Economics 101

Walter E. Williams: Economics 101 is yet another fine, fine article from this great American.

Economic ignorance allows us to fall easy prey to political charlatans and demagogues, so how about a little Economics 101?

How many times have we heard “free tuition,” “free health care,” and free you-name-it? If a particular good or service is truly free, we can have as much of it as we want without the sacrifice of other goods or services. Take a “free” library; is it really free? The answer is no. Had the library not been built, that $50 million could have purchased something else. That something else sacrificed is the cost of the library. While users of the library might pay a zero price, zero price and free are not one and the same. So when politicians talk about providing something free, ask them to identify the beneficent Santa Claus or tooth fairy.

This is known as That Which is Seen and That Which Is Not Seen as Mr. Bastiat pointed out, long long ago. This really is the basics of economics, and if you don’t know what I am talking about, you really should read both links.

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