Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

November 22, 2005

TANSTAAFL

by Eric

What the heck is that word, it looks like something a deranged Russian Commie who’s had too much vodka would say. Well, it’s actually an acronym and it stands for “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”. In other words, everything has a cost. The key to living life is to understand that statement and act accordingly. If you choose to tell your wife that you don’t like her new haircut there will be a cost to that action. Deciding not to tell her carries a cost as well. Every decision you make, or don’t make, carries a cost. If we decide that every child in the nation needs health insurance coverage and the government will provide it when the parents can’t there is a cost. The money for that must come from somewhere. Either other programs have to be cut back or taxes have to be raised or money has to be borrowed. Each of those choices has an impact as well.

The bottom line, everything has a cost associated with it. The pretzels in your favorite bar are free because they are salty and you will drink your beer faster and buy more beer, or maybe the owner factors the “free pretzels” into his overhead, which is applied to the cost of the beer before he sells it to you. I think every citizen should have to do the cost proposal for a bid for new business. They should have to build up the cost of an employee, including salary, bonuses, raises, floor space costs, computers and software, email, unemployment and social security insurance, benefits package, vacation, sick days and holidays and see just what it costs per employee. Then figure out how many employees in a given category they need to do a given amount of work for the company or government agency that requires the work to be done. Then figure out all of your other expenses, electricity, water, municipal, state and federal taxes, community improvement, charity donations, servers and software applications to enable the business and so on.

Now do that for something like unemployment benefits. Not only must the money for each and every unemployment check come from somewhere, but the money necessary to do the work. Either the government agency does the work, or it contracts it out to be done. Either way the cost is still there. And that money has to come from somewhere. TANSTAAFL.

If you want to be free you have to be willing to pay the price to defend your freedom. TANSTAAFL.

If you want the joy of having children (an awesome experience that I wholeheartedly recommend) you have to be willing to pay the monetary cost and the heartbreak and frustration that goes with them. TANSTAAFL.

If you want a job that pays $100,000 per year and has great benefits then you have to be willing to do something that is worth that much money to the employer. You may have to work more than 40 hours per week, pay for your own training, work for years at much lower wages to gain experience, travel away from home, etc. TANSTAAFL.

Everytime we forget this most basic rule we set ourselves up for really bad consequences (like a $400 billion a year deficit because both Democrats and Republicans refuse to admit there’s no free lunch). Or hurt feelings when your wife discovers that you really don’t like her new hairstyle but didn’t want to say so because she might get upset. Or not getting a pay raise because you aren’t willing to do anything for your employer above the bare minimum needed to keep your job.

It seems so obvious, yet so many of us forget it each and every day. TANSTAAFL is the corrollary to my other perennial favorite, personal responsibility. With these two principles you are armed to deal with the real world, not wishful thinking. Too bad the politicians in Washington, D.C. have tossed them right out the window.

Originally posted at Grumbles Before The Grave.

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  • http://www.tfsternsrantings.blogspot.com TF Stern

    I wish they would print this out and have it signed and notorized by anyone who signs up to be considered in any elected office; local state or federal. Then later on, after they have won, show the signed form to them and have them explaine each and every spent tax dollar, those which they seem to think are picked off the tree out back.

    A great article, thank you.

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