Acronym for "There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch". Used by libertarians to point out that "free" government programs have hidden costs in taxes. But of course the private sector has always been loaded with examples as well. Why is it OK for the private sector but not for government?
The original example of a free lunch was saloons, which would offer a salty free meal to encourage purchase of a lot of beer. Another example has been radio and television broadcasts: they seem free, but we pay for them by being subjected to advertising. We all hate waiting for commercials to end: it wastes about 20% of our listening/viewing time.
The most recent example of "free" services is Google and the social media. The cost is our information, which instead could belong to us and be charged for by us. Instead, it is sold to advertisers, making grotesque monopoly profits for Google. Another cost is our privacy, both from commercial interests and government (which can all buy this information.)
John Quiggan also points out in "Economics In Two Lessons" that there really ARE free lunches because (a) the economic system doesn't function perfectly to reach equilibrium, (b) technological improvement and (c) every market exchange. He calls this TISATAAFL, "There Is Such A Thing As A Free Lunch".
- A Famous Science Fiction Writer's Descent Into Libertarian Madness [More...]
- On Robert Heinlein: "Later in life, as a libertarian, he would rail against “loafers” and the welfare state but in his leftist days he knew how much he depended on the government."
- Taxation Is Theft (19 links)
- A prize libertarian slogan that ignores facts of pre-existing ownership by government. Because government owns its territory, it gets to make rules like any other owner. See: A Non-Libertarian FAQ: 5.5 Taxation is theft. Taxation is also the price we pay for being part of a society. Libertarians want a free lunch from society, but conveniently forget the TANSTAAFL dictum that David Friedman likes to recite: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. If you want to be free of society, go ahead and be a hermit.
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