It's like I'm watching The Oblongs for real

It's offical: I've never been in a city where the upper and lower classes were separated by such a wide gulf.

I went to a party yesterday up in Marlyand; the hosts own a big house and several open acres of land. I saw a deer bouncing by at one point.

Add them to a list of acquaintances I know here who are absolutely filthy rich. The other two are long-time AOLers. One lives by himself in Vienna, but owns a Lotus, a Jaguar and a Vanagon (!?), among other vehicles. He also has a second home in West Virginia. The other is married, but lives in a huge mansion-type estate in Great Falls, Va; they don't even have enough furniture to fill up all the rooms in that house.

And all the time I'm at these people's houses, I can't help but think what's going on 30 miles away in D.C., where there are neighborhoods that seriously look like they've been hit by a nuclear bomb. The roads have potholes that could be re-zoned as underground parking garages; the homes have burglar bars and/or are falling apart; the schools are mismanaged and starved for cash; drug deals go down in open air; the murder rate per capita is the highest in the country.

It would seem like a cliche if it wasn't true: The top 20 richest counties in the U.S. include Virginia's Fairfax, Loudon and Falls Church city, and Maryland's Montgomery county, while the rate of poverty and severe poverty in the District continues to grow.

Obviously every city has its rich and its poor, but we have a unique situation here, where those super-rich suburbanites don't help out the urban dwellers with their tax dollars. Virginia hates D.C. hates Maryland; there's no love lost between these three. The money that most cities would get to alleviate some of the poverty blight doesn't make its way into D.C.'s coffers; the District has to withstand hundreds of thousands of commuters who pay their income and property taxes elsewhere.

Hey, more power to the suburbanites for being able to earn so much. (Except the AOL and WorldCom people; you guys apparently made a lot of your money by defrauding investors.) But it saddens me that our nation's capital, supposedly "the most powerful city in the world," suffers so acutely, while prosperity in the suburbs seems to know no bounds.

And, as an aside, it angers me that in a time of fever-pitch patriotism, the idea of helping out other Americans in need is not only ignored, but scoffed at by many of us.

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