Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Why Pretend It's the Same Country?

I've been looking at some data concerning total Federal spending in constant dollars, for this year and also a few others during the past 70.

In constant 2003 dollars, the per capita Federal spending (total, not just on-budget) this year is supposed to be $7932.

In 2003, it was $7600.

1986: $6900.

1943: $6900.

1935: $750.

1943 was the peak spending year for World War II. Per capita spending fell precipitously from that level, then crept slowly from the early 1950s to recover that same peak level in '86. We've never looked back, needless to say.

Using expenditure as a gauge of the size, power, and reach of the central government, surely it's clear that we have ten times as much government per person than we had as recently as 1935. That's an order of magnitude more.

That's not a matter of a little more or a little less. That's not ten percent more, or even twice as much. That's ten freakin' times more. That's a whole change of character. America is just not the same kind of nation-state that it was 70 years ago.

And yet, we say we're governed by a written constitution. Well, either it was greatly misunderstood then, or it's greatly misunderstood now. Take your choice.

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