Government is seen by many as a caretaker and a force for good in society. This view generally includes the belief that government is both provider and creator of wealth. Coincident with these fallacies is an acceptance of the need for government’s central role in planning and managing the economy.
These beliefs are wrong! None were held by the Founding Fathers whose wisdom becomes more apparent with the passage of time. These gentlemen viewed government as a necessary evil, a power which could easily be abused. George Washington, the nation’s first president, stated:
Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
Despite the Founders’ best attempts, government slowly moved from the role of “dangerous servant” to its current role of powerful, “fearful master.” The three pillars of Lincoln’s description of government — “of the people, by the people and for the people” — seem quaintly naive and downright wrong today. A realistic description of government today would require substituting the word “government” for “people” in Lincoln’s famous phrase.
Instead of a necessary evil, government has become what it was never intended to be — An Evil! It dominates lives in ways never intended and does so down to the smallest and most personal decisions. Government has become Leviathan, a powerful dominating force demanding both worship and tribute from its servants. It consists of an elite class, removed from the people, with perquisites and wealth not available to average citizens. Included in these perquisites is an immunity from the laws to which the rest of us are subject.
Government demands sacrifice from its servants while never sacrificing its own comfort, goals and pursuits. It has become a quasi-criminal gang of the elite, by the elite and for the elite. In short, government has evolved into everything the Founders feared. It has become a tyranny far worse than what prompted hardy and courageous ancestors to rebel against their English masters.
The Cost of Government
People readily see benefits they receive from government yet rarely consider the costs of providing those benefits. Government has no money and produces no products. Whatever it provides represents something it has forcefully taken from someone else.
Several organizations attempt to calculate the true costs of government. Their techniques and methodology vary as do their final estimates. Suffice to say that the burden of government is high, higher than most citizens realize. For purpose of this article, the Center For Fiscal Accountability’s findings will be used to discuss costs. In the most recent report, the Center found:
In 2011, Cost of Government Day falls on August 12. Working people must toil 224 daysout of the year just to meet all costs imposed by government, a full 27 days longer than 2008.
In other words, in 2011 the cost of government consumes 61.42 percent of national income.
This staggering statistic means that individuals control the spending of less than 40% of what they earn. The rest is “spent” for them by government, basically as government sees fit. Even if this third party were concerned with your interests, it would be impossible for it to spend this money as effectively as you would spend it. Does anyone believe the money squandered on Solyndra and other fantasies of the ruling class was as beneficial as what you could do for your family with the money?
The Center’s report contains the following highlights (lowlights????) of the report:
- Overall government burden: This year, Cost of Government Day falls on August 12, meaning Americans labor a full 224 days into the year to pay for local, state and federal government spending and regulations.
- Impact of Obama overspending: Americans have lost 29 days of the calendar year thanks to Obama’s overspending and regulatory zeal. 2011 marks the third straight year COGD has fallen in August. Prior to the Obama Administration, COGD had never fallen later than July 21.
- Stimulus, bailouts, and federal spending: The effects of the bailouts and failed “stimulus” plan are still being felt by Americans, who must work a full 103 days to pay for the costs of federal spending.
- State and local government spending: Americans spend 44 days working to pay off state and local government spending.
- Regulatory burden of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank: Americans are forced to labor 77 days to pay for total federal regulations, a workload that will increase exponentially with the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known more popularly as Obamacare.
- Cost of Government Day in the fifty states: The report also measures varying government burdens in each state to calculate their respective state Cost of Government Day. As in past years, taxpayers in Connecticut must work the latest to celebrate their COGD, laboring all the way until September 10 to pay off the full costs of government. Taxpayers in Mississippi worked the shortest amount of time to pay off their burden off government, laboring until July 19.
- Case Studies: The report also details the impact on COGD of many factors in the growing cost of government. Case studies in the report discuss: The Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul which will severely increase the number of days Americans must work to pay off the regulatory burden; Obamacare, which will fail to rein in health care costs and continue to increase federal spending; The EPA, which has pursued an aggressive regulatory agenda that will further stall economic recovery.
The direct costs of government are enormous and growing larger by the day. Its profligate ways now threaten the very existence of the country. Despite its precarious financial position, government continues spending as if there were no consequences.
The behavior of government invites several questions:
- At what point does the spending become unsustainable? What kind of collapse does that portend?
- At what point do US citizens literally become slaves? Does the government have to spend 100% of what we produce as opposed to 61%? Or is the crossover point somewhere short of the 100%? Or have we already been enslaved?
- Is there a way to solve the current problems within the political arena? Or, is the US destined to break-up into factions fighting over whatever spoils are left?
None of these issues are reflected in the numbers above because these events have not yet happened. Nor are a host of other costs which don’t get captured in National Income accounting data. The presumptions of big government and these other costs will be discussed in subsequent articles.