Business Review Board / April 25, 2017

Energy Economy Challenges Elitist-Centralized Wealth

Middle America is experiencing an influx of cash flow, putting the elitist Northeast on notice.

It’s easy to understand why there exists an elitist bubble in Washington, DC, and other metroplexes in the Northeast. The nation’s capital and its surroundings have a long history of attracting wealthy individuals. In terms of adjusted gross income, the District is second only to Connecticut. At number three, four and five are Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. While riches aren’t indubitably a bad thing, the old adage is true: Money begets power. And power corrupts — particularly when that power is put into the hands of lawmakers and their lobbyist cohorts. That’s why Thomas Jefferson in 1821 warned, “[W]hen all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another.”

So those of us in flyover country won’t be shedding tears over the accumulation of wealth in more middle class areas of the country. Thanks to the fracking revolution, the Lone Star State is quickly climbing the ranks on the list of highest county-specific wealth. Time magazine reports, “What’s most surprising is that a state that used to never figure in at the top now dominates the top 10 — including the overall #1 spot on the list. According to [the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse], McMullen County, Texas, which lies in the heart of the Eagle Ford shale patch south of San Antonio, now has the highest average adjusted gross income in the U.S.: $303,717. At #4 is Texas’s Glasscock County ($181,375), which sits in the equally productive Permian Basin in west Texas. And #10 is Texas’s La Salle County ($146,991), which neighbors McMullen County, to the southwest of San Antonio. In 2005, no Texas county was ranked among the top 30 most wealthy in the U.S.”

This is the free market in action. As a caveat, the large conglomeration of wealth in DC isn’t exactly dwindling. It has been ranked as the second-highest “state” in adjusted gross income since 2011, and Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York have all occupied the top five list since 2012. However, the finer details show that middle America is experiencing an influx of cash flow. That’s great news. The better news will be if the trend continues. And the best news? That would be when all extravagant wealth is driven out of Washington, DC.

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