As a quick way to demonstrate the jaw-dropping growth of the federal government, conservatives and libertarians like me often point to the growing wealth in the D.C. area. Like a vortex, the federal government sucks in wealth from the rest of the country.
When liberal bloggers like Paul Krugman want to push back on this line of argument, they point out that the federal workforce is actually falling.
But that's a pretty facile and misleading way of arguing against an explosion of government. Because big government doesn't just create government employees, it also creates government dependents — including lobbyists and businesses getting rich off of big government.