The Benefits & Cost of Your Favorite Government Programs

Do you have five minutes available? Here's an opportunity see how much more you could have in life — and how much more your children and grandchildren could have.

I’d like you to take those five minutes to undergo a simple, 5-step evaluation of what you get from the federal government. All you need for the evaluation is a copy of a recent tax return (1040 form), a pencil, and paper.

Here are the five steps . . . 

    1. Calculate your benefits from government programs: Think about your favorite government programs those that affect you most favorably. They might include an aid to your child’s college education a student loan, Pell grant, or the G.I. bill. Or there might be a subsidy to your business or industry. They might include protection for your business from foreign competition. Or there might be Medicare for your parents. Whatever programs there are that benefit you, focus on them. Think long and hard about the benefits they provide the money you don’t have to pay, the value you receive.

    2. Determine your cost: Next, look at line 60 (total tax) on last year's 1040 tax-return form. This is what you paid in federal income tax. Then calculate what you paid in Social Security tax. You can determine this by calculating 15% of the figure shown on line 22 (total income) of your 1040 form. This will determine how much you paid in F.I.C.A. (Social Security) and Medicare taxes last year. Add that figure to the amount shown on line 60 if your 1040 tax-return form. The sum of the two figures is the total federal income taxes paid in one year.

    3. Look at your alternatives: Just for a moment, imagine that you never again would have to pay federal income tax or Social Security tax. Imagine that the money you calculated in item #2 above is now all yours — to spend, to save, to invest, to give away as you see fit. Imagine that this money would be yours year after year after year. Ask yourself what you would do with the money. Would you put your children in private schools or better colleges? Would you start that business you’ve thought so much about? Would you support your church or your favorite cause or charity in a way you’ve never been able to do before? What would you do once you had that money available, year after year after year?

    4. Look at the future: Now, imagine further that your children will never again have to pay income tax. That, for the rest of their lives, they will be free from withholding taxes, from filing income tax forms, from paying income and Social Security taxes to the federal government. Even further, your grandchildren might go through their entire lives without even knowing that there ever was an income tax.

    5. Evaluate your deal: Now compare what you’re paying (item #2) with what you’re receiving (item #1). Are the benefits worth what you’re paying? Is what you’re receiving worth what you’re giving up in money, in privacy, in the time spent to keep track of your expenses, deductions, and income? Couldn't you replace the benefits easily enough, once all the money you're paying in income taxes is yours to keep? Are the benefits worth condemning your children and grandchildren to a life of paying income and Social Security taxes, a life of living in fear of the IRS, a life of having to structure their finances to conform to the tax laws? Is there really no alternative to the benefits you’re getting one that is worth doing in order to free yourself, your children, and your grandchildren from a life of servitude to the federal government?

The Great Libertarian Offer

This 5-step program, by which you’ve determined the enormous cost you’re paying for what the federal government gives you, can be summed up in what is called The Great Libertarian Offer:

Would you give up your favorite federal programs if it meant you’d never have to pay income tax again as long as you live?

If you’re like most Americans, the answer is yes.

And if that answer is yes, the first step in making The Great Libertarian Offer a reality is to make copies of this 5-step evaluation and pass them around to your friends, relatives, and associates. Let them evaluate the difference between what they get from the federal government and what they give up.

Doing without the Income Tax

And, in case you were wondering, the federal government got along quite well for 120 years without an income tax. The country was well defended using the proceeds from tariffs and excise taxes alone. The same would be true today if we repealed the income and Social Security taxes, reduced the federal government to just its constitutional functions (such as national defense), and steadfastly resisted raising any other taxes. By making the government obey the Constitution, there would be no need to raise any other tax to replace the income tax.

And in the days before the federal government got into welfare, jobs were more plentiful and fewer people lived below the poverty line — as churches and private charities did a far better job of helping poor people get on their feet.

We don’t have to live this way. We don't have to have an IRS that intimidates us. We don't have to watch a large chunk of what we’ve earned taken away — to be spent on foreign dictators; to be spent on "wars" on drugs, poverty, and illiteracy that achieve absolutely nothing; to be spent on subsidies to companies too large to need the subsidies; to be spent to hook individuals, companies, and industries on the federal dole just so the federal government can dictate to them how to run their businesses or their lives.

The unconstitutional activities of the federal government that seem to be necessary can be far better handled by private agencies financed by some of the $1.5 trillion that will be available to American citizens once all the federal income taxes are gone.

You’re the one who gets up every morning, and puts in 8, 10, 12 hours a day earning money for your family. You should be able to keep every dollar you earn and use that money in whatever way you see fit. It doesn’t belong to the politicians. It doesn’t belong to anyone but you. So no one should confiscate even a dime of what you’ve earned.

We shouldn’t have to live this way working a quarter to a half of our lives so that the politicians will have money to squander on their political friends.

And we won’t have to live this way very long if you’ll speak up and add your voice to the millions who are fed up with a big government that is stealing us blind.

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The original of this 5-step evaluation is at www.HarryBrowne.org/5-step.