Friday, April 23, 2010

US beats many European Countries in the Spending Arena

We all realize that different types of governments cost various amounts to run. Those in which the government does less, typically have stronger financial portfolios. Those in which the government does more have much weaker financial pictures.

Fox News recently asked "How much money does it take for the governments of sovereign nations to do their job?" Those that are socialist or social democratic suffer from huge budgets and looming deficits as they strive to provide "cradle-to-grave" spending programs. Most Americans assume that countries like Sweden and France have massive governments compared to the US. They also think France, Finland, and the UK are much larger in their spending per person. This is not the case anymore, according to economist and author, John Lott. Those who oppose European style socialism do not have to wait for that system to arrive in the US. Lott warns that type of government has already arrived.

Most Americans are probably not surprised that US spending is higher than other countries, but when you factor in cost of living and total population, our budgets "are much lower" than other countries, it is often perceived. In reality, government spending accounts for more real resources per capita than "95 percent of the countries in the world," according to Lott. In fact, only "166 out of 175" countries have smaller real budgets than the US, according to Lott.

The numbers, when it comes to government spending, are frightening. The US government spends 276 percent more than is spent by the average government of another country around the world. This type of spending amounts to about $17,400 per person living in the United States or $70,000 for a family of four.

The one country that is most famous for its "welfare state" is Sweden, yet it only spends about 8.6 percent more per capita than the US. This figure is far less than most Americans would likely assume. How about France? Americans seem to enjoy making fun of France's fame for government dependency. The bad news for Americans is that France spends virtually the same amount as the United States. The difference between the US and France is a mere 1.6 percent when it comes to spending.

It gets worse from here. Finland actually spends 6 percent less than the US and countries such as Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom do not even compare. Meanwhile, Canada spends 14 percent less than the US per capita and Japan's spending is a fraction of the United State, standing at 32 percent less. What is interesting is that this current fiscal state is before the costs of President's Obama's trillion dollar health care bill was signed into law. After the impact of that law is fully felt, the US could easily find itself close to number one in the "cradle-to-grave" socialism department, compared to its European friends.

The US government has more control of its nation's resources, per capita, than virtually all the other countries in the world This government determines an entire nation's financial future and controls from whom money comes from, who gets that money, and, ultimately, how that money is spent. Lott also points out that "Of course, the money also pays for the enforcement of all the regulations and laws that tell us what to do." The old saying that "the government is out of control" may no longer hold true. Government is in total control of virtually every aspect of our lives and economic freedom is held in very low regard.

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is also host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN radio). Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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