July 4 might be Independence Day in another way, too
December 3, 2006 10:55 PM   Subscribe

Cost of Government Day - "n. the date of the calendar year, counting from January 1, on which the average American has earned enough in cumulative gross income to pay for his or her share of government spending (total federal, state, and local) plus the cost of regulation."
posted by Gyan (16 comments total)
ATR was founded in 1985 by Grover Norquist at the request of President Reagan.

Mr. Norquist also:

-Serves on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association of America.
-Serves on the board of directors of the American Conservative Union.
-Serves as a Contributing Editor to the American Spectator Magazine.
-Serves as president of the American Society of Competitiveness.
-Wrote the book Rock the House - an analysis of the 1994 elections, which has been translated and published in Japanese

posted by Pollomacho at 11:07 PM on December 3, 2006

Huh... for 2005 it fell on July 4th. This whole calculation is a bit odd, though, since it considers the aggregate spending of the government, and it doesn't seem to add any realistic weight to the income calculations (e.g. the distribution in wealth).
posted by spiderskull at 11:07 PM on December 3, 2006

'All told in 1999, the Choctaws gave Americans for Tax Reform $1.15 million ... Rogers said the tribe had a long relationship with Americans for Tax Reform and assumed that the fee "would simply be used to support the overall activity of ATR." Abramoff, however, grew annoyed at the amount that Norquist took off the top before sending the money on, e-mails show. "Grover kept another $25 k!" Abramoff wrote in a February 2000 note to himself.'
posted by stammer at 11:21 PM on December 3, 2006

This whole calculation is a bit odd, though, since it considers the aggregate spending of the government, and it doesn't seem to add any realistic weight to the income calculations

I can't figure out what they mean by average income. Is this average Federal Adjusted Gross Income? Is it the "National Income" figure (and if so, where does that figure come from)?

plus the cost of regulation.

I understand that regulation has costs, but if I'm not a shareholder or owner, why is this factored in? It would essentially be an ownership fee, if you figure that competition is keeping prices/margins down both for goods and labor.
posted by namespan at 11:32 PM on December 3, 2006

Humm, on a 275 day work year based on 2200 hours.

93 days for taxes
75 for child support
52 for rent
16 for truck
8 for power
4 for cable

Thats depressing.
posted by IronWolve at 12:15 AM on December 4, 2006

ATR think George W. Bush is pretty awesome, on account of how he really has cut taxes for the People Who Matter.

They do not appear to care terribly much that, like their previous Favourite Guy Ever Ronald Reagan, Bush has spent monstrously more. This makes it inevitable that Americans' tax burden will have to rise, greatly, in the near future, even as the US dollar slides into the toilet and energy-price-linked cost of living increases make it harder and harder for average people to keep their families fed, clothed and sheltered.

Oh, and ATR think global warming is a crock, too.

So it is my considered opinion that they'd qualify as traitors to their country in particular and the human race in general even if they hadn't been right in the glorious middle of the Abramoff scandal.

That's really the cherry on top, though, isn't it?
posted by dansdata at 12:15 AM on December 4, 2006

93 days for taxes
75 for child support
52 for rent
16 for truck
8 for power
4 for cable

You spend 13% of your disposable income on cable, not even counting the money you spend on food? I hope you get some really good channels ;^) Check out Netflix or something, man! All of the good shows are on DVD.

Unless you watch sports - they really have you there. My buddy pays for the whole extended package thingie to watch just three or four channels. All the more reason for me to loaf around his house and drink his beer.

This COGD thing is definitely pretty sketchy. "We had to pay the government so much, we couldn't even afford the extra PDF page at the end of the report to list our references, much less appendices explaining how we made our calculations."
posted by XMLicious at 2:51 AM on December 4, 2006

Back in the day when I was a-courtin' my wife she lived around the corner from the ATR headquarters. Their offices were conveniently sandwiched between a gay cowboy bar and a gay leather bar/pool hall. I haven't been back to the neighborhood in a while and can't tell you if it still is, but I always thought it was an interesting juxtoposition for a conservative "think" tank.
posted by Pollomacho at 3:55 AM on December 4, 2006

and let's have December 31st as Benefits of Government Day, shall we?
posted by scruss at 4:20 AM on December 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

The UK's Tax Freedom Day was on June 3rd (according to adamsmith.org. I always thought that the UK was a higher taxed country than the US (although UKians do get more benefits such as free healthcare). So either this ATR report is grossly exaggerated, or the idea of a low-taxed US is an illusion...
posted by nielm at 4:25 AM on December 4, 2006

Ok, duh just found this page on the same site where various counties are compared using the same methodology, for 2004

According to this the tax free days for 2004 were:
USA: (106 days) 17-Apr
UK: (147 days) 28-May
OECD: (151) 1-Jun
EU: (166) 16-Jun
EUROland: (181) 1-Jul

Aha.. and here is a US webpage with the same methodology. Interestingly, it has a pie chart with other 'expenditure per days worked' info, so although only 106 days are spend 'working off' government taxes, a further 52 days are required to 'work off' healthcare costs... Ouch!
posted by nielm at 4:41 AM on December 4, 2006

93 days for taxes

Break it down like this and you spend about 45 days working to pay for war! Doesn't that make you feel good? The best thing is, if you would only work a little harder they'd have even more money to spend on it!
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:08 AM on December 4, 2006

My Cable includes internet and phone also.
posted by IronWolve at 8:36 AM on December 4, 2006

This is misleading. They're counting transfer costs, which is incorrect. Sure, 6% of my income goes to Social Security 100% of my grandparents income *comes from* Social Security. If you want to count the cost,

According to the economist, the government consumes 18.72% of US GDP, so the real Tax Independence Day should be March 10th.

As for "regulation", who knows? There are no references in the "report". I'm pretty sure that any stat that comes from Grover Norquist can be safely ignored. For example, any report that says the following:

Stronger economic growth is the driving force behind the reduction in the cost of government of the past two years. Immediately following passage of President Bush’s 2003 Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (JGTRRA), economic growth accelerated to its fastest pace in twenty years.

2004 annual GDP growth: 3.9074%
1997 annual GDP growth: 4.4492%
1984 annual GDP growth: 7.2822%

(numbers are PPP and inflation adjusted. Source is here: http://www.ggdc.net/dseries/totecon.shtml).

Maybe we're paying too much for our government, maybe not. But keep in mind that this organization's goal is to deceive you.
posted by bonecrusher at 9:19 AM on December 4, 2006

This is stupid. They are saying that the average tax rate for Americans is 50%.

They are wrong.

It's a propaganda outfit, meant to sell tax cuts as sound governance to idiots.
posted by teece at 12:38 PM on December 4, 2006

Here in Canada, the Fraser Institute provides a similarly bogus calculation.
posted by russilwvong at 2:55 PM on December 4, 2006

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