Former student and co-author, and now economics professor at James Madison University, John Robert Subrick, pointed me on FB to this article --- The Unequal State of America --- about the economic situation in DC and its suburban surroundings. These passages particularly struck me:
Two decades of record federal spending and expanding regulation have fostered a growing upper class of federal contractors, lobbyists and lawyers in the District of Columbia area. The federal government funneled $83.5 billion their way in defense and other work in 2010 - an increase of more than 300 percent since 1989, even after adjusting for inflation. Private industry poured more than $3 billion into lobbying to influence the government, nearly double what it spent a decade ago.
Like spokes on a wheel, the high-rise offices of this elite radiate out from Capitol Hill along major arteries deep into suburban Maryland and Virginia. The latest Census figures placed 10 of the capital's surrounding counties in the top 20 nationwide for median household income - up from six in 1990.
There probably isn't much society can do to stop some causes of the spreading class divide, such as technological change. But there's one factor that is changeable - public policy.
Reading this reminded me of Milton Friedman's discussion in Free to Choose of how public policies designed to help the least advantaged often result not in improving the lot in life of those at the bottom of the economic ladder, but those higher up on the ladder who administer such programs. Here is the segment from the TV series:
And here is Friedman giving a public lecture on middle-class welfare:
One of my teachers -- the great Gordon Tullock -- wrote a fantastic book entitled The Economics of Income Redistribution (1983) as well as a more popular treatment of the issues published as Welfare for the Well-To-Do. Since that time, as this article shows, the problems has only grown more obvious for anyone who will open their eyes to see. What are we going to do about it?