A billion? (the Cost of Statism)

My father in law sends me all sorts of chain mail.  My response follows at the bottom, but for the intro, here’s the chain letter:

Subject: A Billion?

How many zeros in a billion?

The next time you hear a politician use the word ‘billion’ in a casual manner, think about whether you want the ‘politicians’ spending YOUR tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of it’s releases.

A. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

(Actually, that’s 1.5 billion, but that’s not the point)

B. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

C. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

D. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes at the rate our government is spending it.
While this thought is still fresh in our brain, let’s take a look at New Orleans …
It’s amazing what you can learn with some simple division.

Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu (D) is presently asking Congress for 250 BILLION DOLLARS to rebuild New Orleans.  Interesting number…What does it mean?

A. Well… if you are one of the 484,674 residents of New Orleans (every man, woman, and child) you each get $516,528.

B. Or, if you have one of the 188,251 homes in New Orleans, your home gets $1,329,787.

C. Or, if you are a family of four, your family gets $2,066,012.

Washington, D. C
Are all your calculators broken??

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt, we had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What happened?  Can you spell ‘politicians’?

And I still have to press ‘1’ for English.

I hope this goes around the USA at least 100 times

What the heck happened?
For my money it is called greed.


My response:

They left out special, punitive state and federal taxes on guns and ammunition, which account for a large portion of the cost of the product.

The list of taxes does not address the many and various requirements and restrictions on businesses.  One small example out of thousands is; a window was broken in our Clarkston, WA store during a robbery.  Had it been in Moscow, we could have called one of several glass shops and had it replaced the same day.  Because this happened in Washington, there is a tempered safety glass requirement for storefronts that increased the cost of the window by several hundred dollars (wanna bet some legislator’s cousin owns a safety glass business?).  But that wasn’t the main expense created by the law.  Far and away the biggest expense was that we had to wait several weeks for the window, meaning we had no storefront for that amount of time– just boards.

That cost, and thousands like it, never figure into the costs with which we are saddled by local, state and fed restrictions. 

Add things like minimum wage laws, which outlaw many entry-level jobs outright.  Add laws requiring handicapped access, which can amount to 100s of thousands of dollars for a small business, even if they have no handicapped customers.  The list of such requirements and restrictions would take more than your e-mail in-box could hold, and these all amount to increased cost of doing business.  Often, the reporting and compliance requirements necessitate the hiring of extra employees– people doing jobs for the government, paid by the business owner, producing nothing.  Ever see a WA state sales tax report?  Every city and county can have its own tax rate.  Since our music store does business in two states, and in many cities throughout WA state, we have a huge tax report for WA State (Idaho’s is about the size of a post card).  As a very small business, the WA reporting requirement costs us and our customers at least as much as the actual tax money paid.

And did I mention that property taxes and utilities prices are higher for businesses than for a residence?  How many people know that unless they’re in business?

Now add to the list of costs; the number of businesses that couldn’t bear these burdens, and just gave up and quit.  Then add the number of businesses that started up in other states because they had more freedom there (this is known as “brain drain” and it happens in all socialist societies– the creative and the productive want the hell out of there).

But that’s just the beginning.  Add the untold thousands of creative people who never went into business because the hurdles were just a little bit too much to bother with (business being a stressful and risky proposition in the best of situations) and/or they knew the “safety net” would take care of them anyway, or they could get a government job with full benefits.

And so the monster grows– fewer people paying taxes to support an ever-growing government sector.  Three trillion dollars annually and growing fast (it’s gone up almost 50% during this current “conservative” administration).  Divide 3 trillion by the total U.S. population, boys and girls, if your calculator can handle that many digits.

Many of these costs are impossible to measure.  They don’t show up on the spreadsheets or in the statistics, but I submit that they account for the greatest percentage of the total cost of socialist/statist systems.  But then, some would (and often do) applaud anything that shackles the creative, productive human mind and forces it to either serve their purposes, or just give up.  Everyone knows the score– business (peaceable, voluntary exchange) is greedy and deserves to be punished, whereas “public servants” are altogether selfless and benevolent, right?