Virginia’s Income Drain: $1.5 Billion Last Year

Last week I noted

that more people left Virginian between 2015 and 2016 than moved into the state — the fourth year in a row the Old Dominion suffered more out-migration than in-migration. From a taxpayer’s perspective, that wouldn’t be so bad if poor people were leaving and rich people were coming in. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

The IRS data is based on the change in addresses of people who file income tax returns. The “returns” column in the table above shows the net gain or loss in the number of returns filed; the “exemptions” includes taxpayers plus other family members claimed as exemptions. Tax filers leaving Virginia reported an average income per filer of $73,900, while those who entered the state reported $66,100.

Not only did Virginia lose a net 9,000 taxpayers in 2016, we lost nearly $1.6 billion in income. Assuming an effective income tax rate of about 5%, that represents a loss of about $76 million in tax dollars.

One year’s loss of $1.6 billion in income is hardly a disaster when those who stayed behind reported $250 billion in income. But the steady erosion of the population and tax base over four years does add up, and it will continue to add up if Virginia can’t turn things around. Our collective tax and debt obligations looms a little bit larger when there are 9,000 fewer tax payers each year to shoulder the burden.

Not surprisingly, Virginia lost the most taxpayers (3,900) and the most income ($645 million) to income tax-free Florida. We’re hardly alone in that regard. Wealthy retirees of many other states do the same thing. But how does Virginia explain the net loss of more than 3,000 residents, along with $320 million in income, to high-tax Maryland?

Virginia was a net exporter of income to 40 other states and an importer of income from only 10 states (plus Washington, D.C.). We can console ourselves that our reversal of fortune from 35 years as an importer of people and wealth is temporary, driven by cutbacks in federal funding for the state’s military-industrial complex. But what if there’s more to the story? It would be helpful to take a closer look at which cities, counties and metropolitan areas are winners and losers… which I will do if I can find the time.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


33 responses to “Virginia’s Income Drain: $1.5 Billion Last Year”

  1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    The traffic gridlock in Northern Virginia surely plays a significant role in this loss of wealth. Likely it explains most of Virginia’s lost of wealth to Maryland across the River, despite Maryland’s heavy tax rate and Maryland’s lost of wealth via out migration by wealthy older people. Thus, for example, a large portion of affluent young people move who move to Hip Ballston Rosslyn Corridor for first jobs, will often migrant to DC or Maryland to buy a home and/or raise a family, so as to their keep jobs, but escape N. Va. Gridlock, and especially as it affects quality of life for those looking for affordable, close in housing for sale.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    well this is truly wonk world and I’m really not sure what to really conclude from it at all…

    as they say correlation is not causation but as soon as someone publishes one – it becomes a parlor game of sorts.

    and I swear…. folks here need to take a few auto trips to places like Charlotte , Atlanta, Houston …etc.. if they think NovA is bad… NoVA is not good – I’ll grant you.. it’s an abomination of the first order .. but’s got LOTS of competition !! A friend from an exurb of LA – 50 miles out – told me that LA has to be the king armpit of traffic and gridlock… and that NoVa in comparison is a wimp… In LA… anywhere you got to go.. you figure roughly the time it would take to go 30 mph to get there!

    And yet LA… and California have GDPs compared to other countries and yes… no one there except the rich can afford a single family house either!

    The moral to this story is ..if you gonna be happy…. get rich.. or resign yourself to becoming just another schlub… in a world of other schlubs… all fighting than evil gridlock..

  3. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors over the last 30 plus years I lived there created traffic hell by approving much more development than the transportation network could handle and also failed to negotiate and collect sufficient proffers. The quality of life continues to deteriorate annually. As several state legislators have told me over the years “Fairfax County supervisors have much more power than they are wiling to exercise.”

    A lot of people move for their job or for a new opportunity and generally don’s have a choice of where to live – they live reasonably close to the job.

  4. djrippert Avatar

    You can talk to a stump but you can’t make it listen. And let’s be honest … our state government has been “stump stupid” for decades.

    The “logic” of our state politicians has been very easy to understand:

    1. The Federal government will grow and grow. That will enrich NoVa and make Tidewater self-sufficient.

    2. The Richmond area will be subsidized by the buildup of the state government in Richmond just like NoVa and Tidewater are subsidized by the buildup of the Federal government.

