correct. There are homeless people panhandling and living in Macpherson Square just two blocks from the White House. Apparently, Michelle Obama doesn't mind dining right on Macpherson Square. Just so you know that the Obamas are fully aware of this fact.
6. In other ways, D.C.'s poverty has an over-hyped reputation. Yes, Southeast D.C. is a mess, but your average federal government employee will never see the bad part of town. Unlike many cities where traveling through a bad neighborhood is a necessity of daily living, D.C. commuters rarely witness any poverty. They commute from some of the richest counties in America to government buildings surrounded with cameras and constant police surveillance. Government employees live in an impenetrable economic bubble where they will never have to witness the consequences of their actions.
5. Many people have asked me, “How would we survive without all those government agencies?” My answer is a question too, “Have you ever lived through December?” Because Federal Employees receive so many days off, D.C. is practically a ghost town for 2 weeks around Christmas. The remaining agencies are running on near skeleton crews. So, what's it like to live without government bureaucrats watching over everything? Kind of like late December.
4. Your Congressman is a great guy — compared to the people who work under him. Talentless and unskilled political science majors are willing to do anything to get ahead. Commonly, we imagine them selling their souls on K Street for big lobbying cash. But, actually political science majors are willing to sell their souls for about 35K or 25K plus a fancy title on the Hill. Further, these morally vacuous know-nothings fill every D.C. workplace creating a surplus of cutthroats and office backstabbers unmatched by other industries. And if politics is too rough, you can always get one of those nice six-figure federal government payroll checks.
3. From the top 10 richest counties in the United States, 5 are located in the D.C. metro area. The top 3 on the list are Loudon County VA, Fairfax County VA, and Howard County MD. Many have said that America has transformed from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. But now, we have a new transformation at hand. With all the wealth in D.C., we're apparently switching from a service economy to a propaganda and doublespeak economy.
2. Working in D.C. guarantees fulfilling some morally questionable order. Whether you are a free market conservative who supported the bank bailouts or a liberal pushing the Employee Free Choice Act, at some point you have knowingly done something wrong. In college, we are taught that the other side of a debate just has a different perspective, but they actually do mean good. No…sometimes the other side is actually just evil. But, in the city where the ends always justify the means, that's okay.
1. There are no public servants in D.C. There are only those served by the public. At best, people come to do good and stay to do well for themselves.
January 13, 2010
Vedran Vuk [send him mail] has a bachelor degree of economics from Loyola University of New Orleans, and was a 2006 Summer Fellow at the Mises Institute. He has contributed two chapters to the first-ever Ron Paul biography, Ron Paul: A Life of Ideas. He currently lives and works in the D.C. area.
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