Why “free” is so expensive

If you are spending your own money on yourself, you care very much how much it costs, and care very much how good what you get is. If you are spending someone else’s money on someone else, aka “free”, you don’t care how much it costs, and you don’t care if it does the recipient good or does him harm.

“What if” has found an interesting example of “free”

Seems that the government budgeted eleven million dollars to provide free interview suits for four hundred job seekers, a cost of a mere thirty thousand dollars per job seeker, which expenditure was considered perfectly reasonable, proper, and legitimate. Ordinarily such a small, reasonable, and modest expenditure would not attract anyone’s attention, even though very nice suits cost only a few hundred.

But as things turned out the eleven million dollars only managed to cover two free interview suits, for a cost of five million dollars per suit which was considered excessive, improper, and illegitimate, thereby attracting attention to this otherwise entirely ordinary and unremarkable expenditure.

Now if the government is providing “free” for some small and noisy interest group, this does not lead to disaster. But suppose the government wants to provide “free” for some very large group, for example “free” medical care, “free” contraception: Then the $#!% is going to hit the fan, because not even Uncle Sam the Pimp’s magic no limit credit card can handle that sort of damage.

So what is a government to do? Answer, lie and murder to conceal the fact that it is not delivering on its promises. Hence the curiously large proportion of deaths under deep sedation in countries with “free” medical care.


6 Responses to “Why “free” is so expensive”

  1. spandrell says:

    Well then you all should be for socialized healthcare in America.

    Your. government would collapse in a week. This kind of screwups that seem common in America don’t happen in Holland or Sweden.

    • jim says:

      The problem in Holland and Sweden has been resolved by murdering expensive patients and lying about health outcomes. The same solution shall in due course be applied in the US.

  2. Matt says:

    Leaving aside the number of people who _actually_ got suits, for the moment, and considering only the plan…

    For $30,000 each, you could buy them CUSTOM-TAILORED suits. Including the full round-trip cost of a first-class flight to and overnight accomodation in the sort of city where custom-tailored suits are commonly sold. London, say…or Hong Kong.

    Hell, if you’re talking about the sort of person who doesn’t already own at least one suit, you could probably just hand them the cash and call it most of a year’s salary at the sort of job they’re likely to be qualified for. They’d probably rather have that.

    • jim says:

      That they cheerfully budgeted $30000 per suit illustrates that if someone else is paying, they did not care how much it costs.

      That in the end, only two people received suits illustrates that if someone else is benefiting, they did not care if that someone else benefits or not.

      So, the arguments about whether to deliver health care by market mechanisms or not are moot, since if not delivered by market mechanisms, actual health care will gradually be replaced by pretended health care.

  3. JD says:

    “Deficit spending” is another example of the prisoner’s dillema/tragedy of the commons. Every reason in the world to get your hands on some of that cash, no real incentive to prevent any other specific person from doing likewise. Get in and get yours before it comes to an end.

    • jim says:

      Since even monarchies tend to be incohesive compared to corporations, and corporations incohesive compared to individuals, governments therefore cannot help going broke.

      The recent period of solvency has occurred due to a massive expansion in government taxation, which has now predictably hit the Laffer limit.

      So we are now in for an era in which government insolvency returns to its historic norms, making fiat currency unworkable.

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