Free of charge! Yes, for some of those who receive it, but not for those who pay out the money for it, if not to the teacher, at least to the tax collector.
In order to conclude his chapter, Frédéric Bastiat insist on reminding us what he means by what is “gratis” (which includes sunlight) and what is not. Indeed, politicians did not wait for François Hollande to offer the moon while behaving as if their “gifts” were free of charge because those who receive them do not pay for them directly (given the level of spending and tax collection nowadays, one has to be really naive in order to believe being a net beneficiary to the system – or maybe a crook).
Today’s quote also reminds me about the American idiom TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) made popular and famous by Milton Friedman in the 20th century. It is not because some cost is not immediately visible that it does not exist and one should always be wary of promises coming free of charge.
Other quotes from Private Property and Common Wealth:
Introduction – Development – Conclusion