How Many Lives The Government “Eats” Each Year

I like to look at things from an outsider’s viewpoint – to notice things that most people pass over. And I usually find these things more or less by accident. For example, take a quick look at this formula:

government spendingThis looks like physics or economics, but I actually ran across it in a legal case. As it turns out,this is the formula to determine the monetary value of your life.

That may sound crazy, but it’s absolutely true.

Officially termed “the monetary value of human capital,” this calculation is used every day in courts of law to help determine various awards – typically when someone is injured and prevented from working.

What struck me as interesting is that this formula could also be used in other ways… like for government for example.

Government is the biggest business on the planet – by far. (We examined how in FMP #32.) And government functions with money.

So, I decided to use arithmetic to determine the cost of government – not measured in dollars, but in human lives.

Think of this as a currency conversion: dollars-to-lives, rather than the usual dollars-to-euros ordollars-to-yen.

And, again, this is not a new trick; it’s done every day in courtrooms across the globe.

The Numbers

The figures I’m using come from the US government (mostly the Census), between the years 2008 and 2010. (Spending is for 2010.) Everything shown below is plain old math, not fancy statistical analysis.

Here are the necessary figures:

Average per capita income: $39,138

Average number of working years: 40

Per capita lifetime income (income times years) = $1.5655 million

Total US government spending: $3.55 trillion

So, dividing total government spending by average lifetime earnings, we arrive at the following:

Government spending consumes the lives of 2.27 million people, annually.

Properly, we should say, “The US government consumes the entire life earnings of 2.27 million people, every year.”

It may seem a bit dramatic to express the numbers this way, but these are real numbers, and they reflect the situation accurately.

These figures, of course, are only for the national government. State and municipal governments consume plenty as well. In all likelihood, total government consumption in the US is somewhere between 3 and 5 million lives per year.

If these numbers seem impossible to you, run them yourself. It’s not hard.

The plain truth is that, every year, government in the United States consumes the entire lifetime efforts of several million human beings.

Talk of so-many trillions, percentages of GDP, quintiles, and age brackets are confusing. This is the simple truth:

Several million lives are sacrificed every year to feed the US Leviathan.

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