    3. The problem is that the RPV candidates won’t get elected by the voters from NoVa, Richmond and Tidewater. Sure, they’ll get votes in those areas but they need RoVa to win. The RPV’s answer was to sluice great rivers of money from NoVa (and to a far lesser extent Richmond and Tidewater) to everywhere else in Virginia. Why should RoVa people pay a reasonable property tax rate to fund their schools when NoVa can become the piggy bank for the state?

    4. The plan worked for a pretty long time. The Federal government grew, NoVa grew, the money was sluiced and rural and small town Virginia voted in RPV candidates. Industrialized wealth transfer orchestrated by the very people who bitterly criticized Obama for … “wealth transfer”.

    5. However, this process was run by Virginia politicians. So it was grossly incompetent and culpably negligent. The incompetence came from never asking what would happen if the Federal government’s growth slowed, stopped growing or … (gasp!) … shrank. The negligence came when the Republicans in Richmond started kicking their ATM machine. While money flooded out of NoVa to pay for schools, police, jails and everything else in rural and small town Virginia the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond decided there was no end to their ability to take from NoVa. They levied special surcharges, implemented outrageous tolls and still failed to invest in infrastructure at the needed rate. The fact that NoVa was turning ever bluer only made the RPV seethe as they shouted “T’aint payin’ for no NoVer roads” at the annual advance.

    6. Then a funny thing happened … the discretionary spending of the Federal government applicable to NoVa actually started to shrink. Well educated people found themselves without jobs and had to decide whether to stay in the epically mis-managed NoVa or move on to greener pastures. Guess what they did?

    7. Now the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond faces an even bigger challenge. Trump and his pals say they want to spread the Federal government around. De-centralize. This has been discussed in the past but the DC swamp dwellers – from both parties and within both the legislative and executive branches – never really wanted to do it. Establishment politicians maintaining the status quo. But now … say what you want about The Donald but he’s no establishment politician. And what does The Donald and the henchmen in his cabinet want to do? Distribute the swamp …

    The problem for The Thundering Herd of Corruption in Richmond is that he may just do it. In fact, I’d say it’s likely. Who will oppose him? The zero voting Representatives and Senators from DC? The handful of US Congresspeople from Virginia and Maryland?

    Good luck!

    I hope Trump does disburse the Federal government to the far corners of the country. I hope it creates an epic crisis in Virginia. Why? Because an epic crisis in Virginia might finally cause our crap legislature, our crap series of governors and our God awful state constitution to be replaced. And that’s the only way Virginia will make enough progress to eventually be the kind of place my kids will want to live when they’re my age.

    Beyond distributing the swamp in DC I say it’s high time to distribute the swamp in Richmond too. Move the various agencies and their employees out of Richmond, some to Roanoke, some to Charlottesville, some to coal country. Beyond the economic development benefits, should Virginia really have as its capital the city that was the capital of the Confederacy? That seems far more insensitive and insulting than any statue. Charlottesville would make a great state capital.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    so geeze.. the idea is to take some of the Federal govt largesse and redistribute it from NoVa to RoVa?


    Turn all those unemployed coal miners into govt bureaucrats so they can pay for their own roads and schools?

    What’s the problem?

    seems like a win-win!

    Of course.. we have a little semantics problem.. under Obama deficits to help the economy were called stimulus … and under the GOP the’re called tax cuts…

    Who would have thunk it.. when the GOP controls both houses of Congress and the POTUS – and instead of cutting govt ..deficit and debt.. we do the opposite because the economy which has an unemployment rate of 4% or so is in terrible condition and needs the boost

    DJ keeps talking about the Clown Show in Richmond.. and the “swamp” in Washington.. and TMT the incompetence of Fairfax governance…

    geeze…. I’m SO confused!

    In case anyone is wondering , the … THE WORD that strikes fear and loathing across the land is BRAC!

    1. djrippert Avatar

      ” … Federal govt largesse and redistribute it from NoVa to RoVa?” If by largesse you mean average paying jobs (relative to educational level) then maybe they should be spread – across the United States. If by largesse you mean phony social security disability payments, welfare and other means of wealth distribution – RoVa gets far more than its fair share already.

