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The Perverse Feedback of Free Goods

The most obvious rule of social science is that people will abuse any free good. Regardless of what politicians promise to gullible voters, government services cannot ultimately escape the constraints of supply and demand.  A price of “free” evokes unbounded demand while choking off supply.

In the perverse feedback loops of free goods, free health care comes to mean hypochondria and iatrogenic (induced in a patient by a physician’s activity, manner, or therapy)  illness, queues for an ever-expanding political portfolio of mediocre services and – at the end of the line-euthanasia under government bureaucracy.  Free drugs mean widespread addiction to existing medications and an end to medical innovation.  Free abortion and contraception comes to mean infanticide and a country that cannot reproduce itself.  With government looming in the bedroom the male role in procreation relegated to passive irresponsibility, the male is cuckolded by the welfare state.  Excesses in food stamps foster obesity, a nation of gastropaths.  Free and rent controlled housing comes to mean an ever greater incidence of homelessness, thronging and devaluing real estate from the Presidio in San Francisco to Central park in New York.

From the new edition of Wealth and Poverty by George Gilder.

Category: Economics

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