Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why Move to DC?

A commenter on my housing post asked:
Does the higher cost of housing in WDC discourage qualified civil servants from taking a transfer to WDC? Why transfer to WDC, fight traffic and parking spaces, while you could receive a comparable income from staying in fly over country. Both jobs provide the ability to do the people's work!
Good question for which I've some answers (using "DC" loosely to mean the general area): Why transfer to DC--
  1. Because you're an arrogant SOB who thinks you can compete in the biggest frog pond. Why did Alex Rodriguez move from Texas to the Yankees? Not only can you rise to the top in an agency, but you can switch agencies (though not the way Jimmy Carter envisioned when he pushed the Senior Executive Service).
  2. Because you can change the whole country from a post in DC. (Early in my first job I instructed the whole bureaucracy to change the way they referred to county offices--instead of "ASCS county offices" it was to be "county ASCS offices". Now that is power!!)
  3. Because you can look the bastards who are screwing you straight in the eye, rather than having to imagine what they look like.
  4. Because DC really is a great place to live, simply for the opportunities. Opportunities for the single person to indulge in culture, opportunities for children to get into something they love (whether ballet, swimming, science, whatever).
  5. Because in DC you have the wind behind you, rather than blowing in your face. (To see what I mean, read the book, "Denison, Iowa," to get a sense of what it's like to live where the wind is against you.)
  6. Because you can work the system--sacrifice now to get a house, then retire to a low cost region where your dollars buy much more. (I remember a guy from SCS who was transferred to Ft. Collins in 1991. He was having big problems with the move, simply because there wasn't a mansion in Ft. Collins big enough to absorb the proceeds from his DC house. Ft. Collins is highly rated for livability.)
  7. Because you're a romantic fool from the sticks who loves to see the Washington Monument every work day and to rub elbows with people from all over the world.
  8. Because it's an endless comedy show, watching the politicians come and go, posture and preen, but rarely come clean.
  9. Because no situation is perfect and people can adapt to most anything, even a 2 hour commute one-way. Like Gilbert's book, Stumbling on Happiness, says, it's hard to estimate the future because you forget the dailyness of life.
  10. It feels so good when you leave.

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