      The real point is that Federal spending is declining and Federal spending in NoVa is declining fast. DC Metro remains the best educated large area in the United States. The people there will find work outside of the Federal government and probably outside of Virginia. That’s kind of the point of Jim’s article. Now, do you really think the good people of … say … Texas are going to transfer wealth to RoVa?

      RoVa sucking on the NoVa teat is coming to an end. I guess those self-sufficient proud conservatives from RoVa who have been living off other people’s money for decades will need to come up with a new plan. God knows their state government has done nothing at all to help.

  6. Win Barber Avatar

    Many tens of thousands employed in Northern Virginia, live instead in southern Prince Georges as well as Charles, and Calvert Counties in southern Maryland, where comparable housing (to buy or rent) can be had for about 60 percent the cost of NoVa. Despite sometimes enduring horrendous commutes.

    There is an extreme, and well-recognized, East-West divide in the overall metro DC area, with the Western suburbs (including NoVa) over the decades experiencing positively phenomenal white-collar jobs growth, while the Eastern suburbs basically contain the same major government agencies that existed 60 years ago, with little jobs growth since then (other than just jobs that serve the local population). This interstate-commuting exacerbates traffic gridlock. As for the planned relocation of FBI headquarters from D.C., it’s undecided in which State or suburb the new building will end up. (A location in Springfield would be convenient to the Quantico FBI training center, but a Maryland location may be cheaper).

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      This is false. Fairfax County has since the 1960’s tried to turn all of its neighbors in all directions (Alexandria City plus Arlington, Prince William, Loudoun, Fauquier, and Warren Counties, as well as DC and Maryland into low tax bedroom communities that serve high tax commercial office building Fairfax County. Thus Fairfax has tried to export all of its costs and horrendous traffic onto its neighbors, and destroyed the Interstate Road system within the entire Washington DC region, as well as interstate travel on the Eastern seaboard from Maine to Key West, Fla.

      Hence, Maryland will never cooperate with this scheme. Nor should any of Fairfax counties neighbors in Northern Virginia, absent Fairfax County working honestly to clean up the mess it has created, rather than continuing to try to exploit its central location by schemes like dynamic tolls in yet another flawed effort to leverage its power at the expense of others, including its own less affluent citizens as well as citizens throughout its region.

      Now, in crisis, Fairfax County keeps doubling down on its same old destructive zero sum game.

    2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Win Barber says: “There is an extreme, and well-recognized, East-West divide in the overall metro DC area, with the Western suburbs (including NoVa) over the decades experiencing positively phenomenal white-collar jobs growth, while the Eastern suburbs basically contain the same major government agencies that existed 60 years ago, with little jobs growth since then (other than just jobs that serve the local population). This interstate-commuting exacerbates traffic gridlock.”

      No, this is a false allegation The problem lies mostly in Northern Virginia. The reasons are many but most relate to bad transportation and land use policies, planning and development in Northern Virginia, for example.

      Why does Northern Virginia spend more than a $BILLION DOLLARS to build a 4.7 mile track “world class people mover” to move people 2200 feet at high speeds to save them seconds while moving them 2200 feet?

      AND, why does Northern Virginia build such a foolish and unnecessary thing in the most expensive, costly, inefficient and harmful way possible? Why, when building such a thing does Northern Virginia spend several more $BILLIONS of other peoples’ money to house it underground beneath an existing and still operating international airport given that:

      1/ it was not needed in the first place,
      2/ it does not work well in any case, and
      3/ the building of it has the potential to and in fact does ruin AN ENTIRE AIRPORT for generations into the future.



      This is what is happening all around us NOW. And it is everywhere in Northern Virginia – these monster versions of Arlington County’s MILLION BUS STOP. And so is the hiding of real problems and shifting of blame for them onto others.

      My God, today Northern Va. can’t even build a 19th century technology trolley down the street of a town without spending most of a $Billion bucks. That is how corrupt it has become. So now we are helpless. And timid. No one takes responsibility. No one is accountable anymore. No one stands up and tells the truth or demands that things be done right.

      And so now in Northern Virginia we have these horribly unfair DYNAMIC TOLLS that yet again punishes the victims for the incompetence and greed of their leaders, their failure to impose proper land use, development, and transportation systems that work properly instead of blowing up peoples lives and peoples futures, and blow up the futures of their children as well.

