Today, August 18, 2011, is the day Washingtonians can shrug off the heavy burden of government and start working for themselves.

Every year, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation (ATR) and the Center for Fiscal Accountability calculate Cost of Government Day. This is the day on which the average American has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government at the federal, state, and local levels.

In 2011, the national Cost of Government Day fell on August 12.  Working people toiled 224 days out of the year—44 days were spent paying for local and state government, 77 days were taken up by the cost of government regulation, and an incredible 103 days paid for the federal government—just to meet all costs imposed by government, a full 27 days longer than 2008.

In other words, in 2011 the cost of government consumed 61.42 percent of national income.

Unfortunately, as bad as that is, Washington’s Cost of Government Day falls even later than the national average. Washington joins four other states and the District of Columbia in celebrating its Cost of Government Day today—a full six days later than the national average.

In a race where winners are losers, the state of Washington finished ahead of 42 other states in the competition for the highest Cost of Government Day.

According to ATR, Washington citizens work 230 days out of the year to pay for government spending and regulations. The state government has increased taxes by $3.96 billion in the last decade – a tax increase of $587.30 for each man, woman, and child.

And the bad news keeps on coming. ATR anticipates the burden on American workers will only increase in the future if nothing changes. Why? In exchange for federal stimulus funding, states obligated themselves to even more spending in the future. Washington state is on the hook for billions of dollars in maintenance of effort spending due to the strings attached to “free” federal dollars.

Something’s gotta give.

The only way to push back against the cost of government and to regain individual sovereignty over our time, labor, and money is to cut spending and reduce the regulatory burdens that keep our economy from growing.

Who knows? If we are able to get our fiscal house in order, reduce government spending, and loosen up the regulatory environment, we might spend a little less time working to finance big government next year, and a little more time working to better ourselves, our families, and our communities.


Eric Lohnes is an analyst for the Economic Policy Center. Prior to joining the Freedom Foundation, he worked as a tax and housing analyst for the Building Industry Association of Washington. His background also includes managing a small family business with his brothers and working as a legislative assistant in the Washington State Senate. Eric holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from Middle Tennessee State University.


[Reprinted from the Freedom Foundation blog.]