GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 10, 2012

Letter: A question of providing 'free lunches'


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the Editor:

Let’s present a play called “The Free Lunch,” starring a 10-year-old boy and his loving father.

Act 1

A 10-year-old boy looks at his father and says, “Dad, let’s go to Andy’s Restaurant, I heard they were giving away free lunches.”

Dad, sensing a teaching moment, wraps his arm around his son’s shoulder, looks in his eyes, takes a deep breath and says, “Son, this is a perfect time for one of our talks.

“I am going to tell you something that my father told me when I was just about your age, and it has served me well over the years and you need to remember it so someday you can tell your son: There is no such thing as a free lunch.

“Think about it: Farmers have to plant the seeds, grow the food, and harvest the food. The farmer sells the food to someone who sells it to Andy. Trucks driven by truck drivers deliver the food. They deserve to be paid. Son, old Andy cannot stay in business by giving away free food. Now although it may seem like a free lunch, someone has to pay for it. So you understand, son, there really is no such thing as a free lunch.”

The enlightened son says, “Wow, Dad, I never thought of it that way. You have to be the smartest dad in the whole world.”

Act 2

The son looks up at his father and says, “So, Dad, who are you voting for President: Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?”

Dad: “Barack Obama.”

Son: “Why?”

Dad: “Because he will give us free healthcare, free education, and other free stuff.”

The son flashes back to the lesson he thought he learned in Act 1, his face twitches, and his eyes blink quickly but not at the same time. However, respecting the wisdom of his father he says, “Ok, Dad, I totally get it. You’re so smart.”

So Dad puts his arm around his son’s shoulder, and they walk off into the sunset.

The End.

What just happened? What happened to dad’s “no free lunch” lesson?

According to the polls, about 50 percent of you will be voting for Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren and John Tierney. Their campaigns are based on trying to convince you that free lunches not only exist, but if you don’t like your sandwich, you can get a refund.

Do you, in fact, believe in the free lunch or are you just trying to get through life with someone else picking up the tab?

“I don’t really believe in free lunches, but the greedy rich people owe me lunch,” you say.

Look, the U.S. is in debt $16 trillion and we are adding about $3 billion in debt every day. According to the IRS, only about 2 percent of U.S. households make over the officially “greedy” threshold of $250,000. According to Sen. Jon Kyle, the IRS, Forbes Magazine and other publications, the wealthiest 2 percent pay about 45 percent of all the taxes already — but if we taxed “the greedy people” 100, the total take would be about $1.5 trillion.

That’s not enough, we need more. Easy. Forbes Magazine tells us that the combined income of Fortune 500 Companies is $825 billion. So let’s take all their money. Add the two together and you get $2.3 trillion.

Do the math: $16 trillion of debt, take away $2.3 trillion, equals a lot of free lunches that we have already eaten that somebody other than the rich people will have to pay for.

None of this matters, of course, if you believe in free lunches. President Obama and friends are salespeople who are selling free lunches, which is a pretty easy product to sell. The problem is that the “free lunch” plan does not work and has never worked.

On Nov. 6, you can vote. And the very big yet very simple issue comes down to this: Do you or do you not believe in free lunches?

You may not like everything Mitt Romney, Scott Brown and Richard Tisei, say, but they understand that someone has to pay for lunch.

BOB SPELLMAN

Merrimac