Reading Instapundit this morning and I came across this comment: The pattern of wealth flowing toward the capital is one that the United States avoided for nearly 200 years. Not anymore. This was in reference to 2007 demographic info posted over on Reason that suggests that the wealth growth in this area is all because of the expansion of the Federal government. While I’ll grant that it contributes to it I don’t think it’s strictly about the size of the Federal government.
My folks live in HoCo and work in the school system there. My sister lives in Montgomery and we live in Carroll, the 10th wealthiest for smaller population counties. It is kind of amazing to look at the lists and see not just dominance but really ownership (hah!) from the counties ringing the Beltway. Notable ommission from the top 10 lists, PG County. Well, maybe that’s not so notable after all! I have customers all over the counties listed as well.
So, is it really the expansion of the Federal government? No doubt that has something to do with it. If you also consider Ft. Meade being a destination target of the BRAC (Base Relocation And Closing) it starts to add up. But it feels like there must be more than that. As was stated in the Reason article, you can point towards the tech corridor out Rt. 66 for the Virginia growth. Driving out 66 and looking at the names on the building it’s a veritable who’s who of the tech industry. A fair bit of that is large tech companies having a “Washington presence” but, for a while at least, there was a lot of raw tech development going on out that way. I remember about 3 or 4 years ago there was talk about Reston and the surrounding area becoming the new Silicon Valley! Har! Too much politics.
But what about HoCo? There’s been some tech growth in the HoCo area, especially near Ft. Meade (NSA for you non-local types). Bio-Tech has had some good growth in the area, primarily from being squeezed between the politics of DC and the notable medical community in Baltimore (Johns Hopkins and Kennedy Krieger). Is it possible the rest of the growth really is rooted in supporting industries? Perhaps.
Here’s another possibility. Politics has become glamorized over the last 20 years with the press fawning over the juiciest political story they can find. Maybe DC has become the second “Hollywood” but for ugly people. 🙂 Just like LA continues to draw people looking for wealth and popularity, so does DC now. As for the particular counties rise in the charts, that could probably be accounted for with the education system. Call it a self fulfilling prophecy but HoCo is right at the top nationally for public education. All those political “stars”, most who believe in public education, only want the best for their kids. If they are moving to DC to find fame and fortune it doesn’t take much to discover that HoCo is the place to be.
I’d just like to know when we start to get all the other cool cultural stuff that comes with all this wealth! This town is kind of boring! 🙂