Thursday, December 15, 2016

How Trump Can Drain the Swamp and Fertilize the Rust Belt

Trump Can Bring Jobs To The Rust Belt By Relocating Federal Agencies
. . . even if tariffs on China and other developing world countries do stimulate manufacturing job growth in the United States, the effects will not be immediate. If Trump wants to increase employment in the states he took from the Democratic column in 2016, there are other ways to do so. Most times, when a President says he created jobs, what he means is that jobs were created while he occupied the White House. Maybe he worked with Congress to make conditions more favorable for job creation, but more often he is just the beneficiary of worldwide economic trends.

The exception to this is in the creation of jobs through actually hiring people to work for the federal government. Here a President can actually affect the number and, more importantly, the location of the jobs the federal government provides. The best way for Trump to enact a better federal employment program that is fiscally conservative enough to satisfy a Republican Congress, therefore, is not to create more federal jobs but to move existing ones away from the Washington area and out into the rest of the country, especially in those areas that have been hurt most by long-term unemployment.
. . .
As I wrote before, according to Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, in 2012 “the Washington metro area had an average household income of $88,233—the highest in the country, and far in excess of the national average of $51,371. The list of the United States’ highest-income counties confirms the point, with 13 of the richest 30 counties (and four of the top five) being within the Washington metro area.”

This situation is exactly the sort of disparity that led many in the post-industrial Midwest to see the federal government as the protector of only those lucky enough to have government jobs or live in big cities. And while cities will always be centers of innovation and prosperity, there is no reason why so much of that prosperity must be concentrated in one city.

To the extent the government controls a source of employment, those jobs should be distributed among the people as evenly as possible. There are other reasons, as well, that Trump might favor spreading the jobs around the country.
Moving government offices (and even entire executive departments) out of the beltway and its periphery would have three effects. Firstly, it would give the rest of the country access to those high-quality government jobs that the Washington establishment has kept for its own. Secondly, and no less importantly, it would throw a wrench into the revolving door of bureaucracy to lobbying shop to government contractor and back again that characterizes life in the federal metropolis.
Thirdly, it would open those jobs to people with experience who live and work in the communities the agencies purport to serve. Shifting those jobs to the 48 states outside the DC area would pour federal tax money back into the communities from which it came, and at the same time would give new people—people not inured to the bureaucratic-contractor complex—a chance to compete for those jobs and to bring new, non-government experiences and knowledge to the federal workplace.
Many years ago, my father proposed a scheme for downsizing the Federal government that I found extremely attractive; move the capitol of the country closer to the center, at some place like Bismarck, North Dakota (where they're having a lovely day today, at -4 F or there about).

I have absolutely no doubt that a significant fraction of the federal workforce would refuse the move, and could be replaced by lower paid (at least initially) staffers hired locally. We would at least get a fresh crop of bureaucrats, maybe not better, but at least better acquainted with hard work and bad weather.

Ohio is not as far away as Bismarck, but it will have to do.

In the DC area, Senator Robert Byrd (KKK - WV) used to do this by arranging to move Federal business to his home state. It worked to some extent, but the West Virginia economy continues to suffer from the Obama Administration "War on Coal."

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