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View Poll Results: Which is more important?
Washington, DC 97 68.79%
Los Angeles 44 31.21%
Voters: 141. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-21-2010, 11:28 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 18Montclair View Post
Los Angeles.

As far as Im concerned, its not even debatable.
This.
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn, New York
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I think people around the world care much more about what's happening in Washington than what's happening in Los Angeles. The readership of the Washington Post vis-a-vis the Los Angeles Times confirms this.

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/.../pr_090127.pdf

Washington, DC is often more of a media focus than Los Angeles. If the fed funds rate moves, or if a House subcommittee kills certain legislation, then a whole lot of people will care. People are always focused on Wall Street and the Hill. Los Angeles doesn't get that "all eyes on us" type of attention.
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:56 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn, New York
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The Los Angeles Times even has its own "Washington" section.

Washington - latimes.com (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/ - broken link)

And the New York Times has a de facto Washington or "Politics" section.

Politics - Election News - 2010 Midterms- Breaking News, Multimedia, Blogs, Results - The New York Times - The New York Times

You don't see a Hollywood/Los Angeles section in any major newspaper. That's what TMZ is for.
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:00 PM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
I think people around the world care much more about what's happening in Washington than what's happening in Los Angeles. The readership of the Washington Post vis-a-vis the Los Angeles Times confirms this.

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/.../pr_090127.pdf

Washington, DC is often more of a media focus than Los Angeles. If the fed funds rate moves, or if a House subcommittee kills certain legislation, then a whole lot of people will care. People are always focused on Wall Street and the Hill. Los Angeles doesn't get that "all eyes on us" type of attention.
Actually as a matter of importance, LA soundly beats Washington in just about every known ranking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin O'Beirne
20th February 2010

The Most Important Cities in the United States

What are the most important cities in the United States? Or put another way, the sudden disappearance of which U.S. cities would cause the greatest impact on the rest of the U.S. and the world at large?
The question is at once interesting and controversial. Many will claim that the question is inherently subjective, even unanswerable.
I disagree.
If U.S. News & World Report can successfully rank every college in America, and if Money magazine can tell you which places (out of 1,800+) are the best in which to live, then meaningful comparisons can surely be made amongst U.S. cities.
While New York is, undoubtedly, America’s most important city, which city is the U.S.’s second most important city? What would a list of the top 5 U.S. cities look like? And what about the top 10? Which cities deserve a place on that list? Obviously, these are incredibly difficult questions.
In my quest to determine the most important American cities, I discovered a number of studies that sought to rank U.S. cities in order of importance. Some of these studies were academic, others were put together by private companies, and nearly all of them focused on economics.

ACADEMIC STUDIES
According to Wikipedia, one of the first attempts to categorize and rank cities was made by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC) based at the geography department of Loughborough University in the UK. Every four years, the GaWC compiles a ranked list of “Global Cities,” dividing cities into “Alpha”, “Beta”, and “Gamma” categories.

Their 2008 list is their latest and lists New York and Chicago as the U.S.’s only “Alpha” cities. The GaWC, meanwhile, classifies Los Angeles, Washington, Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas, Boston, Miami, and Houston as the U.S.’s ”Beta” cities. Finally, the GaWC lists Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle, Philadelphia, Portland, Detroit, and San Deigo as the U.S.’s “Gamma” cities.


This is what the GaWC’s ranked list of U.S. cities would look like:
  • Alpha++
    • 1. New York
  • Alpha-
    • 2. Chicago
  • Beta+
    • 3. Los Angeles
    • 4. Washington
    • 5. Atlanta
    • 6. San Francisco
  • Beta
    • 7. Dallas
    • 8. Boston
    • 9. Miami
  • Beta-
    • 10. Houston
  • Gamma+
    • 11. Denver
    • 12. Minneapolis
    • 13. Seattle
  • Gamma
    • 14. Philadelphia
    • 15. Portland
    • 16. Detroit
  • Gamma-
    • 17. San Diego
The GaWC’s rankings are based on a city’s provision of “advanced producer services” such as accountancy, advertising, finance, and law. As such, the GaWC’s roster “denotes cities in which there are offices of certain multinational corporations providing financial and consulting services rather than denoting other cultural, political, and economic centers“—an obvious drawback.
Seeking to address several of the shortcomings of the GaWC’s rankings, Peter J. Taylor, a Loughborough University researcher, considered several additional cultural, political, and social dimensions excluded from the GaWC’s ranking calculations and compiled his own roster of cities in a report entitled “Leading World Cities: Empirical Evaluations of Urban Nodes in Multiple Networks.” Taylor considered the following variables in conducting his study:


Taylor concluded that there were six “global cities” and three “world cities” in the U.S. (In Taylor’s usage, the term, “world cities,” is a lesser designation than that of “global cities”.)