      It’s gross and it’s a collective irresponsibility of our entire culture today. It is the product of a corrupt system, and it’s one that is reflective of the nearly TRILLION DOLLARS that the US federal government said it was going to be spend on SHOVEL READY PROJECTS that did not exist. It’s a business system and it’s a culture and a society out of control. One that is ruining our children’s future, if it has not done so already, in our educational systems.


      1. djrippert Avatar

        I’m not convinced. Fairfax County seems a lot like Montgomery County to me. Prince William like Prince George’s. The difference is that Maryland allows localities to exercise considerable autonomy. For example, Maryland counties have the right to levy county – based incomes taxes. This money for the county to spend. In Virginia there is no similar idea. Before the Wilder Administration property taxes were the primary source of revenue for Virginia counties. However, Gov Wilder saw yet another chance to redistribute wealth from one area to another and devised Virginia’s absurd school funding transfer scheme. Now, many years later, the schools outside of Virginia’s urban crescent would represent the worst school systems in the country if that area were a state to itself. So much for the great benefits of socialism.

  7. I don’t think we can say too much without more data. Strikes me NoVa lost a major employer to TX between 2015 and 2016. Military hiring trends and transfers may explain some of it. I know some military families who transferred to MD. We need to see overall trends, and maybe get some input from those who may know how to interpret this type of data.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    Geeze.. Fairfax County does have a million people living there and the preferred housing for many is a single family detached home on a lot with a yard – and that’s something that is limited … physically.. there just are not that many places available anymore for that kind of housing and what there is available exceeds the financial ability of most workers – so those workers do go to the exurbs… I don’t know anything that Fairfax could actually do to make more detached housing more available or more affordable.

    People commuting to exurbs for cheaper housing is common to virtually all urban areas in the country. Some folks who work in New York live in places like Pennsylvania and Connecticut. you can go around the country from Charlotte to Atlanta to Houston.. Phoenix, LA , San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Chicago and the story is pretty much the same… if you want a single family detached home – you have to be rich for one close in or you commute to the exurbs.

    It’s people that drive this demand. two million people live in NoVa.. 300,000 live in Fredericksburg/Stafford/Spotsylvania and a good number of them essentially have ruined I-95 as a functional interstate by their commutes but I’m still skeptical that Fairfax policies any more or less than any other place – caused this commuting since its such a common and typical feature of virtually every urban core in the country.

    I think this is starting to change but it’s a generational thing.. and tolls are encouraging people to think more about the trade-offs – as if spending every day in gridlock-like congestion is not enough incentive enough.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      “People commuting to exurbs for cheaper housing is common to virtually all urban areas in the country.”

      Even a blind squirrel sometimes stumbles onto an acorn. Ha ha – just kidding Larry, but you’re exactly right. The DC metropolitan area looks a lot like every other large metropolitan area in the United States that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve probably seen them all. The difference is economics not land use or transportation. In the other big metropolitan areas the state and local governments understand that the vast majority of wealth generated in the state is generated in big urban areas. They make great effort to ensure that the big urban areas remain economically viable. Nashville, TN is an excellent example of this. In Virginia, the stump stupid people of our state and local government see NoVa as a conduit through which Federal money will always flow. No amount of economic and political idiocy will ever matter because the Federal money pump will always bail out the inane actions of our hapless state government. Well, maybe not.

  9. LarrytheG Avatar

    Interesting article on dynamic tolling:

    ” Why Virginia Drivers Are Paying a $35 Toll to Drive Into Washington, D.C”


    ” It is a peek at the future of driving (and more), in which dynamic pricing will offer access to scarce resources. And it made people very, very angry.”

    ” Reluctant Republicans had made a deal with Gov. Terry McAuliffe to allow I-66 tolling in exchange for widening the highway. Now, they say the rates are “unacceptable” and the timing (after the gubernatorial election) suspicious, and they have called on governor-elect Ralph Northam to clean up the mess. But without a paradigm shift in infrastructure spending, a big, thriving city cannot maintain the delicate balance between moving traffic, well-maintained roads, and cheap commuting for solo drivers.

