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A Depressing Look at Government Spending

As a fun little exercise I thought I’d sit down and calculate government spending per person. The only difference is that I wanted to get everything. Often politicians talk about operating budgets and the deficits on that, but that isn’t the whole picture. There are capital budgets too.

Government is paid for by the taxpayers, so everything on the table. I did this for a person living in the City of Calgary, in the province of Alberta and obviously living in Canada. These numbers absolutely shocked me beyond recognition. It illustrates a spending problem that is far beyond our control. People act like raising taxes a little more will solve these issues, they won’t.

These numbers are presented informally. I’m not going to source each budgetary page, as I wanted to get the broad numbers. Some of these numbers are the estimated costs rather than the actual costs for the fiscal period of 2019. You can look up these values yourself and they may vary slightly, but don’t take away from the staggering end result.

I realize some would argue that capital budgets are for one time purchases, true enough, but when capital budgets are developed over periods of 3-5 years, are always there and never small – they are a systemic part of the cost of government. It’s not like billions are spent one year and the next 10 years is a small capital budget. There are always large capital budgets. I also want to know that some capital buildings produce some revenue. Most hospitals will have a coffee shop and convenience store tenants that pay rent. A skate park doesn’t result in any revenue. Taking a look at some of the numbers, it seems like revenue generated from capital projects will be in the range of 10-15% of the capital budget.

Calgary

ITEM 
Capital Budget 2019-2023 (5 years – $5.3 billion)$1.06 billion/year
Operating Budget 2019-2022 (4 years – $17.2 billion + 92.9 million one time)$4.32 billion/year
Estimated Population1,560,600
Total Cost$5.38 billion/year
Cost per Person$3447.40

Alberta

ITEM 
Capital Budget (3 years – $19.3 billion)$6.43 billion/year
Operating Budget 2019$58.720 billion
Estimated Population4,428,427
Total Cost$65.15 billion/year
Cost per Person$14,711.77

Canada

ITEM 
Operating Budget 2019$346.182 billion
Estimated Population37,000,000
Cost per Person$9356.27

Total

TOTAL PER PERSON (ALL SPENDING): $27,515.44 PER YEAR

This is a devastating number to see. If you live in a city in Canada, this is roughly the government spending. Government money comes from taxpayers, so this is the expected obligations of taxpayers. This number I’ve calculated is for each person that exists in the country, province and city. Not everyone works and pays taxes, so the number is more crippling and awful than shown. At the end of the day, how could anyone pay this much, every single year? It’s not like you can “get the rich” or “tax businesses” as if that solves the crippling aspect of the number. The economics have been settled on soaking the rich and it doesn’t work.

This depresses me. Solving this problem is next to impossible with the state of the world and the irrationality of the average person. Plus the added demands of more and more spending demands. Even if we were to get all governments to cut spending in half, it’s still a ridiculous number.

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