Here are Taylor’s findings:
  • Functionally comprehensive global cities:
    • Leading cities: New York
    • Smaller contribution and with cultural bias: Los Angeles & San Francisco
    • Incipient global cities: Boston & Chicago
  • Global niche cities (specialized global contributions):
    • Political and social: Washington
  • Worldwide leading cities:
    • Primarily economic contributions: Miami
    • Primarily non-economic contributions: Atlanta & Denver
Applying Taylor’s findings to a ranking, you end up with this:
  • 1. New York
  • 2. (tie) Los Angeles & San Francisco
  • 4. (tie) Boston & Chicago
  • 6. Washington
  • 7. (tie) Atlanta, Denver, & Miami
While Taylor’s conclusions certainly add new perspectives to the GaWC’s study, all either study is really doing is measuring the amount of large multinational companies and organizations within several large cities.

RAND McNALLY’S RANKINGS
Rand McNally publishes an annual ranking of U.S. cities in its Rand McNally Commercial Atlas & Marketing Guide called the “Ranally City Rankings.”
In the Ranally City Rankings system, cities are divided into categories based upon their economic functions. The system is designed to reflect an underlying hierarchy whereby consumers and businesses go to a city of a certain size for a certain function; some functions are widely available and others are only available in the largest cities.
The Ranally City Rankings “utilize a number of criteria, including population, total retail sales volume, shopping goods volume, volume of wholesaling, the number of headquarters of major corporations, banking activity and hospital facilities. Another important factor is circulation statistics for locally published daily newspapers, the extent of the area in which they circulate, and the degree to which they undergo competition locally with newspapers from other cities.”


The following is a list of all the cities ranked “1” in the Ranally City Rankings system. Cities ranked “1” are classified as “nationally important business centers.” According to Rand McNally, “each of these cities is an independent center of large-scale financial and wholesaling activity, as well as a very large retailing center. Each has a large tributary territory in which its dominant importance is overwhelming. Firms with nationwide distribution are almost certain to have important branches or outlets in every one of these cities.”
  • 1-AAAA (Unique rating): New York
  • 1-AAA (Unique rating): Los Angeles & Chicago
  • 1-AA (Major national business centers): Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Washington
  • 1-A (Other national business centers): Baltimore, Cincinnati, Columbus, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, and Seattle
On New York’s unique 1-AAAA rating: “New York City is the only city with this ranking, in recognition of its unique business importance and nationwide economic influence”
On Los Angeles’s and Chicago’s unique 1-AAA ratings: “Los Angeles and Chicago have been recognized with this special rating, as the only cities besides New York whose economic importance and influence operate over a large part of the U.S.”

MASTERCARD RANKS U.S. CITIES
Strangely enough, MasterCard, has also attempted to rank cities in a research project it calls the “Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index.” In two reports, one in 2007 and another in 2008, MasterCard used seven evaluative dimensions to identify and rank the “75 most influential cities that drive the global economy.” Like the GaWC studies and the Ranally City Rankings, the MasterCard rankings are heavily weighed toward a city’s economic importance, rather than its cultural or political importance.


Here is the ranking of U.S. cities in MasterCard’s 2008 “Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index”:
  1. New York
  2. Chicago
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Boston
  6. Atlanta
  7. San Francisco
  8. Miami
  9. Houston
  10. Dallas
  11. Washington
(For whatever reason, Dallas and Philadelphia were left out of MasterCard’s 2007 index. It should also be noted that MasterCard made several adjustments to way it calculated its rankings between the 2007 and 2008 indices.)

FOREIGN POLICY’S “GLOBAL CITY INDEX”
In 2008, the bimonthly American news magazine Foreign Policy, in collaboration with A.T. Kearney and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, released their own ranking of world cities called the “Global Cities Index.”


