Free Stuff and Other Fantasies
Free Stuff and Other Fantasies
I was the new kid on the block. Just finished my stint in the US Air Force, and
began my new civilian career at IBM. My boss reached out and tapped me, the new guy,
to serve on a committee to plan the annual Family Day. IBM did it right; they rented the
county fairgrounds for a day, with complete entertainment and refreshments for the
The committee reviewed the plans for refreshments. Larry, an experienced food
service executive, explained that hot dogs would cost 5 cents. It caught my ear. I asked
why we didn’t just make them free, and save the hassle of coins and making change.
Well, Larry explained that free food resulted in wasted food. He described the cleanup
crews picking up hot dogs with only a single bite taken. On the other hand, even a small
charge of one nickel would reduce the waste dramatically. We took Larry’s
recommendation and charged a nickel for hot dogs. It worked perfectly.
Many of us were fortunate to have grandmothers in our lives, who gave us sage
advice in our youth. We can remember their reminder that “there is no such thing as a
free lunch”. And whether it is a slick, polished, fast talking salesman or a politician, it is
so true. No free stuff. Somebody will pay. Likewise, if it’s free, it has little value.
Larry knew it well.
Now, we have liberal politicians promising lots of free stuff. During the
presidential campaign, it was free college. Both Democrat candidates offered this fantasy
to entice gullible voters. Now, the socialist Bernie Sanders wants to offer free medical
care for all, covering every American with the Medicare program. He conveniently
ignores the fact that Medicare is on the verge of bankruptcy. And of course, there is no
explanation of who will pay for this free program. There never is. But we know, with
100% confidence, that the American taxpayer will pay for it. Bernie didn’t mention that
either, did he?
The fallacy of free stuff has many examples. Take emergency room visits. Since
Obamacare enrolled millions of Americans in the Medicaid program, emergency room
visits have soared. That is a severe cost problem. Alarmed by the ballooning costs,
states began to experiment with various solutions such as copays or price increases. Sure
enough, when emergency room visits were no longer free, Medicaid recipients turned to
primary care physicians or urgent care clinics.
And many Americans are forced to take Medicaid, due to the government
individual mandate. How does that work? When taxpayers file our returns, we are asked
if we have acquired medical insurance. If we say no, we must pay a penalty. It is called
the individual mandate.
So, a recent nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study showed that if
the individual mandate was repealed, a total of 7 million Americans would drop their
Medicaid coverage. In other words, if the government did not force them to take the free
Medicaid coverage, 7 million Americans would stop taking it. Free stuff, indeed.
Another interesting case is a program called Lifeline Assistance, or commonly
called Obama phones. You can see booths on street corners in large cities, giving away
these free phones. Eleven million people have one. It turns out, there is massive fraud in
the program. Is anyone surprised? The government has paid millions on duplicate or
deceased recipients of the program. Worse, the Government Accountability Office
(GAO) estimates that more than one third of recipients are not actually eligible for the
program. Free stuff, indeed.
You can google Free Government Money You Never Pay Back to find websites
with instructions on how to tap into the government cash spigot. And yes, let’s not forget
that this free stuff is funded with borrowed money and tax dollars from working
Fantasies of free stuff, along with government fraud and waste hurts our ability to
help the truly needy in our society. Of course, we must provide a helping hand to those
unfortunate Americans among us. When our fellow Americans need a hand to get back
on their feet, we must extend ours. The trouble is, liberal politicians promising more free
stuff are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem.
Let’s hold our public officials accountable. Discard the flimsy fantasies of free
stuff, and instead offer solid cost/benefit programs that help vulnerable Americans get
back on their feet. The greatest nation on earth should accept nothing less.
Scott S. Kramer is chairman of the Republican Party of Kendall County.
First posted by the Boerne Star