So, I keep seeing a meme popping up in various left-leaning circles (yes, I have them. Opposition research, dontcha know?). It's a variant of "Europe has free healthcare and college for all, why can't the US?" It's hard to tell which is worse: That the person posting the meme has no idea what "free" means, or that they do and just don't care.
First off, Europe absolutely does NOT have "free" college or health care. Most of Europe operates under a crushingly high tax rate - quite often over 50% of your income. Then add in the VAT (Value Added Tax) that most often runs 10-20% depending on the goods or services, and it's quite possible that the higher-tax-bracket Europeans are losing close to 2/3 of their income to taxes.
This is "free"?
Look, I get it. You're trying to appeal to Millennials, who have basically had everything they ever wanted in life handed to them on a platter. We saw this first hand when the kids were younger - hire someone to babysit, they never show up, "Oops, I forgot, sorry." Just try to find a teenager to shovel your driveway or mow the lawn. Good luck. You want to bring in the younger crowd? Promise them they won't have to pay off those pesky student loans. Tell them they won't have to "pay" for their health care.
Of course, they will, in both cases, and a lot more than the face value. But you know that, don't you? You know that Europe is a red herring, that your target audience will just accept it at face value and not dig into it. Yeah, damn those successful people. How dare they earn all the money so there's none left for me? Tax them at 100%! As long as some mythical "other" person is going to front the tax dollars, who cares where the money comes from, right?
What really worries me is what happens when - not if - we do run out of other people's money. All that "free" stuff the politicians have been promising evaporates when times get tough. And remember: If you're not paying for it, you have no say in when it arrives, how it arrives, and what kind of quality it will exhibit once you get it.
TL/DR version: It's free, and you get exactly what you pay for...
That is all.