    “This is what transportation costs!” David Alpert writes at Greater Greater Washington. In congested metro areas, the cost of driving is rising as the reluctance to raise the gas tax or find other sources of funding forces agencies to adopt other user fees. (And that’s to say nothing of paying for externalities like greenhouse gases, particle pollution, and noise.) User fees, including gas taxes, now cover less than half of road spending—down from about 70 percent in the 1960s, according to a 2015 report by Frontier Group. Tolling is a response. Dynamic tolling—enabled by tech that has abolished tollbooths—ensures roads run smoothly at peak times and nudges people toward carpooling and transit.

    [Transportation] has now eclipsed power plants as the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

    . Once the burden of wealthy suburbanites who had fled the city, long car commutes—especially in high-cost metro areas with lots of traffic congestion—are now just as likely to be associated with service workers exiled from central housing markets or others chasing far-flung employment centers. In most cases, that also means they’ve been denied access to mass transit commutes.

    Barring some new political reality, the rise of tolling is inevitable, and to the extent it can fund or encourage carpooling, transit, and transit-oriented development, that’s all the better. But the politics of user fees are challenging: Everyone hates them. The right can claim dynamic tolls are less of a “free market” than they are an imposition of big government (which, by the way, is trying to get you to share your car). And the left, like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, can claim they’re a regressive tax—even in situations, like in de Blasio’s own city, where the practice would clearly function as a progressive transfer of wealth. The trick to making it feel like a good deal? Showing drivers they’re getting something for their money.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      “Reluctant Republicans had made a deal with Gov. Terry McAuliffe to allow I-66 tolling in exchange for widening the highway.”

      This is nonsense. Party affiliation had nothing to do with this toll decision. This is all about money, power and convenience, and the politicians, Democrat and Republican alike, who found ways to run away from rising problems for decades, and then most recently found ways to hide behind others, and who now are scattering while pointing fingers at everyone except themselves, and those special interests who have been funding them for decades.

      Next: “This is what transportation costs!” David Alpert writes at Greater Greater Washington. This also is nonsense, utter nonsense. These tolls very little to do with costs, and everything to do with serving the special interests of a few by imposing punishments on the many so as to control by force the behavior of their fellow citizens in order to get a short term fix to a intractable problem that has been caused by the long term abuse by those few who now still want to maximize their investment but now must stem financial losses by reason of their failure to spend the money necessary years ago to build these places the right way, instead of the cheap quick easy way they chose to make money, but that now has made the mess of crisis proportions.

      1. djrippert Avatar


        You’ve posted a lot of excellent comments but this is perhaps your best. This has nothing at all to do with party affiliation. It has to do with the overwhelming ignorance, arrogance and corruption of our state government. When I was in 5th grade I remember reading about the goose who laid the golden egg. Perhaps the economically illiterate half-wits who inhabit our state house ought to review that seminal piece of fiscal philosophy.

        Me? I’ve lived in NoVa basically all my life and I can’t wait to get out.

    2. djrippert Avatar

      Absurd. There are traffic jams elsewhere in Virginia. Where are there $35 tolls other than in NoVa? Nowhere. There are traffic jams elsewhere in America.
      Where are the $35 tolls in those places. This is just another example of the brainless, useless, hopeless and hapless General Assembly members trying to milk NoVa for ever more money. People are leaving this cluster**** that our state and local government has made of NoVa and when the dust settles Virginia will be just a half notch below Mississippi as the most economically broken state in America.

      Repeat after me … virtually all of the money in Virginia comes from NoVa. Certainly the vast majority of transferred funds come from NoVa. The idea that NoVa keep enough of its own money to properly manage its transportation needs is libtardery in the highest form. As I’ve said before, if you think NoVa is unfairly consuming the state’s money – let each region in Virginia raise its own funds and transfer nothing. Simple. No more need to say, “T’aint payin’ fer no NoVer roads”.

      How do you think that would turn out Comrade Larry?

      1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        Don – a major reason why NoVA gets screwed financially is the idiots we send to Richmond. Most of them vote for the bills that screw their constituents, who are clueless. I once asked the late Vince Callahan why, as chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the House, he did not hold funding for outstate projects and program hostage until NoVA got a better deal on state funding, especially for schools. His answer: I have an obligation to the entire state. That’s fine, but you constituents come first.