FP’s “Global Cities Index” ranked 60 international metropolitan areas according to 24 metrics across five dimensions:
  1. “Business Activity”: the value of a city’s capital markets, the number of Fortune Global 500 firms headquartered there, and the volume of goods that pass through the city
  2. “Human Capital”: the percent of residents with university degrees, the number of international schools, the size of the immigrant population
  3. “Information Exchange”: the number of international news bureaus, the amount of international news in leading local papers, and the number of broadband subscribers
  4. “Cultural Experience”: the number of performing arts venues and major sporting events, and attractions for travelers and residents
  5. “Political Engagement”: the degree to which a city influences global policymaking and dialogue, the number of embassies and consulates, major think tanks and international organizations, and political conferences.
By also including measures of cultural, social, and political importance, the “Global Cities Index”, in my view, offers a more well-rounded picture of a city’s overall importance—and not just its economic or financial importance. The published list contained only 60 cities, eight of which were American. Here are the eight U.S. cities in the order that they appeared on the list:
  1. New York
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Chicago
  4. Washington
  5. San Francisco
  6. Boston
  7. Miami
  8. Atlanta
So far, the Foreign Policy “Global Cities Index” seems to be the best for comparing U.S. cities against each other. But even that list is far from perfect.


OTHER INTERESTING STUDIES
While researching this topic, I also encountered other interesting lists that ranked U.S. cities. One such list involves the degree to which U.S. cities are connected to other U.S. and international cities. This list appeared in the Brookings Institute report “U.S. Cities in the World City Network.” Like the GaWC studies, the report examines the economic connections among U.S. and international cities’ global advanced service firms.


Here are the top 25 ranked cities from ”U.S. Cities in the World City Network” (see Table 1 in the report):
  1. New York
  2. Chicago
  3. Los Angeles
  4. San Francisco
  5. Miami
  6. Atlanta
  7. Washington
  8. Boston
  9. Dallas
  10. Houston
  11. Seattle
  12. Denver
  13. Philadelphia
  14. Minneapolis
  15. St. Louis
  16. Detroit
  17. San Diego
  18. Portland
  19. Charlotte
  20. Cleveland
  21. Indianapolis
  22. Kansas City
  23. Pittsburgh
  24. Baltimore
  25. Phoenix
The report also divides cities into different tiers based on their “connectivity.” Here’s a listing of the first five tiers:
  • Strata I: New York
  • Strata II: Chicago & Los Angeles
  • Strata III: San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, & Washington
  • Strata IV: Boston, Dallas, Houston, & Seattle
  • Strata V: Denver, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, St. Louis & Detroit
The report places New York in its own tier, and Chicago and Los Angeles are the only second tier cities. Miami’s high position is attributed to its status as “Capital of Latin America”; San Francisco’s being the nation’s “western gateway/financial center”; Atlanta’s due to it being a “media center” and also to its role as being the “unchallenged capital of the large and growing South”; and Washington’s on account of its role as the U.S. national capital. In the fourth tier, “regional capitals in New England and the Pacific Northwest (Boston and Seattle) are joined by the two Texan world cities, one as regional center (Dallas) and the other as the world’s energy capital (Houston).”

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE: TERROR RISK
At the outset of this post, I grimly asked: “the sudden disappearance of which U.S. cities would cause the greatest impact on the rest of the U.S. and the world at large?”
Unfortunately, there actually are groups actively working toward the “sudden disappearance” of America’s cities. Which cities do these groups think are important? According to a 2007 RAND Corporation study entitled “Terrorism Risk Modeling for Intelligence Analysis and Infrastructure Protection”, “four cities—New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles—account for most of the total attack likelihood” to the United States. In other words, the cities of New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles remain the cities most attractive to prospective terrorists.
The RAND study used sophisticated modeling in order to determine the concentration of terrorism likelihood in individual U.S. cities. The report found that “cities with more locations believed to be attractive targets are, unsurprisingly, estimated to be at higher likelihood of attack, since there are many more options for terrorist attacks in these cities.” The report then divided U.S. cities into tiers based on the total likelihood of terror attacks against them:
  • Tier 1: New York & Washington
  • Tier 2: Chicago, Los Angeles, & San Francisco
  • Tier 3: Boston, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, & Philadelphia
  • Tier 4: Cleveland, Detroit, San Diego, & Seattle
  • Tier 5: Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, Denver, Orlando, San Jose, St. Louis, St. Petersburg, & Tampa
It’s no surprise that the most attractive cities to terrorists are the same cities that were so highly ranked in the studies we’ve already examined.

