Posted by: erichosemann | October 26, 2009

The Cost of Free

A Cafe Hayek reader relates her experience of rationing without price.

Absent price, other rationing devices are used.  Time is one.  Those who can most afford to wait in line for a flu shot will do so, and those most in need of one will have to go without.

Be sure to follow the link to the video from CBS news.  Incredible.  And notice how often the newsreader says “President Obama’s declaration of a national emergency should help hospitals treat patients more efficiently.”  Really?  How so?  By letting hospitals treat strapping teens and college students for swine flu?  So, like, we’re all supposed to pull together so that clowns who don’t need the vaccine can get them and pregnant women who do can go home without?

Sorry for the impromptu Econ 101 lesson here folks, but if you want people to have access to something, one of the things you DO NOT DO is give it away for free.  Free means “no price.”  No price means the good given away will be allocated some other way, say by the number of hours or days people are willing to wait in line.  As the poor woman in Utah said, she would have paid $200 to get the vaccine so she could protect herself and her unborn baby.  $200 is NOTHING–NOTHING–compared to the loss of a child.  NOTHING. $200 per vaccine would have signaled to the idiot twenty- and thirty- somethings who can bear the inconvenience of illness that they should go home and wait it out, and spend the $200 on a bag of weed, a case of Schlitz and a copy of Madden 2010.

Oh America, we hardly knew ye!  The nation so many millions have turned to for succor and support, guidance and strength.  How dim now the light that once shined across the world beckoning those who believe in freedom to share in its plenty.  What do we have now?  A monumental cluster-f***–a bunch of wealthy western weiners that can’t even get flu vaccine–not college educations, not jet-packs, Superbowl tickets or personal computers, but a little liquid in a tiny syringe!–to the people that need it most!

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