Sunday, October 27, 2019

There's no magic to make college free

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for September 25, 2019)

Libertarians have a saying, often represented by the acronym TANSTAAFL, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch". This is a rule of reality as inflexible as any other law of physics, but politicians think they can fool people into believing it's negotiable. Sometimes it seems they are right; people can be fooled-- but reality won't be cheated.

Now New Mexico's politicians are telling the people they can magically make college free for everyone. They can't, and it probably wouldn't even be a good idea were it possible.

Nothing is free. Someone always has to pay. It costs to build and maintain a campus and purchase supplies. Professors, janitors, secretaries, and groundskeepers quite reasonably expect to be paid for their work. After all, they need money to trade for food, housing, and other necessities. Demanding they work without pay so you can have "free college" would be slavery.

Every time a politician says something will be "free" you need to understand you are being lied to. It's the same whether it's "free" college or "free" health care.

What they mean is you'll be taxed more and some percentage of your stolen money will go to pay for something for someone else without them having to pay directly. Politicians also expect you to ignore the cost-- the waste-- inevitable with the additional bureaucracy. You could get a little of your stolen money back if you choose to participate in the program. Isn't this known in legal circles as a kickback?

It's doubtful college is even good for everyone. Yes, if you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a quantum physicist you would probably benefit from a college education. But if your goal is something else you'd probably be better off going to a trade school or training as an apprentice.

Most degrees today, in made-up fields, are like a "participation trophy". They're not awarded for achieving something useful, but are sparkly trinkets to show off. Utterly meaningless except to make someone feel better about themselves without them having to actually contribute anything of value. When this "trophy" costs other people, it's a net negative to society.

Politics seems to require belief in magic, where someone can say special words and change the nature of reality. Hocus pocus, and theft isn't theft because they call it "taxation" and things become free, no matter how expensive they really are, just because they say so. Politics is a hollow religion.

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Evil among us

When I was a teen, an IRS agent lived across the street from my family.

No one said anything to him about it, but everyone looked at him as though he were in the mafia. Which is closer to the truth than I realized at the time. People were a bit suspicious and stand-offish around him. And he didn't really socialize much.

He acted guilty because he was.

Of course, I was just a teen. Perhaps the adults didn't think they were acting that way toward him. It's certainly the vibe I got, though.

This was back before concealed carry "laws" were spreading around the country, and he was the only person I knew of who routinely carried a gun. Honestly, I don't remember whether he open carried, but if he didn't I'm not sure how everyone knew.

I'm in favor of everyone other than government employees carrying weapons. I am not in favor of anyone working a "job" that allows them to do things which are unethical (theft/"taxation") or to do ethical things illegitimately forbidden to the rest of us (carrying weapons).

I knew at the time there was something not quite right about him and his "job". Now I know exactly what it was.

Writing to promote liberty is my job.
I hope I add something you find valuable enough to support. If so...
YOU get to decide if I get paid.