It Takes 192 Days to Pay for Government Spending and Regulations

In case you missed it, July 11 was “cost of government” day, the day, theoretically, in which Americans finally pay — from wages, profits, interest and other income — for all government spending and regulation for the year. The amounts include every penny the government spends as well as an estimate of the costs each person pays for government regulations.

Seems like a huge burden to bear, huh? But like everything else, there are two sides to the story, as CNN Money reports :

Isolating the cost of regulation without also factoring in the social and economic benefits makes it seem like “it’s money down the drain. It doesn’t begin to make a positive contribution to what is a serious conversation about what the government does and how we should pay for it,” said James Horney, federal fiscal policy director of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Ok, so maybe Mr. Horney is right. Obviously, there is some benefit to government spending and regulations — but it’s safe to assume there’s waste too, isn’t there? Or do we even need to assume that anymore — isn’t it closer to being a fact than an assumption? Does anyone know the true cost versus benefit of the government? Are we getting a “good deal?”

What’s the point, you may ask? The point is that taxes and associated government costs have a major impact on the state of everyone’s personal finances. It’s our money that funds the government and we have the right and responsibility to see it used effectively. Of course we supposedly assert those rights and responsibilities when we vote, but that issue is for a different blog.

Anyway, we can all rejoice now that we can celebrate cost of government day along with its better-known cousin tax freedom day.FREE MONEY FINANCE

Study: Government costs half a year of income [CNN Money]



Edit Your Comment

  1. jeffeb3 says:

    so, how much do I owe?

  2. Hawk07 says:

    The sad part is that there are some who say we’re not doing enough.

  3. whydidnt says:

    We can all agree that the Government provides a lot of essential services. However, it is almost incomprehensible that more than 50% of our productivity and earnings are needed to run the government. Seriously, it takes 192 out of 365 days just to fund the goverment? Something is seriously messed up. We are either providing too many services, or there is a HUGE amount of wasteful spending going on.

  4. radiofree says:

    I would like to see that number explained a bit more … I know what I owe in taxes, and I know how long it took me to earn it …

    That said, public finance, unlike private finance, does not keep its infrastructure on its books, meaning, it doesn’t account for the cost of depreciation. That means when we build a bridge, a subway, public housing, roads, we account for the cost but don’t factor in their benefit to us – or the cost of maintaining them to keep the value of that benefit.

    Anyway, I’m one of those tax and spend liberals that believes in Keynesian economics. How old fashioned.

    I think more of us should be taxed more, but not before we get a government that’s a bit more accountable to us for ALL of its actions. But as you say, that’s for another blog.

  5. tracer333 says:

    Everyone can agree that the current war is taking up a huge portion of our tax bucks. No surprise there.

    One real drain on tax dollars, however, is the use of government services and infrastructure by those who don’t pay taxes at all. Essentially, the roads you drive on, the policing you rely on, the schools your kids attend, the (laughable) TSA services at the airport, the $150k+ Congressional salaries, etc., are all at some point being used by people who don’t pay taxes like you do, if at all. Ever. Illegal and unregistered immigrants are who and what I’m speaking of here.

    I’m not against immigration or immigrants…I’m half Latino myself…I just don’t like the idea of me paying taxes simply because the government knows where to find me if I don’t vs. some guy who flies under the radar because they’re undocumented. That guy uses government services without paying for them, which puts more strain on those resources, which in turn I have to pay out more for. Simply isn’t fair.

    Our government is doing the taxpayer a disservice by not enforcing it’s own immigration laws or providing the funding needed to do so. But, our government is also doing the immigrant a disservice by making the road to citizenship a bureaucratic and impossible nightmare.

    We should first re-vamp the process by which people become citizens. Make it quick, efficient, broad in scope and, most of all, humane. This is in the taxpayer’s interest because everyone is paying their fair share. This is in the immigrant’s interest because it makes them a legitimate American citizen. This is in the government’s favor because it puts more taxpayers into the pool.

