It’s not difficult to know where power lies in a society. Just watch where the money accumulates. As the United States grew in the 19th century, the money was in New York City and the other major centers of commerce and industry. The Industrial Revolution was creating wealth like nothing that had ever been seen, and it was reflected in the places where the ideas originated and the work was being done.
As the country grew westward, there were pockets of opportunity and money created wherever people were doing interesting and exciting things to create something new. The Midwest became a center for agriculture and various types of industry. Bigger cities in the South started growing, including here in Birmingham, where it was called “the Pittsburgh of the South” because of it being a major center of steel production. California became home to the wealth of the new and growing entertainment industry. And Silicon Valley eventually boomed when it became the center of the high-tech world.
Today, though, power has shifted away from the creators and producers. It’s shifting to the people who print paper and move paper around — the people who make rules to control the rest of us. The wealth in this country is shifting to the Washington, D.C., area.
I was struck by this story Monday in the Washington Post. Currently, two of the three highest wage-earning counties in the entire country — and five of the top 13 — are in the D.C. metro area. How are those people earning that money? Honestly, they’re not earning it. They’re not producing anything. They’re simply leeches who are sucking the rest of us dry. Ayn Rand accurately referred to them as looters. We’re going to know that things in this country are where they should be only when the wealth leaves D.C. and returns to places where people are earning it by producing new wealth, not by making up rules about how other people have to live their lives.