Citizens More Taxed Now Than Under King
by Mark J. Perry
We are about to celebrate our nation's most important holiday
- Independence Day. On the Fourth of July we recognize the birth of
America as a free nation on the anniversary of the day that the early colonists
declared themselves free from British rule in one of the great political
documents of history. The Declaration of Independence, adopted by delegates
of the thirteen colonies on July 4, 1776, was a rejection of the heavy burden
of British statist policies, mercantilism and onerous taxation.
(This article appeared in the Detroit News on June
The month of July has more than one important date for Americans to observe.
Aside from July 4, we should also pause and take note of July 3. Every
year, a group called Americans for Tax Reform calculates the Cost of Government
Day, the date during the calendar year on which the average American has
earned enough gross income to pay for his or her share of all federal, state
and local government expenditures, and for the cost of all federal regulations.
This year the Cost of Government Day will fall on July 3! Only on July
3 will the average American be free from their full annual obligation to
their local, state and federal government.
Isn't it ironic that we celebrate Independence Day on July 4 to recognize
our rejection of oppressive British regulation, mercantilism and taxation,
and yet the typical American now works until the beginning of July to pay
for Big Government? We celebrate our declaration of independence from
the British government when we are just barely free from the burden of our
How can we celebrate a declaration of independence from Britain and at the
same time be complacent about a current tax burden from our own government
that is far more oppressive as that of the British government in the 1700s?
From the late 1700s until the 1930s total federal and state government spending
rarely exceeded ten percent of national income, there were no budget deficits,
and the economy was relatively unregulated. Therefore, the Cost of
Government Day never went much past February 1 during that period.
Since the 1930s, government spending and regulations have gradually swollen
the size and regulatory burden of government to the current bloated level
of more than 50% of national income, so that the Cost of Government Day typically
occurs now at the beginning of July, more than halfway through the year.
The growth of Big Government over the last seventy years and the accompanying
tax and regulatory burden has happened so gradually that we have hardly realized
it. People never give up their freedom all at once, but they will tolerate
losing freedom gradually over time, as we have seen happen in this century.
True freedom demands constant vigilance so that our freedoms aren't gradually
taken away from us. To quote Ronald Reagan, freedom is never more than
one generation away from extinction.
Independence Day on July 4 is a national holiday to celebrate the early colonists’
determination to resist the encroaching power of the mercantilist British
government. It should be considered a national embarassment that the
average American is just barely free from the the burden of our current
state and federal government at the time we celebrate our freedom from King
George III. This year’s Cost of Government Day on July 3 shows us that
he current level of taxation and regulation that we tolerate from our own
government is far more oppressive than anything King George III had to offer.
As we celebrate this year’s Independence Day, we ought to also consider that
our independence is not something to be secured at one moment of time, it
requires a constant struggle. July 4th reminds us of the fight for
freedom over 200 years ago and July 3 - Cost of Government Day - should remind
us of how much freedom we have lost since 1776.