        The only Democrats to fight Mark Warner’s tax increase that cost Fairfax County taxpayers $100 M the first year were Chap Petersen and Steve Shannon. Why were they alone among Democrats? And, as BR reported, the next year 49 jurisdictions cut funding for public schools. Fairfax County – higher taxes and larger class sizes.

        How many Democrats, except for Chap and a couple others, went to the mat against tolls? We are our own worst enemy. We invite and permit the fleecing.

    3. djrippert Avatar

      “Barring some new political reality, the rise of tolling is inevitable … ”

      Fine. Toll everywhere! You want to hear screaming like a ruptured hyena? Drop $35 tolls around the Richmond area. Remember what happened to the idea of tolling Rt 81?

      “Tolls for thee but not for me” is the mantra of Virginia’s political class in Richmond.

  10. LocalGovGuy Avatar

    Interestingly, the chart is all over the map when it comes to the ideological side of policy.

    For instance, Virginia loses wealth to both high and low tax/gov’t intervention states such as Texas and California.

    But it also gains wealth from both high and low tax/gov’t intervention states such as North Carolina, Mississippi, and New York.

    Which leads me to believe that public policy (for the most part) isn’t dictating these decisions. My hunch is that a lot of it has to do with jobs, housing, and family which have been the main drivers of migration for a long time.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      I would add quality of life to your equation. I have people from all around the world working with me and for me. I won’t bring them to Northern Virginia for meetings anymore. The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond has pumped NoVa so dry of funds that it’s no longer a viable place for much of anything.

      Good work, Clown Show – you’ve really screwed the pooch. These $35 tolls were just the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s been decades of abject stupidity that put the camel in a position for her back to be broken.

      1. LocalGovGuy Avatar

        Very true about NoVa and quality of life.

      2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        Quality of life. You nailed this one. Year by year, Fairfax County becomes a less desirable place to live. Traffic gets worse and worse despite promises. The County does a very poor job of enforcing its zoning laws, something that greatly contributes to quality of life.

        Even my wife, a life-long Democrat, is ready to retire in North Carolina.

  11. LarrytheG Avatar

    Tolling is rolling across the country in virtually ever urban area. I’m willing to bet on DJ’s world travels he sees tolling in other countries also.

    It’s not $35 tolls.. it’s dynamic tolling – purely regulated by computer according to supply and demand and the tolls go up to preserve a minimum 45mph trip.

    No other kind of fixed price tolling will “work” on roads where there is peak hour congestion. If you fix the price of the toll.. it only really “works” for one congestion level and unless you set the toll at the max all the time.. people will end up paying a toll – and sit in gridlock and that would anger people even more than having the toll vary according to the congestion to to keep free flow conditions.

    The amazing thing here is that most people understand how this works for airlines . I bet DJ knows full well that the price for the same trip will vary according to demand… ditto for gasoline.. and a wide variety of products and services…

    Building more lanes in NoVa would be ungodly expensive because developed land would have to be taken to maintain contiguous right-of-ways and virtually every overpass and interchange would have to be widened to accommodate more lanes.

    They did this with I-95 between NoVa and Stafford – and it cost nearly a billion dollars to do that … the additional land and money to do that in NoVa is not there. And again – this is not unique to NoVa.. it’s going on in virtually every major urban city in the nation and worldwide. .. for the same reasons.. urban areas are largely built out.. there are few if any contiguous rights-of-ways left and even if there were -you still have to re-build overpasses and interchanges to the tune of 100 million a mile and up.

    No conspiracy.. no corrupt govt.. just plain reality.

  12. vaconsumeradvocate Avatar

    There are many things that rural Virginia contributes that folks in urban/suburban Virginia ignore. Most seem to think that rural areas should just be cut off. One key Virginia executive told me that IF we need people to live in rural areas, we’ll pay them welfare to live there.

    Most of the trash from populated areas gets dumped in rural areas. Most energy generation is done in rural areas. To grow food – both plant and animal – and decorations like Christmas trees – we need rural areas. People have retreated to rural areas for rest and rejuvenation for centuries. Trees provide resources to clean the air. Soil cleans the water as it flows from rural areas to populated ones. We live in an interconnected system. However, instead of working together to strengthen the entire system, we have chosen to compete so some get a lot and others have nothing. Increasingly it seems the distance between the haves and have nots is expanding in every way.

