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“Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society”

It’s a nice quote, but what was the actual tax burden on Americans when Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. suggested this in 1904?

Not much:

Research shows that from the founding of our nation, 1787-1849 (63 years) federal spending averaged 1.7% of GDP. For the next 51 years, 1850-1900 (including fighting the Civil War) spending averaged only 3.1%. From 1901 till 1930 (including fighting WWI) it never reached 8%, and averaged approximately 3.2%.

I would be more than happy if the United States taxed itself at a similar rate.

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