Not sharing the wealth in D.C. | Rich Elfers

The last time I visited Washington D.C., was in the 1980s. On my most recent visit a few weeks ago, I was shocked by the changes that have occurred.

  • by
  • Friday, June 27, 2014 3:21pm
  • Opinion

The last time I visited Washington D.C., was in the 1980s. On my most recent visit a few weeks ago, I was shocked by the changes that have occurred. New multi-story buildings abound. New national monuments and museums have been built. Money and prosperity have come to the nation’s capital while the rest of the nation has languished with a long-term recession.  Let’s find out why this is so.

Much of the increase in spending and building has come through American tax dollars focused on Washington, D.C. Young professionals pay $3,000 per month to rent apartments in the city. According to an article – which is the basis of this column – by Annie Lowrey of the NY Times Magazine, January 10, 2013,  “Since 2007, the regional economy has expanded about three times as much as the overall country’s. By some measures, the Washington area has become the richest region in the country.”

According to an expert on the region, Professor Stephen Fuller of nearby George Mason University, “We get about 15 cents of every procurement dollar spent by the federal government.” Local spending brought on by the War on Terrorism and the subsequent creation of Homeland Security, and fighting two foreign wars, greatly increased spending between 2000-10 where it reached $80 billion a year by that decade’s end.

This change in the way things were done began in the Reagan years when the shift in thinking was to decrease the size of the government. This resulted in many former jobs, once done by government employees, now being contracted out to private companies that often charged double the salaries of what government workers got. In 1993, President Bill Clinton announced the “reinventing government” program that cut about 250,000 government jobs.

The work still had to be done, though. Those jobs went to private employees who, according to  2011 report is Bad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractors, got paid roughly twice as much as former government employees doing the same work. A computer IT engineer who worked for the government might get paid $135,000 per year had now been replaced by a private engineer who made $270,000 for the same service.

Thousands of young professionals poured into the city and the region. Walking the streets of Washington, D.C., as I recently did showed me this very clearly: there are lots of young, prosperous 20- and 30-somethings in “This Town” as it is called by the locals. The median age is 26. According to the NY Times article, D.C. has become a two-tiered town: about one third make less than $60,000 per year while 45 percent make $100,000 and more. There are few of what might be called middle class remaining.

It’s a sad state of affairs to see that not only has there been a shift of wealth from the middle class and poor to the top 1 percent, but also that our nation’s government should be shifting the wealth of the nation from the hinterlands to Washington, D.C.  So much for the small government philosophy. It seems like the trickle-down theory of funding the rich to increase jobs for those below them has now shifted to the “trickle to” Washington, D.C., theory where government is now the new conduit for increasing the wealth of a few in the nation’s capital at the expense of us taxpayers.

More in Opinion

U.S., Russia agree on Middle East situation

Since Russia helped Syria’s Bashar al-Assad stay in power and helped to defeat ISIS, are Russia and the U.S. at odds in the Middle East? Is Russia threatening American dominance in the region? The answer to both is no.

Page-turners: Best books of 2017

Continuing an end-of-year tradition that dates back more than 15 years, the King County Library System has chosen its Best Books of 2017.

Anthem protests about equality, not disrespect

For all who write negative comments about the football players who took a knee and posted that “this is not the America we grew up in,” let me share a few of the personal events from my life growing up in Tacoma Washington as a white woman.

Trump supporters’ attitude still the same

“Support Trump? Sure,” she said. “I like him.” These words by Pam Shilling from Trump Country western Pennsylvania reflect what many Trump supporters are thinking a year after the 2016 election victory, according to an article excerpted from “” by “The Week” (Dec. 1, 2017).

Readers note: Change in comments section

The Courier-Herald has switched to a different online reader-comments platform.

Former fan finished with disrespectful NFL players

I lived off the grid for 15 years and the one thing I missed the most was watching pro football.

Carrying firearms about to change at the state Capitol

If you come to the state Capitol and want to see lawmakers in action, there are a few rules to follow while sitting in the galleries overlooking the Senate and the House floors.

America’s monster

I’m not sure when it happened, but I recently realized I’ve stopped asking myself, “What are we going to do about mass shootings and gun violence in this country?” Instead, I now ask, “When is the carnage going to come to Enumclaw?”

Avoiding loss means more than gaining something else

Some studies have shown that losses are twice as psychologically powerful as gains. American history and our current political situation help reveal a great deal about the American/human psyche.

Congratulations, Jan Molinaro

In every election, one person must win and the other will lose. Now more than ever, it is important to show our children how to be gracious in victory and humble in defeat.

Don’t give into the pressure of driving drowsy

Eleven years ago, a drowsy-driving car wreck left me with injuries that still challenge me today.

Opening our minds can be a beautiful thing

As a leader of my church’s Sunday Adult Forum, I had a goal: to put a human face on Islam for the members of the congregation and community.