Some areas of the country are doing better than others in this recession. Which areas?

Take a look at this map. The areas shaded in red are the 100 wealthiest counties in America according to per capita income. At first glance, it’s a little misleading, because in the American West, counties tend to be larger in geographic area. But look closely, and you’ll see that after the New York City metropolitan area, the largest cluster of wealth in the U.S. is huddled around Washington, D.C.

If we look at household income, the picture grows starker. After the 2000 Census, the richest county in America was Douglas County, Colorado. By 2007, Douglas County had fallen to sixth. The new top three are now Loudon County, Virginia; Fairfax County, Virginia; and Howard County, Maryland. All three are suburbs or exurbs of Washington, D.C. In 2000, 14 of the 100 richest counties were in the Washington, D.C., area. In 2007, it was nine of the richest 20.

In a nutshell, that is exactly what is wrong with our economy. The government grew more under Bush than any President since….well, I’m not sure….hold on….okay that’s a hard question to answer, but this article says that growth of the budget under Bush II was higher than under Clinton and Bush I. Okay here’s a better one; fastest growth in government spending since Nixon/Ford. And we all know how good the economy was back then…

Why is the growth of government bad for the economy? Well for one thing, government employees are expensive and don’t really produce that much:

As for federal employees, according to the Bureau of Labors Statistics, as of January 2007, there were 284,000 federal employees living in the Washington, D.C. area, up from 268,000 in 2000. The Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards estimates that in 2005, the average federal employee made $106,579 per year including benefits, about twice as much as the average person makes in the private sector. Federal wages are also rising at about twice the rate they are in the private sector.

And what about all those lobbyists?

National Journal reported in April that D.C. firms spent $2.79 billion lobbying the federal government in 2007, up 7.7 percent from 2006 — in a down economy. Companies spend money only when they’re relatively certain they’ll get a good return on their investment. I can only speculate what that $2.79 billion bought, but rest assured, its worth a lot more than $2.79 billion.

And with trillions in bailout money and “stimulus” hitting in the next year, you can bet the lobbying industry isn’t about to shrink. I think I’m in the wrong business….