    Then, we should find the people who are illegally here and give them a choice to become a legitimate, law abiding citizen or to return from whence they came.

    Right wingers who want no immigrants simply because they’re “not like us” are wrong. Left wingers who think any change from the current status quo is racism are also off the mark and simply playing the race card that so many politicians are afraid of being labeled with.

    I say we just make it easier for a person to become a citizen and then enforce the laws we already have. It’s pretty simple, really.

  6. skrom says:

    That day would come a whole to faster if we werent forced to pay to support lazy people with welfare, WIC, HUD, CHIP etc… Force people to get a job so I dont have to pay for them!!!! and dont tell me they just cant find one because that is BS. Every fast food restaurant I drive by has help wanted signs up. They just cant get a job they LIKE. A lot of us work in jobs we dont like but we do it to make a living.

  7. tylerkaraszewski says:

    I used to work for the federal government. If the rest of the government is run similarly to how my organization was run – then about 3/4 of the money flowing into it is wasted.

    We paid plenty of incompetent people to hang out in a cubicle and talk on the phone with their families all day, because “he’s a really nice guy, it would suck if he didn’t have a job”, and even if people had really wanted to fire them, it’s almost impossible.

    We bought equipment we didn’t need simply because it was the end of the year, and if we didn’t use up our budget, we wouldn’t have any chance to use it the next year.

    We had entire sections of the office full of people that did nothing but sort out the bureaucracy that was our office and organizational rules.

    We had an IT department who’s function was to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to use computers effectively, in the name of security.

    I’m serious, if our office was run by the private sector, we would have had 30 employees instead of 300, and we would have gotten more accomplished.

    I feel much more productive now that I work in the private sector.

  8. orielbean says:

    Skrom, history has shown that the definition of a third-world country is a country that cannot support the indigent, the down-&-out, the sick, or the elderly. If your hard work didn’t go towards shoring up the society around you, that same society quickly falls apart and causes failures in many systems.

    Military budget is just as big as the Health/Human Services budget. Don’t forget that we pay a HUGE chunk of change on national debt interest. Where does most of our national debt originate? Bonds sold by the government to finance the military – so the military cost is a lot larger than any other part of our budget. Some argue that 80% of the national debt is military/defense related.

  9. Gannoc says:

    I really hate things like this. Obviously, this government and all governments need to be more efficient, but “tax freedom day” is just propaganda.

    192 days sounds dramatic, but think about it. If you had to pay out of pocket for all the government services you get, from the direct ones like roads, schools, and police protection, to the indirect ones like a monetary and judicial system, it would cost most people a hell of a lot more than 192 days of pay.

  10. PhilK says:

    @tracer333: You missed the part where illegal immigrants pay into Withholding and SS but have no chance of withdrawing any of that because it’s not a real SS number. You also fail to recognize that the roads they use are paid for by gas taxes, which if they’re driving they have to pay at some level. Schools as well as local police are paid for (mostly) by local property taxes, not federal. The TSA is only partially funded by federal income tax, it’s also funded by taxes you pay on your plane tickets.

    You’ve worked from January to July to pay for the war in Iraq and interest on the national deficit. Next time do some research before blaming some of the hardest working people in the country.

  11. If there’s one thing people like to gripe about and turn into a platform for immigration reform/libertarian rants, it’s taxes. Hence Mr. Horney’s defensiveness. He wasn’t dissuading thrift, he was dissuading griping.

    In other news: man it must have sucked to have grown up with the last name “Horney.”

  12. capturedshadow says:

    Looking around the world, places with high taxes and high service levels seem to have better lifestyles than places with less government and less services. Say Scandinavian countries or Japan instead of the libertarian paradise that is Somalia. Of course I would not want to live in Cuba (high tax and service) but it is better than Hati (low tax).

    There is some evidence that illegal immigrants pay more in taxes (Social Security and Medicare taxes) than they collect in services. Not true for ones paid under the table but that is the employers fault.

