No such thing as a free...


The reason this phrase bothers me might be it’s a mixed metaphor.

It’s not that diff from saying “cause and effect is a thing.”

Nobody in everyday life would deny cause and effect.
(Granted there are compelling reasons to question it, a la Hume and other ideas, but that’s not my point.)

TINSTAAFL, I think, is often advanced to defend free market fundamentalism and the “ethic” of starting at the bottom, or to argue against helping people – all that good ridiculous stuff.

But if you try to argue that there COULD be a free lunch, the goalpost is deftly switched: you may find yourself on the wrong end of arguing about cause and effect.

Example: You say “oxygen seems free enough. I consume it without having to trade labor for this consumption.”

The idiot responds “no, you use muscles in your chest to inhale, and these muscles are powered by the value of calories, which came from the value of the labor of you, or someone else, putting valuable nutrients and fuel into your body such that your muscles could be powered so that you could breathe. That air is FAR from free. And don’t get me started on the labor of the tree producing all that oxygen. A tree is a factory powered by molecular workers.”

The idiocy is that they are using this analogy to explain why we shouldn’t have UBI.


Or to spell out the informal fallacy – they secretly switch the concept of human labor with non-sentient “labor” in quotes.

Free market three-card monty, folks.

How many beautiful truths are locked like Rapunzel in towers of idiotic phrases, and how many prison-tower phrases exist that we don’t even recognize yet as idiotic?
Scary to think. How many shell and ball games are dancing in the galaxies of word permutations that make up our corpus of human language – a corpus shifting and moaning under the weight of its own tireless linguistic evolution?

How many more implicatures are folded like samurai sword quarks in the atoms that make up the pragmatic layers of communication in all its forms?

The answer is blowing in the wind. But what Dylan neglected to say was: “Take up your butterfly net and go get the answer; fuck the wind!”

Main point is, there CAN be free lunches, and we should want them. Here’s why, etc and so on. Put your reasons why a free lunch (in the best sense of the phrase) is good and possible, below. Better yet, what are some examples of free lunches we should and CAN provide, that give to Peter without taking from Paul? I can think of many such examples, but I’d love to hear yours.