    Roads are important. Without good transportation neither people nor products can get to the market. Roads aren’t the only basic items needed for an economy. Today broadband internet is a basic need. No area without it can be economically sustainable. Yet for many years we’ve dumped resources into the populated areas while making rural areas lag. More than 10 years ago I had a landline outage that I had to wait 2 weeks for a repair. The technician explained that all workers in rural Virginia were rotating for several weeks at a time to the NOVA suburbs where new construction was booming. Both cable and telecom companies were installing fiber in those communities. We failed to learn the lessons of spreading electricity across our country and have so poorly utilized our fiber broadband resources that now some areas have competing choices of first rate service at low prices and others have little service for very high prices. Those without real internet cannot sustain themselves. We’ve deployed two sets of expensive infrastructure in some areas, leaving others with none and those with none had reduced service for some years in advance as the resources were deployed to the growing suburban areas.

    As I write this I see that the FCC has killed net neutrality. That is going to just make matters much worse for those in rural areas. Numbers drive decisions and rural areas will never have the numbers to draw even sufficient funding for basics.

    All rural areas are not “takers” in all sense of the term. Rural areas do provide things everyone uses. Rural areas seek to be self-sufficient, but when all the assets that allow self-sufficiency are distributed to other areas, it’s not possible.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      “Most of the trash from populated areas gets dumped in rural areas. Most energy generation is done in rural areas. To grow food – both plant and animal – and decorations like Christmas trees – we need rural areas. People have retreated to rural areas for rest and rejuvenation for centuries.”

      Sounds like lots of good economic opportunity in rural areas – so why the endless subsidies?

      The reason broadband is deployed in high density areas is because it’s profitable in high density areas. Do you imagine that you have some Constitutional right to subsidized broadband?

      Urbanization has been happening for 300 years. All over the world. It is what it is. People who want to buck the trend and live out in the middle of nowhere should certainly be free to do so. But why should I have to subsidize that lifestyle decision?

      Don’t get me wrong – I own a farm in rural Maryland. A second home. I hope to retire there. You want to know why I don’t live there now? Because I can’t make a good living there. So I live in NoVa. I just don’t think it’s anybody’s responsibility but mine to support myself. If I want broadband my neighbors and I will have to pay the local cable company to run fiber down our road, and I’ll have to pay to run the fiber down my .7 mi driveway to my house. Then the cable company will charge me per month for the service. The fiber costs thousands and thousands of dollars. Maybe Jim Bacon or Larry the G ought to pay for my fiber. Really?

    2. djrippert Avatar

      “Rural areas seek to be self-sufficient, but when all the assets that allow self-sufficiency are distributed to other areas, it’s not possible.”

      I seek to be a professional golfer on the senior tour … but I’m not good enough. So, I go to work everyday as an software engineer.

      Rural areas can “seek” to be self-sufficient until hell freezes over. It just won’t happen. There are too many people living in rural areas relative to the economic potential of those areas. This has been true since farming started to be mechanized. It’s been going on for centuries. The only thing running broadband to rural areas will do is improve the porn watching experience in those areas. Broadband didn’t create technology. There were very few technology jobs in rural areas before broadband existed. So, it isn’t broadband that makes the difference. Educated young people are the cannon fodder of the technology industry and they want to live in cities.

      There’s an area of Baltimore called “Billytown”. It’s called that because a large number of people migrated there from Appalachia after WWII. They moved there because there were jobs there. Same reason my grandfather left Kentucky for Detroit after WWI.

      Not sure what to say – living in a rural place with inadequate economic opportunities relative to the population is a lifestyle choice. There are plenty of jobs in the suburbs and cities. I already subsidize enough. Please don’t ask me to subsidize rural living lifestyle choices.

  13. djrippert Avatar

    Even here in sky high priced New York the people are laughing at the incompetence of Virginia …

    “As long as people are willing to pay, that is what will drive the tolling,” Aubrey Layne, Virginia’s transportation secretary, said Tuesday at a meeting of the Commonwealth Transportation Board”

    What an incompetent horse’s ass. If tolls are driven by what people are willing to pay why aren’t there tolls everywhere Aubrey, you stupid son of a *****?

    “Dynamic pricing is one form of congestion pricing, which aims to reduce traffic by charging more in peak places, at peak times. As mayor of New York, Michael R. Bloomberg fought a decade ago to charge a flat fee for vehicles entering Manhattan at certain hours.

