“Free Stuff”

Originally posted February 25th, 2019

We’re going to be seeing a lot more talk about Socialism now that Bernie is running again. You’re probably going to see a lot posts about people, especially Millennials, demanding “free” stuff. I’d like a minute to talk about that, if you’re game. Well, probably a few minutes, I’m a long winded guy.

Let me ask you something. Is our defense department free? The wars we’ve been fighting the past 17 years, are they free? How about the freeways, the bridges, the telephone and Internet that you use daily? Are those free? What about the school you went to, the streets you rode your bike around on as a kid?

No? Well did just a few people pay for them? Maybe only the rich? Or perhaps only some Republicans or Christians? Nope? We know it wasn’t the dirty Libs. After all, none of them have jobs like hardware or software engineering, medicine, law or finance. None of them own or rent housing, purchase anything or otherwise participate in the economy. Right?

So how did all that stuff get paid for? Why did it get paid for? It’s not like everyone wanted to pay for ongoing war. And you can be pretty sure that kids in Seattle never biked down the street in your hometown of Ames. And does anybody in Michigan care much about whether grain farmers in Iowa get compensated because of the tariffs? Not if my news feed is anything to go by.

It’s the American Way. Americans don’t pay for what they don’t want for themselves. Why would we do that? Anything else would be Socialism! And we’re not socialists. Economics 101, right?

But Dan, you’re being silly. We know we pay taxes for stuff. And national defense is important! So is war! And those bailouts to the banks during the Great Recession. And the sports stadiums. And subsidies to farms. And. And. And.

“But,” you say, “that’s not socialism. We don’t do that.”

So if those things aren’t socialism, why would paying for health care be different? Or funding advanced education or trade schools?

What about those two items, which form the infrastructure upon which a modern economy is based on – a healthy and trained workforce, what makes that socialism but paying private prisons about 2 billion a year to house criminals or passing legislation to keep a failing coal fired power plant from closing isn’t?

Why don’t those things become “free stuff”?

And why are the Millennials the ones targeted as pushing for this the most? After all, that’s two things they have the least experience with. But baby boomers and struggling Gen Xers? Now that’s a different story.

So, if it’s Socialism you want to talk about, let’s have that discussion. But let’s make sure we’re talking about Venezuela, the USSR, China, Cambodia or many other failures. Let’s also talk about how we run modern countries, like the United States, Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Canada or any of sixty plus others. Let’s make sure we’re having honest discussions about what those things really are, and how they’ll apply to our economy, and our particular issues. And let’s stop lying that the issue is just a Millennial one.

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About Dan Granot

I chose the Shorter Whitman because of his work, "Song of Myself" and because of my self-deprecating sense of humor. I am under no illusion that I can write successful essays or poetry, but I have been known to write them anyway.

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