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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

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