If the US Government Was a Household

By Nolan Lewallen Published on January 10, 2024

Most of us are not economists, so when they start talking about trillions of dollars, we glaze over like Willie Nelson waiting for a stop sign to turn green. Members of Congress take advantage of that. But we do understand finances within a household.

So, what if all of the government’s astronomical numbers were reduced proportionately to figures we could clearly understand? I want to do just that: Break down our government’s current financial condition into a household scenario for simplification.

Based on the Congressional Budget Office’s fiscal year 2022 data, the federal government’s total income that year was $4.9 trillion. Individual income taxes accounted for about 53% of that, payroll taxes about 31%, and corporate taxes another 8%. The remaining 8% comes from excise taxes, estate taxes, interest on Federal Reserve deposits, and other miscellaneous sources.

We must take heed to God’s warning to Israel when their financial condition was like a “bag with holes.” The prophet Haggai spoke it (Haggai 1:6-7): “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways!’”

The government spent about $6.3 trillion in 2022. The national debt today is about $34 trillion. The annual interest on this debt (close to 3%) is about $724 billion. The CBO predicts our national interest payments will increase to $1.4 trillion by 2033, $2.7 trillion by 2043, and $5.4 trillion by 2053.

Moreover, that $34 trillion debt doesn’t even take into consideration unfunded Social Security and Medicare promises, which would bring our total debt to $163 trillion.

Ward and June

So let’s translate all those gargantuan numbers to a household’s financial situation so we can get a clearer picture of the real “State of the Union.” Let me introduce you to — we’ll call them — Ward and June Butcher. As an average family with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence, the Butchers have a total household income of $100,000. Here’s a breakdown of their income: Ward earns $53,000, proportionate to U.S. individual income taxes, and June makes $31,000, proportionate to federal payroll taxes. (Feel free to reverse their salaries if you’re concerned about “gender discrimination in the workplace.”)

They own a rental house that makes them $8,000, analogous corporate taxes, and they do a catering business on the side that turns $8,000 profit, which compares to excise taxes, estate taxes, interest on Federal Reserve deposits, and miscellaneous.

That’s their $100,000 annual income. But they owe $700,000, and they can’t find a dime to pay on the principal. They do manage to pay $21,000 to cover the interest — good for them! But they’re spending $128,000 a year, not including those interest payment.

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So in summary, they bring in $100,000 a year, and they shell out $149,000. Ward and June are going in the hole about $49,000 a year, about half of their earnings. And the debt keeps growing, and growing, and growing …

Financially, they’re doomed. They could try going on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” but they would have to win big. (Anybody here think the federal government could even think of saving themselves that way?)

But it’s worse than that. Imagine Ward and June’s bank and credit card companies are planning to raise their interest rates going forward.

Despite their catastrophic financial circumstances, much of their $149,000 outlay each year is for stupid stuff. Things like buying electric, touchless toilet paper dispensers for all 50 houses in their subdivision. Snow chains for all of their cars (even though they live in Florida). Although the streets in their own subdivision have plenty of potholes, they’re paying $50,000 to fill in potholes in Paducah.

It’s the Economy, Stupid

Senator Rand Paul has just released his 2023 “Festivus Report” on Government Waste, his ninth annual installment. Thank God for Senator Paul, bringing to light many ways the U.S. government is wasting our hard-earned tax dollars. Below are a few of the stupid ways they spent our money this past year:

Monkey Business

Dr. Fauci’s National Institutes of Health pays $33 million for a colony of 3,500 monkeys on Morgan Island, SC. I don’t care if these monkeys can sing, dance, and play guitars and drums — “♬ Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees♬” (millennials, just ask a boomer) — we shouldn’t be spending $33 million for this. According to Representative Nancy Mace (R ̶ SC), they do inhumane experiments on these monkeys, infecting them with “debilitating and painful diseases and withholding pain relief.”

Fauci, steeped in all of his corruption, has probably trained the monkeys to “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”

Let My Money Go!

We spent $6 million to promote Egyptian tourism. Last time I checked, Egyptian tourism — the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, and more, attracting more than 15 million visitors annually — happens in Egypt. Statista data tells us tourism in Egypt contributed about US $32 billion to their GDP in 2022.

Egyptian Minister for Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Eissa has said, “We’re expecting 18 million tourists next year. Our strategy focuses on increasing the number of flights that come to Egypt, to enhance the touristic experience for our visitors and increase the number of hotel rooms.” Sounds like they’re doing just fine. Even if they weren’t, how would it be our responsibility to shore them up with money we don’t have?

The Cat’s Out of the Bag

Part of a $2.7 million grant given to Georgia Tech was sub-granted to scientists in St. Petersburg, Russia, who snipped cats’ brain stems, then hooked them up with electrodes and made them walk them on treadmills. Bureaucrats must have nine lives politically to get away with squandering our money that way.

Gone to the Dogs

The Agricultural Research Service at the USDA, which gets $1.7 billion a year from Congress, thought it would be good to fund a study to determine the rectal temperatures of dogs being walked in the heat. The point was to find out if the color of their furs had any bearing on their temperatures. (Is this some kind of dog racism?)

I know you want to take good care of your dog, but do you really need that answer to do the job well? Here it is anyway. Drum roll, please … the answer is … no. Fur color has no effect on their body temperatures. Your best friend is your best friend no matter the color of its fur.

The Walking Dead

Finally, the U.S. government paid $38 million to dead people this year. Not their estates; the money was meant for people who (let me put this gently) are not there. Maybe that would have made sense in the case of Lazarus, but generally, that’s an incredibly stupid thing to do. Apparently these were COVID-19 payments, and they averaged $83,000 each.

Senator Paul’s report points out, “Not all the funds were recovered, as dead people are notoriously bad about paying up.”

Both sides of the aisle created this disaster, so both sides of the aisle should try to come up with a solution. Like the Butchers, we’re headed over a cliff. We have to make drastic decisions, because drastic things will happen regardless.

And we must take heed to God’s warning to Israel when their financial condition was like a “bag with holes.” The prophet Haggai spoke it (Haggai 1:6-7): “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways!’”


Nolan Lewallen is a retired pilot of a major airline and lives near Stephenville, Texas, with his wife, Kim. Nolan’s two greatest passions are the Bible and politics. His latest book, The Integration of Church & State: How We Transform “In God We Trust” From Motto to Reality, brings the two together.

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