December 14, 2010
What Will Government Cost the Average Person?
By James Wilson

Our friends at the Independent Institute provide a personalized government cost calculator at

By entering your education level, age, and salary, MyGovCost will show what the federal government is likely to cost you -- not just for this year, but for the rest of your life.

More importantly, it also shows what YOU COULD HAVE EARNED if that money was privately invested.

We wondered what the "average" person would pay. By average, we don't mean "per capita," because millionaires and billionaires skew that number. We mean "median" instead: half the people earn more, half the people earn less. We also found out the median education level and median age, and inputted the data:

Education: high school 
Age: 37 
Income: $28,567

It turns out that a person of average age, education, and income will pay, for the rest of her life, $129,140. But if privately invested, he or she could have earned $629,397. (See the methodology.)

MyGovCost also offers a feature showing how much your "favorite" (or least favorite) government programs will cost you, and what you could have earned with the money instead. For each program below, the first number is what the program would cost the average person for the rest of his or her life, and the second number is what he or she could have earned:

Medicare: $25,603 - $112, 821
Social Security; $26, 472- $133, 288
Net Interest on National Debt: $17, 692 - $73, 455
Medicaid: $16, 084 - $75, 280
National Defense: $17, 068 - $96, 967
Welfare: $10, 590 - $62, 820
Government Administration and Personnel Benefits: $7, 128 - $37,505
Transportation: $2,609 - $14, 026
Education: $2,586 - $13,604
Science & Health Research:  $1,938 - $10,197
Justice & Public Safety:  $1,569 - $8,257
Environment & Natural Resources: $1,120 - $5,894
Foreign Aid & International Affairs: $1,021 - $5,372
Economic Development: $809 - 3,744
Agricultural programs & subsidies: $624 - $3,283
Disaster Relief/Insurance: $539 - $2,835
Energy: $63 - $1,114
Recession Welfare: $495 - $6,189
Afghanistan & Iraq Operations: $509 - $6,308
Financial System Bailout: $169 - 2,256
Economic Stimulus: $56 - $653
The Entire Federal Government: $129,140-$629,397

Visit to find out what government costs YOU.

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