[If you want to skip right to the answer, then click here. You will be surprised. Then come back and read how I got there.]
The federal government is expecting to spend $4.2 trillion in 2017, though it will only collect $3.6 trillion in revenue. This means the remaining $600 billion will have to be gotten through loans: selling Treasury debt.
In the fiscal year 2016, the federal government collected $3.3 trillion in revenue and spent $3.9 trillion. The bulk of the revenue came from
- income taxes ($1.5 trillion)
- FICA taxes ($1.1 trillion); and
- corporate income taxes ($300 billion)
The rest ($306 billion) came from “other taxes and duties.”
How would these numbers be different if the government was constrained by Biblical principles? How much money could it spend if we lived in a Christian theocracy?
I think there’s a general understanding that the federal government would be smaller, but just how much smaller? Can we put a dollar amount on it?
That’s what I’ve attempted to do in this article.
First, I say “Christian theocracy” because that agitates almost everybody. Nobody wants to be subject to the “tyranny” of a Christian theocracy, what with its stoning of children and everything (though it’s ok to kill them in modern society before they exit the womb). Most people who violently react when they hear “Christian theocracy” really don’t want curious listeners to do much listening. “DANGER AHEAD! Turn back now!”
But danger for whom?
Second, we need to extract at least two other principles from Scripture to rest our calculation on:
- How much tax revenue is a civil government allowed to collect?
- How is the tax revenue distributed throughout the various levels of government?
The first is pretty straightforward, but the second requires a little more reasoning to put together. So let’s start with the first, then move to the second…