Thursday, February 02, 2017

Decentralized Federal Agencies

Here's an article summarizing an idea being proposed by writers of different political persuasions: moving federal government agencies out of the Washington DC area.

I like this idea a lot. I like resisting the "Capitol/districts" setup that is increasingly taking shape in America, be it in terms of control ("they" make laws that govern "us") or economics (five of the six richest counties in America are in the DC area). I like making government less appealing of a job (not as many college students would be excited about a job in Detroit or Amarillo). I like using something the government controls to fight poverty rather than the government trying to control the economy or industry to do it.

Of course, it would be problematic. The DC area is overbuilt on office space if federal agencies move away. Would that invite an expansion of the remaining federal agencies to fill the empty offices? Or would it increase lobbying (most of which would stay in DC since that's where the lawmakers would still be) because the cost of starting a lobbying firm would decrease as rents fell? But these problems wouldn't be insurmountable: DC could be the next Silicon Valley if abundant office space were super cheap.

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