Tuesday, February 9, 2016


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.


Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"it's quite possible that the higher-tax-bracket Europeans are losing close to 2/3 of their income to taxes"

And that doesn't even consider the fact that the defense budget of most European countries is absolutely pitiful when compared to their actual needs, because they lean rather heavily on the presence of the US to keep the peace at the international level. Without us being there, folks like Putin would consider invading neighboring countries to be little more than a prolonged field exercise.

tl;dr - Europe couldn't sustain their "free" college and health care if the US wasn't keeping things stable.

agg79 said...

It's Idiocracy all over again.

Armed Texan said...

Part of the reason it's "free" is because we still subsidize European defense through NATO and direct presence. If they had to pay for their own defense in depth, lots of "free" stuff would suddenly no longer be free or at least would come with a co-pay.

danno said...

As me dear aunt always said "If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it's 'Free'"... I'm also thinking she was quoting someone else. but that doesn't affect the truth of the statement :-(

abnormalist said...

@Armed Texan
Ok, so lets STOP doing that... Who the F^&* made us the world police? Screw that let em support their own selves.

@Jay G
First yes, its a politicians promise. Put that in one hand and chicken stuff in the other and see which one carries more weight, but the important thing is those are only part of what hes saying...
Lets get corporate money out of politics, how is this a bad thing? Lets get campaign finance open and accountable, how is this a bad thing? Lets get rid of for profit prisons, how is this a bad thing?

Have you looked at the Sanders Tax plan? Honestly looked? I doubt it would be a real option in the first term, and before anything like it gets through congress I'm sure it would change impressively. In its current state, in my case, I would end up paying an extra $1000 a year. Mostly because I make a significant salary, but don't see significant stock dividends, or other capital gains. I can live with that if it actually pushes education for the masses, works to change the prison system, and helps to move us away from our slide into mediocrity we've been pushing since the Carter years.

Plus it beats the fascist buffoon that the is the most likely other option... (No, this time I don't mean Hilary)

Chris in TX said...

I just substitute "paid for by someone else" whenever I read the word "free" re: a government handout.

Chris in TX said...

You know you can write as large a check as you like to Uncle Sugar, right? He'll cash it, I promise. I'd rather you not try to force me to do the same, however.

Ted said...

In case it escaped everybody's attention we ran out of " other people's money " some 19 trillion $ ago.

Now we're only waiting for the Repo guys to show up

Anonymous said...

A few years back my dear old ma asked if I had gotten my flu shot yet. I said no, but work insurance would cover it so I would wait until the mass inoculation. She said " Well, you should go to the Walgreens as it's free." No. I replied. It isn't free as there is a cost to produce it. A cost to distribute it, and a cost to administer it. The reason it cost you nothing is because someone else paid to give it to you.

"Well...All I know is it didn't cost me anything."



Maureen Williams said...

What really worries me is what happens when - not if - we do run out of other people's money.

That's easy - we become Greece.