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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 or dollars-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.

Perhaps a motivated statistician could find some fault with my numbers, but still, there they are. And if my amateurish calculations are off by 10%, should we really feel better, knowing that only 2.043 million of us are sacrificed to Leviathan every year?

The next time you hear confusing talk from a politician, think of these numbers. Millions of lives are being drained dry – cradle to grave – every year, to keep their beast fed. That cannot honestly be denied.

What Does This Mean?

It is for you to decide what this means.

I suspect that you’re rather horrified, which sets you up for a classic choice on how to deal with this new idea:

  • Fight (“That’s wrong!”),
  • Flight/Evasion (“That’s a conspiracy theory!”), or
  • Freeze (“I don’t understand”).

And note that I am making no comment here on the quality of government spending – you can make that determination for yourself – I am merely stating its cost.

You’ll have to decide what you think about this. If you’re unsure, look up the numbers and run them for yourself. That will give you a better understanding.

The Non-Monetary Value of Life

Human lives, of course, have far more than simple monetary value. The most important things in life are not measured in dollars.

That, however, only makes the damage worse.

Why worse? Because we are limited, physical beings. When we’re sick, or sleeping, or far away, or falling-down tired, those “more valuable than money” things seldom show up.

When people are forced to work double shifts to pay the government, their energy for the things that transcend monetary value is sucked away.

Most working Americans go from morning till night. Even when they go on vacation, they are really only recovering from their workload – getting back to even.

That means that most of the super-monetary value of their lives is lost; they have no time and energy left over to do the more important things.

Leviathan Has a Cost

Governments always present themselves to people as saviors, but everything they do is paid for with money. And the ultimate source of all that money is the people who are supposedly being saved.

In order to pay that price in the United States (others are similar), the entire earnings of several million lives are required every year.

No, three million people are not beheaded in the town square, but that many lives are spent every year – by people paying half their life, every year, for their entire working lives.

Leviathan eats several million lives per year, and no matter how we spin it, the numbers remain.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

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  • 7thPillar

    I undertook a similar analysis a few years ago. The bottom line? If 100% of our taxes went directly to Public Sector salary and benefits (not including contractors), it would take 25 Private Sector earners to support each Public Sector parasite.

    Do the research, you will be amazed by all the redundancy and waste across bureaucracies! What a waste.

  • Stanfrd Powers

    There are a couple problems with your math. First, you talk about annual spending by the government and compare that with lifetime (40 years) earning. You should divide the annual spending money by the annual income. So the number is more like 76.6 million lives. But, while spending is bad, the collection from taxes is less than that, with printed money making up the difference. But if you consider inflation another form of tax, then I’d feel comfortable with the 76.6 million figure.

    • JdL

      There are a couple problems with your math. First, you talk about annual spending by the government and compare that with lifetime (40 years) earning. You should divide the annual spending money by the annual income.

      That would be another legitimate calculation to make, but Paul’s is legitimate as well. He’s making the point: every year, the government sucks up an entire life’s earnings of 2.27 million people. The following year, 2.27 million more. Pretty vivid!

  • FutureOnePercent

    A way that I’ve always looked at it is by looking at how much taxes were taken from you, and divide that by your hourly rate. Say you make $1000 dollars for 40 hours of work and you take home $700, effectively it would be the same as you working only 28 hours a week and paying nothing.

    Twelve hours of your life was taken from you, and that is time you could have spent with your kids, enjoying a hobby, reading a book, whatever you wanted to do. Twelve units of our most precious commodity, time, is pissed away…

    • Hey You

      If you live in a zoo, the beast prowls.

  • Guest

    The maw of the State “consuming” millions of people…

    Quite the chilling image.
    Thank you Mr. Rosenberg – it merely steels my resolve to oppose the predatory State at every opportunity I can!

  • http://www.anarchocapitalism.us/ Ethan Glover

    Government, the ultimate consumer, the ultimate waster. Cut it out and we get our lives back.

    • Hey You

      Yes, Ethan. You’re probably correct. The difficulty is not in seeing the problem but in cuttting the government out of our lives.

      However, it may be possible because a federal implosion may be in the near future. Maybe such will occur sometime between mid-2016 and late 2018. A person whose ideas I respect has expressed the probablty that the 2020s may begin an era of freedom.

  • PlasticMoney888

    The Government is a transfer agent from the good administrative or business models to the worst and corrupt ones. It validates its existence by making them even worst and virtuously demanding more and more production transfer. It’ s a system whereby responsible citizens are feeding their persecutor.

  • A Critic

    I’ve been using “tax-years” and “tax-lives” to measure the impact of particular expenditures for several years.

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