Great Falls, Va. got wealthy off government contracts
- This is the guest house. (MRIS)
Two wars and the fight against terrorism have come at a hefty cost to most Americans, but it sure has made the folks of Great Falls, Va. filthy rich! A story hogging the front page of today's Post details how government contracts have fueled obscene wealth in this and other Northern Virginia enclaves — while further widening the region's income gap.
In Great Falls, 16 percent of households earn at least $500,000 a year; the median family income is $367,660, ranking first on CNN Money's "Top-Earning Towns." But it's not just that one town. According to census figures, Washington has the highest median income of any metropolitan area in the country, and four of the top ten jurisdictions are in NoVa (plus Howard County in Maryland). Where's all this money coming from?
The Post presents the case of Great Falls' Anita Talwar, who went from being a government accounting clerk to the owner of a tech support firm that's awarded $100 million annually in government contracts — thus, Talwar's $2.8 million home with an elevator, wine cellar and Swarovski crystal chandeliers. Her neighbors, meanwhile, "are entrepreneurs, lobbyists, CEOs, tech moguls, financiers and defense contractors for whom two wars have been very, very good business."
[We'll pause here, allowing you time to find an object of middling value that you can smash against the wall.]
More than $80 billion in federal contracts will be awarded in our region this year; in 1980, it was just $4.2 billion. As a result, there now exist events like "Cars and Coffee," where luxury car aficionados gather in Great Falls to share ideas about how best to unburden themselves of their suffocating wealth.
Meanwhile, this rising tide is not lifting all boats: The income inequality gap is wider in the D.C. region than almost anywhere else in the country. According to a recent study by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis in Richmond, says the Post, "[h]igh-wage workers in D.C. and Virginia make more than five times as much as their low-wage counterparts, the second- and third-highest such ratios in the country, a recent study by the institute showed. Only New Jersey had a greater gulf. Maryland ranked seventh."
While those fortunate enough to have a job are struggling to pay the bills, the rich people of NoVa are sipping on $15 cocktails and driving around in Ferraris, blissfully unaware of the recession's impact on others.
When asked if [Talwar's] neighbors had felt the impact of the recession, she smiled quietly and said she didn’t think so.
"I think the economy is very different in Washington, D.C., than in the rest of the country because of the federal dollars,” she said. “Directly or indirectly, we all work for the federal government.
Well, not all of us.
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