Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Something for Nothing, By Libertarian George Baumler

Something for Nothingers?
By George Baumler

(Law of Conservation of Matter: During an ordinary chemical change, there is no detectable increase or decrease in the quantity of matter. The Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed but can change its form. The total quantity of matter and energy available in the universe is a fixed amount and never any more or less.)

Why do otherwise rational people fall for the “something for nothing swindle”? The free lunch come-on works as well today as it ever did, in spite of fact the well-known tactic is simply the act shuffling of cost of one commodity or service to another. Everyone except the most naive is keenly aware of the nature of the ploy, but it still works. It can be seen on countless TV commercials; “For a limited time only buy get one free! You pay only (exorbitant) shipping and handling.” The most troubling of all is when elected representatives enact this scheme as fiscal policy, making the taxpayers the victims. I know these legislators are truly representatives of the vast majority of voters and are only following the desires and moral constraints of their constituents.

That the ploy works is not arguable; it is the “why” it works that I am trying to understand in my own mind. What has gone wrong in the minds of the taken or am I the one with the mental defect? Sure there is basic greed but even the greedy must realize the foolishness of accepting the premise that there is a free lunch. Basic laws of physics, known even to those with just a small exposure to natural science scream that there is no free lunch or perpetual motion, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Yet “something for nothing” seems to be one of mankind’s most widely held delusions.

I have no particular animosity towards any religion except when religious tenets are enacted into civil codes; “Something for nothing” being the present topic is just such a tenet. However, religions have made “something for nothing” an article of faith or maybe more like a grand bonus for believing the unbelievable. I find this perfectly acceptable in the pews on Sunday but highly objectionable when carried into the legislature.

Children are taught to believe in Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and/or the Tooth Fairy. Perhaps the belief in magic or mystical powers that are contrary to basic physical laws during childhood lays the foundation for such gullibility later in life. Children believing in fairy-tales is one thing, but rational adults believing in this sort of tripe is quite another. Is it possible that the foundation for the belief in folly is laid during infancy and childhood? Is the illogic fortified by religious doctrine during adulthood? The assumption that human beings have a supernatural nature that somehow exempts us from natural physical law is as absurd as any fairy-tale. Still this thinking seems universal and part of every culture on the planet.

This is the same notion that leads to the belief that the, miles per gallon; achievable in an automobiles are unlimited. Perpetual motion machines, free energy, pyramid power of the 1970’s and countless other wacky ideas all are related to the same “something for nothing” scam. Amazing magnets that cure arthritis or when they’re clamped around a fuel line suddenly boost fuel economy, again part of the same scam.

Perhaps the most despised are those who refuse to accept the notion of unprovable rewards in the hereafter. I have firsthand knowledge of how unpopular it is to tell small children the facts about Santa Claus et al. If an atheist were to run for public office and openly declare his lack of faith regarding “the supernatural” he wouldn’t stand a chance. Indeed in the recent election where each candidate attended church was of inflated importance.

Another group, perhaps more troubling than those who believe that there is “something for nothing” is the vast horde who believe it is within their right to demand that others pay for all of their needs and desires. These is a whole different can of worms and for the sake of keeping on topic lets just acknowledge that they exist as a large voting bloc to be examined in more detail in another time in another article.

Debasing or inflating currency is another facet of the “something for nothing” scheme. The idea that money can be created out of mere ink and paper shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the true function of money. Those who believe that the government creates money are the ones who fail to grasp the significance of the basic value of money. Money allows us to freely, conveniently trade goods or labor and to store against difficult times. I doubt that any free civilization could exist without money. Inflation amounts to little more than the government writing bad checks and backing them with still more bad checks. The scheme will ultimately fail history is full of examples so the excuse; “I didn’t know” is pure deception. (E.g. Angolan kwanzas, Argentine pesos, Austro- Hungrian krones, Hungarian pengo, Weimar marks, Soviet rubles etceteras ad nauseam.) The idea that here in the USA we are somehow miraculously exempt is self-deception. As I write this, the dollar is worth approximately 1/45th of its pre-Roosevelt (FDR) value as measured in precious metal. (An ounce is still an ounce.)

Another way to envision the devaluation of the dollar is to compare it to a glass of water. Say a glass of water that once held 16 ounces now holds about drop or so more than two teaspoons yet is still referred to as a glass of water. Yes it is still a glass of water in just exactly the same way a dollar is still a dollar. Inflation is perhaps the final fiscal result of the “something for nothing” mindset. But with the collapse of money I suspect, if history hold any lessons, collapse of most freedom will follow.

Though I observe that the notions and results of the “something for nothing” scam are clear I still cannot fathom what would possess one to entertain such notions that are so clearly irrational. Could I be the one with questionable sanity for not believing the illogical? If a vote were taken, my view would surely come in last place. I welcome and would like to believe that I am susceptible to logical argument, yet none has been offered only condemnation for my negative attitude. Believing something no matter how avidly does not necessarily make it so. Being in the majority is not a guarantee any degree of rationality.


Anonymous said...

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Ron Dona

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