FREE STUFF

THE CONTRARIAN

 

A page from Willy Brant’s diary — I was telling Joe about my brother-in-law saying all the troubles in the world are caused by ‘Free Stuff’.  He says we vote for the guy who promises the most ‘free stuff’, then get all stressed when he doesn’t deliver.  We buy lottery tickets in hopes of getting a big payout, which is really just ‘free stuff’.  Same with gambling and bingo, we could buy more stuff than we will ever win, but everybody dreams about ‘free stuff’.  Folks value ‘free stuff’ more than what they have worked for and earned.

Joe thought for a minute, and then said, “Well, the last election wasn’t so much about promising free stuff, it was more about promising rainbows and roses, and let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya together”.

“Yeah,” says I, “And that can’t be bad, except maybe it got the guys with swords and machine guns looking at Canada with new interest. Anyway, there was that talk about helping the middle class, I suppose that translates into free stuff”.

Joe looked thoughtful again. “The actual promise was to reduce the marginal tax rate by one and a half percent, and that would save the average middle-income person $1340 per year, I suppose that is quite a bit of ‘free stuff’”.  I added “It’s interesting they said, $1340, not say a thousand or two thousand, but exactly $1340.  Makes it sound so thoroughly researched and factual”.

“Actually $1340 is one and a half percent of $90 000” Joe went on, “the trouble is, we don’t pay the marginal rate on our whole income, only the top slice, so the savings on $90 000 income would only be a small fraction of $1340. One of the think tanks estimated the saving for the average family will be more like $50.  But it gets worse, along with this cut, they will take away Income Splitting; that is a family benefit, and it benefits most single-income families more than $1340.  So families take a hit, while single folks get a small gain.  It’s really just a shot in the war against the family”.

So a couple of glum old sourpusses sat for a few minutes, then Joe came up with “Getting back to your original point, your brother-in-law is totally right. The ‘free stuff’ mentality, that is, ‘I don’t need to do anything, the world owes me a living’, is at the root of most of the world’s problems, and maybe always has been.  There is no such thing as ‘free stuff’; there is always a price somewhere, you took it or borrowed it from somebody who worked and earned it. Think about the Roman Empire,  it got so everybody was kept happy with free stuff, that is, bread and circuses, until some guys prepared to use their guns and swords came along.  The empire was bankrupt from buying so much ‘bread and circuses’, and the people living on ‘free stuff’ wouldn’t fight, so the empire disappeared.  Maybe that will be our fate as well”

I am going to tell my brother-in-law not to give me any more ideas like that, I just get depressed.

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