CONCLUSIONS
Every study I encountered ranked New York as the U.S.’s most important city. Which city is the nation’s second city, however, is unclear, as it seems to be a tie between Chicago and Los Angeles.
In a very crude and unscientific attempt to quantify each of the rankings above, I attached scores to each of the city rankings. In each study, the city ranked #1 was given a score of 25, the city ranked #2 was given a score of 24, the city ranked #3 was given a score of 23 and so on until the first 25 cities ranked in each survey were given scores. In the case of the Ranally and RAND rankings, I gave scores according to each city’s tier: tier 1 cities received scores of 25, tier 2 cities received 24’s, and so on. Each city’s study scores were then added together to give the city a total score. The fifteen highest scoring cities are in the chart below:

Unsurprisingly, New York received the highest score. Chicago and Los Angeles were virtually tied for second place, with a single point being the only difference between the two. (My gut, however, tells me that Los Angeles is #2, and that Chicago is #3.) San Francisco, meanwhile, was clearly in fourth place, and Washington narrowly edged out Boston and Atlanta for fifth place.


Here’s the total ranking:
  • 1. New York
  • 2. (tie) Los Angeles & Chicago
  • 4. San Francisco
  • 5. Washington
  • 6. Boston
  • 7. Atlanta
  • 8. Miami
  • 9. (tie) Dallas & Houston
  • 11. Philadelphia
  • 12. Denver
  • 13. Seattle
  • 14. Minneapolis
  • 15. Detroit
  • U.S. Most Important City: New York
  • U.S. Top 3 Cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago
  • U.S. Top 5 Cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington
  • U.S. Top 10 Cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Houston
  • U.S. Top 15 Cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle, Minneapolis, Detroit
The relatively high rankings of Miami and Atlanta and the relatively low rankings of Philadelphia and Seattle are what surprised me most about the studies. The other rankings seem about right.

Washington’s ranking is the only one I’m not confident about, and it is easily the most difficult American city to rank. Clearly, Washington’s importance is derived from its status as the U.S. national capital—Washington is, after all, the seat of American power. But if the city of Washington was suddenly stripped of its national capital status—and the capital moved elsewhere—it seems within the realm of possibly that Washington, much like contemporary Detroit, would slowly wither away. And yet as the capital of the most powerful country in the world, a convincing argument can also made for Washington to be ranked as the U.S.’s second, or even first, most important city. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the Soviets had had more missiles pointing at Washington than any other American city.)

Whenever I think of big cities, tall buildings are among the first things that come to mind. Curiously enough, the fifteen highest scoring cities from the studies are also the fifteen U.S. cities that have the most tall buildings within their city limits.



Notes:
  • I’m seeking to determine the contemporary importance of U.S. cities—not their historical importance.
  • All of the above studies were published within the last five years.
  • The above studies ranked cities along with their metro areas. For example, nearly all of the studies included San Jose and Silicon Valley with San Francisco.
Source: 41Latitude - The Most Important Cities in the United States (http://www.41latitude.com/post/400972984/most-important-cities-united-states - broken link) by Justin O'Beirne

We keep having this discussion but the answer is as clear as day. Some people just have a hard time accepting it.
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:23 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, New York
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Washington’s ranking is the only one I’m not confident about, and it is easily the most difficult American city to rank. Clearly, Washington’s importance is derived from its status as the U.S. national capital—Washington is, after all, the seat of American power. But if the city of Washington was suddenly stripped of its national capital status—and the capital moved elsewhere—it seems within the realm of possibly that Washington, much like contemporary Detroit, would slowly wither away.

This is a stupid point. If we stripped NYC of all its investment banks, art galleries, and law firms, it would slowly wither away. If we stripped Chicago of its advertising agencies, its hospitals, and its tech firms, it would slowly wither away. If we stripped the Bay Area and Silicon Valley of their tech firms, they would slowly wither away. If you strip any city of its primary industries, it would wither away. But the reality is that Wall Street is not leaving Manhattan and Capitol Hill is not leaving Washington. They are the centers of the world's money and power, and therefore, they are important. Deal with it.

Do you really think it would be so simple to recreate the federal bureaucracy? Washington is more than 535 guys on the Hill, one black guy in a big white house, and nine guys and gals wearing black robes sitting on a bench. There are countless adminstrative agencies, quasi-agencies, and non-governmental organizations here that are vital to the functioning of our society. They can't be recreated overnight or even in 20 years.
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Washington’s ranking is the only one I’m not confident about, and it is easily the most difficult American city to rank. Clearly, Washington’s importance is derived from its status as the U.S. national capital—Washington is, after all, the seat of American power. But if the city of Washington was suddenly stripped of its national capital status—and the capital moved elsewhere—it seems within the realm of possibly that Washington, much like contemporary Detroit, would slowly wither away.

This is a stupid point. If we stripped NYC of all its investment banks, art galleries, and law firms, it would slowly wither away. If we stripped Chicago of its advertising agencies, its hospitals, and its tech firms, it would slowly wither away. If we stripped the Bay Area and Silicon Valley of their tech firms, they would slowly wither away. If you strip any city of its primary industries, it would wither away. But the reality is that Wall Street is not leaving Manhattan and Capitol Hill is not leaving Washington. They are the centers of the world's money and power, and therefore, they are important. Deal with it.

