No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?

It’s a common principle of economics which has perhaps been quoted right to death, but it’s worth revisiting, if only just one more time. Of course I’m talking about the famous claim that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, which implies that somewhere, somehow, whatever it is you appear to be getting for free, you’ll eventually have to pay for it.

I guess to a certain extent it’s true, but it’s not a black and white issue. There are a lot of little grey areas in between and well in some instances you can definitely enjoy the benefits of what is effectively a free lunch. It’s all about value and what value is asked of you to give in exchange for the so-called free lunch.

If I’m an expert in a specific topic that’s trending for example and I’m invited onto a television show to share my views for some by-the-hour remuneration, if the time period over which I’ll be appearing on the show is over my lunch break, then I’ve effectively had to give up no value of my own in order to get the “free lunch” in the form of the remuneration. The knowledge I implicitly possess which had me being identified as an expert who could share their views doesn’t get depleted when shared, so that’s another area which wouldn’t count as me giving away any of my own value.

Okay, I admit that the phrase “free lunch” often more closely refers to being offered something which appears to be free – something which is not going to cost you anything. It perhaps also more closely refers to its iteration as a figure of speech, i.e. that if you don’t work then you simply won’t eat.

In light of these more accurate interpretations of what the phrase means, it still emerges that the idea isn’t as cut-and-dry as it’s made out to be. If I’m to expand on it with a figure of speech of my own, sometimes you can get the starter for free, or indeed the main course and even dessert if you want, but you’re not the one who has to pay for it directly. Heck, you can even manage to get the whole meal for free, in other words it’s free for you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s free for everyone who wants it.

At the end of the day someone has to pay the bill at the restaurant where you’re both or all eating, so in that sense the meal isn’t free, but whoever amongst you didn’t have to pay for it effectively enjoyed themselves a free meal.

In practical application getting a free meal or being able to eat now and pay later can be seen in the legal field, where the likes of car accident lawyers Naqvi Law offer a free consultation, for which legal costs you’d only have to pay once the case is won for you and you’ve received your settlement.

To conclude by going back to the metaphor, this is an example of how a free lunch basically acts as an advance on some resources you need right now but perhaps cannot afford to pay for at this particular point, to be paid for once you’ve achieved a greater goal.

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