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No Free Lunches … Or Anything Else

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No Free Lunches … Or Anything Else

No Free Lunches … Or Anything Else
May 14
15:33 2020

One of the colloquial rules of life is that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”  It entered the lexicon during the Great Depression and was applied to economics by Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman.

Now everyone has heard it – and most claim to believe it.  But unfortunately, we act as if we do not. So, allow me to offer a primer course in no-free-lunchism.

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A belief in free lunches – metaphorically speaking – is the economic foundation of Democrat progressivism.  They would have us believe that all those benefits – those so-called entitlements – are provided to us free of charge.  They advance that canard despite the fact that EVERY CENT OF EVERY DOLLAR we receive from Government – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance, unemployment, grants, scholarships and even those stimulus checks we got from the IRS —  is one hundred percent paid for by somebody – a group of somebodies known as working Americans.

What we cannot pay for from the money we give Uncle Sam, the old guy just borrows more from the Chinese (and others) to satisfy our need and greed.  In that case, somebody yet unborn will be paying.

The COVID virus is creating a HUGE increase in our annual deficit — and an unprecedented acceleration in the rise of our National Debt.  That does not bother Democrats.  Their in-house economist, Paul Krugman was asked in a recent interview, at what point would the size of the debt be a problem.  Krugman said it is so astronomical that there is no need to even conjecture. Even one hundred times the current level would not be a problem.

With that kind of academic nonsense, you can see why New York Democrat Congressman Jerry Nadler recently said that spending trillions of dollars does not bother him in the least.  Of course not. He gets the political benefits and the taxpayers get stuck with the bill.

The only source of wealth is the productivity of a human being by adding value to goods and services.  Governments do not create wealth.  They only manipulate and transfer wealth.  They can, however, encourage wealth creation or wealth-destruction by law, regulation, or policy.

When we give non-compensated benefits to anyone for anything … someone pays for it.  Sometimes it is okay because it is in the public interest.  For example, hospitals provide free emergency room service for folks who cannot pay.  They are not magically free services.  Every paying patient pays a portion of that cost in their own medical bills.

It is not just the government.  Even though I qualify, I hate senior discounts.  That is because I know the money I save will be paid by all those non-seniors who eat at that restaurant, go to that movie or buy that merchandise.  Why should they pay for a meal I can afford?  I am not a rich guy, but I can still afford a movie ticket now and then.  The Chicago Transit Authority went broke giving seniors free rides.  They had to end the policy.

That is why I tend to like means-testing. I do not mind underwriting the costs of those in need.  But I do understand that I am paying for them. It is what we call charity.

Corporations do not create wealth, either.  Rather they are platforms through which wealth is created by the individual workers in their employ.  Corporations organize and manage the creation of wealth.

The thing to keep in mind when you hear about another great gift from Uncle Sam – or a senior benefit — is that you and I are collectively paying for it … period.  Every time you receive a government “benefit,” someone else is paying for it.  And when they get benefits you do not receive, you are paying for it.

Every freebie is merely a redistribution of wealth – taking from the person who created the wealth and giving to another person. Some redistribution is necessary.  Some is good.  The difference between a conservative and a progressive is the amount and purpose of redistribution.  Conservatives see limited redistribution as an act of charity beneficial to a needed person.  Progressives see massive redistribution as a means of political power – pitting one so-called interest group against another.

This is what I keep in mind every time any government – or a business – wants to “give” you something, someone else is paying for it.  Not only are there no free lunches there is no free anything.

So, there ‘tis.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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