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Presidential candidate Herman Cain’s advice to Occupy Wall Street protestors to move camp from Lower Manhattan to the Capitol seems to grasp the national shift in wealth and power from entrepreneurs to bureaucrats. It’s not that Occupy Wall Street are merely wrong in their targets but late. The Dow Jones looks more like a bear than a bull these last few months. Why kick a stock broker when he’s down? The protestors’ simple-minded, single-minded solution to what ails America is to grant more power, and necessarily give more money, to Washington. If the misguided, multicity squatters had their way, the rich (i.e., Washington) would truly get richer. After a decade of intervention bringing contraction, the protestors call for more state intervention as a means of expansion. Only someone living in a tent could believe something so foolish.
There is a correlation between Washington’s wealth and America’s poverty. As was the case during the Hoover-Roosevelt years, government’s alarming growth during the Bush-Obama years corresponds to the private sector’s decline. The state has a printing press, but it can’t produce wealth. It can only seize it. A greater piece of the economy seized by the government necessarily makes a smaller pie for everyone.
That DC supplanted Silicon Valley as the nation’s wealthiest region is a substantive and symbolic reminder of the historic transformation underway. The former is a magnet for political entrepreneurs; the latter, for market entrepreneurs. Silicon Valley gave America Apple, eBay, and Atari, PayPal, NetFlix, and TiVo. And Washington, DC?
The capital’s growth is not about what DC makes. It’s all about what DC takes.
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