Tax Revolt! It's Time to Learn from Past Success

Brian Domitrovic
or about 15 years now, the federal government, in all its myriad activities, has been in major expansion mode. The Federal Reserve, the regulatory apparatus, the tax code, the police and surveillance machinery of the state-all of these extensions of the government have broadened their reach, power , and ambition in significant fashion since the late 1990s. The basic metric that reflects all this is the level of federal spending. In 2013 the government of the United States spent 55 percent more
more » ... oney-in real, inflation-adjusted terms-than it did in 1999. Economic growth in that 14-year span has been 30 percent. Where government at all levels soaked up 32 percent of national economic output in 1999, it took in 37 percent in 2013-an increase of nearly a sixth, in less than a decade and a half. By way of comparison, for the first 125 years of this nation's existence under the Constitution , through 1914, government spending was largely parked between 3 percent and 6 percent of national output. The gorging on the part of government in our recent past has been so unrelenting that aside from flashes from the likes of the Tea Party, the public is meeting the development with quiescence. At $6.4 trillion per year, total government spending is now so immense that any yearning for something smaller and more reasonable from our minders in the state runs the risk of appearing as quaint and other-worldly. Government that is huge and ever-expanding is a matter of concern in its own right. But perhaps less understood is an additional problem: the developments of the current millennium are inuring a rising generation of Amer-icans to the immovable fact of big government. We now not only have Leviathan, but also a crucial intellectual component of its perpetu-ation: government's enormous growth ensures that memory of something different is harbored by fewer and fewer persons, getting older every year.