The Free Myth
There seems to be a pandemic, as contagious as the flu, of misunderstanding going around. I often meet someone who is appalled that a for-profit business would charge for a particular service or product. You charge to put headlamp bulbs in? How dare you? Three out of five times this comes from someone who has already tried doing the job themselves … and failed. But she thinks someone should provide the service she couldn’t do for free.
Let’s talk about the bucket.
“Y’all charge for that? I ain’ paying for that! Nuh-uh!”
The pale, raspy-throated Waffle House waitress believed buckets were so simple and inconsequential that charging for one was an insult. How dumb do we think she is?
In Somehwere, U.S.A. there is a little factory making little plastic, red buckets. They’re not complicated things– just hardened plastic with a picture advertising the iconic business founders on them.
Let’s pretend that the land on which the factory stands, the building, and even the machinery, appeared out of thin air. No one invested any money to buy the land, attained building permits, hired contractors, or bought supplies. Let’s pretend– as some people actually believe – the Bucket Factory came free via the magic government fairy which makes all dreams come true.
Now that we have our spankin’ free bucket-making factory we have to hire some workers to turn the lights on, ship and receive, keep up inventory, and operate the machines. Then we should probably hire one or two other guys to supervise and deal with vendors and bucket-buying customers.
The problem with hiring someone is they want money. It’s not necessarily that they like money. It’s just that they need money … to eat, and clothe and shelter themselves. We are no longer on the bartering system, nor has the real world gotten the Free Memo. So money is kind of crucial. This will most likely be the case until clothes, food, and shelter start growing on trees … or Jesus returns.
In order to pay the workers and the supervisors of the Bucket Factory, it is imperative that the buckets sell. As simple and inconsequential as it may seem, the bucket is the means by which the factory lives and dies by. If no one pays for the bucket, no one pays the workers. If no one pays the workers, they don’t work. If they don’t work, they don’t make buckets. If they don’t make buckets, you can’t have one.
The real world works in such a way. There is nothing free. Someone is paying for every service and product being created. If it’s not growing on the side of your house or coming out of the sky onto your patchy grass, it cost someone to make it.
There is no such thing as free.
If you keep insisting on “free” this and “free” that, they’re going to close down the bucket factory. And when you need a bucket to save your life, it won’t be there because the workers couldn’t eat by working for free.
There is a difference between generosity and feeling entitled.
There is a difference between giving and being forced to give.
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