"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tipping Point?

There are moments that provide tipping points for the way society views an issue.   The Tet Offensive -- although a huge defeat for the Viet Cong -- was such a tipping point on the Vietnam War, because the images of VC within the U.S. Embassy in Saigon seemed to show that the war was unwinnable.  

I can imagine that the following story, which is really just reporting a single factoid, might be such a tipping point on the issue of the size and scope of government, if it were widely disseminated, because I can imagine that people who have assumed that government is there to help citizens their whole lives might suddenly (finally!) realize that government is truly just a rent-seeking interest group unto itself:

Federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000 and the nation’s greatest concentration of lawyers helped Washington edge out San Jose as the wealthiest U.S. metropolitan area, government data show.

The U.S. capital has swapped top spots with Silicon Valley, according to recent Census Bureau figures, with the typical household in the Washington metro area earning $84,523 last year. The national median income for 2010 was $50,046.

The figures demonstrate how the nation’s political and financial classes are prospering as the economy struggles with unemployment above 9 percent.

Nice work if you can get it.   And if you can get the rest of us poor schlubs to pay for it.

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