10/30/2022 Government Economics   Leave a comment

With tax time approaching I decided to harken back to maybe not a better time, but a time when our citizenry lived within their means. There was a national debt, but it was a mere drop in the bucket compared with our current situation. It motivated me to take a look back and see how our economics have changed in the intervening years.

  • In 1900, the United States treasury showed a surplus of nearly $47 million in income over expenditures. The last time the federal budget was balanced was in 1969.
  • President Carter’s “lean and tight” budget of $500 billion for the fiscal year 1979 equals the spending of $690,000 a day since the birth of Christ. To dispose of this amount of money in a year, the government has to spend $951,000 a minute, $57 million an hour, or $1.37 billion a day, including holidays and Sundays.
  • Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest Americans ever, practically became allergic to money as he grew richer and older. He was offended, he said, just by the sight and touch of it, and never carried any. Because he had no money with him with which to pay the fare, Carnegie was once put off of a London Tram.
  • According to the 1970 US Census, only 5000 Americans had a net worth of $10 million or more.
  • The longest jury trial ever in the United States federal courts began on June 20, 1977 and ended on July 10, 1978. It took the judge almost an hour to read the verdicts on 49 separate questions. During this antitrust action, by SCM Corporation against Xerox, it is estimated that both sides spent well in excess of $60 million in attorney’s fees.

  • The federal government keeps billions of dollars – much of it taxes collected by the Internal Revenue Service – in bank accounts that draw no interest. Banks turnaround and invest much of these deposits in U.S. Treasury bills, on which the government frequently pays more than 9% interest. Incredibly, the government is paying the banks to borrow back its own money.
  • It costs $4000 per inch to build an interstate highway project on the fringe of New York City in the late 1970s – over 215 million per mile. Just imagine what the current costs must be.
  • Until there was a pay raise in 1814, US Congressmen were paid six dollars per diem when Congress was in session. I think it might be just a little higher these days.
  • To finance the Civil War, a 3% income tax on all incomes over $800 was enacted by the federal government in 1864. It was the first time in income tax was enacted in the United States. The law was discontinued in 1872. The United States Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional in 1894. Not until 1913, with the adoption of the 16th amendment, the income tax become law.
  • In the 1800s, big industry began to set up trusts to monopolize production and distribution. The first big trust was Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Corporation, in 1882. The first international trust was Nobels Dynamite Trust, in 1886.

LOOKS LIKE DINNER AT JOE’S HOUSE

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