Economic ignorance has lead to widespread belief in many silly things. For example, people believe that war is good for the economy because it creates manufacturing jobs. Frédéric Bastiat explained why this belief was bullshit in 1850 with the parable of the broken window. Another silly belief many people seem to have is that there is such a thing as free. This belief has become especially commonplace now that everybody equates anything they want as a human right and therefore should be provided for free.
The latest case of this belief being proliferated is tampons. I’m not kidding. This article, which argues that tampons should be free, has been making the rounds on the Internet and many people have deemed it to be a good idea:
We need to move beyond the stigma of “that time of the month” – women’s feminine hygiene products should be free for all, all the time.
Sanitary products are vital for the health, well-being and full participation of women and girls across the globe. The United Nations and Human Rights Watch, for example, have both linked menstrual hygiene to human rights. Earlier this year, Jyoti Sanghera, chief of the UN Human Rights Office on Economic and Social Issues, called the stigma around menstrual hygiene “a violation of several human rights, most importantly the right to human dignity”.
But this is less an issue of costliness than it is of principle: menstrual care is health care, and should be treated as such.
We’ve come full circle. Since so many people believe that healthcare is a human right and therefore must be provided to all for free anything that can be somehow tied to healthcare should likewise be provided to all for free. But nothing is free. Everything good requires resources. First raw resources must be collected, which in of itself requires energy. Then those raw resources must be refined into something useful for the manufacturing of capital goods, which also requires energy. After that those capital goods must be further refined into something consumers can us, which requires more energy. Energy itself is a resource as is time and basically everything else that touches the manufacturing process.
The bottom line is somebody has to invest the resources necessary to produce a good. When somebody says they believe something should be free what they really mean is that everybody in the world should be forced to set aside a portion of their resources to manufacture that “free” product. To further simplify the matter when somebody says they believe something should be free what they really mean is that everybody else should pay for it.
Now the people who want free shit usually use very utilitarian arguments. This article, for example, points out that approximately half of the population of this planet can utilize tampons. I’m going to one up that. What is an activity that every human being does that can negatively impact sanitation? Shit! Therefore I propose something different. Instead of “free” tampons I propose “free” toilet paper for all! Obviously I’m joking since I’m not economically illiterate and I’m not such an asshole that I want government violence brought against you so I can get something for “free”. But I believe my point has been made.