    But even Mr. Bloomberg — who wanted a fee of $8 for cars and $21 for trucks — never contemplated a toll of $40.”

    That’s because Michael Bloomberg is competent while Terry McAuliffe is not. The difference between a real capitalist and a crony capitalist.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      I agree. And that is why, Dynamic Tolling, if continued will kill N. Virginia, level it desolation quick. This is not Greece yet. Nobody, but the enslaved, will put up with this economic madness, indeed criminality, for long. This nation is too big and varied, American’s will simple move out to places that work.

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        And indeed this likely will include those rural places and smaller towns and cities that play their cards right, and so pick up many of the pieces of a collapsing N. Virginia, its angry and fleeing workers and their families.

      2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        Last February 8, 2017, nearly 11 months ago, Bacon posted an article title Graph of the Day: People Still Leaving Virginia. The Chart honed in on Nothern Virginia and particularly population loss in Fairfax County, residents moving south to “down state Virginia, Florida, the Carolinas and Texas.”

        I then commented beneath Bacon’s Post as follows.

        “This chart tells of two trends although only one is fully acknowledged in article. Several years back I opined the Fairfax County was dying. These figures confirm that opinion, rending it current fact.


        In a Nutshell, today a couple in their thirties with two kids will EACH spend up to 4.5 hours a day commuting between their home in Woodbridge Virginia to their job in Tysons Corner or thereabouts unless they pay up to $60 a day in tolls. This takes a horrible toll daily on parents and kids so they move out.

        Where do they Go?

        Note that suburban Maryland right across the Potomac river is thriving. Note also that smaller towns in the Carolinas that are well managed are exploding with growth. Note also that smaller towns not property managed are dying.

        Note also how the chronic lifestyle and transport failures that have festered for so long in Fairfax County now infect and despoil the entire region of northern and central Virginia, all within commuter range of Fairfax and Washington DC.”

        When will Fairfax County wake up and stop punishing its residents and its neighbors and start fixing its real problems instead? And when will its neighboring counties in the Washington Region, and the District of Columbia, and the Federal Government, all demand that Fairfax County do the same? After all, these are Interstate Roads that belong to the entire region and to the entire nation.

  14. LarrytheG Avatar

    I wonder what would happen if airlines charged a flat fee for tickets… or the govt required gasoline stations to not charge “too much”. seem to “get it” when it comes to fiber optic… why not road capacity?


    Oh..and if working hard at software allow this level of blog participation.. I do congratulate you! I guess that’s the legitimate fruit of a successful businessman!!

  15. LarrytheG Avatar

    dynamic tolling will not only not kill NoVa – it will save it from being strangled by congestion.

    You know the funny thing is that prior to dynamic tolling. we used to characterize congestion as a “loss” of time to people.. time and money wasted…

    and the thing is – it’s true. But what’s also true is you cannot build your way of it for solo vehicles. The more you widen and add capacity – the more people will drive solo.

    that’s a simple and demonstrable reality.

    the more congested the roads become – the more people find alternatives… through time shifting or riding transit.. longer term.. don’t be looking at a place to live if the commute to work is a killer ..

    what dynamic tolling does – is the same thing that congestion does with what difference. Unlike congestion which produces virtual gridlock – dynamic tolling produces a guaranteed trip at 45 mph.

    City after city in the US is going to dynamic tolls – not as a revenue generator but as a way to manage congestion – the very same way that the airlines do it by charging more for flights at the busy times and people decide if their time is worth the money – or not.

    In fact in some places – it’s actually called Congestion Pricing:

    ” New York’s Tilt Toward Congestion Pricing Was Years in the Making”

    Now if you listen to DJ – a man who travels urban cities around the globe – dynamic tolls are an “outrage” .. the product of dumb and corrupt govt.

    All I can say – is the more and more urban areas including NYC are doing this and they’re doing it because there are really no other options.

    From the worst critics.. with non-stop vitriol and threats of “unseating” the govt and all kinds of other mayhem.. not a one has a real – a real world – solution… one that they can point to in other urban areas as a successful alternative.

    Name a major city on the globe that has congestion and has solved it without tolls…

Leave a Reply