The Rise Of The Plundering Class – OpEd


The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area has edged out San Jose’s silicon valley as the highest-income metropolitan area in the United States, this story notes. People’s incomes can come from one of two sources. People can engage in productive activity and voluntary exchange, or they can forcibly take income from others. Silicon Valley gets its income the first way; Washington, D.C. the second. This most recent data shows that on average, plunder has now become more profitable than production.

Of course, not everyone in the Washington area is a plunderer. Some people work in the restaurants, gas stations, and shopping malls where the plunderers spend their money. The article also notes that Washington has one lawyer for every 12 residents — higher than any state — while California has one lawyer for every 243 residents.

As a side effect, even as the housing market struggles nation-wide, the Washington housing market saw rising prices last year, where the median sales price rose 8.1%. Willie Sutton said he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” Times have changed, and now people want to live in the Washington, D.C., area because that’s where the money is.

Randall G. Holcombe

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University, past President of the Public Choice Society, and past President of the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Virginia Tech, and has taught at Texas A&M University and Auburn University. Dr. Holcombe is also Senior Fellow at the James Madison Institute and was a member of the Florida Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.

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