The government burden on the average worker has grown about a $1 trillion over the past year, and if time is money, Americans are working a lot longer to pay their taxes.
We're all familiar with the saying, "working for the man."
If "the man" is Uncle Sam, Wednesday is the day the average American would earn his or her financial freedom. It marks "Cost of Government Day," or the day calculated each year when the average American is done paying off his or her share of the cost of government.
What does that mean?
Imagine if you had to turn over your entire paycheck to the government all year until you paid off your share of federal, state and local taxes.
If that were the case, Aug. 12 would be the last day you'd have to work for Uncle Sam, so to speak.
We all know it doesn't necessarily work that way, but Cost of Government Day is a way to gauge just how much the government burden is on American workers.
This year, Cost of Government Day fell nearly a month later - 26 days to be exact - than it did last year.
It shows the size and scope of government has grown significantly.
The group Americans for Tax Reform - which calculates the annual date - blames the extension on the $787 billion stimulus plan and the troubled asset relief program for banks.
Critics worry other proposals like cap and trade legislation will only make matters worse.
"This is scary stuff," said Phil Kerpen of Americans for Prosperity. "We're now working eight and half months to pay for the cost of government. We've got only three and half months now to work for ourselves."
But cost of government is not limited to taxes. It also applies to government-imposed regulations.
"The total cost of government is how much total money the government spends and the regulation it imposes," explained Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. "When they say you have to use certain light bulbs, they don't take your money and buy you a light bulb, they just tell you buy we want. well, it may be a good idea or a bad idea, but it isn't free. It has a cost."
Norquist's group also measures the cost of government by state.
Thirty-five states get there before the federal government: Alaska, Louisiana and Mississippi top that list. Fifteen states, including the District of Columbia, fall behind the national day. Connecticut gets there last on Sept. 7-- which ironically falls on Labor Day this year.