Big Government Is Even Bigger Than You Think

Big Government in America is so huge it boggles the mind and numbs the senses.

But exactly how big is Big Government? For the moment, just consider one key factor: the money spent and controlled by government.

How much of our annual earnings does Big Government take and spend, command and control?

Add the federal budget to all the state and local government budgets in the United States, and subtract out the amounts that they shift between each other (“intergovernmental spending”).

Federal, state, and local governments together directly spend a whopping $4.8 Trillion – every year.

But wait, there’s more!

Big Government Politicians hide massive amounts of spending they call “off budget.” They conveniently keep these funds out of public view. They pass laws to make these deceptive accounting practices perfectly legal – for themselves.

Say you file your income taxes this year with a stated income of $60,000. What does the IRS do when they audit you – and discover that you earned $20,000 a year “off budget?” Do they chalk this up to “normal accounting practices…just like governments do” – and let it slide? Or do they increase your tax bill, fine you, and throw you in the hoosegow?

Massachusetts state government alone spends at least $20 billion off-the-books – every year. Conservative estimates give us total off-the-books federal, state, and local government spending of at least $700 billion annually. Add this to the on-the-books spending, and you get government spending of $5.5 Trillion – every year!

But wait, there’s more.

Big Government mandates – compels us to spend – another $1.5 Trillion to $3 Trillion every year. This is the externalized cost of government, i.e., the amount that governments force businesses, non-profits, and citizens to spend to comply with government regulations. Examples include collecting payroll taxes, filing tax returns and complying with OSHA, Medicare, EPA, FDA, FTC, FEC, and USDA regulations (to name just a few).

Combined direct and mandated government spending may well exceed $7 Trillion – and rising – this year, next year, and every year!

$7 Trillion out of this year’s total U.S. economy of approximately $12 Trillion.

Big Government in America is so huge it boggles the mind and numbs the senses.

January 13, 2006