When we think of the cost of government, we think “taxes.” The better-informed person adds “regulations.” The very well-informed person adds “recession and inflation.”
This is chump change.
The heaviest costs are war and genocide. When governments kill legally innocent people by the millions, they destroy productivity. Nothing matches this destruction of value.
The 20th century was the most costly in modern history. The latest estimate of historian J. R. Hummel is 265 million lives.
Think of this. The agony inflicted on the dying. The pain felt by the the victims’ families. Taxes are nothing compared to this. Yet most people do not even think of this as a cost of running governments.
The public blames tyrants, not civil government as such. But some kinds of civil government enable tyrants to rise to the top and do their evil work. Economist F. A. Hayek wrote a chapter on this in 1944: “Why the Worst Get on Top.” It’s in his book, The Road to Serfdom. The book is worth reading. Chapter 10 is the book’s best chapter.
Let us hope that such tyranny does not come into power again.