How Big Should the U.S. Government Be?
The most important political question you can ask yourself is how much should government spending be as a percentage of GDP?
Because how can you have an opinion about what the government should do when you don’t even know how much it already does?
“There are two forms of human communication: math and BS.”
According to the World Bank, US GDP per capita is $69,288. At 44% government spending this means government spending is $30,486 per person, which is more than what virtually any other country on Earth spends!
Plus, if you sprinkle on top unfunded regulations, unprecedented debt ($93,500 per person), our socialist monetary monopoly, and projected entitlements we are far from the free market that made this country great.
If you think spending should be more than 40% then congratulations you’re on the side of the powers-that-be, but if you think it should be less then you’re a no-good greedy Republican!
“We are roughly 50% socialist. Government spending at all levels is now 43% of the national income. In addition, government imposes regulations and rules on business that clearly take up another 10% or so of our income so more than 50% of our resources are distributed and allocated by government… the best thing government can do is cut its size… if you look at our real social problems almost all of them have been produced by government.” — Milton Friedman, the greatest economist of the 20th century
I’ve long argued total government spending should at most be 30%, but since I’ve never fully explained why because I just took it for granted that it should be obvious here you go:
I don’t believe in the libertarian concept of NAP (Non-Aggression Principle), but I do think we should strive to keep force to a minimum. To paraphrase George Washington — government is force. A less forceful society is one in which people are incentivized to be more grateful, polite, familial, and overall just more f*cking human.
Part of what would help keep force to a minimum is federalism. I’d like to see federal, state, and local spending each a third of total government spending again whereas now federal spending makes up more than half. Democrats never talk about federalism because a devolution of power would lead to overall less government spending as the top 5 states with the largest exodus are all blue states and the top 5 states gaining population are all red states. This exodus would be even more pronounced under a more federalist system because Democrats couldn’t hide their stupidity in the swamp. For example, if New York implemented single-payer — as the NY Assembly for which I used to work for often pretends to want to do — Democrats would flee even faster to Florida, especially if Florida was allowed to conversely have a more free-market healthcare system.
I’m also not a monarchist, which is to say only under monarchy do the beliefs and behaviors of the average citizen matter little; republicanism a little more; and democracy the most. In other words, the more you believe in democracy, i.e. make the average voter a more powerful ruler, then the more you must believe in educating them in morality, economics, and civics just as if you were living under a monarchy you’d hope the young monarch was well-educated in these matters so he doesn’t grow up to abuse you. Since I believe in giving the average voter less power than I’m not as interested in micromanaging the average American’s beliefs and behaviors, which is why Republicans tend to be more tolerant than Democrats.
In addition, the bigger the government is then the even more its rulers must learn. All this time and energy our population must expend on governing itself would be better spent if it was directed less at arguing over how to use force and more at creating value. Voters/officials < consumers/creators. Of course, Democrats are hypocrites in that they want to expand the government the most while knowing the least. The natural consequence of this information asymmetry is… corruption.
“We have a government of the people, by the bureaucracy, for the bureaucracy.” — Milton Friedman
How can we increase the electorate’s information? Education. We spend more money per pupil than virtually any other country and at any other point in our history and yet our results have worsened. Clearly, money isn’t the issue. It’s power. Why would politicians want to educate their voters to be more critical of them? The only criticism they’re interested in hearing is you telling them they need more power! If you want to reduce corruption then you must support reducing the state so it’s less able and incentivized to brainwash you. In addition, when the government was smaller the rich lobbied to keep it small, but as it grew the rich’s attitude changed from “get away from me” to “how can we be partners?” Politicians justify something as “needed” when it’s for their supporters, but see it for what it is when the other side does it: buying votes. Let’s cut spending so we can return more to the intent of the greatest political document in human history: the U.S. Constitution. State governments already have billions of dollars to fund their own darn infrastructure, emergencies, education, healthcare, etc, but anyhoo corruption starts with you! The more you expect something for free then obviously those with the actual power to provide it to you are also going to expect something for free. Don’t be mad at them for simply being better at self “compassion” than you.
And so with the average American not needing to devote as much time, energy, and money to ruling, he could devote it more to creating, therefore, increasing economic growth again.
"Capital allocation should be done by those best at doing so.” — Elon Musk
In a society, there are tradeoffs to being growth-centric vs. equality-centric, but for the sake of international diversity and America maintaining our preeminent spot at the top of the hierarchy as the leaders of the free world — we are imperfect, but better We the People than SHEE jin-PING — we should stick to our historical roots of being more growth-centric. Let Europe embrace the pros and cons of a more equality-centric economy. I don’t want to Americanize Europe nor should Europeans want to Europeanize America. With more growth comes more innovation, which will then trickle over to the rest of the world, i.e. 57% of new medicines are innovated in America. With America at the helm, the world has never been richer, freer, and healthier. How about we not radically depart from this course for whatever utopia you have in your head?
Also let’s consider the rich. A $1 earned and spent by Elon Musk will do a whole lot more good for humanity than a dollar confiscated and spent by the US government because whereas Elon Musk is reaching for the stars; the US government wants to keep us wrangling in the swamp. The clock is ticking. I want my generation to be the greatest generation that ever lived by racing toward the Age of Abundance by not taking so much from our productive demographics to give to unproductive (welfare) and counterproductive (regulators, woke academics) demographics. Imagine a future where you have it all: a beautiful home, cool car, friendly neighborhood, healthy family, meaningful work, and a heck of a lot of fun with deep connections. This can be had sooner if you stop voting to put Uncle Sam’s foot on the best among us under the promise that he will take from them to give to you. He can’t nor as a man should you want him to. The American dream isn’t about making things “free,” but cheap… not just for you, but for future generations.
And then finally I support reducing government as a percentage of GDP because of my deep independent analysis of the specifics, which this article would have to be a book for me to dive into how we can cut and reform each and every government bureaucracy… I welcome you to follow me on my journey of doing so though. As Americans we’ve longed believed the burden of proof is on the one proposing to take away others freedom therefore it’s not for me to explain why we shouldn’t increase force as much as it’s on you to explain why we should, but nonetheless, I have a clear enough worldview of what I think the state should do that we could cut federal spending to 10% — 15% GDP and as a consequence grow the economy faster and still have the most powerful military in the world (2% GDP) as well as fund the Big 3 — Social Security (4%), Medicare (2%), Medicaid (1%) — and for better or worse fund a host of other federal expenditures. To improve the state we must reduce the state. And then with greater efficiency, our federal government will be better at its top priority: national defense. In particular, the US must win the AI arms race and then use our AI’s superior surveillance capabilities to stop the further development of WMDs in AI, nuclear, chemistry, and biology. One nation will win the AI arms race and be forced out of a sense of human-preservation to build this wall. I’d prefer its guardians err on the side of liberty in every other domain even if we as Americans have to sacrifice a theoretically more optimal safety net.
In the end, we were born in a conservative federalist anti-tax republican revolution that led to the creation of the greatest country in human history. Let your gratitude for all that has been given to you shine bright by not shunning, but embracing this greatness. As much as a warm blanket calls out to you, this nation was built by those who went out and got some. God bless.