Why Can’t Everything Be Free?
Our society has been dumbed down enough that this is worth answering.
Why can’t everything just be free? Why aren’t food, clothing, a house, spending money, medical care, and college all just “rights” that everyone should have? Moreover, why should you have to work to get those things? Especially when some fat cat boss is getting paid more than you just for running the business. We’re in a rich country that has rich people at the top, so why shouldn’t everything just be free?
Well, to answer that question properly, we need to start at the beginning. That beginning is a single word.
Perhaps in Star Trek, where holodecks and replicators mean that every man can make out with his “girlfriend,” a young Scarlett Johansson lookalike, before eating his favorite dish that his grandmother used to make and settling down in a new bed that he makes just by asking a machine to do it, scarcity doesn’t exist, but here in the real world, it is a fact of life.
If you have a piece of steel, it can go into a car OR a refrigerator. The tree that’s cut down can be made into notebook paper OR a coffee table. That shipment of Advil can either go to the United States OR Zimbabwe.
How do we determine where these resources go? Well, for the most part, it’s determined by the free market. Who’s willing to give the person with the resource the best deal? This doesn’t just happen with raw materials or finished products either, it happens with people’s time. There’s a reason people are willing to spend so long in school, go into so much debt and work such noxious schedules (at least at first) to be a doctor. It’s because they get paid very well. If the pay for a burger flipper at McDonald’s was the same as it was for a brain surgeon, there would be very few brain surgeons in the world.
Given that this is how the world works, you have three different possibilities when it comes to resources.
Door #1: You can give people enough of a reward that they voluntarily turn over their resources.
Door #2: You can just do without the resources because very few people are going to be willing to give up something of value for nothing.
Door #3: You can put a gun to their head in one form or another and force them to give you their resources.
Capitalism chooses door #1 and it has objectively been the most successful economic system ever devised.
Slavery, whether it’s implemented by a slave master or a government, chooses door #2. It’s worth noting that slavery has been historically popular all over the world, but not only is it frowned upon today, it has also been conclusively proven to be far less effective than capitalism.
Communism gets to choose between door #2 and door #3. This is why communist countries are famous for shortages and the outright starvation of the populace, sometimes by the millions. Because if it’s, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs," then there’s no incentive to produce for most people. If my choice is between spending all summer tending to crops to feed some guy I don’t know across the country for no reward or sleeping in and relaxing, I am going to choose the latter. Despite what they may tell you to the contrary, almost all human beings are like this.
Most Western governments also choose door #3, because they will jail or if necessary, even kill you to get your taxes, but they’ve learned they can get away with it if they give you some inferior goods and services in return. It’s like an ad on Craigslist with two guys who want to give you a really good deal on a year-old Tesla, but after you give them the money, they hand you the keys to a 2010 Nissan Leaf and then spend an hour blaming each other for screwing you over.
Now, you may say, “Okay, you say that, but some stuff is still free though, right? How can that be?” Well, as the saying goes, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Someone ALWAYS pays and if you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you. This is doubly true as it applies to the government. As the great Thomas Sowell has noted:
You might think you can game the system and in some limited cases with the free market, you’ll be right about that. You may actually get the “free trip” with an irritating sales pitch in the middle and get out of there without buying the timeshare condo:
Congratulations. However, the only real way to have an opportunity to do it when it involves the government is to stay poor for your entire life. Yes, you can always be the one getting the “free” housing, the “free” checks, and the “free” cheese, but that’s the sort of thing most of us would only wish on an enemy.
If that’s not you, not only are you going to end up paying for your “free” stuff, you’re likely to end up paying MORE than you would have if you just bought it on the open market. Probably MUCH, MUCH more. Why? Because the more government bureaucrats are involved in anything, the slower, more inefficient, and more expensive it becomes. As Ann Coulter once said:
“If politicians and employers had guaranteed us ‘free’ food 50 years ago, today Democrats would be wailing about the ‘food crisis’ in America, and you’d be on the phone with your food care provider arguing about whether or not a Reuben sandwich with fries was covered under your plan.”
You don’t believe that? Do you believe the politicians claiming “the rich” are going to be the ones paying for everything? Well, did you know that the income tax didn’t go into effect until 1913 and only 1% of the population had to pay it? Did you know that in 1913, there was also no Social Security tax, no sales tax, no gift tax, no gas tax, and no capital gains tax? How much more money would you have today if you hadn’t been forced to pay those taxes for your whole life? So, wait, why do we have all those taxes today?
Duh! Because so many people have been suckered by politicians promising to give them something for “free.”
When a politician, ANY POLITICIAN, or an activist, ANY ACTIVIST, comes to you promising to give you something for “free,” start running in the other direction because you are going to ultimately find out that you can’t afford it.