    Spending on things like CHIP, WIC and HUD is pretty small compared to paying interest on the national debt or buying aircraft carriers. The US has 12 now. Nobody else has any (that function anyway) Seems like we could get by with 4 to 6 and save billions.

    We have spent 10K/person on the Iraq war so far. I wonder how many days we could take off of the calendar if with withdraw?

  13. costanza007 says:

    how about if we fixed the entitlement programs and then recalculated the national spending? war costs money, and so does forced wealth redistribution.

  14. tracer333 says:

    @PhilK: @
    Tax Withholding and SS: That’s why they need a REAL SSN…not a fake one. That’s also why having a fake SSN is, um, illegal maybe? Paying into the system without being able to draw from it is a result of using illegal means. I will, however, concede that in the overall argument about whether services are being used by those who don’t pay…it seems this bears out that some pay but don’t use services; which in a way sort of cancels out (though I’m not sure if it cancels out equally). Either way, though, the there’s really no excuse for using a fake SSN. All arguments are essentially null and void once you throw that variable into it.

    Gas taxes: you win. They pay.

    Local property taxes: Police, schools, etc. fine. But, can you own a home if you’re an illegal alien, especially one with a fake SSN? That’s a lot of paperwork to fill out and it’d be pretty hard to stay under the radar. I would say legit citizens bear most of the brunt of the cost here.

    TSA: you win. Or…can you fly without being a citizen with a legitimate ID?

    Yes, you and I have worked these 7 months to pay for those things, I’m not disputing that. In fact, I recognized that. The war is an expense that we shouldn’t be paying for. So…once we get our boys back home from Iraq…we’ll only have to pay taxes for, say, January thru March then?

    Blaming hardest working people in the country: if you read a little closer, you’ll see that I was more or less blaming the government for not being efficient enough to process everyone who wants to be a citizen without out lots and lots of bureaucratic pain. My stance is to make all the illegals, at least as many as possible, legals. Get them into the system just like we are and balance things out a little better. Then enforce the laws already in effect rather than being afraid to do so amid all the race-card playing.

    As to that hardest working crap, don’t come to me with your class-war rhetoric. Everyone works hard. Everyone just doesn’t work hard in the same way. And, just because someone gets paid more or less doesn’t really mean they work harder or not. I’ve done every job imaginable; oil refineries to IT. I paid for my college tuition with the GI Bill where I worked as a grunt Marine for 4 years beforehand. I’ve flipped burgers as a teen and even started mowing lawns with my dad at the age of 10 to help make money for the family. Frakk off with your intimation that just because I’m a legal citizen I’m some fat-cat whitey with soft hands and no idea about how to get dirty.

    My dad still isn’t allowed to live in this country because the Fed can’t get off their arse and get his paperwork straight. He’s been applying for citizenship, going the legitimate legal route for YEARS with still no end in sight. Fortunately, my mother was able to gain her citizenship, legally, before I was born and was able to come here so I could be a citizen from the get-go.

    But, you can play the poor blue collar woker of color card all you want. It seems that’s what pulls most people’s white guilt out into the open anyway. Too bad it’s mostly a fallacy perpetuated by people’s propensity to believe anyone who cries “racism” and the resulting loss of logical thought.

  15. Squeezer99 says:

    and people only want it to go higher with socialized healthcare

  16. zolielo says:

    @skrom: HUD super efficient TANF plus SS and SSI need a bit of work, the other I do not know. Nevertheless, I would say that the work needed is on countering confidence artist working the system and the systemic problem of generational dependence on such programs.

  17. gibbersome says:

    @tracer333: Good response, we need more people fighting for equitable rights for immigrants, both legal and illegal. I find it sometimes infuriating when people don’t even look at illegals like humans. When I travelled down south too often I heard people targetting Mexicans. I’m not going to defend the way they came into America, it was wrong; however, you can’t stop admiring a hard working person when you see one.