Social Services and the Free Lunch Fallacy

Americans love fine-sounding expensive social welfare programs. In New York City, where I live, it is almost axiomatic that government should build ever more affordable housing, force "greedy" landlords to subsidize tenants, supply shelters for the homeless and just about any nostrum that would somehow "help" the needy. Such addiction is even worse nationally where the public clamors for "free" medical care, non-stop "investing" in children, and guaranteeing millions of children free meals no matter how obese. Economists insist that there's no free lunch but don't broach that unpleasant reality to millions of American parents. The key to understanding this rapacious appetite is the public imperviousness to costs. It is not that Americans cannot grasp costs. Millions do it every day -- a shopper knows that a half gallon of 2% milk for $1.99 is a bargain but he is unlikely to buy ten gallons regardless of the deal. Splurging on the cheap milk means less money left over for other...(Read Full Article)