Break up the liberal city

First, the easy part: Let’s take the offices of our federal government, now concentrated in the vampiric conurbation of Greater Washington, D.C., and spread them around, in poorer states and smaller cities that need revitalization. Vox’s Matt Yglesias has proposed a version of this idea — distributing various health and science and regulatory agencies to Detroit or Cleveland or Milwaukee — and it’s perfect for the next politician who claims to want to really drain the swamp.

But as Yglesias concedes, there’s only so much that breaking up D.C. will do. Which is why we’ll go further, starting with the deep-pocketed elite universities clustered around our bloated megalopolises. We’ll tax their endowments heavily, but offer exemptions for schools that expand their student bodies with satellite campuses in areas with well-below-the-median average incomes. M.I.T.-in-Flint has a certain ring to it. So does Stanford-Buffalo, or Harvard-on-the-Mississippi.

A similar tax would apply to large nonprofits: If you want your full tax exemption, show that you’re employing people in lower-income states and cities. Meanwhile new business tax credits would encourage regional diversification, while the state and local tax deduction would be capped, making it more expensive for the upper class to live in and around high-cost, high-tax metropolitan areas. And the F.T.C.’s mandate would be creatively rewritten to include an industry’s geographic concentration as a monopolistic indicator, letting it approve mergers and acquisitions and trustbust with an eye toward more dispersed employment.