Letter to editor: Statehood for District of Columbia: A rational analysis

Dan Steeples, Palco, Letter to the editor

Year after year a movement to make the 68 square-mile, District of Columbia (DC) urban enclave our 51st state arises and arises entirely from the left wing of the aisle. Let’s take a rational look at DC, its characteristics, and would its admission enhance the Union. 

The Founding Fathers clearly specified that DC should never become a state. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution states, “The Congress shall have Power To… exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such Dis­trict (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Con­gress, become the Seat of the Gov­ernment of the United States.”  In The Federalist No. 43, James Madison explained the need for a "federal district," sub­ject to Congress's exclusive jurisdiction and sep­arate from the territory, and authority, of any single state.

In the 2017 NFL draft the Kansas City Chiefs selected Patrick Mahomes (instead of this author). NFL and collegiate teams draft/recruit players to improve the quality of the team – that’s a fact. So, let’s rationally analyze what DC’s contribution as a state would be.

Is DC strategically important to the defense of the United States? Whereas Hawaii and Alaska are important, both in terms of strategic importance and natural resources, it’s questionable that DC provides any strategic importance to our national defense. However, it presents a partial buffer should Maryland and Virginia declare war on one another.

Economically, what does DC bring to the Union? DC’s entire economic base is the Federal Government. (We almost have one of those now in Maryland where 10 of the 16 largest employers are federal agencies.). And, much to the misperception of liberals, the government does not create jobs. All salaries and benefits for federal (and state) jobs are paid for out of taxes collected from the private sector. DC possesses no natural resources (mining), agricultural, manufacturing, or industrial base to provide nongovernment-related private sector employment.

What about societal characteristics?  If DC were to become a state it would:

Have the highest homicide rate (29 per 100,000) in the US, almost twice that of the next highest state, Mississippi (15 per 100,000) and roughly 6 times that of the U.S. overall. It would have the third smallest population after Vermont & Wyoming yet rank approximately 25th in total homicides.

Have an overall violent crime rate approximately 3 times that of the rest of the country.

Have the lowest high school graduation rate (73%) versus California (83%), the next lowest, and yet rank second behind New York in dollars spent per pupil in the public school system. 

However, the Union would forever gain three automatic Democratic members of

Congress (so much for diversity) who would no doubt be dazzling statesmen such as the late Marion Barry, the former mayor of DC who in 1989 brilliantly stated, “Outside of the killings, DC has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.”

Dan Steeples