Federal Growth

Economics + Government + Public
April 4, 2013
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Check the math on this, but total IRS collections in 1960 were appx. $92M. In 2010, $2.345T. The population in 1960 was appx. 179M. In 2010, 303M. The per capita revenue for 1960, then, was 51¢. In 2010, almost $7.75. Adjusting with the CPI, the 2010 value of the 51¢ is shy of $4. The 1960 value of the $7.75 crests $1.

Per capita and in constant dollars, we’ve seen a doubling of the Fed’s wealth in the last 50 years.


Does the tripling of global exports, i.e. heightened international trade, over the same period account for any share of that growth and justify it on a policy plane? Well, the United States’ share of global exports has been about halved over that same period of broader growth. In a lengthy era ongoing when relations are a function of economic prowess, perhaps Federal expansion is a compensatory matter of national security, then?

Remove debt service and defense spending has about doubled from 1960 to 2010. It’s only kept pace with the trend.

It’s not the EPA, which came into existence and grew during that period. It commands approx. less than 1% of revenue. And it’s not Education, which metastasized during that period, but now captures approx. 2% of revenue.

It’s mandatory spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment, welfare, and perhaps the real problem, interest on debt, all of which together in 2010 consumed more than the revenue generated — that’s before State, DOD, HUD, DOJ, DOA, etc. There was more than $1T in deficit spending, to boot.

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Where Your Taxes Went in 2013

A declining fertility rate means fewer workers per beneficiary. Couple that with an aging population due to scientific advancement and there you have it. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of people. It just means we have to find a way to pay for it.

All the while, we can’t forget that monetary expenditure is only the smallest part of caring for people.

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