Once Upon a Time*, the Federal Government Controlled Only About 4% of the U.S.'s Resources…
"Once the communal sector, in which the state controls all the means [of production], exceeds a certain proportion of the whole, the effects of its actions dominate the whole system. Although the state controls directly the use of only a large part of the available resources, the effects of its decisions on the remaining part of the economic system become so great that indirectly it controls almost everything. Where, as was, for example, true in Germany as early as 1928, the central and local authorities directly control the use of more than half the national income (according to an official German estimate then, 53 percent), they control indirectly almost the whole economic life of the nation. There is, then, scarcely an individual end which is not dependent for its achievement on the action of the state, and the 'social scale of values' which guides the state's action must embrace practically all individual ends."
-- F. A. Hayek, "The Road to Serfdom" (1944)
* That was before the 16th Amendment. Except for a short period during the Civil War there was no income tax and the federal government was small; during a war, it was constitutional to impose an income tax. As soon as the War was over, the (first) income tax was supposed to be eliminated, but it wasn't. The Supreme Court killed the peacetime income tax as unconstitutional in the 1880's.
For purposes of comparison, we estimate that federal, state, and local governments now control directly (including our rough estimate for the costs of regulations) somewhere in the 40-45% range of U.S. resources. This does not include, however, the considerable federal estate in land, forest, water, and mineral resources. The federal government now owns about 40% of the land area of the U.S. which, though generally less well developed than the private lands, contains far more of the natural resources. Reading the Constitution makes it clear that a huge federal estate was never part of the plan. The "checks and balances" put in place in the Constitution to limit the power of government were never designed to protect individual liberties from governments in control of nearly half of the U.S.'s resources. No surprise then that they are not working and we have government run amok.
-- Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw, March 2002