Do you really think it would be so simple to recreate the federal bureaucracy? Washington is more than 535 guys on the Hill, one black guy in a big white house, and nine guys and gals wearing black robes sitting on a bench. There are countless adminstrative agencies, quasi-agencies, and non-governmental organizations here that are vital to the functioning of our society. They can't be recreated overnight or even in 20 years.
Exactly.

Let's say Washington DC gets wiped out somehow. The first thing that would happen is that the president would survey the site and enable response teams to start cleaning up the mess. Then, if it were a foreign attack, the army would be enabled to secure the site and begin to consider declaring war against A/B/C. In parallel, politics would go on as usual, along with diplomacy, foreign relations, etc etc........oh yeah, none of that would happen because DC controls all of that. I guess we could still have a Hollywood movie about it
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:39 PM
 
Location: In the heights
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DC is the more important city.

The argument that DC could be any place and its political power doesn't hold clout because its drawn from elsewhere in the US isn't a particularly strong one. It's certainly true, but it's something that can be claimed for nearly any major industry. Major corporations may base their headquarters somewhere, but they certainly don't draw the majority of their wealth or even operations from where they're located. What matters is that much of the higher level decision making is made and the organizational structure is consolidated in the host city, and this isn't something that can be easily measured by GMP (especially for the federal government) nor can it be simply divorced from the fabric of what makes a city.

In addition to that, it's not simply the congressman and other transient workers who make DC. DC is a firm base for branches and departments of the government that are NOT simply overturned in a quick election--these are people who will stay for the long term. It's also a firm base for many NGOs, international agencies, lobbying firms, media wags, think tanks, defense contractors, etc. that also draw on the political capital and are firmly grounded there.

There are two really silly arguments that keep popping up and should be done away with.

Having DC stripped of its political power and then trying to rank it is ridiculous. Try stripping the major industries from any city and putting it elsewhere. How logical is that?

An even sillier argument that gets brought up are analogies like "Sacramento/Albany/Springfield->LA/NYC/Chicago." This is just ridiculously off given the incredible differences in scope and sheer size between a state capital and a federal capital. How anyone can say this without having checked all rational thought at the door is pretty amazing.

Some tangents I'd like to point out are:

LA has been losing its media clout in the last decade or so pretty severely. A share of something like 60% of the domestic tv and film production last decade has shifted to something closer to 30%. It may still be a strong center of media production, but LA's been loosing its footing for a while especially as the way the film industry works with a greater versatility in post-production and studio shoots, changes in actual equipment used, and of course, tax breaks have made LA's natural endowments much less crucial.

It's hard to argue that DC is more diverse than LA. Sure, there's the percentages game with the large Mexican population in LA, but the city is just so remarkably huge and decentralized that it plays host to much larger and more diverse set of communities than DC does. This also plays in part of why LA keeps getting more immigrants as it's a much easier transition than being a pioneer of your community. Other reasons for LA's much greater diversity is that there are far more low-paying jobs available in LA than in DC (which also accounts for the huge difference in per capita earnings between then two), the propensity for the federal government to hire American nationals if possible even in more menial jobs, LA's close location to a land border to another country, and closer distance to countries that actually have a lot of people eager to immigrate to the US.
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:40 PM
 
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That "black guy in the White House" is arguably the most famous man in the world right now. ;-)
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:44 PM
 
Location: Up on the moon laughing down on you
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The point that the capitals have been moved is not a strong one. it is easy to move a capital that has been capital for 5 or 10 years. Moving one that has been capital for 200 years is a much much much different story.

moving LA would be a cinch, nothing integral to anything is there
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:45 PM
 
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People don't realize how important DC really is in the grand scheme of things. Everything you do, eat, say, hear, drink or taste - there is an agency in DC that regulates it in some way shape or form.

You want to get on a plane in LA and fly to Japan! What does DC have to do with that? FAA

You suspect insider trading at your firm in NYC! What does DC have to do with that? SEC

You just created a device that can distort your voice on songs! What does DC have to do with that? USPO

You just ran your bank into the ground and you need a bailout. DC

The brakes on your Toyota have failed! DC

If you think government is large, check out this article in the Post on the number of government agencies, personnel and companies involved in our national security efforts. It's astounding.

Top Secret America: Interactive map | washingtonpost.com
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