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Bill Hicks

Greetings from County #2 on that list (Fairfax). What makes that article more disquieting is that despite our lofty status there HAVE been plenty of signs of the downturn around here. There's a strip mall a couple of miles from me, for example, where more than half the 15 or so stores have closed in the past two years. The surface streets are in terrible shape in many places and they no longer mow the medians of the divided major roads very often so the weeds grow high in the summertime.

Also, the local governments are deep in the red. The Fairfax County School system laid off a couple of hundred workers this past year. Housing values in some outer suburban areas of DC have cratered more than 50% and the DC Metro train system is literally falling apart, with deadly derailments, track fires and worker deaths in the past 18 months plus more overcrowding and nearly daily delays. Despite this fares have increased three times in the past seven years and are now nearly double what they were in 2002. We've also got plenty of newly built half-empty condo towers around if you're looking to buy at still-overinflated prices.

Given all of that I cannot imagine what it must be like in other areas of the country. And now with federal salaries being frozen for the next two years I expect all of the above will just get worse.

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