Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

31 July 2008

The Cost of Government

Doug Bandow's commentary in today's Washington Times compiled many measures of the cost of government. He points out that Tax Freedom Day this year was on 23 April, but that this is a poor measure of the cost of government. First of all, local, state, and federal government may all be running deficits. Secondly, they all have regulations with costs which they do not pay. What was not mentioned and may not be included at all are the requirements to contribute time and effort without charge to keeping tax and employment records and being an unpaid tax and information collector.

Americans for Tax Reform calculates the cost of government based on what they spend and on the cost of regulations. They calculated that 16 July was the day the average American stopped working for the governments. This was 4 days later than last year! Individuals worked 83.7 days this year for the federal government and 50.5 days for state and local governments. Government regulation costs each of us 62.6 days this year! If we nationalize health care or add a cap and trade bill to combat the mythical man-made global warming, these costs will go up dramatically. They are going to go up dramatically in any case because Baby Boomers are about to start retiring in large numbers, which will at once remove many high income earners from higher tax brackets and increase Social Security and Medicare costs.

Federal spending is up 11.4% more than the size of the economy since 2000. So despite the economy growing well over that period and federal taxes rising even faster than the economy did, Congress spent more money than the bonanza they were given in increased tax revenues. If the rate of government spending had been held to the rate of the growth of the economy, the federal deficit would have disappeared in 2006.

Regulation costs this year are 17.2% of the national income. These regulations hurt the economy and its growth in ways whose costs are not included in that figure. Reductions in output, jobs, lower wages, and slowed economic growth are estimated to cost as much as another $1.5 trillion per year.

State and local government expenditures have increased by 19.1% more than the national income since 1999. In Connecticut, the people will work until 31 July before they come even with the cost of government, while in New Jersey the date was 30 July, and in New York it was 29 July. On the other hand, if you lived in Alaska, you were free on 21 June, if in Mississippi on 30 June, and if in Montana and West Virginia on 1 July.

Bandow asks, "What kind of a supposedly free society forces its people to work well more than half the year for the government?"

I join him in that question and ask if the loss of your control over that huge part of your life was worth it in terms of the benefits government provided? For me, the answer is a clear and strong NO!

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