Since the pandemic started, the federal government has passed roughly $6 trillion in relief spending, which is enough that the government could have given every federal taxpayer a $41,870 check.
Now, that’s not every American, since only 53% of adults owe federal income taxes, and it doesn’t include children. Put another way, it could have funded a check for $18,180 to every American adult.
But it’s likely you didn’t get that much, although some people did. If you were unemployed the entire time, owed federal income taxes in 2019, and have young kids, then you got the full package of just over $18,000.
But hey, if you’re a federal taxpayer, don’t worry, you got something. You got the bill, which is $41,000 apiece added on to the federal debt.
Money doesn’t grow on trees. Or, as the great economist Ludwig von Mises put it, the government “does not have the powers of the mythical Santa Claus.”
Von Mises wrote:
“The truth is the government cannot give if it does not take from somebody. They cannot spend except by taking out of the pockets of some people for the benefit of others.”
The government cannot create wealth out of thin air. It can only give anyone anything via three ways:
- Directly increasing taxes, which discourages economic growth and directly takes money away from people
- Running up debt, which means much higher taxes in the future plus interest, creating a drag on economic growth
- Printing money, which “stealth taxes” the public via inflation
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and, much to the chagrin of spend-happy politicians’, Santa Claus is not real. Government spending doesn’t create wealth; it only transfers wealth, generally destroying a lot of it in the process.
So, unless Americans are actually seeing equal or greater benefit from spending compared to its cost, it’s a raw deal for taxpayers. And for the federal government’s “COVID” spending binge, it’s not even close.